Local businesses closed their doors during Winter Break in response to the departure of a majority of the Isla Vista student population.
Some of the stores in I.V. used the extra time to limit business hours and make renovations before the New Year. Other locales decided to shut down for the entire break to enjoy their own vacation and save on operating costs.
According to John Djamali, co-owner of Deja Vu Café, his business shut down from December 15 through January 2 because of a lack of student customers.
“You are talking about a full month of smaller crowds,” Djamali said. “That is why business in Isla Vista is so difficult.”
During this slow period the restaurant took care of repairs and repainted the store. However, unlike longer-lived enterprises, Djamali said newer locales are unable to similarly handle the seasonal drop in revenue.
“We are fortunate enough to have been around for 20 years now,” Djamali said. “New businesses cannot handle that kind of pressure.”
Geoffrey Friedman, owner of the Sweet Alley candy and frozen yogurt shop, said new businesses such as his suffered this winter from a lack of experience adjusting to students’ schedules.
“We cut our losses and go on vacation,” Friedman said. “Monday after finals we clean the shop, close and open on New Years. Our business caters to college students, and for the most part it is really quiet.”
Friedman said Sweet Alley’s other location in the Storke Marketplace remained open but experienced a decline in business.
“It was definitely quieter, especially with all of the rain that we had,” Friedman said.
Other locales in Isla Vista also chose to reduce their hours during the break.
According to Tal Benami, manager of the Coffee Collaborative, his store attempted to adapt and capitalize on others closing down. However, despite their adjustments, Benami said the number of sales during vacation were still significantly lower than before the break.
“We reduced our hours to the prime coffee drinking times, which end in the early afternoon,” Benami said. “We find that more people than before did not have the means to travel, or worked farther into the break.”
“At our busiest times, we did not see 10 percent of our typical customers,” Benami said.