The Isla Vista Bookstore permanently closed its doors about two weeks ago after selling books and school supplies at the 6553 Pardall Road address for 47 years, since the building’s construction in 1965.
The business has been on the decline in recent years due to competition from internet bookstores as well as the UCSB Bookstore. The Isla Vista Co-op is also in danger of closing its doors, roughly 40 years after students started the store to meet the demand for fairly-priced organic goods.
According to second-year communication major Kathryn Hernandez, the ease and efficiency of the UCSB Bookstore is unbeatable.
“Some of my books were only available at the UCSB Bookstore, and they offer used and cheaper versions of the textbooks,” Hernandez said. “Also, buying directly from the bookstore means you don’t have to wait for your books to ship.”
Co-owner of the Isla Vista Market Lee Johnson said Isla Vista’s current landscape is the result of multiple periods of transformation in the atmosphere of the community.
“There’s been a whole bunch of changes over the years,” Johnson said. “There were the hippie days in the 70s, and then there was a time when a lot of Vietnamese lived in Isla Vista. And for a time, UCSB didn’t have food on campus and all the students would come to Isla Vista for lunch. Now we’re getting the LA-looking high rises opening up in town.”
According to Johnson, I.V. Market isn’t in immediate danger of going out of business because it is one of the only grocery stores in Isla Vista.
Johnson said the main concern that businesses should focus on is targeting specific groups of consumers.
“To stay in business, you really just need to take care of your customer and make sure that you’re fulfilling their needs” Johnson said.
Isla Vista Co-Op General Manager Melissa Cohen said the cooperative is hoping to raise enough money to buy its building over the next month, marking the first time in the store’s thirty-year history in the building that it has attempted such an endeavor . The Co-op is taking donations from community members and students in hopes of preserving a landmark in Isla Vista’s history.
According to Cohen, Isla Vista businesses reflect the nature of the town’s inhabitants — a largely student-based community that changes every year.
“I think it’s sad when old businesses go away, but I’m also inspired when new businesses come,” Cohen said.
The transient nature of the community makes it more important that students fight to keep the spirit and history of Isla Vista alive, according to Cohen.
“Isla Vista is a community that changes all the time, and change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it’s up to the community to lend their support by shopping here,” Cohen said.