Edith Caldwell ready to let go of shop due to pandemic, two other State Street businesses to close
Edith “Edie” Caldwell has been in the retail business since she was 18.
By the age of 24, she had already opened her first shop and in the coming years would travel the world, meet artists and collect objects, all while opening shops and selling things.
But even she has never experienced anything quite like what is happening to businesses all across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have never been forced to close down. The times and what is going on is closing us down because everything about it, everything that enables me to do this job, has stopped so I can’t continue doing this,” Ms. Caldwell said.
Ms. Caldwell opened up Edith Caldwell abode, located on 8 E. De La Guerra St., in November 2019 with the intention of selling unique looking items to those who wandered into her store.
But, due to the current pandemic, Edith Caldwell is one of three shops that are closing their doors.
Ms. Caldwell’s shop contains a litany of art pieces that are for sale, all painted by artists she represents and work done by her friends.
Still, it wasn’t easy getting her shop off the ground. With constant construction on East De La Guerra Street, Ms. Caldwell had to shift her hours to try to sell when construction was down.
And, right before the pandemic hit the U.S., Ms. Caldwell recalled the shop was finally hitting its stride.
“I was making some big sales and it was great,” Ms. Caldwell recalled.
Unfortunately for her and all the businesses up and down the county, COVID-19 forced the closure of many businesses for months.
From there, it was hard to recover and for Ms. Caldwell, it was particularly difficult.
The businesses main draw is the unique objects Ms. Caldwell is able to find, whether at flea markets, on Craigslist, or anywhere else she can acquire and then sell to the people of Santa Barbara.
“My source of inventory has been cut off. I won’t be able to find anything that cool or anything comparable right now because the sources have stopped,” Ms. Caldwell said.
And, even as it’s open currently, Ms. Caldwell said the continual closure of the movie theater has also hurt business.
“There really are a lot of little reasons adding up is why I have to close. One of the reasons is the fact the movie theaters are closed. I used to get a lot of people, say from Montecito, come down to Santa Barbara because there is no movie theater, then come into my shop but they don’t come anymore and that’s a big stick in the spokes,” Ms. Caldwell said.
At one point, Ms. Caldwell even considered changing the shop from a retail business to a zen buddha place of relaxation, but ultimately decided it was time to let it go.
“It was easy to let this place go,” Ms. Caldwell said.
“It was easy because it’s so clear. I can’t do what I do and I think it’ll take months for that to change.”
Ms. Caldwell also said she isn’t disappointed by what has happened to her shop.
“It’s just life. It could be worse,” Ms. Caldwell said.
She is looking forward to finding a sublease to take her space so she can relax back home and try to stay safe until the pandemic ends.
“I am as happy a person as you’re likely ever going to meet, I do believe that. And I love living by myself and I can’t wait to go back to my house and put this behind me,” said the 72-year-old Ms. Caldwell.
Originally, people asked her if she would transition online. She thought about it, but then had an “aha” moment, and realized the fun of retail is the people she meets and forms connections with.
“I realized, if I don’t get to meet the people it’s not the same. I don’t like doing it online. I have no desire whatsoever to go gather these things, put it on the internet and wait. It’s this conversation that we are having that makes my job fun,” Ms. Caldwell said.
Edith Caldwell abode remains open, usually from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and will remain open until Ms. Caldwell finds a person to sublease the space.
There are still a variety of items for sale, from chairs to glass objects to artwork, with some items listed at 50% off.
“We still have a lot of beautiful items and so people are more than welcome to come and take these at a bargain,” Ms. Caldwell said.
Other shops that are closing their doors on State Street include Sur La Table. The Seattle-based company is aiming to close its Santa Barbara sometime in early August but the majority of its business will remain online.
Sur La Table filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, citing that in-store businesses are in need of a model change.
Still, a few people are sad to see the shop go.
“It was nice to be able to come down and buy some things that I needed quickly instead of waiting online, but it’ll be okay,” Teresa M. told the News-Press.
The Apple store is another place that has closed its doors to the general public due to the spikes of coronavirus throughout the county with no reopening date in mind.
According to a letter found in front of the Apple Store, online orders and Genius Support can still be handled in store, however, it is by appointment only and through July 12.
“It’s a bummer. A lot of places are closing but hopefully people can stay safe,” Mark Gonzalez told the News-Press outside the storefront on Saturday.