This month will see the end of three of Ventura’s landmark institutions with more than a combined 60 years of being in business.
Tat Tropical Illusion, Wild Planet and Blü Orkid will or have all closed their doors thanks in part to escalating rents and slow sales.
Wild Planet will either relocate or end business altogether after 26 years in business, citing a lack of cooperation with their landlord at the business on Main Street.
Blü Orkid, after revamping the Santa Clara location from its previous incarnation as My Florist, ceased operations last week. After expanding to include a bakery and subsequently ending that venture, Blü Orkid couldn’t keep up with the revamped downtown restaurant district.
Christina Li of Tat Tropical Illusion is sad to see her business go, having watched families grow up around her. After 29 years in business at the Ventura location, Li’s overhead was too much to overcome.
“Quite honestly, our lease is just way too high for what we can offer,” said Li. “The main thing I want to convey is to thank the community. Ventura County has been truly fabulous to us. We have so many good customers that really bit the bullet and helped.”
Tat Tropical Illusion’s sister store in Thousand Oaks will continue, but for now, Ventura’s inventory of tropical fish is partially drying up, with only Extreme Marine remaining as the only locally owned fish store.
As for the future of other downtown businesses, there are a spate of openings that seem to prove wrong the theory of a downward turn. Shanghai Beer Garden — a micro-brewery meets gourmet Chinese — is making ground on opening, and Retail Therapy above Ventiki Polynesian Dining and Cocktails on the former site of Bernadette’s are welcome additions to the area.
“That’s the unfortunate side of an improving market,” said Ventura Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ed Summers. “As leases mature, landlords are able to increase rent to a higher market level.”
Summers does not, however, see a downward trend; in fact, business has been booming elsewhere.
“Not seeing anything like a negative trend downtown,” said Summers. “There is a lot of positivity.”
“We’ve literally watched families grow up here. Myself and my husband grew up here,” said Li as she scrambled to assist last-minute customers. “I worked here as a teenager; our own children grew up here. I really want to thank the community for the support.”