When Kaleidoscope owner Sheryl Guidera talks about her toy shop and bookstore potentially closing, it’s hard for her not to tear up. A fixture of Santa Cruz for 40 years, the toy shop has been an educational store that parents and teachers have come to rely on. But Guidera, exhausted from working day and night at the store, is ready to retire.
“Every day I wake up and I love it,” says Guidera, who took over from the original owner in 1983, “but I want to travel with my husband.”
Recently, Guidera has seen how online sites such as Amazon.com have attracted her business. Guidera believes the store, located on Bay Avenue in Capitola, often serves as a showcase for merchandise that people will eventually buy online (a practice called “showrooming.”) If someone were to buy the store from Guidera, she sees this as a perfect chance to explore online opportunities.
“This is a big challenge,” Guidera says, “because the Internet has come in and it’s really hurt us.”
At this point, Guidera is waiting to pass on the baton to someone new. With a staff of just 10 people, Kaleidoscope has already been on sale for about six months, but Guidera has no intention of waiting around another six months and wants to retire before summer ends.
For now, Guidera just anxiously hopes for someone in the community to step up and help continue what has been her baby for three decades. “We need more locals to support other locals,” she says. SYDNEY MOORHEAD
A chapter in Santa Cruz’s underground scene ended when the Food Not Lawns cooperative on Laurel Street closed down—or at least moved—this month. The house, which the owners decided to put on the market, had long been a space for Free Skool events and an informal music venue.
Food Not Lawns focused on growing food and building community, both for housemates and for visitors.
“Our goal was to have food we could eat and be a supportive community for each other and whatever projects we wanted to dream up,” says Wesley Somers, who lived at Food Not Lawns during its last year. (Somers has lived in a couple of other intentional communities in Santa Cruz that have since disbanded or moved, including the Cesar Chavez Co-op, once on Beach Hill.)
Peter Cook of Lighthouse Realty, which will manage the sale, says the homeowners decided to sell for “personal financial reasons.”
“We had put it off for a few years because we enjoyed having them as tenants,” Cook says, “but the real estate market’s stronger now.”
When they left, Somers and some other housemates took the Laurel Manor and the Food Not Lawns signs with them to a new home in Upper Ocean. There, they hope to continue some of the missions of the old co-op.
“We have this new house that has space for a garden and space for community events and workshops,” he says, “and that’s our intention to keep doing that. I don’t know what other systemic things are going to be left over from the Food Not Lawns house of yore.” JACOB PIERCE
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