A one-of-a-kind novelty store in downtown San Luis Obispo is closing its doors soon. The manager of Kwirkworld says expensive rent and a lack of sales did them in. The decision to close is tugging at the hearts of many locals, who say the unique store was a breath of fresh air in a downtown loaded with restaurants and bars.
"I'm absolutely sad to see this place go," says Suzanne Pericoli, a frequent shopper at Kwirkworld. "It's got a lot of crazy items. There's just a good vibe goin on."
A lot of crazy items may be an understatement. Fart machines, glowing monkeys, and a variety of other gag gifts and trinkets. It's what made Kwirkworld a popular place to visit for those walking up and down Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo.
"I buy gifts down here. Several christmas presents came from here to me. I like fun things and this is a fun store," says Pericoli.
Just recently, signs appeared on the front windows announcing the store will be closing in February, marking an end to the store's 5-year stay in downtown. Sales couldn't keep up with the $12,000 they paid for rent each month.
Doing business in downtown San Luis Obispo became increasingly difficult for the store, with a lack of abundant parking and high rent, but that wasn't all. With many people doing their shopping over the internet, Kwirkworld couldn't compete.
"The E-commerce is much more prevalent now than it was back then," says Peter Ray, manager at the San Luis Obispo location. "The merchandise that was specific to Kwirkworld is now found everywhere. That specialty was kind of gone."
Still for some, Kwirkworld brought a change of pace to the downtown area.
"Its got things other places don't. It's way fun," says Pericoli.
The store is set to close at the end of February. The San Luis Obispo location was the flagship store. It also has locations in Fresno and Folsom that will remain open for business.