Setting up Shop(keepers)

By Jon Vreeland   |   July 26, 2018
Darcy McElroy, John Simpson, and Patti Pagliei-Simpson have a seat in The Shopkeepers store, where there will be a reception September 14 for the world’s fastest oven, which can be viewed on For other Shopkeepers’s items, visit

One-hundred and seventy years after the Treaty of Guadalupe solidified California as American Territory, the American Riviera remains a heavily-desired U.S. destination. Not just to visit but to live as well. 

Sure, the city of some 93,000 people enjoys the comfortable weather on sparkling beaches, celebrities who scour the stores on State Street, and other attractions. However, the support of the small-independent Santa Barbara business and the opportunity for all to enjoy a life of individual and communal prosperity is another attribute to Santa Barbara’s rolling success.

This is why another Santa Barbara business opened its doors for the first time last summer: a boutique in the Santa Barbara Funk Zone called The Shopkeepers. The store sits on the southern end of Anacapa Street—at the corner of Yannanoli – and joins a handful of businesses that also celebrate(d) the inception of a recent grand opening on the American Riviera. 

The Shopkeepers’s one-story building is draped with green tangled ivory, features two paneled windows and one French door, and is owned by John Simpson and Patti Pagliei-Simpson, two Santa Barbara entrepreneurs with one daughter, Lulu, 8. Patti is the founder of Waxing Poetic, a jewelry company that makes hand-crafted jewelry here in Santa Barbara: necklaces, earrings, bracelets, charms, insignias, rings, and other pieces of unique jewelry the Simpson’s carry in the 11-month-old store.

“The Waxing Poetic products pretty much steal the show, which was not our intention at all,” says John. He calls The Shopkeepers’s array of product, deftly arranged in a variety of displays, “fresh and surprising,” and the result of buyer Susan Pitcher’s abilities. “Susan is an important piece of the Shopkeeper’s puzzle,” he says.

Hot seats: Chairs are among the eclectic merchandise spotlighted at The Shopkeepers

Ultimately, other than the jewelry, the store carries hats, purses, lotions, perfume by Santa Barbara Novella, T-shirts, coffee-table books, men’s clothing by SALTURA, modern beachwear for men. Or the women’s clothing by Warm NYC and Lost and Found, “brands smarter than the average surf vibe,” adds John. 

At the corner of the store, behind a wooden stage with well-dressed male mannequins with microphones, portraits of John Wayne, Ray Charles, Ringo Starr, and other celebrities created by the hands of a Santa Barbara native watch from the wall of white-painted bricks, as customers amble through the two open doors on opposite sides of the store, browsing in the wake of an offshore breeze. 

Previously, 137 Anacapa Street was The Guitar Bar; so the stage has endured countless live performances from numerous bands and musicians. But ever since the Simpson’s takeover last year, John continues to use the stage for musical performances, book signings, plus the Simpsons are always open to fresh ideas to utilize the stage.

Since its opening, actor Jeff Bridges, pro surfer Conner Coffin, musician Kenny Loggins, as well as John’s project, The Doublewide Kings, all played on the stage at one of the seven or eight Shopkeepers’s events. Darcy McElroy, who has worked at The Shopkeepers for the past couple of months, says the variety of culture, fashion, music, and art – as well as the locals and tourist waltzing in and out of the store – “piques and satisfies” her interests.

Darcy adds, “We have our little niche in the Funk Zone with stores like Loveworn and the Blue Door. Everyone in the area is really supportive.”


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