The Community Says Goodbye to Another Local Gem
But There’s Still Hope
by Sarah Hirshland
Items that don’t sell before Jelli Beanz closes will be donated back to the clothing bank.
Citing a sharp decrease in buying since Covid, the owners of the popular used clothes and toy store, Jelli Beanz, are in the process of closing the 14-year-old business.
Since 2007, Jelli Beanz has been a local treasure for parents and families to buy, sell and exchange new and gently used goodies. The store has been a go-to for new and seasoned moms and dads. “I’ve been coming here since my kids were little, it’s such a fabulous place”, says Tina Burch, a daycare provider who’s been a frequent shopper for over a decade.
Jelli Beanz has many popular items for the family, their most popular being clothes, toys and books. Some products that come in are still in original packaging, or have been well taken care of by previous owners. “My favorite part of owning Jelli Beanz is watching how much the children love being in the store, my staff and I worked hard to create a space that they felt comfortable and creative in,” says owner Stephanie Hendersen, 49.
Hendersen and her husband moved to Santa Cruz from the Central Valley in 1997 after the birth of their first daughter, “We wanted to raise our family in a smaller community,” says Henderson. Hendersen is the sole owner of Jelli Beanz, and had a business partner for the first few years, “After seeing a similar store for sale, we were inspired…and it was born.”
The store has stretched out the last three months of business for people to use their store credit before permanently closing on March 13.
There are many consignment stores in and around the area, but Jelli Beanz always had a different approach. Hendersen wanted not only to appeal to children, but also to cater to the parents. Jelli Beanz offered a reader’s corner, a creative play space, nursery and open restroom.
Jelli Beanz was granted government funding during the crisis, but not enough to keep the doors open. Hendersen has kept a watchful eye on how the year would take its course, and had a pre-emptive approach when the pandemic first occurred, “It hit me immediately,” she says. “This is not going to remedy itself before the money runs out, I am going to do this my way and get ahead of it.”
The store was originally going to close last April, and did close temporarily for a brief time from March until June of 2020. “We were a constant staff of 9 that worked tirelessly pre-COVID to stay on top of the workload,” says Hendersen, “Post-COVID I have to be creative to keep seven on staff very part time.”
Jelli Beanz has seen the numbers change with a quarter or less in revenue after Covid, and has recently been working with a skeleton staff, and a trade only method. “We have exhausted it, trying to stay open the last year,” says Hendersen, “But the aid did make it possible to keep my staff minimally employed, which is a blessing.”
Jelli Beanz even had local fans fighting right alongside them, “A lot of people offered a Go Fund Me and other support,” says Hendersen, “But I didn’t want to take anyone’s money as it may put them in the same boat we’re in.”
There is some hope for Jelli Beanz fans. Hendersen created Hope’s Closet in 2007 and made it a 501c3 in 2011, Hope’s Closet is the neighboring business at 2557 Soquel Drive, and will completely take over the space, still offering new and used merchandise for kids.
Like Jelli Beanz, they sell the big ticket items such as car seats, bassinets, strollers and more. The main difference between stores is that Hope’s Closet is not a consignment store, and that all materials given are donations.
Items that don’t sell before Jelli Beanz closes will be donated back to the clothing bank. To help maintain adjustments and to keep the legacy alive, the store name will be changed to Jellies at Hope’s Closet, Jellies for short. The tentative date for Hope’s Closet to open Jellies will be April 3. “I will continue to sit as the Executive Director and help to facilitate the upcoming changes.” says Hendersen.
Hope’s Closet will not only be taking in some inventory from before, but possibly staff as well. Lizbeth Toromedina, an 18-year-old Soquel senior has been with Jelli Beanz for a year and half. “It’s so sad to see everything go and the shelves empty,” says Toromedina, “I’m happy that Hope’s Closet will be here, and I’m planning to stay through the transition and with the company.”
This cherished long standing operation will be missed by many and will surely not be forgotten, “It’s sad they’re closing, I’ve been delivering here for years”, says local postman Caser Herrera.
“I just want to thank everyone who participated in any way”, says Hendersen, “I’m grateful for every story, every smile and every baby, it’s been a good run.” Jelli Beanz isn’t just a store to the people of Santa Cruz, it’s a place where memories were made and it’s dedication is to a mission that meant something.”