After more than 50 years, Lights Beautiful in Ventura will go dark.
Owners Scott and Sandy Syslack will enter retirement and close the store at 1455 E. Main St. #100 on April 1.
Scott Syslack, 69, of Ventura started helping his parents Shirley and Leif Syslack at the store when he was 29. His parents opened the store in May 1968, and Scott Syslack has been there for most of that time.
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"There's not any one thing other than I'm just a little bit burnt out, a little ready for retirement after 40 years," Scott Syslack said inside his store on a recent Thursday.
Walls of lamps and lighting fixtures of different shapes, sizes and colors surrounded him as he spoke. He acknowledged it was a "harder climate" to conduct business with COVID-19, rising prices, difficulty in getting certain products shipped and increased competition.
"It's a tricky time to be a brick and mortar but ... I'm ready to retire," Syslack said with a laugh.
For 39 years, the store was located nearby at 2650 E. Main St., site of what is now a meat market.
The store moved to its current larger space in April 2007, when he purchased it for about $970,000.
Leif Syslack opened Lights Beautiful when he got tired of being an appliance manager at The May Company and knew Shirley Syslack wanted to start her own business.
Shirley Syslack was an interior designer who worked at Jomars Lamp House. They lived in Simi Valley and commuted to the San Fernando Valley for work. Later, they moved to Ventura and opened Lights Beautiful.
"They decided to open a lighting showroom," Scott Syslack said of his parents. "That's her background and he kind of fit in because he was in sales and he learned the business as they went on."
Scott Syslack graduated Ventura High School in 1970, Ventura Community College in 1972, California State University, Stanislaus in 1976 and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1978. He earned a bachelor's and master's degree in physical education.
In community college, he took business classes figuring he would go into the family business but he got offered a tennis scholarship to go to Stanislaus. He changed his major to physical education because he wanted to coach and teach, he said.
"When I finished college, I was a tennis instructor for years," he said. "My mom calls up one day and says, 'You know, your dad hurt his back a little. Can you come down and help me out for a week or so?' And that turned into 40 years."
Scott Syslack said he has seen the lighting business change from portable or table lamps to recess or track lighting and now to LED lighting.
"I've always loved the decorative end of it," he said.
A fixture at the store has been Amy McAvoy, who has been working at the store since 1998. She's been a store manager as Scott Syslack goes to people's houses to work on lights.
"Because it is brick and mortar, it is slower so you do have the leisure of spending more time with customers," McAvoy said. "If this were a Macy's or another busier retail kind of a place, I don't know that you feel like you could spend as much time with people. It feels like a family."
Scott Syslack said his store is customer-service based and a lot of their clientele is focused on new construction.
The store does not take out many ads and instead relies on word-of-mouth recommendations from contractors and architects. The store received a lot of business after the Thomas Fire, he said. In some cases, he did lighting for homes twice; during the initial installation and after the fire.
"Anyone that lost a house in the fire I did the lighting plans for free," he said.
Syslack said he sold the store for about $1.8 million to the owners of Mission Animal Hospital located down the street at 2280 E. Main St., Suite A. The owners will remodel the store so it can be a hospital.
He has heard a lot of sad reactions to the store's closure.
"They say we can't close," he said. "We do have a huge customer base after so many years."
Lynn Ridout of Ventura was shopping at the store on a recent Thursday with friend Renee Hall, also of Ventura.
Ridout purchased entryway lights, a table lamp, a floor lamp and outdoor wall sconces.
"I bought quite a bit," she said.
Ridout said she was sad the store was going to close but accepted it.
"They need to rest. I understand that," she said.
Ridout said she remembered Scott Syslack from when he started at the previous location.
"I remember him as a young man," Ridout said. "That's how old I am. His parents were still the ones who were operating it."
For more information, visit lightsbeautiful.com.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Ventura family business Lights Beautiful closing after 50-plus years