A hidden home to unique businesses
“All these businesses are pretty hidden,” said Angela Williams, who works at Fon-Jon Pet Care Center, 5050 Santa Fe St. “There’s a lot down here that I think is very useful that people don’t know about.”
Not to worry, felines and pups don’t lodge together.
“The dogs seem to like the cats more than the cats like the dogs,” Williams said. “They’re pretty separated – they can’t hear or see each other.”
Santa Fe Street is also accessible by turning from East Mission Bay Drive on to Damon Avenue, which dead ends with a collection of signs pointing either left or right to various businesses along the road. With only two entry points, Santa Fe Street is not the most accessible street in the area.
“People always say it’s hard to find,” said Mark Tollison, owner of Fitness Mart, located at 5555 Santa Fe St.
They simply went ape to help make it easier for customers to find Fitness Mart. The specialty fitness equipment and retail store stands out, thanks to a 30-foot inflatable gorilla tethered to the roof.
Next door, Playground Warehouse, 5555 Santa Fe St., resorts to a similar strategy for exposure by putting its products on top of the building. Playground Warehouse is a unique family-owned business, selling and manufacturing all different types of playgrounds, playground equipment and other fun items such as basketball hoops and air hockey tables.
“We build fun and that’s pretty much it,” said Playground Warehouse owner Sam Morrison. “You don’t get as much impulse on this street. We’re kind of like a hidden destination, and once they can find us, it’s good.”
On the way to those businesses is Yorkshire Pine, 5076 Santa Fe St., an importer of English pine furniture. Yorkshire Pine could be considered the veteran of the street. In the 20 years its has been located on the street, owner Shirley Zylstra has seen the area change from a heavy industrial area to more of a retail stretch.
“When my daughter came out here and decided to open a store, it really was warehouse row. There was nobody down there doing anything retail,” Zylstra said. “It was kind of an ever-changing business location for most of the time we were there.”
A little bit past Yorkshire Pine heading north is perhaps the most unusual business of the bunch. Gym Ventures, 5066 Santa Fe St., is part gymnastic studio, part kids play area, with something to offer parents, too.
“We provide a really special environment through gymnastics and creating an environment for children to play and use their imagination and creativity and be able to bond with their parents,” said Gym Ventures owner Darren Solomon. “It’s very much designed for both kids and parents.”
While Gym Ventures has been on Santa Fe Street for six years, it expanded into Kid Ventures only last March. Kid Ventures consists of a play town, castle, pirate ship and tree house for kids, and a parent cafe that features wireless internet, allowing parents to play while their kids do the same.
“We call ourselves the hidden gem of the area because most people don’t know about us unless it’s through word of mouth because there’s no visibility,” Solomon said.
That could be said for any of the businesses on Santa Fe Street.
Some other Santa Fe Street businesses:
Bicycle Warehouse, 4650 Santa Fe St. – bike parts, accessories, clothing, repairs
Blacksmith Bicycle Wheels, 5555 Santa Fe St. – custom bicycle and wheelchair wheels
Innovative Growing Solutions, 5060 Santa Fe St., Suite D – hydroponic growing
Mitsven Surfboards, 5151 Santa Fe St., Suite B – custom surfboard shaper
San Diego Kids Party Rentals, 5171 Santa Fe St. – rentals ranging from bounce houses to snow cone machines
San Pasqual Winery, 5151 Santa Fe St., Suite H – has a wine tasting room
Tropical Shade Masters, 5151 Santa Fe St., Suite C – featuring palapas and thatch