It may be true that one door opens when another closes, but for new mother Dyane Villalobos, it wasn't a door, but a thick, black steel vault.
Villalobos, 42, moved her toy store called Childish to a building at 1100 Soquel Ave. that once housed a bank and still has the ponderous vault door.
It brings smiles to shoppers, who stare at the giant safe and slowly make the connection.
"It turned out to be the perfect location for us," said Villalobos, a Los Angeles native who moved to Santa Cruz while working as a property manager for a San Francisco firm before she was laid off. "There's something playful about turning a bank into a place for kids."
The 1923 retro building works with the timeless toys that are Villalobos's specialty, things not always made of plastic that you wouldn't find in a more conventional toy store.
She sells slingshots, which seem to be from another era; Roy Toys, which are like Lincoln Logs from a company started in the 1930s; a Fisher Price vintage airport; make-your-own yo-yos, and a surprising amount of locally made crafts, clothes and art.
She has diaper bags by Totally Tubular Design, the local company that recycles bicycle tires into useful items; handmade clothing from Santa Cruz companies, Mylie Clothing, Idle Hands, Ola Chica, Lulu Blu and baby carriers from Santa Cruz's Onya Baby.
Who knew that one town could produce so many kids and baby products?
"A lot of people are now trying to find their own happiness and you've got to think outside the box," said Villalobos. "A lot of us have been laid off. All of us become so complacent in our jobs and the security is so wonderful, but when it's pulled out from under you, you wake up and you have to change something."
For her, it was leaving the business world of managing properties and following up her hobby of collecting things. She's collected old radios, bicycles, egg beaters, clocks and cigarette machines. She focused those skills on finding unsual and vintage toys.
"I'd always imagined having a store one day, but I never wanted a children's store," she said. But after being laid off, she spotted one for sale in Live Oak on Craig's List for for under $5,000, she had a new business.
After seeing the For Lease sign on this building that had been a live music venue for 10 years and then sat vacant for three, she moved to the Seabright neighborhood, which has been flourishing with restaurants, music and clothing stores.
"Our business has been growing consistently in three months at the new location," she said. "We just had our best month ever."
Having two kids, Nevada, 4, and Scout, 3 months, has inspired her to buy the best possible toys.
Only 5 percent of what she sells is recycled, or used. The rest comes from exotic builders, many in Santa Cruz and most in the U.S.
"These are not your typical baby clothes," said shopper Rachel Cuellar, 34, who bought baby leggings and a sand footprint kit for a friend's child. "The stuff in other places is all plastic and not made to last.
Villalobos said Santa Cruz is a great place to raise kids and sell toys, despite census numbers that showed a 13 percent decrease in the number of kids under 18 from 2000-2010. She and her partner, Jessica Espinoza, found it to be perfect for their family.
"I had only planned to stay here one year," she said. "Coming from L.A. and San Francisco, I thought it would be too small. But it's a safe place to raise kids, a clean place to raise kids, just a great place for kids."
She describes her store and the city of 59,000 in a way that many Santa Cruz adopters can understand.
"I was looking for something a little urban with a twist."