MALIBU— An institution known to Malibu locals for decades, The Vitamin Barn, is preparing to shut down permanently. Known for smoothies, vitamins, supplements, and much more, owner Gene Arnold recently confirmed with the Malibu Times on June 19, the store will soon close its doors for good.

Citing closure due to increased rent, COVID-19, and the 2018 Woolsey Fire, Arnold spoke with the Malibu Times saying, “The rent just keeps going up and up… Now, with all the circumstances—COVID, the fire, and Whole Foods—I think it’s dangerous to keep a store here, financially.”

Arnold reportedly has been wanting to leave the location for the past ten years, but “kept it because it’s cool…Even if the rent was half, you’re not going to see people do too well. There has to be an honest conversation as to the value of locations. I don’t want to stick around for that conversation.” Arnold expressed that Malibu simply is not a town built for small stores.

Arnold and his parents first opened the Vitamin Barn 34 years ago at the Fallbrook Mall, 27 years ago the shop moved to its current location in the Colony Plaza Shopping Center. He told the Malibu Times while he had offers to take over the store, but opted to focus on his other company, California Natural Immunity Shots and take time off after working full time seven days a week for years.

On social media, loyal customers of The Vitamin Barn were furious and saddened Laureen Nolan Sills wrote, “the landlord won’t work a deal with Gene who has been there over 25 years?!… I am furious that this landlord, who has so many empty spots including Granita for 13 plus years… Billionaire Walmart heir can’t work something out for this local institution?”

Jana Hinton Blake commented, “When I first moved to town 19 years ago it was such a nice center, completely full with many small businesses that I went to. Now it’s more than half empty and nothing new has gone in.”

A post on Facebook began to be shared calling to create a petition to help small businesses in Malibu during these financially troubling times.

In November of 2019 PC Greens, a Malibu local grocery store that specialized in health products and organic food, also closed its doors also citing increased rent and the Woolsey Fire.

The Vitamin Barn will remain open with a 20% off store closing sale until they run out of products.

Arnold added a personal message at the end of his interview with the Malibu Times saying, “Personally, I want to thank everybody from the bottom of my heart for the kindness and the respect everybody always had when they came into the store and how great the relationships were.” Arnold continued saying, “I wouldn’t have stayed this long in any other place if it wasn’t Malibu. It was a sacrifice to stay. The people made it worthwhile. The people of the city of Malibu made a very tough situation tolerable because they’re really wonderful.”

Canyon News reached out to Vitamin Barn and owner Gene Arnold for comment, but they did not return back before publication.