Bye Bye Busy Bee

Santa Monica’s beloved Busy Bee Hardware is closing its doors.

Here is a letter that Laura Kidson Hausladen sent out…

Dear friends of The Busy Bee,

There are lots of things about our world that are changing, lots of things that look and feel oh so different from the days of our grandparents, our parents, or even our own childhood. But there’s one thing that stays constant through it all, runs like an unbreakable golden thread through our lives. It’s our ability to love and be of service to each other. This has been the essence of The Busy Bee as it has been run by my family–my grandfather Marshall Higgins (from 1963-1980), my father Don Kidson (from 1963-2017) and my brother Jeff Kidson (from 1975-1988). My father, who many of you remember well, was sole owner since 1988. Sadly, he passed on in August of this year, but he left a legacy of joy in serving and sharing with all who crossed his path. Dad’s love of helping people solve the little problems of their lives as a regular sales clerk at the store was plain to me since my childhood. It was the nightly news at our dinner table. Later in life he shared his passion for helping and healing mankind through involvement with the then nascent raw food movement. And Dad always loved family–his family, the store family, his church family, and the whole family of man. He always told me that since childhood having a family was his dream, and that once he and mom had my brother and me, it was his love for us that inspired him to do more than he ever imagined he could.

There’s one other family, besides mine, who has been integral in the history of the Busy Bee — the Haine family. They started it, built the building it has been in since 1922, and sold only the business to my grandfather and father in 1963. Thus they remained a part of the Busy Bee family, acting as its landlords for the last 54 years. For over a year now, Busy Bee has known that the Haine family wished to sell the property. While sad to leave the building, which includes banks of lovely little screw drawers which were actually built by my great grandfather, we all knew that without moving to a location with parking, the business was no longer viable. One of the employees had wanted to buy the business, and agreements were made to sell to him. Haine made agreements to sell the property to UCLA, which has worked collaboratively and cooperatively with us for several months in the hopes that we would all be able to achieve our desired goals. There were many twists and turns along the way, but until the very end of last week, it looked like there would be a way for the business to continue at what looked to be a very suitable Santa Monica location. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to be the case, (unless one of you reading this has the desire and ability to move the business immediately).

Thus, we will be closing our doors very soon, so that the building can be vacated in advance of its sale early in the new year. So, if you need any items in the next week or so, or just wish to get some bargains on useful Christmas items, please stop by. The more you buy the more you’ll save with deductions taken before tax of 20-40% on every purchase of $25 or more. (Note this is for cash or credit card sales only.)

All of us at Busy Bee are disappointed that we aren’t going to be able to serve Santa Monica in the days ahead, but we are humbled by and so grateful for the many people in the community who offered to help if they could. Santa Monica woman’s commissioner Diane Miller has been working for months to secure a path forward for the store. She has been joined by the Santa Monica Conservancy, The Mid Cities Neighborhood Association and others in various organizations along with the many hundreds of santa monicans who have shopped with us for decades and become part of our Busy Bee family.

Please know we have been deeply gratified by the outpouring of love and support from the community throughout our years at 1521 Santa Monica Blvd. As we all move forward, let us pollinate our world with the spirit of love and service, and then we will, like “busy bees”, enable the flowering of all that is good and beautiful in our communities and bring nourishing sweetness to our homes and families.

Although I am not able to get away at this time, I send you greetings from my home in Missouri and I know all of the truly special “busy bees” at the store hope to see you in the next couple of days and personally thank you for your many years of patronage.

With sincere appreciation,

Laura Kidson Hausladen



  1. This store was the best. I once popped in sometime in the 1990’s to bother them to help me with an odd request – I was attending a Halloween party and decided that a ballgown and a necklace made of a giant chain would be cool – must have been in a punk rock fashion stage- all I can say is that I went in and in just moments I was fit and set in a giant silver linked chain and another link that allowed me to fasten it and unfasten it easily. Nobody laughed or told me I was crazy, they just measured my neck, cut the chain, and sent me on my way. Thank you Busy Bee. Your story of service is inspiring and I still do have my fabulous necklace.

    xo Marni Burns

  2. Why couldn’t it be declared a City of Santa Monica Historic Landmark? Other structures with less significance have, like the metal building on Broadway and 9th street that the developer had to preserve and now is a high end hamburger place..

  3. I have been a “Busy Bee” customer for 40 years or more. I have always been impressed with the employees. They are always friendly and willing to help you. I’ll especially miss the take your number dispenser at the turnstile along with the sound the old wood floors would make with every step. I remember walking out the door one time and saw Kris Kristofferson. Busy Bee will be missed.😥

  4. Busy Bee is another casualty of the race to erase everything in Santa Monica that grounds us and sustains us. I’ve lived in Santa Monica for 40 years, and Busy Bee was the first hardware store I visited. Recently Busy Bee helped me get the right patch kit for my Aero Bed (a guest was coming for a visit!). They also made spare sets of keys for me for my cat sitter. I can’t imagine a world without the bright neon bee fluttering wings every night. The bee is iconic. I believe that sign needs to be in a Santa Monica museum.

  5. Does anyone know the details of Don Kidson’s passing? His state of health, etc.? I ask because I used to consider him a “mentor” of mine, in the nascent raw foods movement in early 1990’s Los Angeles/Santa Monica. If there was anyone I would’ve thought would live well into his ’90’s or even past the century mark it would have been him, instead of his early ’80’s. Obviously time claims all of us at some point, but given his adherence and dedication to “live” foods I would’ve thought he would have delayed the inevitable for quite a few years. Thanks in advance.


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