Presidio Motel proprietors Kenny Osehan and Chris Sewell.
Cara Robbins

The holidays are all about tradition, and this week we’re celebrating the survival of one of our favorites. For the past three years, the Presidio Motel has played host to Deck the Halls, a one-night-only shopping event that for many marks the start to the holiday party season. In years past, Santa Barbara and nearby designers, artists, and craftspeople have shown up to sell their wares, flanked by food, drinks, and some of S.B.’s hottest musical talents, making for one-stop shopping that’s as fun as it is locavore friendly.

Earlier this year, though, Presidio Motel proprietors Chris Sewell and Kenny Osehan were dealt a bitter pill: On January 1, 2013, their eight-year lease on the property runs out, and owner Yun Pei Yeh isn’t willing to renew. The news came as a painful surprise to both Sewell and Osehan, who saw the motel through its most successful years, which included write-ups in the New York Times, multiple community events, and the opening of Osehan’s own retail shop, The Supply Room.

“It’s been our baby for the past eight years, and we are extremely saddened to lose the opportunity,” Sewell told The Santa Barabara Independent in September. “Since day one, we have looked at the Presidio as a community gathering place, not just a place to sell rooms. It’s just a sad situation for us.”

But with sad endings come new beginnings, and Sewell and Osehan are resolute about forging ahead. Most recently, the couple founded Shelter Social Club, an umbrella company under which they’ll run not only their hotel ventures but also numerous other projects. (A bar, a restaurant, and a new retail space are all future possibilities, said Osehan.) Most recently, they’ve set up shop at the Ojai Rancho Inn, a sprawling 18-bedroom motel less than a block away from the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. In addition to filling the void left by the Presidio, the Rancho is providing a new and improved venue space for this year’s Deck the Halls, which takes place on Saturday, December 8.

Like years past, Deck the Halls 2012 is boasting grub, libations, tunes, and shopping. Lots of it. “I’m so glad we decided to do it because we’ve had such a great response,” said Osehan. “I feel like the Rancho property is way cooler than the Presidio. It’s a lot more interesting and more our style. I’m also really excited about the lineup.”

Among the vendors are Santa Barbara faves like Adesso Jewelry, Asher Market, Coco Denim, Jessica Foster Confections, The Lower Lodge, Make Smith leather goods, Tabletop Made stationery, and The Supply Room. Additional participants include L.A. movers and makers like Beatrice Valenzuela, PLYN Ceramics, Mohawk General Store, and Dream Collective. And that’s just for starters. Food and drink come by way of The French Press, Municipal Winemakers, Moon Juice, Om Sweet Mama, Ceviche Project, and Knead Baking Company. And musical talent includes a mix of S.B. and Ojai locs like Ghost Tiger, Todd Hannigan, Vaughn Montgomery, The Wools, and many, many more.

It looks like Ojai’s holiday season just got a bit brighter.


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