Moneywise Guys have big plans for Woolworth building, but closing iconic luncheonette isn’t one of them

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — One of downtown Bakersfield’s most iconic properties is changing hands. W. Woolworth Co., one of the major players in the era of the Five and Dime, is about to get a new look, on the inside at least.

The owners of Moneywise, the Bakersfield wealth management firm, are in the process of purchasing the old variety store, built in 1949. Financial planners Sherod Waite and Dave Anderson are about three months out from closing a deal with Mark and Linda Sheffield, who bought the 40,000-square-foot building in 1994, 

The Sheffields are already in the process of closing the building’s antique mall. Many of the 100 or so vendors are holding special sales in anticipation of moving on to other antique stores in the immediate area.

Anderson and Waite are planning major renovations for the building — most of which they aren’t prepared to discuss right now. 

But with five levels, including the roof, each one roughly 10,000 square feet, the possibilities are many. We do know this, though — the Moneywise Guys will be moving from their longtime home on Stockdale Highway to the Woolworth building’s second floor.

“We’ve been looking for a location to move Moneywise into,” Anderson said. “We’re a growing firm and we are huge fans of downtown, what is happening downtown, the revitalization. We found out there was an opportunity with the Woolworth building and we thought it would be a great place, number one, to house Moneywise, and then a great way for us to invest in the community and be part of what’s happening in the downtown area.”

Oh, and count on one more thing — the classic luncheonette, which screams 1950, will not change. A contract operator will maintain the flavor of the long-cherished burger-and-fries venue.

“It won’t be Dave and I flipping the burgers,” Waite joked.

The Moneywise Guys say they’re excited to be part of downtown’s evolution toward a livelier, 24-hour, mixed-use place, with retail, entertainment and residential all together. 

Their neighbors are happy to see them come, starting with Mel Atkinson, who 23 years ago  purchased another remnant of America’s five-and-dime era, the Kress building, directly across 19th Street.

“I’ve talked to them, I think they’ve got a solid plan, and that building hasn’t been fully utilized, with the upper floors being vacant,” he said. “Their plan is to use those and use the K Street entrance as their lobby, and that’s a good solid plan.”

The Moneywise Guys say they will consult with local historians to preserve and protect this corner of downtown — which, if you include Woolworth’s original building, constructed here in the 1920s — has been home to a five-and-dime for 100 years.

If it can survive the 1952 earthquake intact it can probably survive a change of ownership.

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