Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009, Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow....

Bidding goodbye to the year 2009 won’t be such a difficult thing to do, will it? I hear this sentiment more and more as the new year approaches and at first I laughingly agreed. Yeah, 2009….good riddance with your economic woes, your politics and your generally depressing atmosphere…..we’re ready for something new!

Then I thought about it for a while and my opinion has changed. The new year is inevitable but it was this last year that taught us many valuable things. I don’t want to throw 2009 away completely, because this year saw some very awesome things happening at WFS and in Altadena. How awesome could it have been, you might ask? Let’s take a look…..

2009 saw the Altadena Arts Coalition firm its mission and help increase awareness of the North Lake Business District as not only a convenient shopping destination but as a culture hub as well. July’s Project: Altadena was a huge success that was enjoyed by so many! The Coalition looks forward to planning many more art-centered community functions in the coming year.

2009 taught us how to tighten our belts and taught us resiliency. Never before have we had to strategize so carefully and learn to make correct quick decisions. We’re pretty proud to say that in a year that saw many lay-offs and business closings, we managed to give our employees a small salary increase, and only lost one to greener pastures. 2009 taught us to value our crew members more than ever and that their role in the development of WFS is just as important as ours.

2009 was also the year of the Business Builders Bootcamp at the Women's City Club in Pasadena. Wonderful friends invited me to join the ladies there and I'm so thankful they did! The intelligence, ingenuity and creativity of the women in this group is astounding and I'm amazed every time I attend. A very special shout-out to the members (you know who you are!)....thanks to all of you!

2009 was the year we educated you on the value of shopping locally. It was also the year The 3/50 Project was born, which was fortuitous because it gave you concrete evidence of how money spent locally affects your community’s economic health. Keeping your town’s local character alive is crucial to its survival and it’s a good thing to know how you can help.

2009 saw WFS develop and move more in the direction we’re working toward. In addition to jewelry and art cards by local artists, we added books by several Altadena authors. We’re very excited about this facet of WFS and intend to expand it in the coming months. We’re also pleased to be aiding the Christmas Tree Lane Association by carrying their merchandise all year round and giving them 75% of the sales. We added wonderful fair-trade goods to our product mix and discovered that we like the way that made us feel! We plan to look for more fair trade goods to offer you in the future, and we’re also working on a local artist’s collaboration that promises to be fabulous!

So you see, 2009 wasn’t all that bad. We’re positive, though, that 2010 will be our year, and your year, too…..I feel it right in the center of my heart! Happy New Year to you all!

---Lori & Scott

Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Tis The Season To Be Hoppy!

Shop-hoppy, that is! Because the North Lake Pole Winter Festival and Shop Hop was cut short by the pounding deluge Saturday afternoon, the businesses involved will extend the qualification time for the Grand Raffle until December 24th. During this time, visit the listed merchants/businesses/restaurants and get a star affixed to your Shop Hop card. No purchase or obligation is required for the star on your card so why not explore places you haven't been to yet, meet new people or say hello to old friends you haven't seen for awhile? What better time than the holidays, when you're out and about anyway? Once you get some stars on your card, you'll be eligible for an entry into the most exciting raffle ever! So many marvelous prizes, all generously donated by our local business owners, and just in time for the holidays. The grand prize will be a new bicycle from Steve's Bike Shop and there will be many more exciting giveaways. We'll pick the winners on Christmas Eve, December 24th, and the winner need not be present. I can't think of a better way to celebrate Altadena along with the holiday season.

Due to last Saturday's rain, WFS will be hosting a Holiday Open House this Saturday, December 19th. We'd love you to join us for holiday festivities, fun and food! We open at 10:00 am and the party starts then with pastries, hot coffee and cider. From 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm, hearty appetizers and other surprises will be on the menu and from 4:00 pm until closing at 6:00 pm, dessert is on us! We invite you to drop by - get your Shop Hop card with its first star on it from WFS, and stay for top-notch shopping, shipping and good old fashioned holiday fun! Shopping or shipping at this time of year is fun, you ask? It sure is when you've got beautiful music to listen to, interesting merchandise to peruse, delicious munchies to nibble and good friends to greet! It's a lot of fun, too, when you win one of the many door prizes we'll be giving away.

There's one other benefit to our Shop Hop, can you guess it? It's the great feeling you'll get from helping to support not only your local businesses, but the economic health of Altadena as well. Civic pride might be something we tend to smirk at these days but it's something that's absolutely needed right here and right now! We've all seen the warning signs and have already witnessed the closing of many of our local places of business - it's time now to rally to support those that remain, lest they disappear also. If we collectively direct our buying at local, independent businesses it will increase Altadena's bottom line by funneling funds back into the community. It funnels back in by increasing the ability of these businesses to pay their taxes, both sales tax and employment tax. It funnels back by keeping their staff employed and the people employed spend money in other local businesses. It funnels back as the different businesses use other service providers, such as accountants, payroll services, janitors and printers. We invite you to read about The 3/50 Project at www.the350project.net - it certainly puts what I've just said into perspective.

The holidays are a perfect time for us to express our gratitude to our loyal customers - thank you from the bottom of our hearts! You've helped us survive this year and you'll help us thrive in the future so remember to join us this Saturday, even if just for a few minutes. Let us take this opportunity to wish all of you a warm and wonderful holiday season!

UPDATE 12/16/09 The Christmas Tree Lane Association will be joining in the fun on Saturday, too! Come see the many charming items they have at their Boutique, which will be set up in front of WFS and Galloway Alley, and help support this worthy Altadena institution!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Local Blogs Worthy of Note and Winter Festival Update

As promised in my last post, let me offer you some information on local sites and blogs that are, in my opinion, some of the best. Informative, amusing and such a great compliation of the culture of Altadena, these sites are waiting for you to discover them (if you already haven't). Read on, intrepid readers, and find a new sources of information, news, entertainment or historical facts....an entire world of the written word awaits!

Altadenablog, http://www.altadenablog.com Altadena's one-stop source for community news and opinion. If you want to keep up with what's happening in Altadena, this is the site for you! The site's author, Tim Rutt, was honored recently by Los Angeles County for Altadenablog's coverage of the Station Fire.

Altadena Above It All, http://altadenaaboveitall.com
Debbie Swanson Patrick, author, photographer and artist, says it best herself: "this blog is dedicated to capturing the life, history, preservation and improvement battles, the wildlife (animals included!), talent, beauty and magic that is in these foothills." We love helping her celebrate Altadena and we hope you do, too.

Altadena Hiker, http://www.altadenahiker.blogspot.com
Karin Bugge's View From The Trail, a glimpse into the life of this local resident who tells it like she sees it. A talented writer, Karin is funny, witty and spot-on!

One excellent perk about being a blogger is that you get to share other wonderful blogs with your readers. There are so many excellent local blogs in our area and I'll be pointing out more in future posts. Hopefully by then I will have figured out what's wrong with my Blogger account and why it won't let me attach live links. On now to exciting local news!



Altadena Arts Coalition Presents
The North Lake Pole Shop-Hop and Winter Festival


Come join the Altadena Arts Coalition and your local merchants on Saturday, December 12th, for an evening of holiday merriment and civic pride! Rediscover all Altadena has to offer by visiting the participating merchants and businesses, who are awaiting your arrival with seasonal treats and goodies. Collect stars on your map and once filled, you are eligible for entry into a drawing for wonderful prizes!

Set to start right after the lighting of Christmas Tree Lane , the AAC will host sledding in REAL snow in Galloway Alley, live music and a visit from Holly Jolly Wally! There will be food vendors in case you get hungry….John from O Happy Days will be serving hot soup, The Coffee Gallery will be serving hot coffee & tea, Park Bench Deli will be making tacos, Steve's Bike Shop is serving hot chocolate and Altadena's own Dip Me In Chocolate will be offering their decadent goodies. Stroll along the North Lake Pole Ave., greet your friends and neighbors and enjoy that good old fashioned Christmas spirit! Webster's Fine Stationers will be showcasing their holiday décor and will be serving hot apple cider, treats and a surprise guest. Webster's Pharmacy and Webster's Liquor will be serving soft-serve ice cream and Photography by Walt is hosting “Capture the World”, an exciting photo exhibit. The Gallery At The End Of The World will also be hosting an art exhibit you won't want to miss. This is a great opportunity to get out and see what makes Altadena so special. Get set to have a great time on the 12th …..we'll be waiting for you!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Eye-Candy and Inspirations

As we count down to the 2009 holiday season, it occurs to me that many of us feel the almost desperate need for some decorating direction....something to inspire us and give us that extra little push we need to get us going. I'd like to share some absolutely fabulous blogs with you that can provide you with that much needed inspiration.

Yes, this is supposed to be a store blog, 'tis true....but let me tell you a little bit about me personally. Back before Scott and I bought our little store, we had been renovating our home and we discovered our passion for design and decor. I'd always had a flair for decorating, but the whole-house redo put our talents to the test. I ended up studying interior design and joined a few decor-specific Internet groups to increase my knowledge. From one group, an MSN group named "Great Impressions", I formed many friendships with some very wonderfully talented ladies & gentlemen, many of whom I still keep in touch with today.

Scott and I have been waiting for the right time to introduce decor topics on this blog and it seems there's no better time than the present. We're selling more and more decor items in the shop and on-line at our website so it's not a big stretch to bring information about decor to you via this blog. We encourage those of you who have decor questions and concerns to ask here. Scott and I and our many decorator friends would love to chime in with advice to help you out.

We also encourage you to check through our friends' blogs and websites. They're all listed below on our blog roll, but let me list them as links for you. They are:

http://allthingsetsy2222.blogspot.com My friend Elizabeth's blog, A Breath Of French Air probably smells as good as it looks! She makes and sells her own fantastic soap products, and is also a decor and gardening buff extraordinaire.

http://www.backporchmusings.com My talented friend Pat's blog is amazing. Pat is not only an accomplished decorator and floral stylist, she's an amazing photographer, too! Stop by and admire her wonderful taste and exacting eye....all her photos are magazine worthy!

http://cakesandcupboards.blogspot.com My friend Lisa, another talented decorator, also makes the most wonderfully creative cakes. When in need of cake inspiration or decor inspiration, she's your girl! I also know she's very good with power tools!

http://deardaisycottage.typepad.com My friend Kim's blog, Dear Daisy Cottage, is another wonderful source of decor inspiration. Colorful and full of light-hearted whimsy, her home and blog are fun-filled spaces that will make you smile!

http://jassman.typepad.com My friend Jill's blog, Follow Your Bliss. Jill's lived all over, most recently in France, and I can remember her posting pictures of her lovely French home. She's back in the U.S. and into paper crafting and photography, of which there are many peerless examples of on her blog.

http://howtokeephouse.blogspot.com My friend Sue's blog, How To Keep House. She's got that perfect touch....you'll love going through her gorgeous rooms!

http://penchantsponderingsandposies.blogspot.com My friend Maureen's blog, Penchants, Posies & Ponderings exudes beauty. Mo is another accomplished decorator and photographer, and her gardening shots are exquisite. Check out her latest postings of her tablescapes....they are a must-see!

http://dec0r8or.blogspot.com My friend Sharon's blog, Serendipity, is a pleasure to read. Tons of inspiration here, this accomplished woman has decorated showhomes all over the upstate NY area and is rather awesome, if I must say. : )

http://smallplacestyle.blogspot.com My hero of small homes! My friend Lisa's blog, Small Place Style, is a delightful read, also. She's got the solutions for living small beautifully!

http://southernhospitalityblog.com My friend Rhoda's blog, Southern Hospitality, is a fabulous foil for her incredible talent. If you're looking for inspiration, this Southern Belle has it in spades!

http://www.roxandthings.blogspot.com My friend, Lisa's blog, Rox and Things, showcases her awesome talent for home decoration and jewelry making. They say things come bigger in Texas, and I guess they're right....Lisa's got a huge amount of talent!

http://roseeliff.blogspot.com My friend Rose's blog, The Center Of Myself, is your one-stop destination for ohm-filled, soul searching goodness. Her fabulous Orange County home is the source for decor inspiration, also.

http://thedecoratedhouse.blogspot.com My friend Donna's blog, The Decorated House. An inspired designer, this Florida decorator's taste is incomparable. She's a creative multi-media artist who is magical at whatever she does - there's a link to her Etsy shop on her blog.


All of these sites offer the best of the best and more inspiration than you'd ever want. Keep in mind as you view these blogs that the women who write them have done most of their home decoration themselves. Meaning, they climbed the ladders and primed, painted, Venetian plastered, buffed, or textured their walls themselves. They scrapped, sanded, cleaned, bleached, stained and painted their garage-sale or bargain basement finds themselves. Some made their own art, some found theirs on Ebay, but all have their creative juices running to the max. This is especially advantageous during difficult economic times, because you tend to save a lot of money when you do the work yourself. We could all benefit from knowing how to accomplish certain home renovation projects, and what better people to ask than those who've done it successfully themselves? I invite you to ask away....I'll get back to you as soon as humanly possible.

I've been trying to get Blogger to attach links to my post, but it refuses to be cooperative. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I can't spend any more time on it...Scott's making pizza while I pound the keyboard, it's 8:40 pm and I have clothes in the wash. Please either scroll down to the very bottom of of the page and click the links there, or cut and paste the URLs into your browser window....so sorry for the inconvenience.

Next post, we'll take a look at our friends' blogs in the Altadena/Pasadena area. We love to spotlight creativity whenever we find it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Over The River and Through The Woods

It's that time of year again - families gathering together to give thanks for their many blessings. As the day draws closer, we at WFS want to wish you and yours a warm, safe and happy Thanksgiving.

The holidays are approaching quickly and with them come numerous events, parties and gift-giving opportunities. We know this year has been a tough one for many people, ourselves included, so we decided to kick off the season with our very first annual Black Friday sale. We'll open at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, November 27th, and for 7 1/2 hours only (until 4:00 p.m.), prices will be substantially cut. No coffee, no cookies and no gift wrapping services will be offered this day, but you will find great bargains! If you spend over $50.00 at the sale, you may come back and get one item wrapped for no charge....just save your sale receipt.

Another way to grab extra savings - donate needed food items for Five Acres and receive a 10% off coupon for your trouble. Bring that coupon in on the 27th and enjoy an extra 10% savings off any item on sale or not. Yes, that's right....an EXTRA 10% savings, even off sale prices! There are only two days left to donate food to the families at Five Acres and this year they need our donations badly. Please help out this worthy Altadena cause and get a little help for yourself in the process.....a win/win situation for all.

In other news, there's lots of talk about the Pasadena Weekly's recent article about businesses closing in Pasadena and Altadena. Here's the link to Altadenablog's excellent reporting of it: http://www.altadenablog.com/2009/11/economic-woes-hit-the-denas. What is particularly interesting are the comments that follow it. There's also an interesting little article about the old days in Altadena, called http://www.altadenablog.com/2009/11/business-as-it-used-to-be-on-mariposa. There was a comment on this article that really hit me and since it mentions us directly, I feel the need to respond. The comment, from William Korn, in gist stated that it's not just lack of customer loyalty that keeps folks from shopping at their local businesses. He states that he tries to shop locally but, "On the other hand, I used to shop for office supplies at Webster's preferentially, even though the prices were substantially higher than at the "big box" places. But when they moved to an stand-alone store, they started not carrying the things that I was shopping for. I'm willing to pay a premium for shopping Altadena, but if I can't shop, what am I supposed to do?"

This is such a common sentiment among some folks I've talked to in the recent past. What stands out most in all those talks is that "prices were substantially higher for office products at Webster's but I was willing to pay them". Trust this, nothing makes me more incensed than hearing that. Do you know that the office products prices at Webster's were the absolute SAME or LOWER than the big-box prices at the time, verified by my husband, Scott Webster? Seriously, readers, the prices were honestly the same or lower, but there is no changing people's perception. They are going to see things the way they want to see them, and that is that prices were lower at Staples, Office Max and Office Depot. There is no arguing with perceived value and that's one of the main reasons I want out of selling office products, because we can't win that game. I can't change your mind, so why spend any more time (we're talking years here) and money? Let's focus on something else, something we can do, do well and win. Maybe Mr. Korn liked buying his office products with us and we thank him for that, but at the prices we were selling this merchandise at, we would've had to have the volume of sales Staples has. How unfortunate that we never did have that kind of volume. I'm done beating that dead horse and we're moving on. Hopefully, Mr. Korn will have a need for some fine stationery, a nice pen, a beautiful gift or card....or maybe he'll like the fact that we specialize in locally made, made in the U.S. and fair trade gifts & accessories. Yes, we'll still carry pens, paper, school and desk supplies, but not as much as in the past. We'll do what we do best and pray the community will support us.

Another thing in our headlights is the North Lake Pole Shop Hop on December 12th, and a book signing by Andre Coleman on the 11th. More about that in another post, but save those dates, because it's going to be fabulous!

Friday, November 6, 2009

WFS Gives To Danny's Farm and Five Acres!

There are several exciting things going on at WFS these next couple of months! The holiday season is quickly approaching, and of course we'll be dressing up the store but we thought we could do a lot more than decorate and hang ornaments.

I've said before that in economic times such as these, it's our local charities and non-profits that suffer the most. When people feel they have little to give, charitable donations are the first to be cut from the budget. We understand and believe me, our store doesn't have room for much donating, either. But you know what? We're still in business and our crew members are still employed and for that we're thankful. In that spirit of thankfulness, we are going to be donating to two Altadena non-profits - Danny's Farm and Five Acres. Read on and discover how we'll be accomplishing this.

Danny's Farm is a a local non-profit with an amazing premise. We love how the Gott family's vision has improved and enriched our community! They even have plans to expand that vision which will create more opportunities for the disabled in Altadena. To get there, they need our help and they need your help. If you order custom holiday cards from WFS this year, we will donate 15% of the net cost to Danny's Farm. Don't let the word "custom" scare you away....these cards are cost effective and beautiful. Best of all, you can be the designer of your own holiday card! We will have our catalog of holiday cards on-line at by late next week. From now until January 1st, if you order your gorgeous holiday cards through Webster's Fine Stationers, we will donate 15% of the net sale to Danny's Farm and that's a very good thing.

Five Acres is another local Altadena non-profit that is near and dear to our hearts. They're running a Thanksgiving food-drive for the population they serve and we want to help! We'll be collecting the donations here at WFS, but here's the thing: when you bring your food donations in, please give them directly to a crew member. That crew member will give you a coupon for 10% off any purchase you make at WFS. You can use that coupon that day or save it for later use. It's just our way of saying thank you for making a food donation to Five Acres. We also have $10.00 coupons that are good for the same amount off a purchase at Macy's on Saturday, November 14th. Your purchase of these coupons benefits Five Acres and are redeemable on regular, sale or clearance priced merchandise purchases of $25.00 or more. Remember, these are valid on November 14th only. To buy one, just ask one of our crew members.

Also on our radar for the weeks coming up is a book signing with Altadena author Andre Coleman. Stay tuned for more information on that event!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vision Before Focus

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with a lovely woman I met through networking. Her name is Joan Rudder-Ward and she's a photographer. She writes a blog called Picture Your Success, Successful Ventures With Photography. She teaches new and established photographers how to branch out and be successful at selling their art through different venues.

She plans on publishing a book she's writing on the subject by the end of the year. She chose me to interview about how I go about buying artisan cards and what special things I look for. I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion, which ended up being about much more than artist's cards. I was touched that she felt so in tune with what I spoke about, but now am verklempt as I read what she wrote about me. I have to reprint it here so you can read it, too:

"Vision Before Focus

This spotlight interview is with someone who is not a photographer, yet there are valuable lessons here for anyone wanting to start or expand a business venture.

Lori Webster is the owner of Webster’s Fine Stationers, a family business that has been serving the Altadena, California area since 1926. I interviewed Lori for my new book on how to start your own greeting card business (release set for December 09) , because she buys custom photographic greeting cards for her store. She gave very good information on the whole process of how she buys them, how to price them, the best methods of making contact, and what store owners look for in purchasing greeting cards. This information will be revealed in the book.

Though the business has been around for 83 years, Lori, with her husband Scott, have owned their store for the past two years. We had a chance to talk about the challenges they are facing with consequences of management decisions made before they took over, the effect of big box stores moving into the area, and the economy.

Lori exemplifies what it takes to successfully start and run any type of business, and I’ll relate these to starting and running a photography venture. Even though the store has been established for years, change is needed to meet the varied challenges the retail sector is facing in today’s world. Therefore, in putting a “new face” on Webster’s, it is parallel to starting a new venture.

3 vital things you must start with to have a successful photography venture

Vision

~~Lori’s vision for the store goes beyond stationery. The vision is to offer the community more lifestyle choices in what they carry, such as recycled and fair trade products, and products made locally and in the USA. They offer much more than stationery as customers can purchase products for their home and office, for their children, for school, and even for their appetites with the gourmet food selections they offer.~~

What does your ” finished product” look like? What is your vision? In other words, what goal do you have for your photography venture?


Is your goal to have a full-service boutique- style studio that caters to expectant mothers and their children? Or is it a weekend wedding business where you are booked three weekends a month? Perhaps it’s the art market where you want your images displayed in fine art stores in your city, or across the country. And then again, you may only be interested in having good images for your own personal reasons, such as documenting family history that can be passed down to generations to come.

Solidify your vision. “See” your end result from the start.

Craft a Plan

~~Lori is attending a 26-week ““Business Builders Boot Camp” where she is crafting her plan to reach her vision for the store.~~

Once you have your vision, you then need to craft your road map, your plan, to get there. This is the time to do research and gather the resources that you need. It’s a common joke that creative people don’t like taking care of the business end of things in learning the left-brain parts of launching a successful venture… like creating business plans and setting up and accounting system. You don’t necessarily have to create a full-blown business plan, but business acumen is necessary. Small Business Development Centers can be found in most cities, with business classes available for nominal fees. They also have counselors that can help guide you to beneficial resources. You can also seek the assistance of professional photographers who offer consulting services.

Work the Plan

~~Even while she’s going through the business boot camp, Lori is simultaneously working her plan, by supplying her store with products and services that match the vision she has for the store.~~

One of the challenges of being in business is the follow-through on the different aspects of a plan. Diligence and perseverance are key to fulfilling your vision. Keep moving forward and stick with it. You can do it!"

------------

Wow! I am beyond honored that Joan would think enough of me and the store to write this article and I'm so thankful that we got to meet. I only hope that someday I can return the favor, but for now a simple thank you will have to suffice. I also want to thank you, Joan, for the prayers - I appreciate them more than you know.

Links to the story and to Joan's blog are below on my blogroll.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Haute Halloween Spookfest at WFS!



Witches on their broomsticks fly
Ghouls hitch rides with vampires sly
Ghosties and goblins arise from their lair
All decked out with frightening flair,

They're coming to town real soon, I hear
Youngsters and oldsters quiver in fear
Of dreaded apparitions in the dead of the night
When silence runs deep with the absence of light

Join us to welcome this gruesome crew
Come party – let's have a Halloween do
At WFS, wear your scariest outfit
‘Cause 10/31 is reserved for it!

Bring the kiddies, bring Grandma
Bring yourself, bring your pa
Bring everyone, get ready to greet the night
Filled with fabulous Halloween delight!

----Lori Webster

_____________________________________________________________________________________

MAKE PLANS NOW TO JOIN US!

Make plans now to join us Saturday, Oct. 31st, at WFS for Halloween fun and festivities! Pick up coloring pages for the kids to create Halloween masterpieces that'll be hung on our Halloween tree. Each artist will be entered into our Haute Halloween drawing and names will be drawn at 2:00 p.m. Don't miss out on the wonderful prizes for kids and adults! There will be treats, too, for what's Halloween without treats? You won't find any tricks here, though....just straight up, spooky fun.

Following the drawing, we'll take the kids on a Halloween Procession up and down Lake Avenue and around to the back of the store. You're encouraged to participate, but definitely bring a camera – you won't want to miss out on this perfect Kodak moment! We'll march back into the store for more festivities, fun and Halloween treats!

Remember, all this on Saturday, October 31st, from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tempus Fugit

Hey,
Don't write yourself off yet.
It's only in your head you feel left out,
Or looked down on.
Just try your best,
Try everything you can.
And don't you worry what they tell themselves
When you're away.

It just takes some time,
little girl, you're in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright.

Hey,
You know they're all the same.
You know you're doing better on your own,
So don't buy in.
Live right now.
Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn't matter if it's good enough
For someone else.


Hey, don't write yourself off yet.
It's only in your head you feel left out,
Or looked down on.
Just do your best,
Do everything you can.
And don't you worry what their bitter hearts
Are gonna say.

------Jimmy Eats World
"The Middle"


Wow! Two weeks has flown by almost without my knowing it! Time's like that sometimes....you blink and it's gone. My friend, Debi Swanson-Patrick, mentioned that she hadn't seen any posts from me in a while and I thought, "really? I haven't?" I swear it seems like just the other day that I had.

When I last posted, Michelle, our manager, had found a more secure job elsewhere and left us on Oct. 2nd. Thanks to all the wonderful people who wished her farewell, I'm sure she'll miss you! Since then it's been a whirlwind of training - not just Leilana, who has been promoted to manager (yay, Leilana!), but our two new crew members, Trish and Devon. We've also been busy planning our Haute Halloween Night on Saturday, October 31st. The whole crew is involved in planning this event, so I'm confident that we'll all have a frighteningly fun time! I'll be posting more information about it mid-week, and keep your eye out for updates after that.

Yesterday was my 3rd class at the Business Builder's Boot Camp at the Women's City Club in Pasadena. I'm still awed by the talent of the women who are teaching and attending this class with me! They're all fascinating and I'm learning so much, not just in the class but by being in the company of such powerful women. It's an empowering thing to be bouncing ideas off of and having meaningful, intelligent discussions with this part of the area's top movers and shakers....for that's what we are, no doubt about it.

What we're learning is how to build a business phase by phase. By research, data, life experience and intuition, it is possible to fashion a successful business and by hard work, perseverance and sheer determination it is possible to keep that successful business going. Having the talent needed doesn't hurt, either. We're finding out, each of us, how we're going to craft that business and if the resident population in our areas will support it. Personally speaking, I want to be able to write a business plan that will take us where we'd like to be and also help guide us into the future. I'd like to grow that plan to encompass the North Lake Business District and its merchants. Cooperative advertising, cross promotion and building community are things that we should be doing all the time - I'd like to help us get there. Promoting a healthy business environment, nurturing it and keeping it thriving are key elements to a successful Altadena.

So while I'm busy learning how to improve this part of my world, please feel free to drop in, have a cuppa, a cookie and a looksee around the store. New things coming in for the holidays, which are almost directly upon us. Escape for awhile, indulge and allow yourself a small luxury or two. Enjoy the experience and if you do, please let us know. You can leave messages on this blog, you can contact me via email at lorinscott_1@msn.com or you can leave a suggestion in our suggestion pumpkin on the coffee table at the store. You can even write comments in our guestbook! I suggest you check out our website, too....it's informative, user-friendly, and best of all, chock full of wonderful things, some available on-line!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.....

"Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strain)
Ch-ch-Changes
Don't tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strain)
Ch-ch-Changes
Where's your shame
You've left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can't trace time"

---Song lyrics by David Bowie

Since my last post, there's been quite a few comments about the situation at Webster's here on this blog, on our Facebook pages and on Altadenablog. The general consensus of opinion seems to be that the walls between the stores and the lack of good customer service has severely impacted area residents' willingness to shop at Webster's. Scott and I and our entire crew understands that. We're working extra hard to bring quality shopping back into the fabric of life in Altadena because we believe you deserve it. We'll keep pushing until all parties involved understand this concept as well.

Having a thriving business center on North Lake Avenue is a sweet dream of ours. With some work and cooperation, the dream could become reality. The work the Altadena Arts Coalition has been doing toward this end has shown great promise. We're in the midst of planning our next event, tentatively scheduled in conjunction with the lighting of Christmas Tree Lane in December and we're so excited about it! Fabulous things are in the works, so definitely stay tuned for more details as we plan them out, and follow my updates on Twitter.

As a store in transition in an uncertain economy, WFS has been able, for the most part, to hold its own. We are grateful to Webster's Pharmacy and our supporters, without whom we wouldn't have made it this far. As a result of this uncertainty, though, many of our employees feel insecure, and I don't blame them....I've been feeling a little insecure myself. Our manager for these past two years, Michelle Perata, is leaving us tomorrow for a better job elsewhere. We wish her the best of luck and will miss her dearly. She's helped us keep it together throughout the confusion of construction, the transition to being our own separate store and then helping retrain everyone to be the type of sales crew we envisioned. She's a wonderful gal and I hope you'll come by Friday to say goodbye to her. In Michelle's honor, we're serving cake (from Pastries by Nancy!) and lemonade from noon on and offering a 10% discount if you mention the code phrase "Michelle is the best manager"!

As sad as it is to see Michelle go, we're tickled that we could promote from within and give Leilana De Los Santos the position of manager. She'll be leading our crew Monday next, so if you haven't met her yet, drop by anytime to say hello. We're also sad to announce the departure of one of our newest employees, Tania. Her mother hurt her back and Tania left her position to help her out. We wish Tania the best of luck, also, and hope her mother's health improves soon. With Tania gone, we were left with two positions open and are thrilled to say those positions were filled within minutes. Our two new crew members are Trish and Devon, both local residents and both very smart, beautiful young ladies. We're building quite a team for you here at WFS and there's no time like the beginning of fourth quarter to hone their customer service skills. We'll have interviews with the new crew members soon.

We're also planning our Haute Halloween Festivities for Saturday the 31st. Keep reading to stay informed of our plans, and drop by the store anytime for decorating inspiration!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Out Of The Pan And Into The Fire

Scott and I received the following letter in the mail today, addressed to our store but unsigned and with no return address. One has to wonder why they addressed this to us. Was it because they knew the letter wouldn't fall on deaf ears? The letter rings eerily true with the posts I've been writing lately about what's fundamentally wrong at Webster's Shopping Center. Please take a moment to read this letter, then scan back and peruse my posts of the past several months. Letter follows:

" LETTER FROM DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER 9/18/09


WEBSTER’S

PHARMACY
FINE STATIONERS
HALLMARK STORE



TO THE OWNERS OF THE PHARMACY, FINE STATIONERS, AND HALLMARK STORE,

I HAVE BEEN A CUSTOMER OF WEBSTER’S, IN ALL ITS PERMUTATIONS, FOR OVER 50 YEARS. I CHOSE TO SHOP WITH YOU BECAUSE I WANTED TO KEEP MY DOLLARS IN THE COMMUNITY AND SUPPORT YOU. I DON’T PARTICULARLY LIKE THE LARGE CHAIN STORES, AND PREFER THE CONVENIENCE OF SHOPPING WITH YOU, EVEN IF I SPEND A LITTLE MORE. IT WAS WORTH IT TO ME TO KEEP MY BUSINESS IN THE AREA WHERE I LIVE.

AFTER OVER 50 YEARS, I DON’T SHOP WITH YOU ANYMORE, AND FROM THE LOOKS OF YOUR PARKING LOT, I DON’T THINK A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE DO EITHER. YOU COULD CHALK IT UP TO THE ECONOMY, BUT THE REASONS I DISCONTINUED FILLING MY PRESCRIPTIONS AND BUYING CARDS AND GIFTS WITH YOU GO WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND THE ECONOMY. IT HAS TO DO WITH YOUR COMPLETE LACK OF CUSTOMER SERVICE.

RECENTLY, I’VE EXPERIENCED AN APPALLING LACK OF SERVICE IN YOUR PHARMACY. MY DOCTOR’S OFFICE HAS CALLED IN PRESCRIPTIONS THAT DON’T GET FILLED CORRECTLY. IN ONE CASE, THE PRESCRIPTION CLEARLY CALLED OUT THAT GENERICS COULD NOT BE SUBSTITUTED. YOUR PHARMACIST WENT AHEAD AND FILLED THE PRESCRIPTION WITH A GENERIC WITHOUT CALLING MY PHYSICIAN OR ME. I DISCOVERED THIS ABNORMALITY WHEN I PICKED UP THE PRESCRIPTION.

WHEN I BROUGHT IT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE PHARMACIST, I DIDN’T EVEN GET SO MUCH AS AN APOLOGY. AFTER 50 YEARS OF DOING BUSINESS WITH YOU, (AND WE SPEND SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH IN PRESCRIPTIONS AND OTC), IT IS THE LAST PRESCRIPTION I WILL EVER FILL WITH YOU. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I’VE TRIED TO REFILL PRESCRIPTIONS VIA YOUR PHONE SERVICE RECEIVED A VERIFICATION VIA PHONE THAT THE ORDER WAS CONFIRMED, RECEIVED A PICK-UP TIME AND DATE ONLY TO SHOW UP AT THE COUNTER AND BEEN TOLD THAT YOU DON’T HAVE THE MEDICATION ON HAND, AND IT WON’T BE AVAILABLE FOR A DAY OR TWO. AND NEVER ONCE DID YOU, OR ANYONE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION, PICK UP THE PHONE TO ALERT ME TO THIS. INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, YOUR COMPETITORS ARE MORE THAN HAPPY TO CALL ME AND KEEP ME INFORMED OF MY PRESCRIPTIONS’ PROGRESS, SO I WILL BE SPENDING MY PHARMACEUTICAL MONIES ELSEWHERE.

I RECENTLY VENTURED INTO YOUR PHARMACY LOOKING FOR A SKIN CARE PRODUCT YOU HAVE CARRIED FOR YEARS. I COULDN'T FIND IT. I WAS THE ONLY CUSTOMER IN THE PHARMACY. THE ONLY ONE! AND THERE WERE TWO LADIES BEHIND THE COUNTER, LEANING UP AGAINST THE WALL. I ASKED THE OLDER LADY WHO HAS BEEN WITH YOU FOR YEARS IF YOU CARRIED THIS PRODUCT. SHE JUST POINTED DOWN THE AISLE TO ME. SO I HUNTED, AND HUNTED, AND STILL DIDN’T FIND IT. SHE COULDN'T BE BOTHERED TO HELP. SHE WAS TOO BUSY STANDING BEHIND THE COUNTER DOING NOTHING. ON MY WAY OUT, I SAW THE PRODUCT, BUT BY THAT TIME, I DECIDED THAT YOU DON’T DESERVE MY MONEY. I WENT TO CALIFORNIA PHARMACY, HAD A GRACIOUS LADY HELP ME, PURCHASED WHAT I WENT IN FOR AND SOME OTHER ITEMS, AND LEFT AS A HAPPY CUSTOMER. TELL ME, DO YOU HIRE YOUR CLERKS TO LOAF BEHIND THE COUNTER, OR TO HELP CUSTOMERS? IF IT IS THE LATTER, YOU ARE PAYING GREATLY FOR EMPLOYEES WHO ARE HURTING, NOT HELPING, YOUR BUSINESS.

THE HALLMARK STORE IS NOT EXEMPT FROM THIS LACK OF CUSTOMER SERVICE. I ONCE ROUTINELY SPENT AT LEAST A MINIMUM OF $100.O0 A MONTH IN YOUR STORE FOR CARDS, STATIONERY, GIFT WRAP, GIFTS, TOYS, ETC. I VENTURED IN A FEW WEEKS AGO LOOKING FOR TWO BIRTHDAY CARDS, SOME TABLE FAVORS, GIFT WRAP AND RIBBON, INVITATIONS, TWO GIFTS AND STICKERS. AS I WAS LOOKING THROUGH THE CARDS, TWO THINGS HAPPENED.

1. A VERY ELDERLY LADY WALKED INTO THE CARD SECTION. SHE WAS LOOKING FOR A CARD THAT SAID, “BEST WISHES FOR YOUR 90TH BIRTHDAY”. SHE WAS HOPING SHE COULD FIND ONE, BUT IF NOT, SHE WANTED SOMETHING VERY TRADITIONAL AND PRETTY. THE YOUNG LADIES BEHIND THE COUNTER COULDN’T BE BOTHERED TO HELP HER. THEY WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT HAVING TO CLEAN UP AND CLOSE OUT. I HELPED YOUR CUSTOMER FIND A PRETTY CARD, AND HELPED HER TO THE CHECKOUT COUNTER WHERE SHE MADE HER PURCHASE. INCIDENTALLY, THIS CARD FOR A NINETY-YEAR-OLD WAS FOR HER YOUNGER SISTER. THIS CUSTOMER WAS AT LEAST 91 YEARS OLD, AND YOUR YOUNG, HEALTHY, ROBUST CLERKS COULD NOT LIFT A FINGER TO ASSIST HER.

2. WHILE THE ELDERLY LADY WAS SHOPPING, A FRAZZLED CUSTOMER ENTERED FROM LAKE AVENUE. SHE WAS LOOKING FOR A WALKER FOR HER MOTHER WHO JUST RETURNED FROM THE HOSPITAL. SHE LOOKED UP AND DOWN THE HALLMARK STORE AISLES, UNATTENDED AND UNAIDED BY YOUR EMPLOYEES. I FINALLY STEPPED IN, AFTER ASSISTING THE ELDERLY LADY WITH HER CARD PURCHASE, AND TOLD HER THAT I BELIEVE THE WALKERS CAN BE FOUND TWO DOORS UP IN THE PHARMACY. SHE TOLD ME SHE HAD CALLED IN ADVANCE, AND NO ONE TOLD HER WHAT DOOR TO GO TO, OR THE DIFFERENCES IN THE STORES. YOUR CLERKS, IN FACT, LOOKED AT HER BLANKLY, AND TOLD HER THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHERE SHE COULD FIND WALKERS! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?

SO I SAVED YOU TWO SALES AND TWO CUSTOMERS’ ONE CARD SALE IN THE HALLMARK STORE AND THE ONE WALKER SALE IN THE PHARMACY. I, HOWEVER, DID NOT MAKE A PURCHASE THAT DAY. I WAS SO DISGUSTED WITH THE ENTIRE SCENE THAT ON MY WAY HOME FROM WORK THE NEXT DAY I STOPPED AT THE HALLMARK STORE IN LA CANADA. THE FRIENDLY PEOPLE GREETED ME AS I WALKED IN AND ASKED IF I NEEDED HELP. I TOLD THEM WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR, AND THEY SHOWED ME EVERYTHING I NEEDED, AND MORE! I WALKED OUT OF THERE THAT DAY FINDING ALL I WANTED, AND PAID $437.35. THAT IS $437.35 THAT DID NOT GO TO YOU. I NOW DO ALL MY HALLMARK AND GIFT SHOPPING IN LA CANADA AT THAT STORE.

THE SAD THING IS THAT I CAN GIVE YOU DOZENS OF EXAMPLES OF WHY I DON’T SHOP WITH YOU ANYMORE. THE TROUBLE IS THERE ARE A LOT OF FOLKS IN THE COMMUNITY WHO THINK THE SAME WAY I DO. WE DON’T LIKE THE WALLED IN ATMOSPHERE, (SORRY THE FAMILY BROKE UP THE BUSINESS FOLKS, BUT THERE ARE PLENTY OF WAYS THAT TECHNOLOGY CAN DEAL WITH KEEPING STOCK AND SALES SEPARATE WHILE KEEPING THE IDEA OF A LARGE SHOPPING CENTER INTACT). NO ONE WANTS TO SHOP IN THE DARK FINE STATIONERS SHOP, AND WE ALL LIKED THE CONVENIENCE OF GETTING OUR PRESCRIPTIONS FILLED AND WALKING AROUND PICKING UP OTHER ITEMS. I LOVED BEING ABLE TO GET SCHOOL SUPPLIES, HALLMARK CARDS, OTC ITEMS, ETC., WITH ONE-STOP SHOPPING. I DON’T LIKE YOUR TOTAL LACK OF CUSTOMER SERVICE, YOUR SHORT-SIGHTED ATTEMPTS AT WALLING IN YOUR SHOPS, YOUR “LET THEM EAT CAKE” ATTITUDE. I HAVE FOUND PLENTY OF OTHER FRIENDLY, HARD-WORKING, ESTABLISHMENTS THAT WELCOME MY BUSINESS.

GO OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW. LOOK AT YOUR PARKING LOT. IT’S EMPTY, RIGHT? I REMEMBER A TIME WHEN IT WAS DIFFICULT TO FIND A PARKING SPACE IN YOUR LOT DURING THE WEEKEND OR HOLIDAYS. YOU CAN HAVE ALL THE SPECIAL EVENTS YOU WANT, YOU CAN ADVERTISE ALL YOU WANT, BUT YOU WILL NEVER HAVE THE CUSTOMERS YOU NEED UNTIL YOU PROVIDE GOOD, FRIENDLY CUSTOMER SERVICE AND HIRE PEOPLE WILLING TO GET OF THEIR BUTTS TO HELP THE CUSTOMERS. AND AS LONG AS YOU KEEP UP THOSE CONFINING WALLS, LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY, THAT DIVIDE YOUR SHOPS AND YOUR FAMILY, YOU WILL NEVER HAVE THE CUSTOMER BASE YOU NEED TO SUCCEED.

IT’S NOT JUST THE ECONOMY, FOLKS. IN THIS RECESSION, YOU HAVE TO GIVE BETTER SERVICE TO GET THE CUSTOMERS. YOU DON’T HAVE MY BUSINESS, AND I KNOW YOU HAVE LOST THE BUSINESS OF DOZENS OF OTHER LONG-TIME CUSTOMERS DUE TO YOUR NEGLIGENCE. WAKE UP BEFORE YOUR STORES, AND YOUR NAME, BECOME JUST MORE FOOTNOTES IN ALTADENA’S HISTORY.

PLEASE CONSIDER THIS FEEDBACK FROM A FORMER CUSTOMER WHO TOOK THE TIME TO TELL YOU WHY I WON’T BE COMING BACK UNTIL I HEAR THAT YOU HAVE TURNED YOUR BUSINESS, AND YOUR ATTITUDES, AROUND."

First of all, let me address the person who wrote this letter to the Pharmacy but delivered it to us. Thank you very much for this. Really and truly, thank you. Scott and I been asking for feedback from our customers for two years now, trying to engage everyone in the area. We knew the division of the stores wouldn't be readily accepted without any communication by management to the public. We knew the lack of customer service was a problem with the other stores and this is why we've been such sticklers with the crew here about ours.

But this isn't about which store has better service, because the simple fact of the matter is that the public perceives as as one entity. We can divide it up all we want but we can't change our customers' perception and this is why we advised long ago that we all work together to maintain at least the illusion of our being whole. Sadly, that was ignored. We have to ask why they ignored it, which was, loosely, the basis of my last post.

Ellen Snortland, a customer and friend, had a quote in her writer's workshop series, "Author Bite By Bite" (a wonderful group that can be found on Facebook) that particularly appropriate for what's happening here. It's an old Zen saying that "The gate to enlightenment is guarded by two lions: Confusion and Paradox". How very true that is. How very sad it is that Webster's hasn't been able to get past those two lions to find their way to a clear path. How it pains us to watch this happening without being able to do much about it, other than make sure our own store doesn't fall victim to the same pitfalls.

What I'd like to know now is what effect this letter is going to have on the Pharmacy. Maybe it'll be the catalyst they need to pull it together. It'll take a lot of tough love, but I firmly believe that it can be done. With our help and your help, I believe it can be done. What can you do to help, you ask? Please, please, let us know what you think....without your input we are rudderless. Post here, post on our Facebook Fan Page, write letters, come into the store and talk to us. For months, I've been asking this with little response....c'mon, Altadena, you can be vocal when you want to be!

One last thing to the author of the unsigned letter - we know the lighting in our store needs to be addressed. It's been the same since the 60's and never got updated like the other areas of Webster's. It takes a lot of money to change lighting in a retail store (it's not like buying lamps for your home) and we don't have the money right now. I'm a decorator, so this bugs me every single time I walk into this store but I'll have to be patient. Little by little, our store will become as wonderful as I envision it being but it'll become that vision only with your support. We sincerely hope that we can entice you back as a customer. We promise not to disappoint.

One more little thing. This customer who wrote the letter states that he or she has "been a customer of Webster's, in all its permutations, for 50 years". If they were, then they'd remember when the stores weren't all interconnected. Sometimes the people who patronize a certain store are a bit afraid and resistant to change, too.....just sayin'.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Learning Curve at Webster's Fine Stationers

I’m embarking on an adventure. Today I started a 26-week course given by the Women’s City Club of Pasadena called “Business Builders Boot Camp”. The brainchild of Lilli Cloud, Donna Chaney and Jennifer Hamilton, this course will help me formulate a sound business plan for our store. I was blown away with the absolute awesomeness of the women attending along with me, and I feel that this is without doubt one of the most positive things I’ve done for our store so far. I need to learn more about how to steer our business toward the goals we set upon taking ownership of it. I want to learn how to maintain those goals and add to them and how to grow after realizing those goals. I can’t wait to soak in the knowledge and expertise all these wonderful women are offering and I’m so thankful that I happened to be invited into the group. I’m one lucky gal to have such fabulous friends and to have the chance to make more!

In class I spoke of our store and the history of Webster’s. We were identifying what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are for our businesses and I volunteered to be the class example. It was an exciting discussion and I actually learned so much from listening to my classmates’ comments. Hands down, the top ranked strength for us was our name recognition. We discussed what a powerful tool name recognition is, then we talked about what can happen to that name recognition if it’s not given the proper care and attention it deserves. In other words, the store’s weakness is its lack of follow-through.

What Webster’s has become is a perfect example of what happens when you become complacent. Paraphrasing Petrea Bruchard in her article about us in her blog, Pasadena Daily Photo, Webster’s sat up on that hill and never really had to do much to attract shoppers. We were the only game in town and it was exciting at the time to have a nice place to shop in the neighborhood. We were the town’s hub and it was good. But local shopping fell out of favor. New and more exciting big box stores opened nearby and then warehouse stores came along. Things were less expensive at these places, you could get similar items for less, so business for Webster’s began fall off. The shopping demographic changed and we didn’t change with it, or we didn’t change in the right direction. With the years of neglect came apathy and denial, lackluster service and a general feeling of malaise that could be felt by customers. I noticed it when I took a full time job in the business office there in 1995 and I’ve talked with many people who’ve noticed the same thing throughout the years.

With Bill Webster’s retirement and the splitting up of the stores two years ago, our store began communicating with the public. We became very active on social media sites and have worked diligently to improve our visibility and reinforce our brand. Scott and I have made so many new friends and reinforced old friendships that we’re very thankful for. Many of these friends have offered advice, most of which we’ve taken to heart. But one piece of advice leaves us a bit flummoxed. Move on, they say, after learning about our trials with the Webster’s Corp…..find another storefront to rent where you’ll be more successful and get out before you go down with them. We’ve heard it from several different sources recently, especially now with the advent of Karen’s Hallmark‘s demise. I get where these friends are coming from, I truly do. But Scott and I just can’t reconcile moving the business away from Webster’s. What would happen to the main store if we did that? Where would that leave them? And more importantly, what would that say about our integrity?

Integrity is vitally important to Scott and I personally and it’s vitally important to us as a store. If we don’t follow through with what we’ve promised, then what are we? Integrity is also important to us in relationship to our family, reciprocated or not. If not for Webster’s, there would be no Webster’s Fine Stationers, and for that opportunity alone we’re more grateful than we can say.

Two years ago, we envisioned a small complex of stores working together to make a healthy whole and unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We’re now experiencing the closure of the Hallmark store, which will of course affect us all, and not in a good way. It will negatively affect the store on so many different levels, it’s staggering. Hopefully, though, this will become the catalyst for the two remaining stores to work together closely, and most of all, to learn from this experience. Scott and I remain hopeful because we believe in our store. We believe we can offer the community many benefits, which we’ve discussed in prior posts. We remain hopeful that with our help, Webster’s will remain in the community, but remember that we’ll need your help, too. Remember to shop local and please remember that Webster’s stands for Altadena.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Localization "Breathing New Life Into Neighborhoods"

So says an August 31st article in the OPEN Book: Trends, by American Express OPEN. The entire quote reads, "Localization breathing new life into neighborhoods and offering a better way of life in the process. Local businesses are perfectly positioned to participate." I couldn't agree more. If you've been reading along with this blog, you know I've been advocating buying local and telling you of the benefits to your community when you do for a couple years now. I've also been espousing community involvement, hence our partnering with The Quality of Life Center, Five Acres and our current involvement with the Altadena Arts Coalition and The 3/50 Project.

More and more, people are realizing that shopping at their local, independently owned businesses helps keep their communities not only unique but economically viable, as well. Many factors are instrumental this localization movement: the spotlight on natural foods and farmers markets, the realization of our ecological impact and the drive toward sustainability all come into play. Most of all, though, is the fact that most of us consumers prefer to do business with someone we know.
Couple this with the growing evidence that buying locally supports the community. You've heard me recite the figures before, but once again couldn't hurt. A study commissioned by the Andersonville Development Corporation indicates that $100.00 spent at an independent neighborhood business creates an additional $68.00 of local economic activity, compared to a benefit of only $43.00 if the $100.00 were spent at a chain or franchise. And we all know that business success attracts further business, the process fuels itself - revitalizing local commercial operations and leading to further growth.

Future growth....that's such a nice thing to think about. I imagine the North Lake Business District as a bustling commerce and retail center - hopefully one day that will be true. But it's very much in jeopardy at the current moment. As you've probably already heard, Karen's Hallmark is going out of business. That will leave Webster's center with one less business paying rent to the Corporation. It's a sad, sad state of affairs that a once vibrant shopping complex is reduced to just the Pharmacy, Liquor and Webster's Fine Stationers. Half the customers still don't realize that WFS is a separately owned business. Whether Hallmark's closing is a result of the Corporation's lack of communication with their customers or is just a general reflection of today's lousy economy is a tough call, but it is something that I warned about in my blogpost "Can Webster's Be Saved?".

While I'm encouraged by the information cited above in the American Express OPEN article and others of the same nature, it means nothing if it's not happening here in Altadena. If residents here don't undertand or care that shopping locally can improve your community's economy, which can only result in good things for all of us, then God help us. As of December 1st, there will be no Hallmark to shop at. That's harsh, but it's reality. It's also reality that the employees there will be out of work and adding to the unemployment statistics.

I'd like to take this opportunity to assure you that Webster's Fine Stationers will be doing everything in our power to stay viable, to stay relevant and most of all, to stay open. We promise to remain in communication with you via this blog, Facebook, Twitter and our newsletters. We promise to listen to you and your suggestions. Many of our customers are already aware of our desire to form a customer advisory board and we'll be moving forward with that plan soon. In fact, anyone who's interested on sitting on the board is welcome to contact me. I have two customers willing but I do need 3 more.

Above all things, WFS wants to thank all of you who've been so supportive of us. Please know that we appreciate you so much!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Altadena Arts Coalition Throws Another Great Party!

We asked people to come celebrate Altadena last night and boy, did they celebrate! A party was greatly needed, since the Station Fire has burned up just about every one's stress levels (see Petrea Bruchard's blogpost on this subject at her excellent blog, http://pasadenadailyphoto.blogspot.com
People arrived in droves, and it did our hearts good to see happy smiles on the faces that last week were creased in expressions of worry and fear. Credit for this photo goes to Debbi Swanson Patrick and you can see more at her insightful blog, http://www.altadenaaboveitall.com/

PROJECT:ALTADENA was a wonderful success, too, and just what the doctor ordered for our beautiful town! Deepest thanks to the creative minds of Molly Tierney and our fellow AAC compatriots Ben McGinty, Steve Salinas, Jeff Klein and Lance Anderson for their hard work putting this whole thing together. It was fabulous to see firemen from our Altadena Fire Station on El Molino enjoying themselves and receiving a well deserved thanks from the attendees. Credit for this photo goes to Timothy Rutt of Altadenablog fame:

Here's a shot of the exhibit wall, credit to Tim Rutt:

In conjunction with the Project: Altadena! exhibit, businesses along North Lake Avenue held open houses, staying open later than the norm. Here at WFS, we hosted 6 of our Altadna authors Andre Coleman, Ellen Snortland, Michele Zack, Revvell Revati, Michelle Huneven and Jervey Tervalon. What a fantastic group of minds they were! I regret that I couldn't spend as much time as I wanted to with them, due to my commitments to the Coalition, but I couldn't have asked for a nicer bunch. Each author brought their own special spice to the mix and the result was fascinating. Response was so positive and I'm hoping to have more literary events like this in the future. Here's picture of four out of the six authors mentioned, credit again to Tim Rutt:

From left to right, pictured are Andre Coleman, Ellen Snortland, Michelle Zack and Jevery Tervalon. Also very fun and delicious was Revvell Revati, author of Smoothies & Smoozies For Life and Revvellutionize Your Life In 30 Days, making samples of her smoothies in store!

Everyone enjoyed Altadena's own band, Wreck and Sow, as they fiddled, strummed and sung the evening away....credit again to Tim Rutt:


I'd like to personally thank each and every one of you who came down to enjoy the exhibit and party last night! Altadena has a diverse population, it's true, but the one truth that holds us together is that we are a town of determined and intrepid people. Nothing can deter us if we set our minds to something, not even fire. If you couldn't make it last night, we understand that life has been a little bumpy lately. There will be a next time (in December!), which will be just as good, if not better. Remember to follow us on Twitter (@lorinscott) for updates on what's happening in Altadena, with the Arts Coalition and at Webster's. We're also on Facebook so quick....become a fan of the store and get all our updates that way.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Altadena Arts Coalition's North Lake Business District Open House!




Remember how great the last North Lake Business District's open house was? The Altadena Arts Coalition is about to do it again on Saturday, September 5th! Starting at 5:00 p.m., Project: Altadena! photo exhibit will be unveiled in Galloway Alley, right behind Altadena Hardware & Steve's Bike Shop. There will be food booths highlighting selections from O'Happy Days, Chef Jeff's creations from The Coffee Gallery and sandwiches from the Park Bench Deli, plus there will be a taco booth, too! Altadena's own band, Wreck & Sow, will be playing for your enjoyment....brothers Pierre and Andre Dupuy along with band members Mike Stave, Randy Cochran and Dan Leahy are all set to tear it up. This night is going to be huge, people!

Various merchants on North Lake will be open late and offering their own entertainment and goodies....Webster's Fine Stationers will host a book signing with Altadena authors Andre Coleman, Revvell Ravati, Michele Zack, Michelle Huneven and Jervey Tervalon. We'll also have Bo Astrup's LA Photobooth outside the store so you can record your memories of this fabulous evening forever!

We urge you to come check it out. Project: Altadena! will be the largest photo-exhibit of its kind in Altadena history. Over 2,000 photos, all taken with disposable cameras by Altadena residents of what they love about "their" Altadena! One photo from each entrant will be enlarged to 8X10 and will be on display (and for sale) at Altadena Junction on El Molino Ave.

After all the anxiety over the Station Fire, Altadena could surely use a party. Come join us Saturday, Sept. 5th at 5:00 p.m. and let's celebrate Altadena!

Altadena Burns!



Fire season is always a challenging time in California, particularly for those who live in mountain and foothill communities. Altadena is one such community and as you've most likely heard, the Station fire, which started in La Canada, is still burning out of control here. From the information I've gathered, this fire is unpredictable but we thank God that the winds haven't blown the fire further down the hills than it already is.

The photo above, courtesy of Bill Westphal, shows the dangerous fire behind his neighborhood. The following photo was taken by Lori Paul, of the Altadena Foothills Conservancy, on her mad dash home from Las Vegas after they received news of the fire. This is on Lincoln Avenue north, taken yesterday:


This is a very frightening time for all of us here in Altadena and we at WFS extend our sympathies and commiseration to those who have had their lives disrupted by this fire. Having lived through the Eaton Canyon fire in 1993, when I lived in Las Flores Canyon (east and north of the top of Lake Ave., near the Cobb Estate), I know exactly how it feels. I know we can't do much to help, but I do want you to know that WFS will be open regular hours and if you need a place to come to while you sort things out, please feel free to do so. We will have Altadenablog on one of our large shipping computer monitors for you to keep up with information on, and as always, cold lemonade and cookies for all who need a quick snack and a cold drink.

We pray the fire is extinguished soon without further damage, and urge everyone to keep informed by checking Altadenablog .

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's What's Inside That Counts

"Truckin' like the doodah man
Once told me "Gotta play your hand
Sometimes the cards ain't worth a dime
If you don't lay them down"

Sometimes the lights all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been"

----The Grateful Dead


With the lyrics from this song reverberating around my head, I can't help but relate it to our life these past two years. Creating Webster's Fine Stationers from an erstwhile pass-through department has been a long, strange trip, indeed. Fraught with obstacles and setbacks, it's not a stretch of the truth to say that we've been tempted to call it quits several times. But just when things seem bleakest, Scott and I remember why we're doing this - why the challenge of creating a thriving shop against all odds is important to us. It's because we believe in Webster's, we believe in Webster's Fine Stationers and we believe in Altadena.

As we come up on our two year anniversary, we can look back and see all the tangible things we've done to improve WFS. The layout, the decor, the merchandise have all changed for the better but one thing has remained a constant that's not tangible - our dedication to providing Altadena with a shopping venue that's hip and on the cutting edge of cool! There is no other place in the area that offers as much sustainable merchandise as we do. No one offers the amount of products made right here in the U.S. as we do, and no one offers the ambiance and the customer care that we do. We prefer to deal with local vendors and artists and when we can't find what we want inside the U.S., we are trending toward companies who offer fair trade practices in those countries where they have their merchandise made.


We love to deal with those companies who donate to charities. Open Hand is one such company and we're expecting their first shipment any day now. Open Hand is based in Atlanta, Georgia, but their products are made all over the world using fair trade practices. Their employees are paid well and they make sure that they and their families are covered by adequate medical insurance. If that weren't enough, they donate 10% of their proceeds before taxes to charities here and abroad that fight human trafficking. Praols, another new company for us, makes their beautiful jewelry right here in the U.S. and employs financially distressed, stay at home moms and women who are heads of their households. Two new card lines for us, Wiley Valentine and Uncooked, Inc., are U.S. made - Wiley Valentine is made right here in Orange County, CA. As always, we feature handmade jewelry by local Altadena artisans, Jewels of the Earth by Diana, Ruthie Castro and Julie Lyn Pircher. We carry handmade cards by local artists Donna Barnes-Roberts and Athena Meltzer, and are searching for more local artists.

Companies that use recycled materials is important, too, and many of our vendors do. Most importantly, however, is their use of post-consumer waste materials and two of our major vendors do just that. Amber Lotus, maker of fine cards and calendars (in store now) and The Green Paper Company are both producers of products that contain from 30% to 100% post-consumer waste. We believe that this is important and we hope that you, do, too.


It's been said by several of our Very Important Customers that it would be wonderful if we had windows like the adjoining stores do. I wish we did, too, because what a statement we could make with them! However, price precludes that option at this time. We'd rather spend what little money we do have on products like I've mentioned above, and we do have to pay rent. Until we can address the situation, Scott came up with our new tag line, which is the title of this blogpost. My husband is a genius, because that little tag line says it all and more! It's IS what inside that counts....not only the merchandise but inside the hearts of everyone who works at Webster's Fine Stationers. Come in today and experience it for yourself! Follow us on Twitter (@lorinscott), become a fan of our store on Facebook and see our pictures on FlickR!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saving Time & Effort at WFS!



As we prepare for the busy months ahead, we take a nostalgic look back at the quickly passing summer and wish fervently that it would never end. But end it does, and with it begins the fall season – back to school, Halloween, Thanksgiving. Everything’s a rush and it’s difficult to get everything done without pulling your hair out in frustration! Take heart, because we can help cut your stress level….relax a moment and read on.

One of our elite customers mentioned to me that she didn’t think enough people in Altadena knew what a variety of things we carry in the store. Now, I know that she was referring to our upscale stationery and giftware, but it got me thinking and I realize she was spot on. Webster’s Pharmacy never really advertised the Stationery Department much, other than sending out catalogs and flyers of hard-core office products that not many people looked at. Our new website and this blog are helping to change that. You can access our site using the link on the right-hand side of this blog. Let me explain how Webster’s Fine Stationers might be able to help you out.

There’s a good selection of back-to-school merchandise in stock right now. We’ve just received our latest shipments of great things that everyone needs for all levels – pens and pencils, erasers (highly collectable Japanese shape erasers in sets and single), sharpeners, paper, binders, notebooks, comp books, graph paper, compasses, protractors, Crayolas of all sorts and portfolios. We have poster board, tri-fold project boards, art paper and construction paper. We carry scissors and rulers and extra practice workbooks.

You might not have known that WFS is an authorized UPS and FedEx shipping outlet. We can not only accept your pre-paid drop-offs for pickup, we can package up just about anything for you. Sending your young college student’s clothing and supplies from our store is so easy and pleasant, why drive down into Pasadena, get stuck in traffic and fight for a parking place? We’ve got a huge parking lot right behind the store and you can park right by our back door. If your package is heavy, just let one of our crew members know and we’ll help you with it. Our prices are competitive and the other places just can’t match the ambiance of WFS. Will Box City or Kinko’s offer you a fresh, hot cup of coffee (with real cream and sugar) or a cookie? We will! Does either of those stores play cool music like we do? Highly doubt it. We’ll even pull up a chair for you if you get tired!

Many of our customers have given us kudos on our packaging expertise. Mrs. Margaret Brozovitch, a longtime Webster’s customer, told us just the other day how pleased she was that all her family heirlooms (porcelain and crystal) arrived safely at her niece’s home in Minnesota! One of our customers’ sisters called me from back east to tell me that the shipment sent to her from WFS was the best packing job she’d ever seen. We take what we do seriously and we care for your items as if they were our own. You can’t get that kind of service in any chain store.

WFS is also your home-office away from home. We have a high-quality Xerox fax that will get you in and out in just minutes, barring any trouble with the fax numbers. Our prices for faxing are competitive, too, we’ve called around to make sure. Kinko’s doesn’t give you a price break if you have 5 or more pages - WFS does. If you have more than 11 pages, your price goes down even more! We can also copy for you, bind booklets for you and laminate cards and pages up to 8 ½” X 14”.

Again, getting down to Pasadena or further is a chore. All that traffic, parking trouble, who needs it? The money you might save at a chain is eaten up in gas burned and frustration levels skyrocketing. Again, a gentle reminder to shop local and support your community – come see us at Webster’s Fine Stationers, we’re here to help!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Real Final Installment of Meet The WFS Crew - Meet The Owners!


It's funny the things you forget about when you're busy. I was telling a friend about the blogposts I'd been writing - installments about our crewmembers to introduce them to our customers. I told her how much I enjoyed interviewing them and getting to know them that much better. She loved that idea and wanted to know what I wrote about Scott and I. "Oh, I told her, "I hadn't really thought about writing about us". "Well, why not?", she asked. Indeed, why not? So here's our introduction, in case you haven't met us yet, and maybe something new you didn't know about us if you already have.

Actually, I've written and rewritten this three times already. I've discovered why I'd "forgotten" to do a piece on the two of us....it's extraordinarily difficult to write about yourself. I could go on about us - our home, our dog and two cats, our daughter whom we're so proud of - but I'd rather you have pertinent information about us instead. We can get to the other things later.

When we were given the opportunity to buy WFS, our immediate thought was not how we were going to get rich from this store. Of course, we'd like the store to make enough income so that we, and all of our employees, could be comfortable and secure -that goes without saying. But our first thought was how we could use the store as an instrument to help Altadena. In our opinion, success is not just a solitary thing....if we are going to be successful, then Altadena needs to be successful, too.

You've read how we feel about Altadena from our prior postings on the subject. We are Altadena advocates! It's a beautiful town with a population of highly creative people. But people need to understand that as a town, Altadena is languishing. It gets a lot of bad press and the sad thing is that some people believe that bad press is a good thing....it keeps people away and that keeps the town secure. What the bad press actually does is attract a bad element, much the same way the Old West's lawlessness attracted known criminals. We'd like to be instrumental in changing the way Altadena is perceived by others.

The best way to do that is by increasing the revenue the small businesses in Altadena make. The more money they make, the more revenue the County of Los Angeles makes in tax dollars. A lot of people don't know that the amount of tax revenue a town makes is directly correlated to the amount of services it receives. If Altadena is on the lower end of the revenue scale, the easier it is for the Supervisors to ignore us and pass us over for any incentives, programs, etc. Scott and I would like to see a successful, thriving Altadena, where more county funds are freed up for the residents and business owners to partake in. We'd like to see improvement for the North Lake Business District. We'd like to help the district become more pedestrian-friendly - to help make shopping here a more pleasant experience than it is presently.

All these wants are just so much dust in the wind if people don't understand the logic of shopping locally. This is the reason for our advocacy of The 3/50 Project - http://www.the350project.net/home.html - we must educate our people about the dangers of big-box and chain stores. This is the reason that we're concentrating our buying at the store from companies that make their products here in the U.S. and preferably, make them in California. Even better if they make them in Los Angeles or here in Altadena. Scott and I enjoy buying from local artisans and local companies. We like the feeling we get knowing that in some small way we're helping stop the free-fall the U.S. has been on with huge corporations, like WalMart, basing their production in China and other countries. We enjoy bolstering not only our local economy, but the U.S. economy as well.

We hope that you'll attend Sunday's Positivi-TEA and give us a chance to explain our views in person. Come meet us, have some fun and hear what we've got to say....we promise to listen to you, too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Positivi-TEA!

Before WFS became it's own entity, the Stationery Department at Webster's Village was primarily known for office products. For forty plus years, it carried a huge variety of sometimes esoteric office merchandise that not many other stores had. The amount of pens alone staggered the mind and there were more mailing envelopes than I'd ever seen anywhere. The store was legendary and rightly so. Office products were hot items and the run was good while it lasted, but times and tastes change. Demographics change and especially now, the retail climate has changed. When WalMart can offer "everything your child needs for back-to-school for $9.00", you know it's time to get off the bus. We're experiencing a paradigm shift away from what was and have entered into uncharted retail waters.

Of course, you've noticed the changes at Webster's. I've written about it in prior blogposts, back when not many people were reading them. That's changed, too, and I'm honored to know that at least a few more of you out there have been reading and following along with this blog. But that hasn't addressed the rest of the folks out there that don't interact on-line. There's still confusion and concern about the change that we hear about every day. We could say that there's a general feeling of Uncertainty. We could ignore that Uncertainty, as seems to be the present course of action, or we could confront Uncertainty and turn it around into Positivity!

That's exactly what we plan to do. We'd love you to join us on Sunday, August 16th at 3:00 P.M. for WFS' "Positivi-TEA", a celebration of Webster's history and a look toward our future. We'll be serving a proper high tea (as proper as we can be with no tables and chairs), so there will be finger food, beverages and lots of give-aways! Come have some fun - see old pictures of Webster's back in the day (you might even spot your grandma). Come learn about the new Webster's Fine Stationers and how we can fit into your shopping life. Mingle with friends, see and experience our newly arrived products and hear what our plans are for months ahead. Most importantly, come participate in a discussion of why we made the changes we did and how it affects you. We'd love for you to give us a chance to hear what you think. We'd love it if you'd make the time to come see us on Sunday. We do need to know approximately how much food to serve, so if you would please RSVP it would be appreciated. Simply email me at lorinscott_1@msn.com, sign up on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/webstersfinestationers or leave your email in our guest book at the store. See you on the 16th!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meet the WFS Crew....Final Installment



One of the many perks of owning a small business is the privilege of working with some really great people. Sometimes when you hire someone, you just know in your gut that they're a great fit for your organization. This is not a common occurrence, as a lot of us know, but I think that WFS has been blessed in this regard. To illustrate this, let me introduce you to our two newest crew members, Tania and Sean. Both are local residents and we're so thankful that they happened into our lives here at WFS.

Tania, another full-time student at Pasadena City College, came to us on a recommendation from her friend, Betsy. As you'll recall, we wrote about Besty in our 3rd installment. Tania works part-time with us and when she's not working or in school, she's doing schoolwork. She says that she spends so much time studying that it's hard for her to help her mother, who owns a small food-service business herself. One wonders when she even has time to walk her dog to the nearby park, another favorite pastime of hers. She's studying so hard because she's got big plans....she's transferring soon to a four-year college to work toward her B.A. in sociology. When asked what she liked about working at WFS, she says, "it's satisfying to know that I'm working for a family-owned store, especially one that's been around as long as Webster's." She says that she likes that she's learned that by supporting our local businesses, we're helping to support the community.

Sean, our newest and youngest crew member, hit the pavement looking for a job after a gentle push from his mom. Just graduated from Loyola High School, he's gaining experience before going off to college this fall. So much for Sean's endless summer of fun before entering USC, where he'll minor in piano and decide later what his major will be. After talking with Sean at the job interview, we knew that his dedication to piano was a good indicator of character and perseverance. These qualities are needed here because the job isn't easy. Sean enjoys swimming, golf and writing when he's not occupied with work or music, and he loves travelling. Maybe if he stays at WFS, I'll have him help write this blog! When asked what he likes most about working at WFS, Sean says, "I like the fact that it's local; you get to see a lot of familiar faces. I also love the home-like atmosphere here."

We also like our homey little store and want to thank our crew who help make it that way. I want to thank you, our readers, for taking the time to meet and, in some small way, getting to know our crew. My greatest wish is to keep these wonderful people....people who live here, help their families here and work toward their dreams here....employed. Please shop local, it's important to all of us!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Different & Special? California Gift Show Report, Summer 2009

WSL: Women ready to spend on home – if goods are ‘different’
-- Home Textiles Today, 7/23/2009 10:55:00 AM

New York – WSL Strategic Retail’s recent consumer survey found women are itching to spend again, if carefully. The top four items on their list: apparel, vacation, a night out and decorative home items.
But they’re not seeing the kind of merchandise that would stimulate a purchase, according to the consultancy.
WSL’s “How America Shops/Pulse of Shopping Life” found 48% of women surveyed could afford to shop but want to spend on items that are “different and special.” Among girls age 13 to 17, 50% would be willing to cut back on small purchase for something more expensive “if they really wanted it.”
One-in-four women said they were tired of penny-pinching and “ready to splurge,” according to the survey.
-----------------------------------

That’s the article I received from a retail-specific publication in my email today. Great news and something that I think Webster’s Fine Stationers can definitely offer our customers! Our fabulous WFS buyers, Lori and Michelle, handpick everything here. We also have the input of our crew, who hears what you’re saying about what you’d like to see in our store. All our merchandise is special and isn’t something you’d find elsewhere. From our hand-made Altadena signs and cards to original oil paintings and picture frames, we’re stocking the decorative items you want at prices that aren’t out of this world. Even our office supplies are different. Many companies we feature are made here in the U.S. and you don't have to buy a pack of 50 file folders, envelopes, Post-It Notes or sheet protectors. Pens, pencils, binder clips and report covers are also available individually.

The Summer 2009 California Gift Show just ended Monday and I thought it was the best show we’ve been to. Granted, attendance was down due to the economy but those who were there were upbeat and looking forward to happier times ahead. The mood was lighthearted and we were happy to spend time in those showrooms that had the best and brightest to offer. It was nice to have time to make critical decisions and not be distracted by hundreds of buyers clamoring for attention.

I was personally very enamored by a newish company called Open Hand, out of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Although their merchandise is made outside the U.S., they are a fair-trade company and provide all their artisans with safe, clean working conditions, fair wages and medical insurance for their families. Their products – scarves, wraps, jewelry and bags – are made out of post-consumer waste material and are uniquely beautiful. I love their messenger bags made out of recycled billboards and rubber tires! What’s great about this company is that they donate 10% of their profits across the board, before taxes, to organizations committed to helping people who have been subjected to the injustices of human trafficking here in the U.S. They’ve partnered with Wellspring, an Atlanta-based non-profit that helps women and girls who’ve been victimized by the effects of alcohol and drug addiction, depression, and working in the adult entertainment industry. Human trafficking takes many forms and is a complex problem. As long as there is a demand for products and services, and there are people living in poverty who are easily taken advantage of, trafficking will continue. We’re proud to be helping in any small way we can…look for Open Hand to arrive in store shortly.

Just in is inspirational jewelry and décor from Praols, a California company who manufactures their merchandise in Chula Vista. They create unique handcrafted jewelry and believe that everything in life carries a message. Therefore, their bracelets and necklaces aren’t just jewelry, but a fun way to pass the message on. Stay-at-home moms and low-income single mothers that find themselves in dire circumstances make the line. Working for the flexible company, these women are able to earn an income without the burden of day-care expenses. This great company’s merchandise arrived this morning and we couldn’t be happier to introduce it to you!




Check back in soon for another sneak-peek of the new items we’re expecting in.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Report from the California Gift Show

Hello faithful readers from the L.A. Mart on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles! There's not so much foot traffic this season as there has been in the past, but I suppose everyone's waiting until Friday, when the temporary exhibitors open on Floor Two. Even with less traffic, though, things are still humming along, and there's some fabulous new innovations that we're seeing. I'll give a more detailed report after market, but listen to what we've picked up on so far.

Green is the new black and I'm happy to report the amazing amount of recycled and post-consumer waste recycled products being shown! This tells me that eco-consciousness is not "just a fad", as was predicted a couple years ago, but here to stay. We are proud to support this effort by bringing in as much eco-friendly product as we can. Another cool thing is that the merchandise being shown is much better looking than in past seasons, and there's many more fair-trade companies climbing on the bandwagon. Yay for them!

Calling cards are in, in, in! In today's busy world, emails get missed and not everyone sees your status reports on Facebook or catches your Twitter updates. What's a trend-conscious computer-user to do when you can't get your message through? Leave a calling card, of course! Playing on a wonderful Victorian tradition, calling cards today have the punch of style needed to get you noticed when all else fails. As a reminder, WFS can make gorgeous, custom calling cards for you at very reasonable prices. No need to break the bank to be a trendsetter - come see us and we'll tell you all about it. You can save a bit, too, by looking us up on Yelp.com (http://www.yelp.com).

Cowhide and giraffe prints are sizzling this season! We're all over it and we're searching the show high and low for a taste of it.

More updates to follow....stay in touch.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bloggus Interruptus Affects WFS!


We've caught that dreaded disease, Bloggus Interruptus, and accordingly, posting will be light this week.

Bloggus Interruptus is an incredibly disabling virus, especially in the summer, and is shared amongst retailers across the nation as they attend the July Gift Shows. To date, there is no cure, so the only hope is to go to these shows and buy what you pray your customers are looking for. We will be searching out unique merchandise made by local companies, prefferably sustainable, recycled and multi-purpose.

Rest assured that we'll be back as soon as the virus runs its course and we'll continue with the "Meet The WFS Staff" posts. I'll leave you with a picture of my home garden (when it looked good)....ciao until next week!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Meet The WFS Crew....Installment 3


Now that you know Michelle and Leilana, it's time to introduce you to Betsy, our resident artist and muse.

Betsy's real name is Violetta, but that's a mouthful, so she mainly goes by her nickname. We call her our artist because she's so creative and her lettering is perfect. She's responsible for making the majority of our hand-written signage in the store and outside.

There's a sense of quiet strength to Betsy, and her love of children shows in all she does. Put her anywhere there are children and she's happy. Betsy works part time with us, mainly in the mornings and weekends because her "real" job is working at Mayfield Jr. School in Pasadena. It's too cute to hear the children calling her "Miss Betsy" when they come into the store! Betsy says that she loves to be around children because it's from children that she learns about life. In her own words, "not only do kids brighten up your day when you're feeling blue, they also make you feel so loved".

Betsy and her family are local residents, too and when she's not working, she loves to be with them. She also loves listening to music. Music, she says, is therapy for the soul. She wants to go back to school to get her college degree and work with kids. She's not sure yet if she wants to be a juvenile probation officer, a social worker or a teacher, but she's working on the decision. She also dreams of helping her mom buy her dream home someday. Most young people Betsy's age would think of buying themselves something, like a new car or clothes, but not Betsy. That's what we love about her - always thinking of someone else's needs before her own. That was so evident during her little sister's recent bout with leukemia, which thankfully, she seems to be winning. She was there for her in every way possible and that's difficult when you're working two jobs. Kudos to Betsy for keeping it together for her family during such a terrible time.

When asked what she enjoys most working at WFS, she replied, "it's close to home, so that's a plus! I also like the fact that we get involved with the Altadena community, make donations and want to make improvements. I like that we inform people about how your town benefits when you spend your money in locally-owned businesses. I love how we've shifted our emphasis toward earth-friendly and locally-made products and feel that we've taken that important first step that hopefully other retailers will follow. But the best thing about WFS is that I love my co-workers - we're like family!"

You're like family to us, too, Betsy - thank you for all you do!