Saturday, March 21, 2009

The 3/50 Project

Click on the badge and read about how you can strengthen your community today!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Food Drive for Five Acres!

Now through April 6th, Webster's Fine Stationers will be collecting donations of food items for Five Acres. The following items are desparately needed to aid in providing the families and children of Five Acres with Easter meals:

Potato mixes
Salad dressing
Stuffing mixes
Cake mixes
Bread mixes
Pie fillings
Canned fruit
Pie shells
Canned vegetables
Baking chocolate
Frozen roasting chickens
Jams and jellies

If the hard financial times have affected us, think how they've affected the families and children of Five Acres, . Let this be a new beginning.....a season of hope and sharing.....please come in soon with a donation of any of the above items and put your name on our Wall of Kindness. Remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Times, They Are a-Changin'......

Those of us of a certain age will remember Bob Dylan's iconic lyrics to this song, which I'll copy here:

"Come gather 'round wherever you roam,
And admit that the waters around you have grown,
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth saving,
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone,
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics who prophetize with your pen,
And keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again.
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin,
And there's no tellin' who that it's naming.
For the loser now will be later to win,
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen please heed the call,
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall,
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled,
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls,
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land,
And don't citicize what you don't understand,
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,
Your old road is rapidly fading.
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand,
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn and the curse it is cast,
The slow one now will later be fast,
As the present now will later be past,
The order is rapidly fading.
And the first one now will later be last,
For the times they are a-changin'.

These lyrics, written in the l960's, are more relevant today than ever, in a variety of ways. You could apply them to our country's current economic situation and our new presidential administration's efforts to combat it. You could also apply these lyrics to the state of big business in the nation today. Narrowing that down, you could apply these lyrics to small, independent businesses, and that includes Webster's Fine Stationers.

Let's break this down and look at each facet, starting with the country's changing economic climate. "Transparency in government" is what President Obama espouses, and the large companies and corporations in the U.S. had better change their ways or there will be consequences, as we're beginning to see.

The large chain stores and big boxes are having to scramble now to hold onto their market share, and many of them are failing to do so. We've seen the demise of big box stores such as Circuit City, Linens & Things, ZGallerie, Bombay Stores and Cost Plus World Market. The latest to fall is Expo Design Centers, a division of Home Depot. According to USA Today's Jayne O'Donnell and Sandra Block, "the National Retail Federation said retail sales are expected to drop 0.5% this year, the fist annual decline since the NRF started tracking sales in 1995."

"Most consumer behavior we saw in '08 will continue well into this year", says Rosalind Wells, NRF's chief economist. "Shoppers will be seeking value and trading down to discount and off-price retailers in order to stretch their dollars."

Even though spending is expected to increase in late 2009, no one's predicting a return to the frivolous shopping patterns from earlier this decade. Now, when consumers spend, they're paying attention to what they buy and this shift toward more cautious spending is likely to last.

USA Today cites the downturn as the main reason for the dreary retail sales, but there are other factors at work here. Many have realized that it's not necessary to buy new vehicles or furniture every few years, unless the car dies or the springs give out on the couch. Carol Steidtmann, Deloitte Research's chief economist for consumer business said the spending slowdown was predictable. After a spending boom like the one that occurred after the September 11th terrorist attacks, he said, "you always see a return to simplicity".

To compete in this environment, retailers need to get back to their roots, says Janet Hoffman, a global retail managing partner of a large retail outfit. That means "knowing their customers and coming up with a unique offer or product, price, or in some cases, service", she says.

Emphasizing local ownership is one way to stand out in a crowd. This is particularly important to small stores like Webster's, who've been active in their communities for years. A survey of independent retailers in a wide range of categories found that sales fell an average of 5% in December, vs. a decline of 8.9 for retail sales overall, according to the Institute of Self-Reliance, a non-profit research organization. Retailers in cities that sponsored a "buy independent/local" campaign reported an average decline of only 3.2%.

Consumers who patronize local businesses instead of big box stores are "realizing that cheaper is not the same as value", says Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance.

This is exactly where Webster's Fine Stationers can fit into your shopping matrix. We're local, we're independent, we're unique and you won't find better customer care in the area. Stop in today and see just how WFS can take care of you and your home shopping needs. Mention this blogpost to any one of our staff and you'll enjoy 10% off our everyday low prices. To encourage dialog on this blog, our cutomers who leave a comment are entitled to a free gift! When you're next at WFS, claim your comment to one of our staff members. After a quick verification, we'll give you a little something for your trouble. We'd love to see more active participation here because we want to know what you think.

In the near future, WFS plans to start hosting in-shop instruction on how to make your decorating budget stretch by using multi-function, reused, reclaimed and re-purposed items. There's no need to spend hundreds of dollars accomplishing something that you could easily do for pennies on the dollar. We'll talk about that in more depth in a later post, but I want you to be assured that WFS is trying to find the newest, most exciting merchandise that works within your budget. Times are tough, we know.....but sometimes it's just soul-satisfying to buy yourself a little something that doesn't break the bank. Come see us and let us show you what we can do for you!