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'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 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 - - 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


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, sign up on our Facebook page at 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!