Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hope For Christmas - A Holiday Tale

Once upon a time, there was a small pharmacy located in a town just outside of a large city. The people it served were happy and, like in many small towns, most everyone knew everyone else.

As time passed, the little pharmacy grew. Operated now by the son of the founder, it matured into several different departments, each one connected to the other. The people could buy greeting cards and gifts; they could peruse the magazines or eat at the lunch counter. They might wander through and decide they needed a pen; there was a place to mail your letters and ship your packages. The townspeople rejoiced, for there were no other stores like it for miles around. The son of the founder rested, thinking no store compared.

As he was resting, nefarious businessmen plotted and schemed and opened a new type of store. This new store, the SuperStore, was a breakthrough in the land! Groceries, home goods and office needs - all in one place and at low, discount prices! Why go anywhere else, when this new store was sort of convenient and the prices so alluring?

The townspeople now rejoiced in the new store. The SuperStore was the place to be, they had all the stuff - but there was something missing. The son of the founder of the little pharmacy, now a big, grown-up store, wondered why the townspeople deserted him. He couldn't quite put his finger on what the problem was. He consulted with many people, but he didn't like the answers. The son of the founder grew weary.

The thing missing from the wonderful SuperStore was caring, knowledgeable employees who give excellent customer service. The nefarious businessmen who thought up the SuperStore didn't give a fig for customer service. "We don't pay 'em enough to care", they thought. That was their mistake and could be their downfall, just as growing weary was the son of the founder's Achilles Heel.

The son of the founder looked around and decided that things needed to change. For the first time, he thought of putting the store back to the way it was in the beginning. A small pharmacy surrounded by other small stores, who could be separate. At his decree, the stores were divided and operated by different people. The townspeople were confused and angry. They didn't want to walk out of one building and into the next. They wanted to walk through the stores like they always had! So many of the townspeople boycotted the stores.

The son of the son of the founder, who bought one of those stores, was very hurt. "Did the townspeople forget that I served them at my father's store for 35 years?", he wondered. "And why doesn't my father tell anyone how proud he is to pass the reins of this store onto me?" The son of the son of the founder wanted to show his father that he indeed had learned while working for him. He wanted to create the best little store he could with what he had purchased. Sadly, the son of the son of the founder was hampered by events that he had no control over. Still, he labored on, convinced his fortunes would soon change.

One day, not long before the Holidays (which are a very important time of year in the town), the son of the founder sold the little pharmacy. He sold it to a pharmacist who had owned a store renowned in its community nearby. The pharmacist and his wife met with the son of the son of the founder and his wife shortly after the sale. They was decided that it was time the two stores work together again, paving the way for bigger and better things in the future. The two couples rejoiced, knowing that although the transition would be hard, the many benefits to the community and to their stores would be truly amazing. --- The End

I've written this mock fairy tale to show that hope comes even in the darkest times. It's especially meaningful at this time of year. Come celebrate a new era for Webster's and Webster's Fine Stationers on December 18th, starting at 11:00 a.m. New owner Meredith Miller will be hosting a sample sale of her jewelry line "Pokerchip Girl" - vintage poker chips beautifully enhanced by hand with genuine crystals and embellishments. Simultaneously, Webster's Fine Stationers will be hosting their annual Holiday Open House, with a Champagne tasting at 2:00 p.m. For you non-drinkers, hot apple cider will be on tap, along with our signature gourmet coffee and cinnamon tea. Festive finger foods will also be served. Keep up with the information about our Holiday Open House on our Facebook page!

My friends, have a wonderful holiday season and we hope to see you on the 18th. Come by, meet Webster's Community Pharmacy's new owners and talk to them about their plans. Drop by our store and join in the cheer, for we have everything to celebrate this season! We'll be taking a blogging hiatus until after the 25th.

Until then,

Lori and Scott

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celebrating Altadena!

The holidays are upon us and it was happily evident at Saturday night's North Lake Pole Festival! Everything from the sledding hill with real snow to Santa's cheery presence put fair-goers into a festive frame of mind. Altadenablog at has some great photos of all that was going on, so if you weren't there yourself, you can hop right over there and check them out!

This weekend saw two art shows running in conjunction with the Festival - the final ArtBender Weekend at The Gallery At The End Of The World and Altadena Junction's photography exhibit "100-Mile Runners At The Finish Line". Both were outstanding - the photos at the Junction were a powerful experience. One of the proprietors, Marisol Martinez, took part in that race. To see her, photographed just after she ran over that finish line, is to experience the exhilaration of such a thing, if only for a moment. Incredible!

Next week is the Christmas Tree Lane lighting ceremony and with it, another opportunity to rejoice in the uniqueness of Altadena. We'll be there to see those magnificent Deodar cedars lit with their thousands of lights and we hope to see you!

Things are getting mighty holiday-ish at the store. We had a small setback with getting the Christmas trees decorated, however it should all come together these next few days. For retailers, we're seriously behind the prescribed program. I just happen to like Christmas at Christmas, not in July. Can I hear an amen?

Hope you all have a wonderful week, my friends! Don't forget that there are coupons available for use through December on Altadenablog and at the Chamber of Commerce website at We'd love to see you use them!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Small Business Saturday Love

It's a given that whenever we have something important to get ready for, some of us or most of us catch whatever ailment is going around at the time. Never fails, and getting ready for the holiday and our first ever Small Business Saturday event and sale was no exception. It started with one, traveled to another, then another, then me. However, we soldiered on and had one heck of a wonderful time! We got part-way decorated (the rest will just have to wait until we all feel better) and Small Business Saturday was a raging success!

It's humbling to know there are people out there who really care. People all around Altadena and even from further away rallied to The 3/50 Project and American Express' joint venture to help independent retailers across the nation. They came with a purpose, they were on a mission, and Scott and I are verklempt! We think every single one of you are fabulous, but to those who came out shopping yesterday - you know who you are - we can't thank you enough. We look forward to celebrating this day each year and we'll plan bigger and better things to do with it in the future.

Speaking of celebrating, the merchants of The North Lake Business District (formerly The Altadena Arts Coalition) will be hosting our North Lake Pole Festival on Saturday, December 4th. Vendors, community information, food, entertainment, petting zoo, Santa and best of all, fresh, real snow! Yes indeed, friends and neighbors, real snow for tubing and sledding, right in Galloway much fun is that? I know, it's the same day as the USC vs. UCLA game, but that's ok. The Festival starts at 4:00 pm so there's plenty of time to enjoy both! We'll be open until 6:00 pm and we'll plan something fun to our Facebook page for updates throughout the week.

You may have noticed the article about Webster's Pharmacy being sold on Altadena ( It's true, my father-in-law is selling the pharmacy to Michael and Meredith Miller, formerly of Fair Oaks Pharmacy. The deal should close this week, and we'd like to wish both Mike and Meredith the best. Scott and I know that they'll do great things with the Pharmacy. We also know that by our working together toward a common goal - to restore the Webster's complex to its former vibrancy and to help steer the North Lake Business District toward revitalization. With your help and support, I'm certain that we'll achieve it!

Have a wonderful week my friends.....stay warm!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, November 21, 2010


There are two quotes I'd like to share with you this week of Thanksgiving. Two quotes, one from the author of "Codependent No More" and one from the Bible, both different yet similar. Both struck me as profound out of all the quotes I went through in search of these. Settle back a bit while I share them with you.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
-----Melodie Beattie

"Do not get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time."
-----Galatians 6:9

Scott and I would like to thank each and every one of you for allowing us the opportunity to follow our vision. Without you, our friends - from back in the day to newly made - we would've been lost long ago. We deeply appreciate your kindness, your advice and your goodwill.....thank you!

Everyone have a blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving, may you be surrounded by those you love and may you find peace.

Lori & Scott

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Decline or Incline? Can We Recline?

The above title is facetiously capping on, Daron Anderson's recent blogpost. I'm posting the link here because it's a good blogpost about how a community member feels about what's happening in our North Lake Business District these days. He's concerned, as are many people.

But I also read Monica Hubbard's Altadena Women's Newsletter this evening and I hope she doesn't mind if I quote her, as she reports on a possible town-hall meeting or meetings for people to talk about their concerns. She says, "I confess that I'm weary of discussing concerns. What I'd like to discuss is what's going well. What are the good things we have going for us up here - and there are plenty! - and how can we build on those. Can we co-create a common vision for
our little town that might form the foundation for some shared "guiding principles" around which all our efforts could be aligned? May not come to pass, but I like daydreaming about it." Bravo, Monica!

I recommend you read Daron's post and I also recommend reading the comments, one of which is mine.

Onto WFS news! It's looking a lot like the holidays at the store and of course, we're working like busy bees getting it all out and set up. We'll have to move quickly because this Friday evening we'll be hosting an book signing and wine pairing event.....look for the invitation on Facebook tomorrow!

Have a great week, my friends!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Chinese Connection

When Scott and I took over WFS, we made the decision to try and source our selection of merchandise as locally as we could. We decided to offer more ecologically and socially responsible gifts, cards, and office and home essentials. Offering the community of Altadena and surrounding areas lifestyle choices in the product lines carried here has become the focus of our shop.

We do this because we believe that it's the right thing to do. We also believe that we can make a difference in this world, and in our community, one small sale at a time.

It's interesting to see how the community reacts to our concept. Like everything in life, there are those who applaud us and there are those who really don't care. You either get it or you don't. The one thing that I think most mothers today "get" is the fact that there's a problem with many children's toys that are made overseas, primarily those made in China. All of that is going to be changing very soon.

According to many industry reports, toy manufacturing is moving away from China. Because of the changes in the global economy and changes within the country as it becomes more progressive, manufacturers are looking elsewhere for lower-cost production. Vietnam is where they're looking, but because of its small size, other areas like India and Eastern Europe are also in their sights.

What will change when the majority of toy production moves to these other countries? We don't know. What's fact is that toy manufacturing in the U.S. is too costly for most. It's very difficult to find toys made here, and those that are aren't very interesting. I've seen old-fashioned toys like train whistles, tops, wooden cars and yo-yos, but honestly, when's the last time you saw a child playing with a whistle? Children are more sophisticated these days and of course, want what's popular.

What we have committed to do when buying children's toys is to buy very selectively. We choose small, reputable companies who directly oversee their manufacturing processes and do all the required testing themselves. We then look at their certifications to assure ourselves, and you, that they're in full compliance. There are things we won't buy. We do not buy mass manufactured jewelry for kids because we don't feel comfortable selling it in light of the controversy about toxic materials. We don't buy from those huge manufacturers whose products have been recalled many times in the past.

For those of you who are ambivalent about buying toys manufactured in China, we understand. I was cautious about it when my own daughter was young and I'm cautious about it now. Only time will tell about toys being made in places other than China. When I find out anything new, I'll report to you about it. Until then, I want you to know that we'll continue to be vigilant with our toy buying.

Have a good week ahead, my friends!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"If You Want To Do Well, Do Good"

These are the words proceeding the write-up on page 26 of the November 2010 issue of Traditional Home magazine's Marketplace feature. The rest goes like this:

"These are words to live by for companies we love. It's our privilege to bring you a beguiling array of products that will not only lighten your heart with their beauty and style but also warm you with the knowledge that a portion of the proceeds goes to a host of worthy causes - from a food bank, youth organizations, cancer research, and the arts to wildlife preservation, education, and the welfare of women. Go forth and shop in good conscience!"

The feature highlights companies who make everything from lighting, art, furniture, gift ware, jewelry and accessories. All of them give a portion of their profit to good causes and I love that idea. I love it so much that I've written a similar credo into our mission statement as part of our business plan.

I don't know how many of you out there are aware of this. I actually look for companies to buy from who do good deeds, who donate to or employ those who are in need. From local to global, the causes range from fighting human trafficking to supporting Tibetan orphans. We also carry a range of fair trade fashion accessories like scarves, jewelry, satchels and leather goods. Local artists are a favorite source of products, as well, which range from greeting cards to jewelry and art.

At WFS we believe in supporting our local economy. Scott and I make a point of patronizing our local eateries at lunchtime. Sure, we could bring our lunches, but we do this in a sense of camaraderie with our fellow business owners. Our crew members also eat at local places whenever they can. We use a local CPA and a local insurance agent, and when we clean our carpets, we'll use a local company to do it. I wouldn't dream of asking you to do something we're not willing to do ourselves.

Just in the last two months, WFS has received 16 requests for donations. Yes, really, 16 individual requests from churches, schools, individuals and various non-profits. Most request the minimum of $150.00 - $250.00 and it goes up from there. It's one of my fondest dreams that we'll one day be healthy enough to donate to all of them. This is what I believe a local business should be doing for their community. I'd like to see all our local businesses working for the common good....all of us working together to make Altadena strong. Let's see if we can't achieve that one day soon, shall we? In the interim, please check out these ongoing conversations on our local newsblogs - it's interesting to read the comments. Please feel free to add your own.

Thank you, my friends.....enjoy the coming week!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Hope all of you are enjoying your Sunday evening and are ready to start a new week. It's certainly been an interesting week over here at WFS! With new merchandise on its way in and coming into the week of Halloween, we're looking forward to getting the fourth quarter shopping season started.

This next week will see Halloween come down and holiday 2010 go up. We're also excited about a few things we've got in the works....there's a book signing with local author Hugh Bonar scheduled for Nov. 13th and a special Thanksgiving wine tasting with our favorite wine experts, Anne L. Bannon and Michael Holland. The date for the wine tasting is yet to be set, but we're thinking November 20th.

I wanted to bring a couple of discussions taking place on other venues that might be of interest to you. Michele Zack, Altadena historian, award-winning author and outstanding citizen, is currently writing a series of articles on Altadenablog,, dealing with the future of business in Altadena. Simultaneously, in another newsblog, Altadena,, has posted an interview with Richard Bruckner, the new planning director for the County of Los Angeles, which details his plans for Altadena. I recommend reading both articles and all the certainly is an eye-opener! Of course, you'll find my comments there as well, so I'll leave them off the blog. Those of you who've been following me know how I feel about Altadena, know my plans for our business district here and are hopefully aware of the precarious situation for our businesses. I urge you to read both articles and ask that you weigh in with your thoughts. If we don't make our desires known now, then we stand to let others define how our community will develop in the future.

Thank you, my friends.....Scott and I wish you a pleasant week ahead!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Loyalty For All

It's been quieter than I'd like at the store this week. But respites between busy times allows us to accomplish other things that need doing, like cleaning, straightening and writing. Writing? Oh yes, I've been writing....not just this blog, but an actual article in a nationwide retail industry publication!

I joined Giftbeat, Inc.,, about a year before Scott and I bought WFS. Retail friends reading this, if you aren't a member, you should be. Not only a monthly publication, Giftbeat offers the best retail-specific message boards since....well, ever. Here you can trade ideas, talk about products and performance with store owners from every region of the U.S. and Canada. Over these few years, their editor-in-chief, Joyce Washnik, and I have become friendly. I value her as a source of inspiration, knowledge and am grateful for her friendship.

I mentioned to Joyce that I had an idea for a possible article. When I explained the concept to her, she liked it. Not only liked it, but asked me to write the article! Probably in shock, I agreed to do it. So in the time I had between running a retail store and the seemingly endless drives home, I wrote an article for Giftbeat about loyalty to our manufacturers representatives.

In the past couple of years, gift buyers have been going directly to the manufacturer to order merchandise instead of using the services of their local rep. Many buyers consider going direct less hassle. I'm afraid I'm guilty of it as well....there have been times I've just picked up the phone and spoke to the manufacturer directly to order. Pre-economic melt-down it used to be ok to do that, as long as you told the manufacturer to give credit to your rep. But the majority of manufacturers are not crediting the rep with the direct order anymore. As a result, we're reducing the showroom's, and hence, the rep's, income. No wonder the once-bustling L.A. Mart, where the biannual gift shows are held, looks like a ghost town.

In this time of economic turmoil, when the loyalty of our customers is of prime importance to us retailers, why aren't we extending the same courtesy to our manufacturers reps? They're mostly all small businesses, too.

The lion's share of credit for this article goes to my friend, Laurel Schaeffer, our rep from The Lynn Mitchell Group at the Mart. She and I talked about this problem and she was kind enough to give me her viewpoint. Kudos to her for imparting such wise advice.

The article will be out in December, if I remember correctly. I'll copy it here, if I'm able to. Have a fabulous week, my friends, and stay come visit us, though, there's always good times at WFS!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Local Motion

Before Scott and I bought Webster's Fine Stationers, I 'm sorry to say I was not an educated shopper. I really never stopped to think how my shopping patterns affected the community I was living in nor did I particularly care. I can't remember ever having a store clerk or store proprietor thank me for shopping locally. No one ever explained to me how important shopping at local, independent businesses was or showed me the impact my dollars had on the local economy. It was the 1970's, the 1980's, the 1990's, the 21st Century! There was plenty for everyone....what you didn't have the cash for, you could charge!

Forward to 2008 and the beginning of the Great Recession. Having bought WFS, Scott, I and our entire staff found ourselves enmeshed in a fight for survival. It's been a pretty tough couple of years for everyone. Soon it will be 2011, and my how times have changed - maybe for the better. Through the the internet and the social media phenomenon, useful information is much more readily available than it was before. People are using this information to guide their own decisions in all manner of things from politics to play.

One of the effects of having this much information available is the huge movement we're seeing toward locality. Locality meaning, in every sense of the phrase, putting your money where your house is. I love seeing that movement in Altadena. We need a place where we can shop for organic, healthy, locally grown foods. We need more local restaurants who promote this idea. We need our business community to come together and act together to benefit our community. We need relevant local shopping and a nice, safe area to do it in - right here in Altadena!

Our local Chamber of Commerce has rolled out their October Shop Local Altadena program with new coupons from participating businesses. I hear that next month more businesses will be offering coupons designed to keep your dollars in Altadena, where they belong. You can find the coupons at the Chamber's website, Print the coupons and use them....our businesses need you and your community needs you!

Have a great week, my friends!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Socially Acceptable Third Anniversary

Fourth quarter started off with a bang for Webster's Fine Stationers this week! Our first community-oriented Social Media Meet & Greet - The Networking Event was held Friday, October 1st. It brought out upwards of 50 curious locals who were eager to learn exactly what sites like Facebook, Blogger and LinkedIn could offer them and their businesses.

The lucky attendees were given advice by the some of the best social media-savvy speakers around. Hilary Cable of gave a fascinating overview of Facebook. Her advice and tips were spot on and even helped answer some questions I had about the subject. Petrea Burchard, who authors the Pasadena Daily Photo blog, addressed blogging and how it can help reinforce your brand when used in conjunction with your business. Loved her view of blogging for your business as a type of giving and networking beyond your own doors! Deb Halberstadt, of Half City Productions, gave her insight into using LinkedIn as a professional platform and resume. Providing infinite possibilities, LinkedIn is a site where you can network online with other business professionals and is another tool being used for brand reinforcement.

Tying all these different avenues of social media together was the fabulous Anton Anderson of Productivity Consulting, Inc. Anton's knowledge coupled with his excellent moderation skills made him easy to listen to and learn from. After the learning session was over, our favorite wine experts, Anne L. Bannon and Michael Holland of hosted a wine-tasting with wines provided by Webster's Liquor's well-appointed wine cellar. We love having wine-tastings with Anne and actually learn a lot while you're laughing at their witty delivery of wine factoids and fallacies.

Our banquet table was groaning at all the food from our local eateries, as well! Thanks go out to the participating restaurants - Amy's Patio Cafe, El Patron Mexican Food and Pinocchio's Pizza for their delicious Fall Tailgating party-themed foods. We had warm grilled veggie & cheese sandwiches, cesar salad and zucchini bread from Amy's; El Patron provided tasty chicken nachos with guacamole and hot sauces; and the vegetable pizza from Pinocchio's was wonderful!

What made this evening so special, to me, was that this event was held on our third anniversary. Three years from October 1st, 2007, as an entity separate from Webster's Pharmacy, and I believe we have finally secured our place in the Altadena landscape. I've often referred to our shop as a store in transition. No longer undefined, we have staked our claim. Our store and our community - we're working toward keeping both strong and viable!

Have a wonderful week, my friends! I've heard it's supposed to be cooler and maybe's that for a nice change?

Lori & Scott

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Traditional Trends In The Spotlight

Scott and I stopped at the L.A. Mart for their Fall mini-show this afternoon, before coming into the store. The larger shows are in January and in July, but the Fall show affords another chance for buyers to complete their holiday shopping and get a jump on Spring. It also offers one a glimpse into the hot trends on the horizon.

The opening day is usually crowded, and normally it’s hard to find parking. Perhaps because of the heat… was close to 100 degrees in Los Angeles after all….or perhaps because of the economic situation, this show wasn’t very well attended. One of my favorite showroom reps said that she had eight appointments booked, but only one showed up. We’ll see what it’s like the next two days, but if this is any indicator, I think everyone’s sitting tight and not spending much.

As for new trends, the most prevalent color schemes for this holiday season seem to be relying on past years’ combinations. Pinky reds and lime greens intermixed with traditional metallic colors are back with a vengeance, with a heavy emphasis on the golds. This is actually great news, because you can use older gold and silver decorations and just add in a few pieces of the newer pinky red & green colors. Natural elements are immensely popular, and birds, butterflies, insects of all sorts and dragonflies are important motifs this year. Good news for Altadena and the surrounding areas, since we’re so close to nature anyway! Owls are still popular, possibly owing to the Harry Potter craze (the Harry Potter theme park just opened in Orlando, FL) and the new Legends of the Guardians movie. Otherwise, the traditional elves, Santas and snowmen are the pillars of this year’s holiday decor.

On a different subject, Scott and I hope you’ll be able to visit us on Friday evening for our Social Media Meet & Greet: The Networking Event. Our event is up on Facebook, we’ve sent out our invitations to our mailing list via Constant Contact and have fliers on the counter. We’ve lined up several wonderful speakers who will clue you into what you need to know about social media and how it can help you. We’re getting the restaurants together for our tasting menu and our theme is Fall Tailgating Parties. There’ll be great food, great conversation and great networking opportunities, so again, we hope we’ll see you this Friday night!

Have a great week, my friends!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"If You're Not Proud Of It, Don't Sell It"

Time is a luxury for me these days. When I do have some down time I try to spend it reading articles and blogposts that will help me grow our business. I've found some pretty great information by many wonderful experts but the one who continues to inspire me almost daily is Seth Godin. Seth's Blog is chock full of little nuggets of insightful intel that make me think. His posts are reality checks for me as I try to connect our store with our community. This was his post today and I think it's so important that I'm going to reprint it here for you to read as well (if you haven't already):

"Are you responsible for what you market?

Let's assert that marketing works.

The money and time and effort we put into marketing goods and services actually works. It gets people to change their minds. It cajoles some people into buying and using and voting for things that they otherwise wouldn't have chosen. (If it doesn't work, save your money).

If it works, then, are you responsible for what happens after that?

If you market cigarettes aggressively, are you responsible for people dying of lung cancer?

I think there are two ways to go here:

1. You're not responsible. The marketer is like a lawyer representing the obviously guilty client. Everyone is entitled to a lawyer, and it's up to the jury to decide. The lawyer's job is to do the best she can, not to decide on the outcome. Market the best you can and let buyers take responsibility.

2. You are responsible. Your insight and effort cause people to change, and without you, that change would never happen.

I'm not sure there's a middle ground. Either we should applaud the folks lobbying on behalf of causes we despise, the pornographers selling products that degrade our society and the politicians spinning and lying to get elected (because all these people are doing is giving us a choice for which we're responsible) or we should take responsibility for stuff we sell.

My take: if you're not proud of it, don't sell it."

I love this entire post, but what struck me particularly was point 2 and everything following. As a business in Altadena, we are responsible and Scott and I and our entire crew are responsible. We are responsible for making a positive impact on our community and in our town. Scott and I are responsible for creating the type of sustainable shopping destination that is a true member of our town, giving and receiving equitably while supporting its economic substructure.

Change comes hard in Altadena, we're all aware of that. But change happens whether or not we like it. What we all can do is to nurture that change and shape it into a positive force. This is what we can do....what WFS can make sure that we're proud of what we're selling. Whether it's an idea or product, it matters not. What does matter is that we try to make a difference. I'm proud of that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Being Social and Shopping Local, A Recipe For Fun In Altadena

Scott and I hope all of you had a pleasant Labor Day holiday. We decided that we'd close the store Sunday and Monday, and it was lovely having two whole days at home! Our dog, almost 14 year old Pepe, was estatic that we were home, poor pup has gotten used to us being gone every day.

After that nice, warm Labor Day, it sure seems like fall is here. Although the days in Altadena are warm, they're clear with that certain tang in the air that signals autumn is just around the corner. Some claim we were cheated out of summer....I'm glad it wasn't too awfully hot and all of us at the store are getting ready for the change of seasons. All this week we'll be moving things around and redecorating, so please excuse the disarray....I'm sure you'll be pleased with the outcome!

Last post, I mentioned the social media meet and greet/wine pairing event we'd be having, and I mentioned mid-September. We're going to hold the event on Friday, October 1st, after the Jewish New Year celebrations are over. October 1st is also the date The Gallery At The End Of The World is having a one-man show, so it should be a great evening of fun, fellowship, information, food, wine and art! Our wine pairing theme will be Fall Tailgating Parties, so do make plans to join our area's well-known bloggers, find out what all the buzz is about social media and even ask questions about how sites like Facebook can open a whole new world for you and your business! More information about our function will be forthcoming next week.

Something exciting has happened! The Altadena Chamber of Commerce has launched its long-awaited Shop Local Altadena program. It started last week with very little fanfare and a link to a PDF page of coupons on the front page of the Chamber's website at This link will take you directly to the coupon page, which you can print and cut out to use at the participating merchants and businesses. Webster's Fine Stationers is offering a 15% savings on purchases over $20.00, excluding sale items and Crane & Co., from now through the month of October! The other businesses participating are Altadena Golf Course, Curves, Amy's Patio Cafe, Steve's Pets and Kat Scrap Studio. As a Director of the Chamber, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of coverage, save a two-liner in Altadenablog. We need to be a bit more committed to creating interest and making sure the majority of people in the town know when we start a campaign like this. It's the start of a fabulous movement, with coupon savings and everything, so we'd appreciate it if you'd help spread the word.

Have a great week, my friends, and local truly does empower your community!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summertime And The Living Is Easy....

Living is easy here in Altadena.....unless it's 105 degrees outside! This last week was certainly a test of our stamina, wasn't it? Of course, we've been there before, but every year we forget. We've been coddled by the deceptively low temperatures preceding our little heat wave, so when the mercury passed 102 degrees it seemed to knock the stuffing out of us. We're recuperating from it now but I'm sure those high temps will return before too long, maybe in time for the lovely long Labor Day weekend coming up.

We'll be taking a blogging break for the holiday, but will be back the week following. We'll have lots to talk about, like our upcoming Social Media Meet & Greet. This evening event will be scheduled for either Friday, 9/17 or Saturday, 9/18. This will be the one event you won't want to miss, with our community's most prolific bloggers in attendance! In conjunction,'s Anne Bannon and Michael Holland will be leading us in another wine and food pairing just in time for autumnal tail-gating and football parties. It just couldn't get any better than this! Watch for our updates here on the blog and on Facebook!

I do want to mention the incredibly informative talk on MILK: History, Politics & Nutrition I attended yesterday at the Altadena Community Center. Put together by Altadena Heritage, the Arroyo Time Bank and Gloria Putnam, this discussion about the benefits of raw milk and sustainable dairy farming was certainly an eye-opener and I'm so glad I went. I'm recommending that you find out all you can about this subject, which is controversial to say the least. Listen to the owner and CEO of Organic Farms, Mark McAffee, discuss it in relation to the recent recall of tainted eggs on Fox 11 news at this link: I think you'll find this information as compelling as I did.

Have a great week and a happy Labor Day weekend, my friends!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So Long, Farewell.......

As much as I love retail and being a shop owner, there are some things I could easily do without. One of those things is saying goodbye to really wonderful employees. Our industry is rife with turnover, naturally, because retail positions are on the lower end of the pay scale. You start in retail and work your way up from there, right? I should get used to it, but each time it's like the very first. Intellectually, I know moving to a job that gives more hours or higher pay is good. Emotionally, I know that I'll really miss that person and their contribution to our team.

Tomorrow, we'll be saying goodbye to Devon. Her bright personality and creativity will be lighting up someone else's workplace and we'll miss her terribly. I'd like to publicly thank her for her work at WFS and wish her the best of luck in the future, wherever it takes her. I have no doubt that Devon will succeed in whatever she does.

Taking Devon's place is Meagan, another local Altadenaean. Meagan came in last February to apply for a job but unfortunately, we didn't have an opening then. Luckily for us, she was willing to come work for us - so welcome aboard, Meagan!

Have a wonderful week, my friends....

Lori & Scott

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Are You Ready For The Information Age?

A retailer friend of mine in Redding, California, sent this video around today called "The Currency Of The Future III". The link to it is and it's just chock full of useful information.

Information....there's that word again. It keeps popping up in almost everything business-related I read anymore. According to the makers of this video, "it is estimated that 40 exabytes (4.0 X 10 19) of unique new information will be generated worldwide this year. That is more than in the previous 5,000 years".

They also predict that "in the next 24 months, it's estimated that U.S. online transactions will surpass store transactions at shopping malls". While that doesn't bode well for brick and mortar businesses, especially independent ones, they do go on to note that "in the information age, one of the most powerful forms of genius will be entrepreneurial genius".

This is exactly why I've been pushing so hard at getting WFS online in all forms - this blog, our website at, on Facebook, MySpace, and any other place I can put us. I'm planning like mad to get this store's ecommerce site up and's just a bit difficult in these hard economic times. It needs to be done, though. I don't want to be a dinosaur lumbering about trying to find shelter from the planetary storm, I want us to be comfortably ensconced in the promised land.

You won't find another store in the area as active in social media as we are. You can follow us and our retail life in real time. You can be assured that there are real people here, all of us working as a team to bring you the best service and product we can. But it doesn't stop there. We are forward-thinking young adults with a plan....a plan to be the agents of positive change in our community. We invite you to follow along with us - celebrate with us, think with us, learn with us and play with us. Join in the contests we have for fun merchandise give-aways and enjoy our motivational quotes.

WFS will be hosting a Social Media Networking Event in the very near future. More information about that will be forthcoming soon....make sure to check our Facebook page!

Have a great week, my friends!

Lori & Scott

Monday, August 9, 2010

Home Sweet Home

There are several people in my group of friends on Facebook sharing articles about the economy and how it's affecting middle America. There's a common theme to all, and that is how people are saving more and spending less than they have in decades. That folks are staying close to home and are enjoying more time with their families.

In that vein, I took this evening to be close to my family. All day at the store, I felt this almost overwhelming homesickness. I started posting pictures on my personal Facebook page....a pretty sunset from the backyard taken over three years ago, a section of my garden that I was very fond of, some flowers in our kitchen and a shot of the living room. If I hadn't made myself stop, I probably would've posted my entire Photobucket album and everyone would've thought I'd lost it!

So I called my daughter and told her to bring the roommate and come over for dinner. Scott and I stopped at Heidar Baba, a Persian place across from PCC, and brought home steaming heaps of Basmati rice topped with luscious chelo kabab - koobideh and bagh (ground meat & filet). Accompanying the kabob were roasted tomatoes & peppers, crunchy tadig with a fenugreek and kidney bean stew, yogurt with cucumbers and mint and pita bread. It was delicious! We sat around the table, ate, talked and laughed. We bathed our dog, Pepe, and washed the car. We did the familiar, every Sunday family thing and it was good.

Wish comforting times like tonight were more common, but I'll take what I can get when I can get it. Hope your Sunday was just as warm and fuzzy as ours was....

Have a wonderful week ahead, my friends!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Great Expectations

"If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish. High expectations are the key to everything." -Sam Walton

I'm using a quote from a guy who built the ultimate big-box chain even though I'm an independent retailer. There's irony there, but Sam Walton started out as an independent way back when. And in this quote is the kernel of any successful venture, whether in business or in life....the ability to set high goals, standards - whatever you want to call 'em - it's what becomes our inner compass and guides us.

Imagine what happens when that compass is broken. When that surety you felt becomes doubt and mistrust. Low self esteem can do that to a person, you only have to look around to see those that have been affected by it. That's why believing in yourself is so important. Knowing that deep down, you are special, that you have meaning and the work you're doing is worthwhile.

I'm sure that another chain retailer, German billionaire Theo Albrecht, had a mantra similar to Walton's. Theo Albrecht and his brother, Karl, built Europe's Aldi markets, which have 4,000 stores in number worldwide and an estimated $66 billion in sales. Theo bought Trader Joe's from its original owner in 1979. Trader Joe's now has approximately $5.5 billion in sales from 340 stores throughout the U.S. Karl Albrecht is 90 years old. Theo passed away on Saturday. I admired Albrect's corporate vision, which was progressive throughout the time he owned Trader Joe's. Not only is their starting pay higher than the norm in the industry, they have a very good company-matched retirement plan and insurace for their employees. He was a man ahead of his time. Rest in peace, Mr. Albrecht.

We also have high expections at WFS. Unlike many contemporary retail stores these days who are searching for direction, we know where we are going. We're excited about it and Scott and I and our entire crew are invested in getting there. Come in soon and see why we're so excited, or if you can't come in, be sure to stop by our Facebook page to catch up on what's new!

Wishing you all a fabulous week!

Scott and Lori

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Trending Up

As promised last week, this will be a short recap of what we saw at the recent California Gift Show. Always exciting, the show is a barometer of what to expect in the home decor and gift arenas for the gift-giving holiday season.

As expected, I saw lots of turquoise color used but surprisingly, orange was very widely used as well. I've always loved the two colors together, so I was a happy shopper. Bright yellow and olive greens were prevalent, especially in stationery items. Natural motifs are still very popular, such as birds and other animals (frogs!), landscapes and botanicals. Modern patterns such as houndstooth and zigzags are prolific; timeless damask, large scale floral, Greek key and stylized toile designs are appearing in brighter, more updated colors. Distressed look case goods and decor seem to be still on trend, although the distress is not as pronounced as in years earlier.

Summarizing the trends as they relate to home decorating, I'm seeing much less fluff in accessories and a streamlining of lines in case goods. We've seen favor move away from any sort of themed look, a la French Country or Shabby Chic. Instead, we see a more collected look, with pieces from varying periods mixing comfortably with more modern ones. Metal is being used more for decor, as in substantial votive candle holders and hurricanes, lanterns and serveware. Candles themselves are back in favor, strong this year with heady scent and depth of color. Mixing tapers in with pillar candles in an arrangement spanning a mantle is one trend I particularly admired.

Decorating take-away tip: Don't feel as if you have to adhere to a certain theme in your home. If you're going to invest in sofas or tables, keep the lines simple and classic, and the upholstry neutral. If you already have French Country style chairs or tables, you needn't feel bound to use blue and yellow for your wall colors and linen, either. Mix it up -repair, refinish or repaint and use these with newer pieces you've purchased. Comfort and familiarity are the buzzwords this year, as more people stay close to home. Scent products play a huge roll in this trend, so watch for different ways this can be introduced. Dual purpose products make a splash this year, from innovative diffuser sets to room-scenting tassels.

Going to the Gift Show is exciting. The most exciting part, though, is getting the new merchandise in, rearranging everything and watching as our customers smile as they walk through our store. Come visit, have a cuppa (whether it's coffee or lemonade) and a cookie - we'll see you soon!

Have a lovely week, my friends, and thank you for shopping locally,

Lori and Scott

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Life Well Lived

Another action-filled week has flown by so quickly, allowing us but a moment to catch our breath before it starts again. Tuesday saw the opening of the California Gift Show and my week was split between attending the show and attending to some events outside the store.

I was very lucky to have been invited to Senator Carol Liu's Women in Business Awards Luncheon at the Pasadena Hilton on Thursday. Two of my friends were honored, Donna Chaney and Rose West. Donna is one of the creators of the Business Builders Boot Camp at the Women's City Club I joined last year; Rose West is the owner of Altadena's Curves. Both ladies deserve the highest congratulations and it was an honor to be in the audience!

Today Scott and I joined several friends to celebrate the life of Steven Patrick. Steve was married for an all too brief four years to my friend, Debbi, and he passed away from an aggressive form of cancer in April. It was an inspiration to see how many people were there, and even more inspiring were the stories told by Steve's friends of his character.

He wasn't the type of guy to see a glass as half full or half empty. He always saw the glass as full, his friends said. This quality, this undeniable optimism, is what attracted so many people to him. There's a lesson for us here, especially in these challenging times. Life is a gift that shouldn't be exhuberently and with purpose. After all, as Abraham Lincoln said, "it isn't the years in your life, it's the life in your years".

Have a great week, my friends! Next week we'll take a look at what we saw at the gift show, the new trends and what that you can look forward to seeing at WFS in the coming months.

Lori & Scott

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Windows To The Soul....Windows Of Opportunity

"They say that the eye is the window to the soul. But it is the soul that is the window." - Andrew Hamilton

Those of you who read Altadenablog or our Facebook Fan Page will have already seen our new faux windows. They were painted this past week on the front walls of our store by local Altadena artist Gary Thomas. Maybe you've driven by and seen them or caught a glimpse while coming out of the pharmacy. I'm told that if you look at them from across the street you can't tell they're not real. If you haven't seen them yet, I'm personally inviting you to drop by and have a look. Gary did such a wonderful job and we're awed by his talent!

Fake windows might not seem like such a big deal in the relative scheme of things, but to us here at WFS, it's huge. The windows give just the right whimsical touch we'd been planning on for two years. They give our store what it had been lacking on the outside - a personality that reflects the warmth of the inside! It's different enough from anything else in the area to call attention to us and to the fact that we are an independent Altadena original.

Actually, this is the first step in our long awaited plan of action. We've been under a lot of pressure to get signage on the front (apparently, the $1200.00 light-up at night sign on the top front of our building wasn't sufficient). I resisted putting up any more plastic signs as Lake Avenue is littered with them. Deep down, I'd rather be anonymous than be tacky, but that wasn't the best idea for staying in business. The windows, then, are our answer to the plastic and our using a local artist to paint them was our contribution to stimulating our local economy. Just think if this idea were to be contagious....if instead of a plethora of plastic signage, we had local artists painting local scenes on our community's buildings, what a wonder it would be to drive up and down North Lake Avenue!

Delving even further into that idea (dare we??), why not imagine that all us business owners here working together for the good of the community? Can we imagine an Altadena for Altadena residents, a strong and healthy community where doing business in town is a pleasure? I can imagine it....I can taste it....and I know there are many of you out there who can as well. If we all joined together and contributed to the beautification of North Lake Avenue, if we all joined forces to call attention to the need for redevelopment here, would the County Supervisors listen? I think they would, and I'm praying they will. Never has the time been better or the results more needed. Stay with us while we work our plan.

Enjoy the week ahead, my friends, but stay's supposed to be a hot one!

Lori & Scott

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hahamongna Heartache

As the famous Joni Mitchell song goes, "They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot...." and that's pretty much what's slated to happen to Hahamongna Watershed Park.

If you're not familiar with the wide open vistas of sere grass, old growth oaks and little creeks, check out the link in the group below that says "Save Hahamongna" for more information. Then see this link,, that outlines the proposed plan for this fabulous urban playground for animals, birds and man.

Not only a favorite of hikers, equestrians and dog-walkers, Hahamongna also plays a big role in the Pasadena area's flood control plan. It's quite an important place and it's one that should be preserved as is.

Many of us community bloggers have agreed to write about Hamahonga today to alert you, our readers, about the City of Pasadena's plan to turn Hahamongna into a sports mecca. Soccer fields and such are great and I agree that they're needed, just not in Hahamongna.

Here's the thing - natural, open spaces like Hahamongna are rare in Los Angeles County. We keep going at the pace we've been, it'll be just as the song says...."you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone". I know, because I've seen it happen.

Scott and I live on a bluff in Westchester that rises above the eastern end of the Ballona Creek Wetlands. This is the house I was raised in and this is the house we moved into when my parents passed over 14 years ago. The land that Ballona Creek once encompassed has been built into Playa Vista, residential and business planned development that sprawl across this once empty riparian corridor. Despite resident's efforts, only a tiny piece of it was "saved" as a habitat for birds and animals.

What was once a clear view to Toes Beach in Playa del Rey is now cluttered by condos, townhomes and apartment buildings so close together, one neighbor across the way could hold hands with the other. Office buildings have sprung up and we even have the new L.A. Clippers' training facility. To be honest, I prefered the vacant land to the present cadre of buildings - and I'm sure the many bird and animal residents do, too. We lost a great portion of unspoiled, natural wetlands and in turn, now have to deal with more people, traffic, light pollution and noise.

I would hate to see Hahamongna suffer the same fate. The park as it is now is too valuable a place to lose to enterprise. I'm thinking the light pollution factor alone would make the city think twice about this. Not to mention that the park runs just south and parallel, in parts, to JPL. In these days of foreign theats from other countries, would I really want to have such a venue as proposed so close? No, I don't think so. Let's just let it be. Let's not have to kick ouselves in the shin because we paved Paradise and put in a parking lot (and a soccer field).

The following is a list of Pasadena and Altadena bloggers who are writing about Hahamongna today. Please visit them and see what they've got to say:

You can contact your city representatives here:

Read this morning's article in the Pasadena Star News here:

Until next week, my friends!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Roll Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer....

Those days of pretzels and, er, wine? You betcha! WFS officially rolled out summer in Altadena on Saturday evening with an awesome, interactive wine pairing seminar!

Presided over by bloggers Anne Louise Bannon and her husband, Michael Holland, the happy attendees learned which type of wines to serve with traditional 4th of July barbecue and party foods. We tasted eight flights of wine with wonderful dishes prepared by local eateries Bonnie B.'s Smokin' BBQ Heaven and Amy's Patio Cafe and boy, let me tell you, the food and the wine were spectacular!

Barbecue foods are infamously hard to partner with wine. Beer or mixed drinks are the usual choice at barbecue parties, but what if you don't like beer? It's a nice gesture for the host(ess) of a party to offer more than one choice of libation, and wine, when chosen correctly can compliment your menu perfectly and please the most discriminating guest.

We all had a great time listening to Anne and Michael and it was nice to see so many people taking notes, asking questions and sharing their experiences with different wines and foods. Lots of laughter flowed, new friendships struck and it didn't feel like any type of seminar I'd ever been to! This was really so much fun that we'll have to do it again for all the seasons and make it a tradition. Huge thanks must be given to Sarah, manager of Webster's Liquor, who worked with Anne and Michael to get the wines just right and without her this evening wouldn'tve happened.

That's the other beautiful thing that happened last night. This first collaboration between Webster's Pharmacy Corporation and Webster's Fine Stationers went off without a hitch and I am so thankful for that. This shows that working together we can create a memorable evening of knowledge, fun and community in our neighborhood, which is so important for independently owned businesses like ours. We love giving back to our town and all our customers who've been there for us all these years! It's you all that made this evening so special. Thanks for taking a chance and for having faith that it wouldn't be a flop. I look forward to working with Webster's Liquor and planning the next fete!

Have a wonderful week!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Reading through what my friends have written about their fathers on my Facebook feed, I’m feeling the love they’ve expressed.  As I subject you to my tribute, I’ll invite you to leave one about your father here in the comments.  Everyone should write about their parents at some point in their adulthood, I think.  It’s almost like a cathartic and adds another layer of understanding to your relationship you have or had with them.

Last month, when I wrote about my mom on Mother’s Day, I hadn’t really planned it.  I sat down to write my usual Sunday blogpost and that’s what came out and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I said I’d write about my dad on Father’s Day in that blogpost and write I will.  But it’s not the same as it was with my mom.  My dad was more…..complex.

Bob Elliott was born Robert Irving Elliott, Jr. in 1917 to Dr. Robert Irving Elliott, Sr. and Ann Louise Babcock Elliott.  He lived at 511 Main St., in Chadron, Nebraska – a two story Victorian with a deep porch.  If I was a house, I’d want to be one like that, loved so much there are sketches of it, a framed painting and years of nostalgic reminiscing.

It’s hard to talk about my dad without first talking about his parents, my paternal grandparents.  It was they who formed the man who would become my father, they who molded his character and somewhat enigmatic personality.

In 1917, Woodrow Wilson was president and the world was at war.  Life went on largely uninterrupted in Chadron, NE, located just underneath Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  My grandfather’s parents had immigrated to Nebraska from Illinois as my grandmother’s parents had done from the east coast, seeking new territories to settle.  The Babcock side of my father’s family had been in the U.S. for years, a distant cousin having fought in the Revolutionary War, while the Elliott’s came over from England (and France, on my paternal great-grandmother’s side).

My grandfather finished graduate school, taught school for a while, was superintendent of schools for two different counties then won the election for Nebraska’s Deputy State Superintendent of Schools. He later became the President of Chadron State College.  Chadron State was formerly called Chadron State Teacher’s College and my grandfather was instrumental in transforming it into a fully accredited four-year college.  He was President there from 1916 until 1940.

My grandmother taught Latin.  She just didn’t teach Latin to school children….she taught advanced Latin to teachers, and later, taught college level Latin.  She had a degree, also, and that certainly wasn’t common for women in the mid to late Victorian era.  In 1910, she and my grandfather married, rather late in life, as they were both over 30, also not that common for the times.  My father was their only child.

I never learned much about my father’s life directly from him, other than his talking about his old home, the college and traveling with his parents.  Most of what I’ve learned about his early days, I’ve read from my grandmother’s many (many!) journals and from his best friend, my late Uncle Sandy.  I know my grandfather’s position warranted much travel, mainly to Washington, D.C. and New York.  I know that while in New York, staying in a hotel while his father attended more graduate studies, he contracted diphtheria.  He had to be quarantined and the doctors didn’t know exactly when he’d be allowed to go home.  I remember him telling me that his father was none too pleased to be kept waiting because of a sick child.

He also traveled to California with his parents, so his dad could take part in some continuing education at USC.  It was there that his father told him that after he completed his prep school at Chadron State, he would be attending USC.  He graduated from the USC School of Commerce in 1938.  He lived over by The Pantry in Los Angeles, which, along with Phillippe's, became his favorite places to eat.  He also loved the old Biltmore Hotel downtown almost as much as he loved his church, The First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.  My dad was an usher there for 30 years or more, serving with the likes of Gale Gordon and Rock Hudson.  He admired his friend, Dr. James W. Fifield, greatly, and was a member of the church’s Freedom Club.  Dr. Fifield married my parents in 1947 and baptized me in 1957, and my dad was a pallbearer at his funeral.

My dad was a staunch right-wing conservative, a member of the Conservative Book Club Of America and once flirted with The John Birch Society.  He wasn’t the type of guy you took to a party and trust to be silent on the subject of politics. He quoted Nikita Kruchev’s line, “we will bury you with your own shovel” quite often and his favorite books were “The Naked Communist” and “Kissinger On The Couch”.  When I was around the age of 14, he tried to explain to me that the Beatles’ “Hey, Jude” was a song about heroin – poor guy just couldn’t get past the lyrics “let it under your skin”.

This didn’t make him very approachable when I was an adolescent.  He was the ultimate task-maker, the rule defender and my mother’s last resort.  We were the classic “wait until your father gets home” family, which was also not very conducive to good relations.  There was such an age gap between my parents and my sister and I – they both were raised in a different age and they had a hard time understanding what was happening in the 1960s and 70s.  Of course, when you’re 16 and wanting to go to a party, you don’t understand how your father’s upbringing could have anything to do with the fact that he won’t let you go.

My father must’ve been raised with a stern hand.  Parents had different criteria for children in the early part of the 20th Century than they do now (seen and not heard comes to mind and is something I was told often when I was young).  Back then, kids mostly did what their parents told them to do without question.  Thanks to the youthful uprisings in the 60’s, that changed and left many older parents befuddled.  Education, naturally, was important to my father’s parents and so was important to him.  I ‘m sure I cut him to the quick when I refused my paid-for USC education and got married instead at the age of 18.

Having lived through the Depression also left a permanent mark on my dad.  I really never understood why so much, since his parent’s position in life wasn’t affected by it.  He had a real fear of the stock market and I can only surmise that others in the town must have suffered losses.  He did, however, teach us by example how to be accountable with money, although I didn’t appreciate that until I was older.

There was much that I didn’t appreciate about my father until I was old enough to understand him.  I’ve reached a deeper understanding now after raising my own child and maybe I’ve just grown wiser over the years.  I can look back and see that he was a generous man, had great family loyalty and a high level of personal integrity.  And to his credit, his extreme political views mellowed out over the years, so he was capable of expanding his mind. 

He never quite got over his reluctance to communicate on a personal level with his children.  I wish I’d known him better.  But if he were here today, I would tell him thanks for raising my sister and I with such high standards.  I could say to him that I thank him for passing on to us his great love for the U.S. and what it stands for.  Most of all, I’d say to him that yes, dad, I get it now…..I understand what you were trying to tell me all those years ago.  Rest in peace, dad, I love you.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ask Not What Your Community Can Do For You.....

Forgive me for using a variation of President John F. Kennedy's famous inauguration speech.  I thought it appropriate that we substitute the word "community" for "country" for they are eventually the same ideal.  Broken down to the grassroots level, what you do for your community today strengthens your country tomorrow.

This is also a question that Scott and I asked ourselves before taking over ownership of Webster's stationery department.  Weighing the pros and cons of buying a store that wasn't really a store, one that was already in financial trouble, against the potential good we felt we could do in our community.  We took this on not because we thought we were going to make a ton of money in the endeavor, but because our family and community needed us to do it.  In whatever permeation Webster's is in now, at least we're still here. 

If  I had a dime for every time I've heard customer's say, "what would we do without Webster's?", I'd be able to buy lunch at Amy's Patio Cafe for 10 of our customers!  We're doing our part to ensure that Webster's remains in the community, not only as just a part of our historic scenery but a contributing member of Altadena's community.  That's why Scott and I , along with Ben McGinty, Molly Tierney, Steve Salinas, Lance Anderson and Jeff Kline formed the Altadena Arts Coalition.  That's why I'm sitting on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and it's also why Webster's Fine Stationers supports our local non-profit organizations.

We've also been very active online and love helping promote our community member's businesses and other worthy causes.  We've also enjoyed getting to know more of Altadena's residents as well, through our Facebook page and other venues, as well.  We envision a time when all the businesses in our Upper North Lake neighborhood work together for the benefit of all and we're working toward that end.  Until then, however, it's my pleasure to let you know (if you don't already) that Amy's Patio Cafe will be open on Saturday and Sunday nights for dinner during the summer.  Lauren will also be assembling box dinners for your enjoyment at the Sheriff's Support Group's Summer Concert Series, commencing soon.  Find out more information on her Facebook page and become a fan!

Speaking of working together, save the date of Saturday, June 26th, when Webster's Liquor and Webster's Fine Stationers will be holding a collaborative event you won't want to miss!  This fun and informative mini-seminar on pairing wines with popular barbeque party foods will feature local wine experts Anne Bannon and Michael Holland, just in time for the spate of 4th of July parties on the horizon.  The seminar is free but space is limited....when you receive your invitation be sure to respond quickly!  More information will be forthcoming next week.

This wraps up quite a week of excitement!  Last week we had a surprise visit from Tom Hanks, and our friend, Karen Klein, author of the blog Financially inKleined and reporter for various newspaper & magazines, wrote this article that appeared in BusinessWeek.  We love that the shop local message is being carried out here in the San Gabriel Valley!  Just remember, my friends, when you spend a dollar at an independent retailer, 70 to 80 cents remain to work within your community.  That's opposed to only 20 to 40 cents on the dollar if the same purchase was made at a corporate-owned big box or chain store.  Shop local and you'll find that stimulating the local economy has never been so rewarding!

Until next week,

Lori & Scott

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Altadena’s such a great place, don’t you think? This past weekend was so jam packed with fun things to do, I’m sure lots of folks had trouble deciding which events to attend!

Friday evening before driving home, Scott and I stopped at McGinty’s Gallery At The End Of The World to check out their quarterly Art Bender Weekend kickoff. Visiting the Gallery is always a treat for us and we love the easy feeling of its laid-back, eclectic interior. Even more than that, we truly enjoy the sense of camaraderie that Ben and his artists create for Art Bender….each one unique, but each one distinctly Altadena. Many of our favorite local artists were showing this weekend – Molly Tierney, Dave Lovejoy (who gets around a lot, as you’ll discover next paragraph), Heather Campbell Morrow and so many others!

Saturday brought Art on Millionaire’s Row, an exhibit of local art and local eateries presented by our own Altadena Library. It was hot….not brutally so, but a harbinger of temps to come as summer progresses. We caught the Jitney, Pierre DuPuy’s antique trolley type car, on the corner of Mariposa and Lake and rode in style to the Library down the street. It was nice to see a good sized crowd attending.  We met Dave Lovejoy at the suspension bridge at the front entrance to the Library where he was working on an interactive art display. His son was helping by manning Dave’s booth, filled with his exquisite pottery.

Our favorite painter of mermaids, angels and fairies, Karen Bagnard, had her booth set up near the center. With her mister in hand, she was keeping cool as her beautiful cards and other offerings were flying off with satisfied customers. She was also selling older drawings…originals penned and not used, perhaps….for $5.00 per piece to benefit the Library. We thought that was pretty great so we invested in some fabulous Halloween themed drawings that you’ll be able to see exhibited closer to the holiday this year!

Inside the Library itself, in one of their meeting rooms, was an exhibit of paintings and photography by locals, including the Library’s own Camille Dudley, Edward Beckett and John Balian. The artwork was fantastic and I’m still blown away by them all! We enjoyed speaking with Mr. Beckett and Mr. Balian and John will be bringing us a couple of his paintings to hang in the store. I’m so excited about that! All in all, we met so many truly gifted and talented artists and I’m hoping we’ll be seeing more of their art in the future.

It’s so gratifying to see our community come together like it does for these events. Today, Scott and I attended the Bright Future Scholars graduation celebration at the Pasadena Civic Center….wow, what an excellent way to spend an afternoon. If you’re not familiar with the Bright Future Scholars, please click here. If you’ve been following our blog then you’ll know that we have been supporting the Scholars since we took over the store. Now that we’re a bit more together than we were back in 2007 & 2008, we’ll be planning more fund-raisers for this very special Altadena non-profit.

We’ll talk more in depth of our plans and what it means to the Altadena community next week. Until then, here’s wishing you a wonderful and productive week….

Scott and Lori

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Haitus

As we pause to remember those who have died defending this country, we'd like to remind you to keep our disabled veterans in your thoughts as well.  There are so many that need our help.  You can find out more about them at their website.

Scott and I hope you have an enjoyable day off and a wonderful week ahead!  Don't forget that Art on Millionaire's Row is next Saturday!  Sounds like it's shaping up to be quite an event.....find out more at

Until next week,

Lori & Scott

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Independents For All!

July 1st through July 7th is Independent’s Week and I’d like to take a few moments of your time to talk to you about why that’s important. I think the American Independent Business Alliance sums it up pretty well on their site’s home page:

“Think of your favorite shop, restaurant or service provider. We'll bet it's a hometown business. Independent locally owned businesses are essential to a vital local economy and community character. They use the goods and services of other local businesses, serve as community hubs, and are vital components of healthy neighborhoods and strong city centers. They're where the locals go. They're owned by our friends and neighbors, or maybe even by you.

The threat to our communities is real. Dependence on absentee-owned businesses and corporate chains carries many unhealthy consequences. It's not just local businesses that suffer -- our communities are losing social, cultural and economic strength, a place for entrepreneurship, and the ability to determine our own futures. But we have a choice.”

Yes, indeed, we have a choice, and I’m asking that you consider making it. There have been so many studies done on the benefits and effects of shopping at locally owned business and all have hard data to back them up. You may investigate yourself, starting at AMIBA’s link, above, because, as their home page states, “community matters”.

All of us at Webster’s Fine Stationers think community matters, too. For almost three years now, we’ve been engaging you via this blog, our newsletters, our Facebook Friend Page and Twitter. We’re reaching out to you in real time, hoping we snag your attention long enough for you to hear our message. Help us keep our town economically healthy by investing in it. Patronize your local businesses, reduce your carbon footprint and let’s keep Altadena moving forward! Those of you who’re reading this that aren’t from this part of town, county, or even this state; this applies to you, too. No place in the U.S. is safe from the encroachment of huge, corporate businesses and nothing is sacred to them.  You might think that what you do doesn't matter, but it matters a great deal.  A movement is born one person at a time.

To jump-start the celebration of Independent’s Week, we’re hosting a Very Special Afternoon With Altadena’s Own Andre Coleman! Author of A Liar’s Tale and Blackbirds, Vol. 1 and ace reporter at The Star News and Pasadena Weekly, Mr. Coleman will be here Saturday, May 29th to discuss his books and sign any that you purchase here at the store. We’re staying open late for this event, which starts at 4:00 p.m. and end at 7:30 p.m. We’d love you to join us, meet Mr. Coleman and enjoy a lovely afternoon with complimentary libations, hearty appetizers and stimulating conversation!

We have many more informative and fun in-store events like this planned throughout the summer months, so keep an eye on your inbox or Facebook page for further information. There’s never a dull moment at Webster’s Fine Stationers!

Here’s to an excellent week ahead!

Scott & Lori Webster

Sunday, May 16, 2010


So many things happening in beautiful Altadena lately! The spring weather has been gorgeous and everyone’s gardens are looking lovely. I’m really missing getting out in our garden at home, but hope to have some time off to get in the dirt later on. At least my roses are still blooming nicely with all the rain we’ve had. My special baby….my beautifully scented old Bourbon climbing rose,  a Zephrene Drouhin, is finally doing well. But, until I can satisfy my gardening cravings, I’ll just have to settle for helping you satisfy yours!

Now in store are adorable, 100% organic and compostable grow kits for lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, edible flowers and basil. These kits are all-inclusive, contained in their own planter made out of rice hulls. Once the plants are started in your home you have the option of planting them in your garden, pot and all! They’re already to go, including a pretty ribbon and to-from tag, just perfect for gifting. Other kits are available without the planter, but still containing all you need for starting organic sunflowers, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries and pet grass inside for transplanting later. Raising your own vegetables is becoming more and more prevalent these days – who wouldn’t want fresh, organic produce available from their own garden or container garden? Compostable container kits are $24.99, recyclable grow kits are $19.99 and pet grass (dog and cat) are $9.99.

We’ve also gotten in many new summer entertaining items and have changed the store d├ęcor to an elegant beach theme. Come in and see our fabulous marble servers, summer themed napkins and shell motif serving platters! Sparkling glass apothecary jars full of shells, summer-scented candles, stunning blue swirl art glass vases and absolutely beautiful punched tin lanterns from Mexico will transport you directly to Margaritaville….no ticket required! Be sure to take a look at the lightweight, fair-trade scarves from Open Hand Designs, as well. They’re the perfect accent for your summer wardrobe and what could be better than purchasing something that helps someone else? We’ve got beautiful fair-trade jewelry, also, and just arrived are wonderfully fabulous, real stone necklaces, pendants and bracelets from Tobias & Alysha, a local  Los Angeles company. These stones are selected carefully for their healing, magical qualities and are made by family-owned, fair trade exporters in India.

Have you caught the buzz yet about the new restaurant opening on upper North Lake Avenue? The vacant building that housed the defunct CJ’s Wings is now a Mexican eatery called El Patron and we hear they are really, really good! Scott, Leilana and I were lucky to meet the owner a few months ago while she was shopping at WFS. She was asking us about the vacant building up the street, and then told us of her plans to open a Mexican place there. We are so thrilled she was able to arrange it and we welcome them to our Upper North Lake family! Wow, all the buzzing about this new place is great….kind of makes me wish that when Scott and I opened WFS, there could’ve been that much excitement. Unfortunately, I guess everyone was too shocked, or mad, at the changes to Webster’s to celebrate our new ownership and the promise it represented.
We’re still dealing with those issues today, almost three years after having taken over the old stationery department at Webster’s. Almost three years of Webster’s Pharmacy Corporation not saying a word to the public about why they decided to break up the stores. The parties responsible for the changes decline to comment, let alone mention our store. It’s just Scott and I, and our crew, feeling like voices in the wilderness, explaining it to customers time after time. It makes you wonder why they don’t work with us to promote the entire complex, even though we’re separate stores….you’d think that would be a no brainer. We like what Seth Godin says in his latest blogpost and believe it to be apropos to what’s happening here.

Every holiday or occasion, we talk to hundreds of people who visit our store and ask us about what happened to Webster’s. This past Mother’s Day we actually kept track and it was roughly every other person who came in who asked. That’s actually staggering, my friends….every other person shopping at Webster’s last weekend hadn’t been there for nearly three years! For a store to survive it needs loyal customers and shopping with any store only once every couple of years won't help much.  We would love you to be a loyal customer and have been hard at work to regain your trust.

We’ve also been working hard to bring you information on the importance of shopping locally, supporting your local businesses and thereby, your community. I know that there are many of you out there who do, and we thank you, but the number of people who don’t are greater. We need to get the word out, to let people know we’re trying very hard to be more relevant to the residents of Altadena and nearby areas by the products we carry, the knowledge and services we offer and by our involvement in the community. Please help by spreading the word. Do what Webster’s won’t and tell your friends and neighbors about Webster's Fine Stationers! That would help very much and we’ll keep doing what we do best - serving you and our community with with genuine pleasure.

Have a wonderful week!

Lori and Scott

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Mother, Helen V. Elliott - A Tribute For Mother's Day

My mom was born in Grinnell, Iowa, on a farm, in 1911. Second to the oldest of five children, her parents both died when she was 11 yrs old. Not long after they passed, she lost her youngest brother, and then the farmhouse and everything in it to fire.  She and her sister went to live with their grandma in town and her younger brother stayed with family friends closer to school. They helped out their grandma, Hattie Eichhorn, at the tea room she owned, and learned the fine art of cooking and baking.  All the siblings could cook like champions, except for the oldest boy, Shirley (old family name), who took off on his own after his parents' death.

My mom married her high school sweetheart right after her college graduation and lost him two weeks later in a motorcycle accident in the mid 1930s. She later married again to a scoundrel who drank and cheated on her. In the early 1940s, an era where women didn't do that type of thing, she was strong enough to divorce him and escape with her friend to California.  There she met and married my father (we'll talk about him on Father's Day).

Her health was never that great. As a child, she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis so badly that her legs had to be wrapped up and she was bed-ridden in the winter. Possibly because of the rheumatic fever, she was never able to bear children and had to have a hysterectomy shortly after her first husband was killed. She and my father adopted me in 1957 after having waited on a list for almost 10 years....she was 46 years old. They adopted my sister 17 months later.

In the very early 1970s, my mom decided she wanted to go back to work. This was not the norm for wives and mothers in our neighborhood and my father was dead set against it. This was the only argument I ever saw my parents have and she won. She worked for Fashion Fabrics in Westchester and eventually became their West Coast Regional Manager. By this time, my dad had semi-retired and worked out of the den at home. My mom loved what she did, but truth be told, she was very glad to be out of his way as he watched all his sports on every TV in the house!

She was diagnosed with colon cancer in March of 1981, two months after her granddaughter, my daughter, was born. They found cancer in her liver simultaneously. She had a partial colostomy and steadfastly refused chemo treatments. She did a round of radiation, called it good and went back to work as soon as she could. She loved being surrounded with fabrics and made most of the clothes my sister and I wore when we were young.  She tried to teach me to sew, but I was much too worldly for I could kick myself in the butt for not learning.

The cancer eventually made its way into her bladder and she had it removed when she was 79. After recovering, she went back to the fabric store - a different one in the local mall, because Fashion Fabrics had closed all their California stores. She finally stopped working at 81 and she passed away in 1994 at age 83.
My mother was an incredibly strong woman, despite her health issues....or maybe in spite of them.  From Scandinavian stock, her resilience to adversity was legend in our family.  She was the epitome of perseverance, grace and hospitality.  She and my dad were open minded enough to want to adopt children back in a time when it wasn't that common.  She never lied to my sister and I about our adoption, either.  I don't remember a time when I wasn't aware of it but she made sure that we knew that she loved us more than life.  And to start raising children at the age of 46 showcases her strength of character....she was 48 when my sister was born.
This is my mother's story.  I'm sure there's a lot more, but she wasn't a woman to talk of herself much.  I can only hope that I mirror her outstanding qualities.  What a compliment it would be for someone to say that I remind them of my mother!  Happy Mother's Day, Mom....I miss you! 
I hope you and your family enjoyed Mother's Day.  Have a wonderful week!
Lori Elliott Webster

Monday, May 3, 2010

If You Want To Get To Heaven, You Got To Raise A Little Hell

I never read it in a book,
I never saw it on a show,
but I heard it in the alley
on a weird radio. 
If you want a drink of water,
you got to get it from a well, 
if you want to get to heaven 
you got to raise a little hell......

----Steve Cash and John Dillon
      Ozark Mountain Daredevils, 1973

To me, this song has always been about wanting something enough to fight for it.  It urges us to be vocal about things we care about, maybe make a stir about what you think is important.  Thirty-seven years ago, in 1973, kids all over the world learned to be vocal about things they cared about and people started taking notice.  Things changed because so many young people demanded it.  Opinions were challenged and mind-
sets were changed forever.

As I've said before, time is a circle and what goes around, comes around .  People are again starting to stand up for their core values, especially when it comes to issues like affordable medical insurance and state policies on immigration.  People are also becoming more aware about their neighborhoods and local communities, keeping tabs on and working towards their area's fiscal health.  Of course, in this time of financial uncertainty, it's more important than ever to know where your community is headed.

There were a few things that spurred me to write this blog post.  First was the fact that sales have been down this past month at the store pretty dramatically.  April is traditionally a slow month because of tax time, but I attribute it to more than that.  Economic issues, certainly, but intertwined with that, I've heard, is a general uncertainty about what's going on at Webster's.  If the store were more communicative about all the changes, i.e., if someone other than I talked about it, perhaps  the situation would be better understood..  Until that happens, it leaves Scott, myself and the rest of our crew as the de facto mouthpiece of not just our store, but Webster's in its entirety.  I wish I could give you the answers you want to hear, but I can only tell you that we're all committed to making WFS the best it can be.

Another thing was Altadenablog's posting of this article about Don Thomas' return to Altadena Hardware.  Reading the comments, I noticed a common theme - uncertainty about what was happening there.  Also stated more than once in the comments was a thing I've heard repeatedly since we took over the old stationery department - that the inventory is not as complete as it once was.  I had to leave a comment about that, which you can read at the link above, but I'll paraphrase it simply here.  If patronage drops off, when people stop coming to the store (our store, or any store) because of an ownership change or a change in the economy, that means that the store is not making the money it once did.  Yet the store is still responsible for paying its employees, the taxes and if it can, the rent.  If there's enough left over, it's invested in inventory.  If you don't buy, we can't buy, it's as simple as that....we independent retailers don't have a huge corporation backing us, the way the big-box stores do.  Speaking of big box stores, Greg Sweet, one of the commenters on the thread on Altadenablog I've linked above, posted this fabulous cartoon video from JibJab.  Thanks, Greg, for sharing this funny yet truly sad commentary on this fact of American I think we can change with some education.

That leads almost perfectly into the third thing that inspired this post.  We had a customer in today, a young man looking at a Moleskine notebook.  The price of the notebook is $21.99.  He asks crewmember Sean Fitz Gerald if we "match prices", which left Sean a bit nonplussed.  I walked over and asked if I could help, and the young gentleman tells me that he could buy this particular specialty notebook off the Internet for $9.00, and could I match that price.  He wants to support local businesses, he said, but it's hard when things are priced higher than big-box stores or the Internet. Where does that extra $10.00 go, he my pocket?  No, I had to tell him, it certainly doesn't go in my pocket.  Right now, all money received for purchases is going toward paying our employees, keeping our taxes paid and refreshing our core inventory of home office products.  Well, he says, I thought I'd give you the opportunity to earn my business, but I see that you won't work with me.  This young man has now put me in the position where I feel like a highway robber and that I need to justify my prices....even though I know that our margins are deliberately kept to a moderate level.

It's like there's some sort of unwritten law against having your customers familiar with the way retail sales operate.  I say, the more informed you are, the better!  If we in the retail industry were more forthcoming about how we price things, how we buy and what the requirements for retail buying are, we'd have more savvy customers who choose where they shop and recognize what value truly means.  That Moleskine notebook the gentleman asked about cost me about $9.00 to's also what he wanted me to sell it to him for.  We don't have the customer volume to make it worthwhile to sell things below margin, let alone make no money on it at all.  We do run specials, I told him.....heck, I just spent the evening before handing out 20% off coupons!  Join us on our Facebook Fan page and take adavantage of the promotions there. Become a regular customer and I might be more amenable to working something out  But whatever you do, please realize the value of shopping locally!  Spending your dollars at independent businesses is what keeps the wheels of your town turning!  My employees go out and buy things from other local businesses.  The store buys goods and services from other local businesses, we contribute to our local charities and so on and so on and so you see what I mean?  Now multiply that by the number of independent businesses in your area and you'll see that the amount is substantial.  What if the majority of people in the community shopped locally?  The results would be staggering!  You can actually see how it works at The 3/50 Project and The American Independent Business Alliance.  I urge you to take the time to educate yourself....your community will thank you.

Economic recovery won't really kick in until we jump-start it from the bottom up.  Meaning, help won't come from the top and trickle down, it needs to happen at the lowest rung of the demographic totem pole.... in your local community....and spread upward! Until people realize that spending a few dollars more in locally owned businesses, where the money actually works for the town and isn't sent out of state or even out of the country, we'll continue to face hardship.  I know that some folks out there truly don't care about  things like this.  Like the young man I spoke with, they don't want to be educated, they just want what they want.  He wanted that notebook at $9.00 and was frustrated that I wouldn't "deal" with him.  When I explained that buying off the Internet gives nothing back to his community, he just shrugged. I'm not going to reach everyone, but that's okay.  I'm not trying to reach out to those who don't want to learn, I'm trying to reach out to people who do.  I'm trying to reach out to you!  It's time to raise a little hell, don't you think?

Have a great week, my friends!

Lori & Scott