Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Once and Future Store

With apologies to T.H. White, I think the title is quite apropos for what we'll be talking about this week. There's a definite parallel between the Camelot of legend and the community of Altadena and Webster's.

Once vibrant, Webster's exemplified the model of the ideal community store. Offering a variety of unique merchandise, Webster's fulfilled the area's wants and needs and became the ad hoc town center. We involved ourselves in the community and the community repaid us handsomely by patronizing the store - truly a win/win situation for everyone!

Reading through some old town newspapers today, it's evident that Altadena had a thriving business district on North Lake Avenue. Those were prosperous times. Times when you kept your business dollars local. The neighborhood store, the local market, the bakery down the street - all contributed to your well being, as you contributed to theirs. Looking at it as a circle, everyone was contributing together to keep their community economically viable.

As time is wont to do, it passes and leaves great change in its wake. Economics, demographics, shopping habits and tastes have changed drastically since these photos were taken. We've seen the rise of corporate businesses and their bid to take over the world. We've seen its effects on our community. We watch as independently owned businesses struggle for viability and we've watched as some succumb, withering away into memory.

Fortunately, time is a circle. We're now seeing the resurgence of people all across the country wanting to preserve their neighborhoods' individuality. Witness what's happening here in Altadena - the birth of our own Altadena/Pasadena food co-op, the success of the Coffee Gallery Backstage, the Gallery At The End Of The World, Altadena Junction, Amy's Patio Cafe and Bulgarini Gelato. We've seen the enormous popularity of Altadenablog, proving yet again that Altadena wants to be a community connected.

We all have our place in this town and our town is poised on the brink of a phenomenon. As resistant to change as Altadena is, we've taken steps toward a paradigm change - can we swing the pendulum back to prosperity? Scott and I think we can.

Working together, people can move mountains. That's what we're counting on, because we've got great plans ahead. All we need is your support - your desire to direct a positive impact on your community. You can start by directing your dollars locally. It doesn't matter which independently-owned business, just make sure your money stays in the community, where it can do the most good.

We know times are tough right now. What we all need to do, though, is rethink our definition of value. Value is not always the lowest price. Value is what you get for your dollar, like excellent service, quality products and the satisfaction of knowing that what goes out of your pocket and into your community can really help move mountains.

Stay with us as we delve further into our plans for the future, support us as we grow toward it....and have a fabulous week!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love Is All You Need

Today while we celebrate those whom we love, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on just how blessed Scott and I are. With lives as busy as ours have become since taking ownership of WFS, the notion of enjoying a romantic evening has gone out the window. So here I am at my keyboard, waiting for our delivery Valentine's meal and I'm about to tell you what I admire most about my husband.

Scott's the kind of guy that's so easy-going and mellow, it's difficult to be in a bad mood around him. I appreciate that quality in him so much since it balances out my more assertive tendencies. His gentle, winning way with people is something that fascinates me. He's comfortable talking to just about anyone and always is able to find common ground that makes reciprocal conversation easy.

I like watching his eyes sparkle when he's engaged in conversation with someone. It seems there's nothing he likes better than to find out about whomever he's talking to without boring them with repetitious details about himself. He is definitely a people person!

Then there's his voice. Long known as the "voice of Webster's", his low, resonate timber is distinctly his own. I remember when I first applied for a job at Webster's back in 1995 and he called me to set up an appointment. His voice was so interesting and I knew then that he was going to be someone special in my life.

Scott has so many more strengths, but I think his most important quality is his sense of personal integrity. No matter what obstacles are thrown in his way, I've seen Scott come shining through every time. His innate goodness seems to radiate off him and that sometimes makes him a target for those that take advantage of people like him. A word of warning to those advantage takers, though....the man is willing to forgive but he'll never forget.

So this is my Valentine's Day ode to my wonderful husband, whom I love dearly. Wish I could buy him a vacation, a day off, a new car or even fix that darn water main, but I can't. What I can do is tell the world why he's so special to me and to many other folks as well, because I think he deserves to know.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Meet The WFS Crew! Introducing Devon Pettengill

Much like any other thing in life, the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts, and that's particularly true for a retail store. Having friendly, knowledgable employees is important. In fact, these days, it's of enormous importance and that's why we're bringing you a special mid-week blogpost to introduce you to one of our new crew members, Devon Pettengill.

Devon, our lovely redheaded sprite, hails from Mill Valley, California but she's now a resident of Altadena. She's wonderfully upbeat with a gentle smile, sparkling eyes and an engaging personality. When asked what she likes about working at WFS, she states, "I love helping people find things they need....or what they didn't know they need. It's great to get a genuine smile from customers."

A self-professed stationery geek, she recalls hanging out at the local paper and pen shops as one of her fondest pastimes. "Other kids would get jazzed by going to toy stores. I was different - pretty papers, note cards, pens and letterpress gave me goosebumps!". Good thing she's in the right work environment now, and all to your benefit.

When she's not at work, creative Devon loves reading books and magazines. She's on an American history binge right now, she says. She also loves crafting and decorating her home, but writing is her number one passion. She does it so well that I've asked Devon to start contributing on our Facebook fan page. Look for her report on the usefulness of place cards on Friday, Feb. 12th. There's a link to our Facebook page on the left sidebar or simply click the title of this blogpost.

Devon's plans for the future are to find a career where she can use her skills to satisfy some one's communication needs either as a writer or a graphic designer. Our plans for Devon's future include asking her to use those same skills for the store, keeping them honed and ready.

Come in soon and say hello to Devon and let her assist you in finding exactly what you need at WFS!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Love a Local Business" Hits a Rock Wall And Other Stories

Last post, I told you about Intuit's "Love a Local Business" competition. I asked if you'd vote for us and tell Intuit why you loved us and your response was fantastic! I want to sincerely thank all of you that voted. We got over 65 votes, and for just three weeks of running, is pretty impressive. We didn't win, though....the winning business was a rock wall climbing place in another state with over 1,200 votes. That's a whole lotta rock climbing going on and a whole lotta votes for a small business! Kudos to them, and WFS will try again next year.

I'd like to share some of the wonderful endorsements we received from the contest, but first let me tell you about some exciting news and some ideas we've got running through our heads.

Since I joined the Board of Directors of the Altadena Chamber of Commerce, they've asked me to write a monthly newsletter for them. I'm honored that they'd ask me to write it, I hope I can do a good job for them!

You've probably already heard about the Pasadena Playhouse being shut down. We are wondering about different avenues we could take to aid fundraising efforts for them. There is a Facebook group for just that purpose, which can be found by clicking on the title of this blogpost, but what could WFS do? We're thinking about putting something together with some of the Playhouse's luminaries and donating a portion of net sales, but I'm open to suggestions.

There are great new products in the store and more arriving almost daily! Valentine's Day is almost here, and we're here to help you get ready if you're not already. Fabulous cards (most made right here in the U.S.!), gourmet chocolate fudge truffles made locally, darling Valentine themed boxes and gifts, gorgeous fair-trade jewelry, scarves and bags, even fabulous office accessories....what's not to love about Valentine's Day at WFS? We hope to see you soon and we'll leave you with a few of those lovely comments about us posted on the "Love a Local Business" site!


"This is a fun store with a great selection of supplies for the serious and not-so-serious writer. I bought a superb Monteverde pen that I know will be in daily use for many more years. The owners and staff are very friendly and helpful! Great store!
doug (01.31.10)"

"I've been coming to Webster's since I was very young, and I love all of the positive changes!"
Kim (01.25.10)

"Great store and I love how their staff is aware of "good" customer service."
Ben (01.25.10)

"Long time family business. Unique collection of stationary products. Friendly staff. Special orders of small lots for specific customer requests."
Mike Holland (01.25.10)

"From the friendly, personal service to the really cool handmade items, Webster's is my favorite shop in Altadena. In a very tough economy, competing with the big box stores, Webster's does it right!"