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