Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tidings Of Comfort

Last week, we spoke briefly about the Lighting Ceremony at Christmas Tree Lane and the wonderful holiday feeling of the community coming together for the celebration.  That feeling was also found recently at Altadena's 125th birthday party.  It would have been the thread running through last Friday's holiday edition of Webster's monthly food truck event, too, had not the horrific event in Connecticut (and rainy cold weather) happened.

 Part Of The Crowd At This Years Lighting Ceremony At Christmas Tree Lane. 

 When something devastating occurs, the natural instinct is to huddle down in the safety of your home, surrounded by familiar and loved people and things.  For those who did come, we thank you, and we hope you enjoyed our Christmas carol sing-along.  We hope you had a bit of fun eating at the food trucks and joining us in the store.  We are happy that we could help provide a safe haven and yes, a place of community, to turn to when times are hurtful and confusing.  A place where people know you, that's been there forever - a place that you draw comfort from.

No one can wave a wand and make everything back to normal again.  The families of the victims of this heinous shooting rampage are bearing an unimaginable loss, and we here, across the miles, mourn with them.  Explanations and platitudes aside, there's little comfort in that Connecticut town tonight.  Our cries to God to bless the families there, and ease their pain, reverberate across the states and the world.  In a crisis like this, we are all one and we are all family.  Healing will come slowly, but it will come.

The message of Christmas is particularly poignant this year. From the bottom of our hearts, Scott and I wish you a joyous holiday and may you be enveloped by love, faith and hope for now and for the future.  We'll be taking a blogging break and will be back after New Years Day.  Enjoy, everyone!

Lori and Scott

Christmas 2012 Webster's Fine Stationers - ceramic Santas and Elves by Altadena artist Patrick Gothard


Sunday, December 9, 2012

O Little Town Of Altadena

What a fabulous time it was Saturday for the lighting of Christmas Tree Lane! We're running against time here tonight, so we apologize for the brevity of this post. Make sure you look for our December's News You Can Use in your email inbox a bit later this week. Not on our email list?  Not a problem - hop on over to our website and click the "Sign Up For Our Newsletters And Alerts".  Find out more about the Christmas Tree Lane Lighting Ceremony here.

We'll talk again next week, friends, and until then, enjoy your week!

Lori and Scott


WFS Wishes You A Joyous Holiday Season!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Altadena Sparkles!

A cool and rainy welcome to December to you all, as we forge head-on into thick of holiday season 2012!  There are so many festive events happening all over town, that my head is spinning - particularly after our Famous Annual Holiday Open House on Saturday!

With great food (and an appearance by Earl Rothwell of Earl's Gone Wild Barbeque sauce and now a brilliant red pepper jelly that's fabulous with cream cheese and crackers); poetry, spoken word, and some music thrown in for good measure with our friends Aldonia Bailey and Amin El; and a book signing with author Margaret Finnegan, it was certainly a day to remember! 

 
Jazz artist and poet Amin El



We were honored to host three other local artists - Karen Bagnard, whose brand-new drawing "Angel Of Christmas Tree Lane" was debuted at our Open House; Mary and Patrick Gothard of Gothard Art, whose art and textiles hang in our store; and Leslie Aitken of LA General Store Design Studio, who held a trunk show of her oh so soft and trendy scarves, wraps, hats, and wristlets.  Our good friend, graphic artist Jeanine Colini, whose cards we carry at the store, made a valiant effort to attend, and we're so happy that she made it, although she almost missed it!

Leslie Aitken, Seamstress Extraordinaire!
   
Margaret Finnegan, Author Of The Goddess Lounge
And now we have a week to rest (ha!) until Saturday, December 8th, when Altadena gathers to witness the annual lighting of Christmas Tree Lane.  You'll find Karen's cards at the boutique and art sale prior to the lighting, starting at 2:00 pm, but if you just can't wait to have one (or two!), you can find them at WFS - and remember, 50% of net proceeds of this special card will go directly to The Christmas Tree Lane Association.

Have a lovely week ahead, friends, and we'll talk again next Sunday!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gratitude and Forces Of Nature

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, can you believe it?  Time to take a day off and contemplate all the things you're grateful for, and enjoy a festive meal with your loved ones.  We sincerely wish all of you the best, and thank you for allowing us into your lives for a little while each week!

We'd also like to take a moment and urge you to Shop Small this Saturday, November 24.  It's Small Business Saturday, the day we celebrate our small, locally owned businesses.  Most retailers will have special buys and lots of fun planned, and we're no exception!  The store is dressed for the holidays and we're all feeling especially merry - if you're in our area, we hope to see you on Saturday!

Although the holiday season is like a force of nature, we'd like to let you know about The Los Angeles County Arboretum And Botanic Garden's show Forces Of Nature, starting on November 30.  Our friend, artist Leigh Adams has curated this spectacular show, where wood from the Arboretum's trees damaged in last year's terrible wind storm, is used as an art medium.  There will be all sorts of fascinating art made from these different trees, and many artists contributing to this show are Altadenans!  Leigh was so excited tell me all about it, and we all think that having beautiful art coming from such a devastating storm is cathartic and healing.  Don't miss this chance to see it - it runs through December 2.

Our Holiday Open House is scheduled for Saturday, December 1, and we've got a full roster of fun for you then! From fabulous food to fabulous artists, the day will be chock full of surprises, but you won't want to miss our interactive Eccentric Poets event, featuring our good friend Aldonia Bailey, followed by a book signing and reading by Margaret Finnegan.  Look for our email about the event to come later this week.

Have a wonderful week, a happy Thanksgiving, friends!  We'll be taking a short blogging holiday next week, so we'll talk again in two weeks....

Lori and Scott

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fun For The Season Of Sparkle!

After all the excitement of last week, you'd think that Altadena would slow down and catch its collective breath, but such was not to be!  Everyone in town seems to be planning something - celebrating the end of election season, perhaps?  We think it's more that there's a bite of coolness in the shade now, evening's shadow comes sooner.  Now that Halloween is over, we've realized that the holidays are inescapably upon us - where did that year go?

Speaking of the holiday season, we've been privy to some exciting event information ourselves! The Chamber Of Commerce is planning a celebration in tandem with Altadena's Fancy Food Truck Friday, on December 14, as the food truck event (held in Webster's parking lot) comes to a close for the year. This will be a grand community party, with Santa for the kids, the animals of Danny's Farm, carolers.....and the business owners of North Lake Ave. and Altadena's Chamber Of Commerce might have a funtastic surprise for you in store!  Make sure you check this blog, or our wonderfully local Altadenablog for more news about it in a week or so.

Ghosts Of Christmas Past At Webster's Fine Stationers!


There's more fun in store (get it, that's a pun.....) at WFS in the next few weeks, as well!  You'll meet local author Margaret Finnegan, who wrote the uproarious comedy The Goddess Lounge, at our Holiday Open House on December 1.  We'll be having an Inner Goddess party, with special giveaways for those who come dressed as their favorite female deity, and we'll indulge in some heavenly goodies normally reserved for those who reside in myth and legend!  You'll be entertained and inspired in word and song by Aldonia Bailey and friends and you're welcome to add your voice to theirs.  Many of the artists we represent will be on hand to discuss with you their books; art; jewelry; gourmet foods and body care; and of course, stationery.

We'd also like to remind you that WFS will be collecting canned and packaged foods and unwrapped holiday toys for Union Station Homeless Services again this year.  When we think of the devastation on our nation's East coast, I know that we feel we have to do something to help.  Their need is immediate, and so are the needs of the many homeless families in the northeastern San Gabriel Valley.  Please consider donating a toy or some canned food - our crew members will collect it all and Scott and I will personally take it to Union Station.  We thank you for your kindness!

All in all, it's shaping up to quite a busy Fall and Winter - I think I need a good night's sleep!  Have a great week ahead, friends, and we'll talk again next week,

Lori and Scott

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Partytown!

It was a hot time in the old town this weekend for sure, my friends!  We're recovering from unprecedented merriment, of indulging in the most wonderful meals and soothing our throats that are sore from laughing and talking.  You'd think that the holidays had arrived early in normally quiet Altadena and its surrounding neighborhoods, but you'd be wrong.  This was a weekend to celebrate two wonderful, local benchmarks - the first public dinner at John Muir High's Muir Ranch and Altadena's 125th birthday party.  Scott and I attended both, and we're thankful that we were able to be a part of these celebratory events for many, many reasons!

While John Muir High School is located in NW Pasadena, many of Altadena's youth attend school there.  About a year and a half ago, the garden was developed by volunteer teachers and students out of approximately 2 acres of fallow land adjacent to the school.  In the intervening time, the garden has flourished, under the watchful eyes of Doss Jones, Mud Baron, and Shirley Barrett - they even offer a CSA (community supported agriculture) program!  You can read here what Slow Food L.A. says about them, and watch Channel 9's coverage of Muir Ranch.  We love what they're doing there, and are honored to be able to be involved in a small way.  Collaborating with Tom Coston and The Light Bringer Project, Scott and I will be mentoring the group of kids that will be marketing Muir Ranch! This program is part of the L.A. Futures Academy and we are quite excited to be working with them!  We hope very much that you will click on the links, learn more about these worthy groups and help spread the word.  We are also in the planning stages of an art exhibit with another Light Bringer project at John Muir, called Room 13.  Room 13 is an international network of student-driven creative studios with a model based on upon four pillars of learning: philosophical inquiry, creative expression, reciprocal learning, and business enterprise.  We look forward to unveiling what comes from this artistic collaboration - be sure to click this link to view part of what is inspiring us!

Muir Ranch held a dinner Friday evening that was just out of this world!  Although we arrived late (started at 5:00 pm, and the store doesn't close until 6:30 pm), they still had a portion of Bison Bolognese, prepared by Chef E, and freshly tossed salad finished off with olive oil & balsamic vinegar.  We sampled fresh fruit and veggies from a vendor at Altadena's Farmers Market and received a pleasant mouth-burn from their sauteed peppers served alongside the bolognese.



The garden itself was cordoned off from trampling feet, and a walkway fenced off, alight with sparkling white lights, led to the muslin-topped dining table.  We very much enjoyed the delicious food, the ambiance and camaraderie of Muir Ranch students, parents, and supporters.  I hear they're planning a Thanksgiving celebration - won't that be a blast!


Saturday evening was, of course, Altaden's 125th birthday party, and wow, what a party it was!  You can find all the coverage at Altadenablog, with pictures and all, but we wanted to show you a partial shot, taken by Tim Rutt of Altadenablog, of the photographic display Scott painstakingly constructed of Webster's history in Altadena (and forgot to get a picture of....thanks, Tim!).



All in all, it was a very busy, fun, and fulfilling weekend, and we won't see its peer anytime soon!  Well, maybe not until this Friday, Nov. 9, when we host local author Patricia Bunin, who'll be here signing her new book PASSWORD: SENIORMOMENT!  In conjunction with Altadena's Fancy Food Truck Friday, Patricia will be here from 6:00 pm until 8:00 - do plan on being here for this great event that kicks off the start of our Season of Sparkle!

Have a fabulous week ahead, my friends, and we'll talk again next week!

Lori and Scott





Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Altadena!

"There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all"
--In My Life,  John Lennon/Paul McCartney


In the craze of every day life, we often pass by people and places that often go unnoticed. Whether we're thinking about our own problems  - where we're going, what we're going to fix for dinner, when that next meeting is - or we've got our head in the clouds, we just don't register a lot that doesn't involve us directly.  That's a strange axiom of life, isn't it?  You may walk by something each and every day for years, but it doesn't ping on your radar.....until it's gone.

While Altadena has had many faces and places like that in its 125 year history, hopefully someone, somewhere, has noted their existence.  Find out on Saturday, November 3rd, from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm at the Davies Building at Farnsworth Park, when we celebrate the town's birthday!  See some fabulous old pictures, some of which Scott and I will be lending to the occasion, and relive some great memories of times past, and celebrate our future.  We'll be there - hope we see you!

From Altadena Heritage, Postcard Of Davies Building In 1933

Have a great week, my friends, and we'll talk next week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Walk This Way


"Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards–and living up to them–is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it."   

I posted this quote from my favorite business/marketing guru, Seth Godin, on my personal Facebook page a couple of days ago, and it garnered some interesting comments.  One commenter noted that he approved the sentiment because “even as a customer, I know that the customer is not always right”.  It’s his own personal interpretation of this quote, and is right in his own worldview, but not quite why it resonated with me.

As a shopkeeper, or merchant, if you will, I know deep down that not everyone is right all the time. Heck, if scores were kept, my own errors would be off the charts!  Publicly, though, the fact that we must try to please the majority is a paramount and unbreakable axiom, not to be trifled with. What this quote says to me is that we should stick to our principles while not losing our customers’ trust.  Once you’ve lost that, it’s game over.

Let’s use WFS as an example.  When Webster’s, as it used to be, was separated without any prior notification to its customer base, it broke the trust that had been built up in all its years of operation.  People came to expect what the store had delivered in the past, and no one warned them of what was to come.  Once the trust was lost, the two separated stores essentially had to begin as start-up businesses. In our case, we had to build our own customer base all over again, since we were unable to communicate directly with the store’s existing customers. 

During that often confusing time, as we struggled to get a toe-hold established, we were told many things by well-meaning people.  I remember clearly one friend of the store telling me to “just bring in cheap kid’s stuff…..even if you have to bring it in from Oriental Trading!  We want a place where we run in and pick up something cheap for birthdays and holidays.”  However, we also received advice from a different faction that wanted quality toys, gifts and stationery – things made well, made local, and recall free.  What were we to do, and which direction should we follow?

Luckily, we had already written our company’s mission statement and executive summary (in its first iteration), and we didn’t have to agonize over which path the store would take.  You can see that mission statement where it’s always been since the inception of this blog, on the right-hand sidebar.  That statement has guided us and allowed us to build trust, slowly but surely, within our community - the community that had their trust broken but now is assured that there is still a Webster in the house.  We are adhering to our own internal guidelines – guidelines that have been shaped by almost a century of our family’s presence in Altadena!
This trust has been rewarded and we are humbled by our community’s acceptance and approval!  Webster’s Fine Stationers was just this week named as one of two Reader Recommended Stationery Stores in Pasadena Weekly's Best Of Pasadena!  We  want to thank all of you for this honor and promise that we will remain true to our standards of quality, excellent customer service and community involvement! 

Have an excellent week, my friends, and we’ll talk again next Sunday!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hotter Than A Witch's ....ummm....Bosom

We welcomed the Fall season in last week's post, and I mentioned that it seemed no one told the weather of the change. Well, Autumn still  hasn't been able to communicate with Mother Nature and our temps are headed off the charts this week!  Let's hope by next week, the lines of communication will have been opened between the two parties, and we'll get more appropriate weather.  Until then, we're serving cold strawberry lemonade or cold water, on request, to encourage you all to stay hydrated.  It's not only hot out there, it's very dry, too.  This can wreak havoc on your skin - my daughter was just telling me that she was starting to break out with heat rash.  Luckily for her, and for you, we proudly carry a local line of herbal skin care called HomeBody Botanicals.  Their X-Zema Salve is wonderful for skin irritations like heat rash, and their Everyday Body Lotion is great for keeping skin soft and smooth!  In this video you can meet Marcia as she talks about HomeBody Botanicals and explains how she makes salves.  WFS carries a complete line of HMB - for skin and body, hair, and home!

 Homebody Botanicals


Speaking of staying hydrated in this hot weather, we all drink lots of water, right?  Good for you if you are, but water can be soooo boring!  Enter another locally produced product, this time a natural drink mix called Charlotte de Berry Pirate Elixirs.  These mixers are formulated similar to the "elixirs" sailors made in the 1700s, due to lack of potable water, out of available fruits fermented with various vinegars, saps, and herbs.  Eventually the sailors (and pirates) discovered that they could extend their grog on long voyages by adding these elixirs.  Thus was born the first true mixed drink, although you can feel free to add Charlotte de Berry's Pirate Elixirs to whatever liquid you desire!  However you use it, this discovery made by sailors of old helps prevent dehydration, particularly of that caused by too much alcohol.  Made with hyper-local ingredients, these delicious mixers come in several mouth-watering fruit combinations, like Mango, Coconut and Lychee-Pear, and come in a beautiful, large bottle.  Since you use it so sparingly, it's bound to last for a long time, plus, mixed with a bit of olive oil, makes a terrific and out-of-the-ordinary salad dressing!  Charlotte de Berry, once known as a fierce woman pirate, now known as a killer drink mix.....who knew?  Pick some up at WFS today!

The Llama Lounge, Home Of Charlotte de Berry's Pirate Elixirs!


It's getting late, and dinner's almost ready, so we'll talk again next week - stay cool, my friends!

Lori and Scott



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall-ing For You

The Autumnal Equinox happened yesterday, September 22nd, 2012, at 10:49 A.M. EDT. That would make it 1:49 pm here in California.  What ever time it happened is irrelevant, it's the feeling that Fall is here that matters!  Even though someone must've forgotten to clue the weather into the change of seasons, WFS is celebrating the thought of cooler weather in the imminent future.

Scott and I have been seeing a few colorful leaves falling from our liquid amber tree in our front yard.  Our tree, aging gracefully at 62 years of age, is huge.  It's branches shade our lawn and office in the front of the house, and I love the way the leaves change color in the fall.  Rich shades of red and copper; bright green and faded yellow mingle together and dance in the breezes that blow up our street.  The neighbor across the street complains every year when those breezes blow all the other neighbors' leaves into his yard, but you can't help but smile when you see the vibrant colors of them all.

Speaking of vibrant colors, we've set up our Halloween displays up, and I have to say, even though I'm partial, that they look particularly fetching this year!  See what you think:
































We're hoping that you've enjoyed our pictures!  Have a great week, and we'll talk again next week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Community Minded






It's become clear that it's never been more important to shop local.  With the threat of not just one, but two Walmart Neighborhood Markets making their way seemingly unobstructed into Altadena, it's time to step up education on why we need our local shops.  This poster, provided by the lovely folks at The American Independent Business Alliance, give you the facts.  Walmart gives you fantasy.  As our friends at Main And Me portray in this poster, this could be your shopping experience in our lovely town someday soon:


However you view the situation, we always advise shopping with your local merchants.  After all, is Walmart going to buy your kids' school fundraisers?  Will they support the local Little League team?  Sure, they'll throw some money at local non-profits, but what about our Library?  Will they support them in a sustainable way?  I think not.  Let us end with this poster, also from Main and Me, and remember - we have Friends Of The Altadena Library canvas tote-bags and Altadena Library District tee-shirts for sale at the store and the Library gets 100% of sales!*



Thanks for listening, my friends, we'll talk again next week!

Lori and Scott


*We also have items from Christmas Tree Lane available and they get 75% of net sales!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Season Of Sparkle

Don't look now, my friends, but September has crept up on us almost like a ghost, and even though you wouldn't know it from the weather, I overheard someone say yesterday they could smell fall in the air.  Back to school fever has passed and every kid's favorite event, Halloween, is looming on our horizon.  The store is receiving it's autumn decor redo, with oodles of fun accessories and things that take you from "boo" to "oooooo" in less time than it takes an owl to say "whoooo"!  You'll have to come in and see, and also take advantage of our "Goodbuy Summer Sale", where you can find deep discounts on fabulous summer products like marble serveware, seashell motif platters, 1000 and 500 piece puzzles, scarves, and more. We're saying "goodbuy" to summer, but not to making sure that your gift and stationery needs are met throughout the coming season of sparkle!



In fact, you can drop by on Friday, September 14th, for Altadena's Fancy Food Truck Friday!  The roster of gourmet food trucks this month is:

The Wake 'N Bake Wagon, breakfast - it's what's for dinner!
The Greasy Wiener, where heaven is a hot dog!
The Cairo Cowboy, formerly Kabob 'N Roll, where Mediterranean food never tasted so good!
Greenz On Wheelz, where you can actually use the words "healthy" and "delicious' in the same sentence, and
Sweet Arlene's, where they take sweet comfort food to a whole new level!

In addition to the lure of tasty bites, be sure to check in at WFS for our monthly Eccentric Poets Spoken Word event featuring Aldonia Bailey and friends:


You'll also want to drop by for a taste of.....wait for it.....the newest addition to our growing section of gourmet food products!  Contrary to recent rumors, WFS loves tea, so we'll be having our own tea party!  Crazy Bitch Tea, an herbal infusion, tastes great and has a calming effect on not just women, but men, too.  As one young Altadena mother told me, "I couldn't get through the day without it - it's phenomenal!"  Nothing artificial, nothing pharmaceutical involved in its making, Crazy Bitch Tea is made from all natural, herbal ingredients that will pick your mood up and relax you. Come by for a complimentary cup - come stressed, leave relaxed!

Have a wonderful week, everyone, we'll talk again next week!

Lori and Scott Webster






Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Of Love


Ever since we took over the ownership of Webster's stationery department five years ago and renamed it Webster's Fine Stationers, we have depended on our staff - our crew members, as we call them - to convey our mission of exemplary customer service to our customers.  They've done it so well that we would be out of our minds not to give them the kudos they deserve, on today of all days.

Without our wonderful employees, both past and present, we would not be able to bring you the type of service that enables us to stand out and stand tall, even in this challenging economy.  They are the stalwarts of our front line of service to our customers - you - and we'd like you to join us while we take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work.

It is hard work to bring you the type of service that you'd like to see in an independently owned business.  It isn't easy on any given day, and it's certainly not a walk in the park these days.  We independents are threatened on all fronts by big-box stores and on-line mega merchants offering insanely low priced goods, shipping deals, and no sales tax.  How can an independent retailer match such deals?  We can't, and that's the God's honest truth - but what we can offer you can't be compared to those corporate mega-retailers.  In truth, we don't want to be one of those huge retailers.  We're very comfortable being the grass-roots, community retailer that we are.  We offer honesty, integrity, real-person relationships and good, old fashioned service that cares if we do business right.  We love being part of what makes Altadena so special!

To our manager, Leilana, and under her, crew members Judith and Joey, Scott and I give you resounding applause for a job well done!  Thank you for your continued service to our mission, and thank you for taking Webster's Fine Stationers into the future as a rock-solid, community-centric business - you've truly made this business a labor of love!

We hope you're enjoying your 3-day weekend, friends, we'll talk again next week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beyond Words - The Art Of The Heart

There's a lot to love about Altadena, but I found out early on in my residency here that it was the artistic community that thrilled me the most.  Everywhere I went, it seemed, I could find art, artists and their works - from Art On Palm to different receptions at venues around town.

Consider that I moved to Pasadena, and ultimately, up to Altadena, from Santa Monica, which is an "arty" town - many small galleries and a vibrant artistic community.  Also a staunch "shop local" town, but we'll get to that another time.  When I moved here, I knew only one person, and he wasn't into the art scene.  I was lucky enough to meet people in the art scene here in Altadena, though, and quickly became enamored of the artists - how lucky I was to have moved here!

Now that Scott and I own this store, we've slowly been working on making room for more local artists on our shelves.  We're proud that we represent so many fabulous local artists of different genres here at WFS!  I'd like to talk for a moment about our latest additions, both authors and both women - a fact that I'm personally very thrilled with!

Margaret Finnegan, a local whose blog Finnegan Begin Again always provides at least a snort of laughter, has written the wryly funny book "The Goddess Lounge", that's loosely based on Homer's "The Odyssey".   The fun part of this is that we're carrying it at WFS and I couldn't be happier - the protagonist, Penny, lives in Altadena, for heaven's sake, and adventure is her game!  If you haven't read it yet, you're missing out on a fun read!


Patricia Bunin, who writes a syndicated column called Senior Moments, has written a book titled "Password: SeniorMoment" that I'm just wild over!  As long as I've been following Patricia's column in the Pasadena Star News, it's never failed to touch a part of me, and her book is no exception.  Those of you with aging parents, even those of you whose parents are now a sweet memory, will enjoy this book filled with wit and wisdom.

 

Margaret and Patricia are just two of the many, many artists we showcase at WFS, and I love each and every one of them!  If you're local, make sure to reserve mid-October for an artists' reception of major proportions.  If you're not local, that's ok, you can follow us here or on Facebook for updates and pictures.  Again for the locals, be sure to come by on Fancy Food Truck Fridays (2nd Friday of each month) for our Poetry Slam, led by local artist and poet Aldonia Bailey - they happen around 6:00 pm!

Take care this week, my friends, and we'll talk again next week -

Lori and Scott


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Local Is As Local Does

Another active week as passed here at WFS, and I, for one, am still savoring the excitement!  At the store, we've been busy stocking up on locally produced body care items from wonderful Pine Street Products and HomeBody Botanicals; and items from fabulous Jabberwocky Smooth Jerk.  We also received a new shipment of greeting cards from our favorite earth-friendly supplier, Tree Free Greetings!  If that weren't enough, we've made arrangements with locally-recommended Crazy Bitch Tea, billed as "The Bitch Stops Here - Bringing Harmony To The World Around Us"; and with SoCal company Green Toys, Inc. - look for their products in the store soon!

I attended the Women In Business Awards on Friday the 17th, having been named one of the Outstanding Small Businesswomen in Altadena.  Each year, the Women in Business Awards and Legislative Update recognize businesswomen who have contributed to the economic growth and well-being of Southern California. These women exemplify the broad range of accomplishments that women have achieved in our communities. Interestingly enough, August 26th will be the 92nd anniversary of women's right to vote in the United States.  I am extremely proud to be a part of the burgeoning sector of women who own their own business, and as a woman, I salute my sisters!  Here's a photo of a group shot of the honorees from our district, with Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, and fellow Altadena honorees Inger Miller and Jill Hawkins of MillerHawkins Events:

 One of the highlights of the event was the keynote speech by space exploration pioneer and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientist, Z. Nagin Cox (also a woman and a fascinating one, at that!).  Ms. Cox shared her exciting experiences on the recent Mars landing of the Curiosity rover and discussed her journey from Prairie Village, Kansas to JPL and Mars rover engineer - such an inspiring story!  I am thrilled to be a small part of this wonderful event, many thanks to Dr. Thelma T. Reyna, who nominated me!

Dr. Reyna is the author of "The Heavens Weep for Us and Other Stories" and is one of the many local authors we represent at WFS.  Did you know that we have over 40 artists of almost every genre here at WFS?  From books to paintings, from food crafters to stationery designers, WFS is your source for locally-made goods and there's no better way to invest in your community! 

Have a great week, friends, and we'll talk again next week.  We've moved into Back To School time in Altadena (so soon?!) - I'm missing the traditional autumn feeling that usually accompanies the season, but I'm sure we'll catch up soon enough!  Stay cool....

Lori and Scott


 



Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's Your Town Now......



 



 It's Your Town

I used to go out quite a lot,
chase to chase and shot to shot.                                     
I'm all done with that somehow,
and it's your town now.

These days the mighty eagle sings,
of money and material things,
and the almighty Dow,
and it's your town now,
your town now,
it's--

From the mountains to the plains
all the towns are wrapped in chains,
and the little that the law allows,
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,
it's--

Where are the young bands gonna play?
Where're the old beatniks gonna stay,
and not before some corporation bow?
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,
it's--

So be careful everyone,
Cops can get careless with their guns.
And then they slip off somehow,
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,
it's--

You young ones it's up to you
to fight the fight and I hope you do,
Oh I see in your eyes that you know how
and it's your town now
your town now.

Don't let 'em take the whole damn deal,
Don't give up on what you really feel.
Ah, the small and local must survive somehow,
if it's gonna be your town now.
Is it gonna be your town now?
Is it gonna be your town now?
Is it gonna be?
----Greg Brown

My mother taught me long, long ago to not say anything at all if I had nothing nice to say.  So, I put myself on a two week blogging exile.  I've been so overwhelmed with the negative that I was afraid to put pen to paper....ummm....keyboard to screen....oh heck, you know what I mean.  But I'm overjoyed to be back with a more positive outlook, and, hopefully, I can convey what I have to say without being overly dark and depressing.

In this week's post, I'd like to talk about this article in the Washington Monthly, written by Barry C. Lynn and Lina Khan, and its relevance to the song captioned above.  In the article they describe the fact that American entrepreneurship has fallen off precipitously in recent years, and opine the reason for that drop.  Here's a sample, actually the final paragraph of the article:

"Indeed, the decline of small business documented here appears to confirm that the great social experiment undertaken a generation ago—when we allowed our government to cease enforcement of our antimonopoly laws—has had a devastating effect not only on our democracy but also on the ability of ordinary Americans to build their assets and move up the socioeconomic ladder through enterprise. The loss of job creation that comes with the hollowing out of America’s entrepreneurial sector also goes a long way toward explaining why American businesses were creating fewer and fewer jobs even before the Great Recession hit. The founding generation was right: as America’s entrepreneurs go, so goes America’s prosperity and democracy. If we are ever to recapture the promise of this land, we must first break down the great powers that crush the individual citizen’s initiative and ability to create and build what is new and better."

We need our entrepreneurial sector to be able to create more and better jobs.  Without that, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Or some would say, between RiteAid and Walmart.  I'd like you to re-read the words to the song that opens this post.  Is this what we want for our town?  Some would have you believe that yes, this is what we want.  I, and a growing number of people whom I speak with daily are saying NO.  No to the large corporations, no to the chains, no to dead-end jobs that go nowhere.  It doesn't matter if you're reading this and don't live in Altadena.  Something like this can, and probably has, happened where you live.  There's a radical push to open more and more big-box "urban" model stores that are local-washed to fit in your community, but really are just a wolf in sheep's clothing.  Now is the time to say no, not in our neighborhood, not in our town!


Our locally-owned, independent businesses and our local start-ups need your support now more than ever before.  Be a part of the change in your community and start a movement to bring your local businesses to the attention of its residents.  Webster's Fine Stationers is proud to have started such a movement here in Altadena by investing in other local businesses.  We also love that we feature businesses other than ours in our social media campaigns. If you're asking what you can do in your neck of the woods, here are some suggestions.  Start an independent business alliance if you're a small business owner or, if you don't have the funds to do that, ask your Chamber of Commerce.  Do they have a Independent Merchants Committee?  If they don't, suggest they form one and volunteer to be on it.  If you're a concerned citizen, start a cash mob for your local businesses.  We've done this in Altadena and it's working out very well.  Petition your City or Town Councils to keep chain businesses out and to help foster independently owned small business ventures.  The more active we are in our communities, the better we all get along and it's a good feeling to know that we're working toward sustainability, local self reliance and autonomy.

Without the support of the communities across the nation, our independent businesses will be eaten alive by the encroachment of huge corporations.  With no local businesses, a community will wither - property values decrease, individuality lost and nothing left to differentiate it from any other.  Is that what we want?  Is that your town now?

For our local readers, see SaveAltadena.com on the net and SaveAltadena on Facebook for news, meeting times and other information.

Talk to you next week, friends, and until then, be well and happy.

Lori and Scott

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mob Mentality


"When the theater gates open, a mob pours inside, and it is the poet's task to turn it into an audience."
---Franz Grillparzer

 

Atladena's second attempt at a "cash mob" occurred yesterday at WFS, after a build-up of about a week's duration in our local newsblogs.  This mob, actually spread out throughout the day, provided a needed boost to our daily sales.  Saying that I'm grateful is an understatement - I can say that we're unequivocally floored by the kindness shown us yesterday!

The idea of cash mobs came up as a reaction to the news that Altadena will be getting a new Walmart Neighborhood Market on Lincoln and Figueroa and possibly a second one at Lake and Calaveras.  The Save Altadena group wants to support local business.  Some doubt that it will be sustainable, but we've heard the naysayers before, and we're not daunted.  This cash mobbing is a fantastic way for our townspeople to get to know our local businesses, to help support them now and hopefully, in the future.  I can say for certain that it made our day, our week and probably, our month.  It's a great thing to do in summer, when sales are slow and business is welcome.  Remember - 
 I envision this continuing throughout the year and we've committed to attending each and every one!   The next one is scheduled for Spin Off Records on Lincoln - stay tuned to our Facebook page to find out when it will be.

Stay cool this week, friends!  We'll talk next week....

Lori and Scott





Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pleasant Valley Sunday....

I love Sundays.  We close the store earlier on Sundays - at 5:00 in the afternoon, so if there's not a lot of traffic, we can get home and relax a little.  Whether or not we actually do relax is another story.  You know there's always something to do, like wash the car or the clothes.  Scott's out back right now, mowing the little patch of grass in the dark.  I wonder what it'll look like in the daylight, or maybe the ambient light from the house was enough to see.  It'll probably be fine, though, because Scott is funny like that and has an almost uncanny ability to see things other people don't see.

There's a lot to be said about that type of ability, but I imagine sometimes it can be frustrating.  If we put it into the context of what's happening in Altadena today, I can tell you he's verklempt.  He's having a hard time understanding why our town, usually so adamant about not letting in large stores, is seemingly embracing the idea of our newest proposed neighbor, a Walmart Neighborhood Store.  I'm wondering why as well.  We know the history of this corporation, yet some folks are expecting them to be different this time.  Isn't that a quote from Albert Einstein?  The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results.

What Scott sees happening is our independent stores being slowly squeezed out, creating more trouble than there was in the first place, without Walmart, and I agree with him.  This is a familiar argument, one that's been voiced all across the US, so much so that people here seem to tune out.  Maybe it's just a Southern California thing, this ennui.  No big deal, right?  Maybe is isn't and maybe it is, but as one commenter on the most recent story on the situation in our local newsblogs put it, "now's the time for the mom and pops in town to get it together" (paraphrased for brevity).  I agree with that as well!  As much as we can, after slogging through this recession and so-called recovery, I call on all of us small business people to "get it together"!

See what's happening in your town - don't be a turtle, don't lose interest, don't think that it won't affect you.  We all need to become more involved, more supportive and care more about what happens here in Altadena. Let's talk about it - start now and start here at SaveAltadena.com.


Have an excellent week ahead, my friends, and we'll talk again next week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, July 8, 2012

News You Can Use July 2012


 
Happy July, friends, we hope your Independence Day celebrations were completely fabulous!  Ours was, filled with good friends, family and plenty of fried chicken!  Speaking of chicken, food and togetherness, Fancy Food Truck Friday will be on July 13th, starting at 5:00 pm and ending at 9:00 pm!  There are some new trucks on the roster this month - check it out:

                                 Mandoline Grill - Vietnamese Cuisine
                                 Ta Bom - Brazilian Cuisine
                                Veg It Up - Vegetarian Cuisine
                                After School Special - American Cuisine
                                The Hungry Nomad - Middle Eastern Cuisine
                               Waffles De Liege - Dessert
 


Hungry diners wait in line at Altadena's Fancy Food Truck Friday

We're very excited to welcome new trucks to the parking lot behind Webster's!  Since it's also our Fifth Anniversary, we'll be making a party out of it and we're inviting everyone to come on by!  OddBallGrape.com will be here with some of their interesting and humorous insights on wine that always leaves you with a smile.  Their focus this month will be "A Good Bottle Of Wine For $13.00 And Under - Fact Or Fiction?".  If this piques your interest, come on by and we'll do a blind tasting of their results!

Local artist/poet Aldonia Bailey will be with us this month as well, joined by her friends, who will take their poetry to another level with jazz.  While I can tell you you've never heard anything like it, you'll just have to come find out for yourself!

Aldonia Bailey Reading Poetry February, 2012 WFS
Again, the fun starts at 5:00 pm on Friday the 13th, and all the shops at Webster's will be open until 9:00 pm for your convenience - make sure to drop by and check out our newest artist additions!



In other news this month, Altadena has been rocked by the news of a WalMart Neigborhood Market opening at the corner of Lincoln Ave. and Figueroa Street.  We've just recently heard that the retail behemoth is also in negotiations for the empty lot below the Ralphs Market on Lake Ave. and Calaveras Street.  While we stand with our fellow independent business owners in opposing WalMart's presence in our town, we don't want to sway your opinion one way or another without offering you the chance to educate yourself on the pros and cons.  Our Town Council representatives for that census tract are having a meeting on Thursday, July 12th, 6:00 pm at Jackson Elementary School.  The address is 593 W. Woodbury Rd. in Altadena, and they invite you to come to hear a presentation and ask questions.  There is also a meeting at The Coffee Gallery Backstage on Saturday, July 21 at 11:00 am, at which the film "The High Cost Of Low Prices" will be shown.  The Coffee Gallery Backstage's address is 2029 Lake Ave., and the phone number is (626) 798-6236 - please call to make reservations.  Both of these meetings will give you enough information for you to form your own opinion of what's taking place in Altadena today.  You can also check the website www.savealtadena.com for more information.



That's all the news for this week, friends - Scott and I wish you all the best, and we'll talk to you soon!

Lori and Scott Webster

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Neighborhood Concerns

Protest Against WalMart's Entry Into LA's Chinatown, June 30, 2012


Since the news broke recently that WalMart will be introducing their Neighborhood Store model to the corner of Lincoln and Figueroa in Altadena, there have been debates pro and con raging on the local news blogs and on the street.  I assume you know where we stand in the matter.  Our opinion hasn't wavered since this blog's inception almost 5 years ago and won't waver now - I do not believe the addition of a WalMart store of any size will benefit this town.

WalMart Neighborhood Markets are a smaller-sized "localized grocery market" that inserts themselves into previously zoned, permitted and empty storefronts.  I have seen Steven V. Restivo's, (WalMart's Senior Director of Community Affairs), piece on HufPo, dated June 29, 2012, which defends their decision to move into Los Angeles and its environs.  In it, he starts out by maligning Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy's (LAANE) for their stance against a WalMart Neighborhood Market in Chinatown.  He uses WalMart's tired old adage "after all, protests don't employ people, but new stores do."

Good Jobs, Not WalMart Jobs

I've heard that many people in the West Altadena area are eagerly awaiting this new WalMart.  If that's the case, I haven't heard it from any of the people I know or come across on a daily basis that live in the vicinity.  Quite contrary, in fact - the people I've talked to aren't looking forward to it at all.  Many are worried about will happen to the other markets, like SuperKing and Baja Ranch - and rightly so.  In Mr. Restivo's article, he states, "In these challenging economic times, private sector companies have a responsibility to work with local stakeholders in a given community to ensure residents and business both benefit. We're engaging with communities here to better understand the unique challenges they face and how our stores might play a role in the solution."  Let me show you how a WalMart Neighborhood Market "engages with their communities" and would NOT benefit our ours:

In the study "The Impact of an Urban Wal-Mart Store on Area Businesses: An Evaluation of One Chicago Neighborhood’s Experience" (Research report prepared and published by the Center for Urban Research and Learning, Loyola University Chicago), a key finding is that the probability of going out of business during the study period (2006-2008) was significantly higher for establishments close to the Wal-Mart location.  The basic sample followed 306 enterprises, 82 of which went out of business over the study period.  It also states that "based on the estimated relationship between probability of store closings and proximity to Wal-Mart, the research team estimates that Wal-Mart’s opening has resulted in the loss of about 300 full-time equivalent jobs in its own and nearby zip codes."  The study further states that "they suggest a loss about equal to Wal-Mart’s own addition to employment in the area. These estimates support the contention that large-city Wal-Marts absorb retail sales from other city stores without significantly expanding the market." *

"In addition to the surveys of West Side establishments, the research team obtained sales tax data from the Illinois Department of Revenue. These data from 2000 through 2008 are used to estimate quarterly taxable sales for the Wal-Mart zip code (60639) and neighboring zip codes. A trend analysis is performed for each zip code. In each case, the question is whether trends in sales changed after the Wal-Mart opening. For Wal-Mart’s own zip code, 60639, there is no evidence of an overall upturn in sales. Indeed, if the sample is limited to the six quarters (18 months) before and after Wal-Mart opened there is a significant decline in the trend of zip code sales. For this same period, zip code 60651, the closest neighbor to the Wal-Mart zip code, also shows a significant negative break-in-trend as does zip code 60622."

Friday, June 29th Save Altadena meeting at WS - photo courtesy of Altadenablog

Both of these findings seem to conflict with Mr. Restivo's statement of  "communities always prefer a vibrant storefront over an abandoned building and our stores will generate tax revenue for the city and county while also serving as a magnet for growth and development in each community. From restaurants, salons, banks, and florists to bookstores, specialty grocers and wine & spirits shops, there are dozens of small business categories that typically surround our stores."  Find out what happens when a WalMart does come to town here in the Business News Daily article, and check out this map on anticipated WalMart Neighborhood Market openings across Los Angeles County:

Afraid yet, fellow Altadenans and fellow small business owners?  I sure am.  Join us as we attempt to educate our townspeople on the value of shopping with local, independent businesses - follow us on our Facebook page or email us at webstersfinestationers@gmail.com for further information.

*WalMart Neighborhood Markets' concept was introduced in Arkansas in 1998 and as of May 2012 there are 199 WNMs across the country.  The studies referenced in this post were conducted in Chicago's Westside.

As always, we appreciate your readership - have a great week ahead, my friends!


Lori and Scott



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Raise A Little Hell, Redux


I’m going to do something that I haven’t ever done on this blog before – I’ll be reprising one of my posts that I wrote on May 3, 2010.  I’m doing this because I thought this post was prescient, given the circumstances Altadena finds itself in now.  However, it’s not going to be a simple cut and paste job, I’m going to fill it in a bit more, to shape it to what’s happening now. So hang on, folks, it started off with a snippet of a song about raising 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.  Now, though, I’m uncertain exactly where Altadena is headed – the news of the invasion of WalMart this week has polarized this town and looks to split it right down the middle. 

You can follow the drama on Altadenablog and on AltadenaPatch, on Altadena’s Facebook page, and on our own store’s page.  No, I’m not neutral in this debate.  I feel very strongly about big-box stores in general and WalMart in particular, as my readers know.  I’d like to say a word to my out-of-town friends, if I may – tf your town or city is currently WalMart free, keep it that way.  Keep your local independent businesses in business and never let there be a chink in your armor where they might be able to slip a hook into.  Educate your friends on the value of shopping locally with independent businesses and make sure they know that’s the way to their community’s prosperity.

 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 life.....one I think we can change with some education.


 For you locals, don’t forget about this week’s ACONA meeting, on Tuesday the 26th of June at the Altadena Public Library on Mariposa at 7:00 pm.  Ed Meyers, Daniel Harlow, and I will be there representing the Chamber of Commerce, and we’ll be discussing the Visioning meetings, the retail outlook, and the results of last year’s shopping survey conducted by the COC.   Alex from El Patron will also be speaking, and you won’t want to miss finding out what makes his restaurant so wildly popular and why no other has been able to survive there in years.  Enjoy the week ahead, my friends and we’ll talk again next week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Celebrating Dad

On July 19, 1910, the governor of the U.S. state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first “Father’s Day.” However, it was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official, that the day became a nationwide holiday in the United States. 

Typically overshadowed by Mother's Day, dad's special day has been gaining on mom's, and spending on gifts in 2012 will help narrow that gap even further.  According to the National Retail Federation, Father’s Day spending was expected to reach $12.7 billion this year alone.

This Father’s Day, why not spend your hard earned money on Dad at his favorite local business? An added benefit of shopping locally for Dad is that the money that you spend at locally owned businesses will be reinvested in the local economy at a 60 percent higher rate than chains and Internet retailers.

So this Father’s Day, take him out to eat at his favorite locally owned restaurant. Buy him a book at that family run store down the street. Nothing says “I love you, Dad” like a Father’s Day present bought from a locally owned business!

 
Get Father's Day off to a great start by bringing Dad to our monthly wine pairing events with OddBallGrape.com!  This month's theme is "Wines Of La Mancha", where we'll be pairing Chilled Spanish Wines with Tappas from Amy's Patio Cafe at 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 16th.  This is one event you won't want to miss!  We'll also be hosting Danica Patton, local businesswoman and author, who will be discussing and signing her new book "Where Do We Go From Here?".  Check out our News You Can Use for further information and we hope to see you on Saturday!

Enjoy the next two weeks, friends.  We'll be taking a blogging holiday on Father's Day, so we'll talk again the week after next.

Lori and Scott