Sunday, January 29, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different......

'We're hoping to succeed; we're okay with failure. We just don't want to land in between.'
--David Chang
"He's serious. Lots of people say this, but few are willing to put themselves at risk, which destroys the likelihood of success and dramatically increases the chance of in between." ----  Seth Godin

I don't think anyone could say that we're "inbetween", unless they were speaking about our physical location.  Sandwiched inbetween two other stores, WFS has no windows to the outside world.  Inside, though, we're a world apart from other shops. 

Did you realize that we represent over 50 local artists?  We have local representation in all genres - card makers, authors of books, fine art and prints, gourmet food products, body products and jewelry!  WFS takes pride in the fact that we invest in our community, because that's what helps make us strong.

We also believe in buying fair trade, or buying merchandise that "gives back".  That means the company we buy from donates to a good cause, like LiveStrong or Women At Work.  We love this so much, we actually hunt down those companies whose products fit our business model!  We've been lucky to find so many recently and it's a great feeling to know that our customers appreciate this about us.  Thanks so much for letting us know how important giving back to the community and the world is to you, it helps us shape our future plans.

Some people worry that a business model like ours is risky.  Is it?  Yes, it is - to be different is always risky.  Is it worth the sacrifice?  Resoundingly, yes!  If we happen to do any good at all, it's worth it.  To help call attention to our local artistic community, it's worth it.  To help change what we as average shoppers care about and look for in products is worth it.  What....did you think we were in this for the money?

If your plan is to tailor your shopping habits to fit your socially conscious sensibilities, we're your store!  Come in soon to see what goodies we've gotten in for Valentines Day - our local artists and WFS appreciate you!

Have a great week ahead, my friends!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Prosperous Water Dragon Year!

Long Nian Da Ji

Tomorrow begins the Chinese New Year, The Year Of The Dragon.  The Chinese zodiac is made up of 12 signs, similar to the Western system, but their signs are comprised of animals.  The Dragon is the major symbol of good fortune in Chinese Astrology.  The Dragon constellation, for example, is accorded the honor of being the guardian of the Eastern sky.  According to tradition, the Dragon brings in the Four Blessings of the East: wealth, virtue, harmony and longevity.

This year is also considered a water element year, and so is thought doubly prosperous in matters of financial success, family and romance.  While I was researching Chinese astrology, I found it interesting that ever since 1996, the year element has been in a destructive relationship with the fixed element of the animal sign. That is the longest unfavorable period in the 60 year cycle of Chinese Astrology, and that means a scarcity of good luck. The year 2012 is thus blessed not only by the lucky Dragon but also the end of that destructive cycle.  All signs are pointing to 2012 being a better and luckier year for everyone, especially for our country's beleaguered small businesses.

I ran across an article by Robert Safian in Fast Company called This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business.  It's a fascinating piece that details the emerging young pioneers that have challenged today's economy by recognizing that "the future of business is pure chaos" and how they, and we, can survive and even thrive in these fast changing times.  The author asserts that "We are under constant pressure to learn new things. It can be daunting. It can be exhilarating."

Exhilarating, indeed!  I have to admit that even as worrisome business has become in the past few years, particularly for independent retailers, it's been quite a wild ride.  I'm excited by so many innovations and possibilities this new frontier offers and how they relate to our store.  Says Mashable's 26-year old founder, Pete Cashmore, "All these industries are being revolutionized.  It's come to technology first, but it will reach every industry. You're going to have businesses rise and fall faster than ever." 

Of course, it's the evolution of business as we know it, and it's happening at lightening-speed, or so it seems.  Beth Comstock, the chief marketing officer of GE, says, "Business-model innovation is constant in this economy.  You start with a vision of a platform. For a while, you think there's a line of sight, and then it's gone. There's suddenly a new angle."  I'm painfully aware of those angles, aren't you?  The great thing about this type of atmosphere is the opportunity it affords to learn.  We learn, we adapt, and we keep ourselves moving forward. 

One thing Mr. Safian says resonated with me.  It's something I've been saying since we took over our store.  He says, "If ambiguity is high and adaptability is required, then you simply can't afford to be sentimental about the past. Future-focus is a signature trait of Generation Flux. It is also an imperative for businesses: trying to replicate what worked yesterday only leaves you vulnerable."  GE's Peters says, "Some people question changing our (business) definitions.  When they do, I ask: How many of you use the same cell phone from five years ago? The world isn't the same, so we need new parameters."  I agree with Ms. Peters.  The world isn't the same, our towns aren't the same and we can't sit and mourn the fact.  We need to deal with the changing world on its terms, not ours - adapt, realign and move forward!

Wishing you the best this new year has to offer, my friends - may it be good to you and yours!

Lori & Scott

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Follies

The holidays have all been celebrated, the New Year greeted and the Rose Parade has marched off into history.  Welcome to January!  Although it's winter, the weather has been anything but, and we're enjoying summer-like temperatures.  It's been great for us, we can leave the doors open so people can peek in to see our new Valentines Day displays.  If this is what's in store for us weather-wise this season, we'll take it!

Yes, Valentines Day is coming and WFS is gearing up for the love fest by stocking some of the best Valentine cards and gifts we can find.  You've got to see our cards, by Crane & Co., Tree-Free Greetings, Laughing Elephant, African-American Expressions and Designs For Better Giving, to name a few - they're made in the U.S. or are California-based companies, and we think you'll love them!  We've got the most delicious chocolates by John Kelly, another of our local vendors, who make their signature dark chocolate enrobed truffle fudge treats right here in Los Angeles.  The beautiful scarves, leather & recycled material bags and gorgeous jewelry by Open Hand Design, a fair trade company, are 35% off, and we have some beautiful vintage Shaeffer pens on special as well!

WFS is planning a very special Valentine wine tasting and reading from one of our Altadena authors - stay tuned for more information on that.  You might have noticed that we are taking a tasting hiatus this month.  Our intrepid wine bloggers, Anne Bannon and Michael Holland, are extremely busy this month.  Anne wears many hats, one of which is writing another blog called Your Family and she's tied up with award shows.  Not to worry, all that will be wrapped up by February and they'll be back, funnier and more informative than ever! 

Our collaborative event with the other Webster's stores, Fancy Food Truck Friday, will also be on hiatus until April.  The temporary use permit we renewed late last year will take us through the end of this year if we take this winter break.  Unaware that the weather would be so beautiful, we all thought it would be a good idea if we waited until Spring for more gourmet food truck fun....oh how tricky Mother Nature can be! We'll try to fill this gaping hole in our community with our wine and food pairings, so make sure you save the date for those as soon as you hear about them!

Our friend, Karin Bugge, has written an excellent article in one of our local newsblogs, Altadena, that's called "Altadena Is No Sierra Madre".  Great stuff and the comments are interesting - if you have a moment, I highly recommend you check it out and leave your comment, too.  All of us small business owners in Altadena are very interested in your opinion so let us know how you feel!

On a more personal note, Scott and I lost our beloved pet, Pepe the Wonder Dog, last Thursday.  He was very special to us.  Intended as a birthday present for our daughter's 18th birthday, we found him at a pet store in Blue Jay village, near Lake Arrowhead, in the San Bernardino Mountains, while we were on our honeymoon.  We got married on December 27th, 1997, and brought him home with us on January 4th, so he'd been with us for a little over 14 years.  Soon after that, Parisa moved out to an apartment that didn't allow dogs, and he became our empty-nest pup.  He was quirky, persnickety at times, didn't like other dogs much but he was a one-family dog that was loyal and true to the end.  We miss him dearly and we keep hearing his nails clicking on the hardwood floor....wishful thinking, I'm sure, but comforting nevertheless. 

Have a great week to come, friends!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Welcoming 2012


The new year unfailing conjures feelings of anticipation, new opportunities and hope.  As David Cameronsaid recently, "It gives us an extraordinary incentive to look outward, look onwards and to look our best: to feel pride in who we are and what - even in these trying times - we can achieve."

Our hope for this new year is just that.  It would be an extraordinary gift for all of us to feel that sense of pride and thankfulness in ourselves and our achievements and even more extraordinary if that spilled over onto everyone else.

Here's wishing you and yours a meaningful, achievement-rich 2012 - we're looking forward to sharing it with you!

Enjoy the week ahead of us, my friends!

Lori and Scott