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