Sunday, October 27, 2013


Of all the social media platforms out there, we think that Pinterest is the most intriguing.  Facebook is great for keeping friends/customers/whomever engaged with your day-to-day goings on, as is Twitter for short updates, moments of inspiration or quick quotes.  Blogging is fabulous when you want to get wordy (like now); and Instagram/Tumblr are fine for pictures and quick glimpses into what you're doing.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mixers, Moxie, and More!

A long time ago, one of our personal mail box tenants told us that a business mixer at the store would be a great idea. We thought so, too, but where would be put all those people?  It was a dilemma for sure, until we cleared out some old merchandise and displays.

Fast forward five or so years, and we've finally been able to clear enough room in the store to hold more events, and yes, the business mixer has at long last been planned for Wednesday the 16th of October! We're planning another one-woman play, as well!  Yes, you heard that right - Ms. Ellen Snortland, activist, author, and actress wants to do Now That She's Gone at WFS as a fund raiser for her documentary film Beauty Bites Beast.  It's scheduled for Sunday the 20th of October.  Look for notices in-store, on our Facebook page, and in your email (if you're signed up for our newsletters).

We'll also be back to our poetry events on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm, so we're looking forward to a very full month here at WFS and we'd love you to join us!

Until next time,

Lori and Scott

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back In The Saddle Again....

It's good to be back!  Our last blog post was on July 7th, and we spent the time between then and now moving back to Altadena.  With that monumental task behind us, we can now look forward to being more closely involved with the goings on here, and preparing the store for the upcoming holiday season.  Halloween decorations and products are up and on the shelves, we've got some new artists' works hanging on the walls, displays are being moved around, and WFS is ready to party!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Putting Your Money Where Your House Is

Today, Sunday, July 7, marks the last day in the week long celebration of local, independent businesses across our nation, coined "Independents Week" by the American Independent Business Alliance.  WFS is, and always has been, an enthusiastic participant in this grass-roots movement to increase the awareness of our independent businesses, here in Altadena and all over the country!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Long Run - A Song For Independents

Did you do it for love?
Did you do it for money?
Did you do it for spite?
Did you think you had to, honey?
Who is gonna make it?
We'll find out in the long run
I know we can take it
if our love is a strong one
Well, we're scared, but we ain't shakin'
Kinda bent, but we ain't breakin'
in the long run
Ooh, I want to tell you, it's a long run
---- Glenn Lewis Frey, Don Felder, Timothy B. Schmit, Don Henley

Sunday, June 23, 2013

There's Culture In Them Thar Hills!

Altadena's reputation as an anomaly within the environs of Los Angeles County is a subject given much talk.  Mostly, that talk emanates from outside it - points west, east, and south of us. Those who live inside Altadena, though, tend to ignore the talk and go about their business, not really caring who thinks what about whom.  Life goes on as it always does in Altadena, that is, until someone or something pops up to rock our boat a little.  When that happens, people notice.  Not just people from the outside, although they certainly have an opinion.  People in our town are taking notice and getting involved in their community once again, and we think that's great!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Celebrating The Grand Paternal

What we're looking at here is a  copy of a page from an Altadena Chamber Of Commerce-sponsored soft backed book called "Altadena Welcomes You", printed around 1935 by the Altadena Press.  This particular page details Webster's Pharmacy, but more importantly, gives a picture of the founder, Harold Frank Webster.  Frank, as his friends called him, had moved up to Altadena from the orange groves that his father owned in South Pasadena.  While attending USC for his doctorate, Frank took a job at a pharmacy on Lake and Mariposa, and bought it from the original owner in 1926.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Sierra Madre Grocery Company and Elise Entertaiing Paper Tableware
Last week, we discussed our take on business philosophy and how it applies to WFS.  This week, I'd like to take a look back, in retrospect, from our first blog post to today.  In effect, our history has been documented since we first put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) in February, 2008.  Here is that first post, in which we give some history and an explanation as to why the walls went up at Webster's. It's still a hot topic with people here, interestingly enough.

We posted fairly regularly from then on, but didn't have any particular schedule in mind when we did. As you probably now know, we have been publishing weekly on Sundays for over two years now.  There have been high points in our blog-life, such as this post here, where we talk about the positive change a connected community can make; and low points, like this post that talks about a dissatisfied customer.  Through it all, however, there is a thread of hope running through all our posts - the hope that one day soon, our community, its residents, and all its businesses will prosper and grow.  Over the past five years, that hope has never dimmed. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Oftentimes, we're asked for advice from various friends, acquaintances, even customers of ours, on starting or growing a business.  Most of the questions we get center around operating a business in a down economy, like "how do you hang in there when it's so tough?".  Others couch the question differently, like asking what motivates us to keep showing up on a daily basis. Multiple paragraphs could be written about this subject, but we ran across a recent blog post from uber-entrepreneur Seth Godin that pretty much sums up our advice to anyone starting out:

What does your brand stand for?

If you tell me about service and quality and customer focus, you haven't answered my question, because a hundred other brands stand for that. If you are what others are, then there's nothing here to own or protect or build upon.

Compared to what? Compared to all those that you compete with for attention, for commerce, for donations and for employees, what do you stand for? Are you one of a kind or even one in a million?
Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton... they don't actually stand for anything, do they? They can't, because they stand for precisely the same thing. Puma vs. Adidas vs. Nike... They all want to stand for winning. How substantial are the differences?

Make a list of the differences and the extremes and start with that. A brand that stands for what all brands stand for stands for nothing much.

---Seth Godin, May 30, 2013

It was never much of a stretch for us to differentiate our store, because we had to.  Due to the circumstances of our purchase into this long-standing family business, we were actually a new store, born from the carcass of the old.  From day one, we vowed to stand for our community's artists, writers, for hand-made, for local, and stand we have.  It's allowed us to help bring our area's artists to the attention of potentially hundreds of people.  It's also allowed us contribute to several of our town's non-profits, schools, and causes - maybe not with thousands of dollars, but as one retail friend told us, "even if it's only $100.00, it's $100.00 more than they had before".  With that philosophy, we joyfully give whatever and whenever we can.

Another great piece to read is Jonathan Morrow's post about fear, entitled The Cowardly Entrepreneur.  When, in the body of his post, he writes "The lesson is that courage isn’t about acting in the absence of fear; it’s about acting despite it", he had our attention.  This, along with Seth's post, really nails it in terms of advice for those just starting out (or those who need a jump start) in their businesses.  To quote Seth, "Go -  make something happen"!

Along those lines, we're hosting a book signing event on Thursday, with author Carol Woodliff.  Carol is a healer/shaman, and this event will be very exciting, with readings and demonstrations.  You'll find the event notice on our Facebook page and we hope we'll see you there!

We'll talk again next week, friends - enjoy!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Spring Sonata

We're back after a brief spring break and hope those of you who celebrated Mother's Day had a wonderful time!

With the later spring and early summer holidays on our near horizon, WFS pauses for a moment or two to rearrange our displays in the store, and bring new merchandise in.  We have already received in Imagine Chocolate, a delicious, local gourmet chocolate producer; have picked up some beautiful (locally grown) live orchids; and are showing a new artist's work!  We've also received in some great new books, and are having a GrantBuilder's Workshop on Tuesday, May 21, with one of the authors.  Here's the flyer for the workshop:

A week ago Friday, we had a lovely book signing event with Elliot M. Gold, where we listened to interviews he'd done as a TIME/LIFE photojournalist of rock n roll icons.  His book "Rememories" is a compilation of these interviews, and to actually hear the voices of people like Grace Slick, Bruce "Cousin Brucie" Morrow, and Andrew Young!  Here's a photo from Altadenablog of Elliot during the event:

This was such an interesting and moving event, and Elliot assures us that he's available to do it again - lucky us! 

On our calender for June is a book signing with author Carol Woodliff, whose book, "From Scared To Sacred: Lessons In Learning To Dance With Life", touched us deeply. On Thursday, June 6, we'll all learn about how to reclassify fear and how to let the voice within guide you to your highest endeavors.  Well be looking forward to this with anticipation - make sure to reserve this date on your schedule, you won't want to miss it!

This is turning out to be a very busy spring, and we're loving it! We also had a fund-raiser for Danny's Farm, where we were able to send them 15% of our net sales, and we also raised $120.00 for West, Texas, where the town was almost wiped out due to a fertilizer factory explosion.  We're very grateful to our customers who donated so readily!

Until next week, friends!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May Madness

“Lots of people go mad in January. Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month for madness.”
Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary

It's seems impossible that it's already May, with Mother's Day on the 12th, just around the corner.  It even seems like an eternity since last week!  We've been very busy over here at WFS, you see, and time seems to speed up and then slow down like a slide on a trombone.

Just yesterday we hosted a book signing event with the ladies who wrote The Chocolate Princess In The Land Of Plenty.    This coming Friday evening, we'll be hosting former TIME/LIFE photographer and current ACONA founder Elliot Gold, who'll be signing his 2010 book "Rememories".  This won't be just a book signing, either.  Much like The Chocolate Princess, where the authors reached out and spoke one-on-one with the attendees, Elliot will be playing his taped interviews with assorted music luminaries who changed our world in the 1950s, 60s, and early 1970s.  We'll hear their words and listen to "their" music, which is also "our" music, and relive those turbulent, fascinating times!  The event starts at 5:00 p.m., along with Fancy Food Truck Friday. 

We've also firmed up plans to host a book signing and mini grant writing seminar by LaQuetta Shamblee.  Her new book, The Grantbuilder, is a step-by-step overview for her registered trademark course.  The book is available here at WFS, and those who buy the book will be able to attend this seminar for 50% off.  We'll release more information about this exciting seminar next week, so stay tuned!

More coming up in the pipeline - we're in talks right now to get one our newest authors, Carol McKibben,
here to sign her new book "Luke's Tale"; and we're working hard to get Carol Woodliff's books in and have her make a guest appearance as well! 

We also had the honor of attending Leadership Pasadena's graduation ceremony on Thursday afternoon, and enjoyed the proceedings immensely.  This is a fabulous program for building your leadership skills and we're mulling over attending the next session.  We were very pleased to note that The LightBringer Project's LA faction (the geniuses behind The Doo Dah Parade, and Room 13) works with Leadership Pasadena - wow, that Tom Coston is everywhere, and we love it!

We're off to rest tonight, and start again tomorrow, friends, as we're sure you are, as well.  Enjoy these next couple of weeks - we'll be a blogging break for Mother's Day, so we'll see you later!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Birthday Blessings

"It is lovely, when I forget all birthdays, including my own, to find that somebody remembers me."
Ellen Glasgow

Birthdays are a funny thing - some you want, some you don't, but it all comes down to the same thing, which is the passing of time.  In this passing of time, hopefully you're enjoying the ride and have loved ones or good friends who accompany you long the path. 

In the last few years, both Scott and I have been really bad friends.  We've been so busy, always at the store or traveling to and from, to get together with people at night or on the weekends.  We used to be good at sending out written greetings, too.  In fact, I used to relish finding just the right card for whomever had the birthday!  However, with time being such an issue anymore, we find that just the act of remembering to grab a card seems to be impossible.  It's lucky we have the internet, or my friends probably wouldn't hear from us at all!

There are people very dear to us that consistently write us handwritten greetings (you know who you are), and Scott and I would like to publicly thank you.  You've hung in there and sent us written greetings through the U.S. Mail without any reciprocation and we appreciate you deeply.  To the many people who posted birthday greetings via Facebook, thank you as well.  All of you are amazing people and we're glad to know you!

We'll be having some great events coming up at the store, starting this Saturday, when the authors and illustrator of the children's book The Chocolate Princess In The Land Of Plenty"  will be here for a book signing.  Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, May 4, at 1:00 pm, and come meet the local creators of this wonderful, inspirational book!

 On Friday, the 10th of May, it's not only Fancy Food Truck Friday, but we'll be hosting Handsome Elliot Gold, who is not only the guru of teleconferencing, he is also the author of the book "Rememories".  The book is a compilation of interviews with music industry luminaries, such as Bruce "Cousin Brucie" Morrow and Grace Slick, and has been called "a yin and yang of music and memories".  He'll be reliving these memories and reliving rock and roll's heyday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm - don't miss it!

That's it for now, friends, and as always, we thank you and hope you have a great week ahead!  We'll go cut some birthday cake now - see you next week!

Lori and Scott

Monday, April 22, 2013

Community Benefits

Last week, as usual, we ended our blog post with the sentence "we'll talk again next week".  Normally, that means Sundays, when we write up an article and publish it in the evening.  We've been publishing on Sunday nights for quite a long while now.

But last night was different.  The entire week was different - in fact, it hadn't been that different since September 11, 2001.  As Scott and I talked about possible blog fodder, we also discussed not publishing a blog post, out of respect for the terrible occurrences that took place during the week.  We ended up deciding to wait until today, after the moment of silence dedicated to the victims of the bomb attack at the Boston Marathon.

We decided that instead of rehashing the horrors of last week, or on products our store carries, we'd instead talk of things that we're doing that help our community, raise awareness, and just make us feel good.

Last Sunday, we attended the pre-Gala event for Union Station Homeless Services, at the Blacker House in Pasadena.  We've been donating to Union Station directly, and through a local group called Put The Fork In Hunger, for many years now.  Most people would nod and say that's a good thing, but never understand exactly why we do this.  Most philanthropic giving by local businesses is tied to an experience with someone or something that has touched the owners' lives somehow, and that is true with us.  Our store manager, Leilana De Los Santos, has been through Union Station's program, and we were so impressed by her experience that we wanted to contribute.  Even though what we can do is just a grain of sand against the massive need, we are honored to be a part of the giving.  Here is Pasadena Now's coverage of the event, along with pictures - it was a lovely day spent with wonderful people.  We were again blown away by Leilana's story, as she told it to the attendees during her keynote speech.  It was a pleasure to applaud the generous support of Union Station by Pasadena's Mayor and his wife, William and Claire Bogaard, and Robert Floe.  Underpinning it all was the hospitality of the Blacker House's owners, the Knells, who have lovingly restored the beautiful Craftsman designed by Greene & Greene, and their warm welcome to all involved.

Leilana De Los Santos With Scott And Lori Webster

Later that evening, we also attended a fund-raiser for John Muir High School's Muir Ranch, a program that we believe in and support.  Keynote speaker for the event was South Los Angeles guerrilla gardener and TED speaker Ron Finley.  Food, as Mr. Finley says, is the problem in cities like Los Angeles.  Food is also the solution.  Click the link for Mr. Finley and watch his TED talk, and I believe you'll understand why we support his ideas and why we support Muir Ranch.

Muir Ranch Dinner - photo by Diana Heffernan-Schrader
 Both Scott and I love working in and with our community, and we wish we had more time to do it.  We celebrate those that work tirelessly for the benefit of others, and we know that good works will always overshadow atrocities committed. On that note, we are running a fund-raising campaign for West, Texas.  Called "Round Up For West, Texas", we'll be asking you to drop change from your purchase into our collection box.  Feel free to drop in and donate directly, as well.

We'll talk again next Sunday, friends, until then, have a great week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meet The New Crew Members And Open Mic Poetry Jam

I always feel a sense of relief at coming back from a vacation, don't you?  The moment you unlock your front door and step over the threshold is fraught with that feeling of home, of place, and of familiarity.  That's what it's like coming back here after taking two weeks off, and I like it!  I always miss not being able to write weekly, but sometimes it's nice to get a break in to refuel and recharge.

Recharging is exactly what we're doing at the store, as well.  We've got two new crew members, Dalton and Marc - having two sets of manly-type hands is certainly welcome when rustling those heavy boxes in shipping!  Both young men are already proving popular with our customers, because both of them are taking WFS' commitment to excellent customer service to heart, and are quickly learning the ropes.  Their enthusiasm for being part of the store's mission is gratifying, too - we hope that you'll come in to meet them soon! 

WFS will be hosting our monthly Eccentric Poetry Jam next Saturday, starting at 5:30 pm., in honor of National Poetry Month.  This is an open-mic event, so if you feel an irrepressible urge to recite some poetry, this is the event for you!  We'll have the ever-popular Aldonia Bailey, musically-inclined Amin El,  several other noteworthy poets, and, as always, some tasty appetizers to top things off.  Here's the event notice...

Until next Sunday, friends - have a great week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Reading, Writing, and.....Altadena!

Way back when Scott and I were mulling over buying Webster's stationery department as a stand-alone business, we discussed what we could bring into the store that would be different enough from the other stores next door and nearby.  What else would blend well with all the pens, paper, journals and other writer's accoutrements?  Books!  Books would be great, given my proclivity for writing, but we wanted whatever books we brought in to be very special.  We decided to concentrate on bringing in local authors, and soon, we had a growing collection!

The decision to support our local authors wasn't hard to make.  There are so many talented writers here in the foothills above Pasadena that deserve having their books displayed and sold .  There are also many writers out there who are frustrated trying to find a way to get their books published.  That's the beauty  of Authors Tour USA, a national group that formed from the Artisan Faire held last year at the Santa Anita Racetrack.  The brainchild of Wendy Anderson, of W.O.W. Productions; and LaQuetta Shamblee, of Instrumental Women Project;  Authors Tour USA provides marketing, networking and promotional support for published authors, with a focus on independent publishing companies and self-published authors.

Authors Tour USA will be launching this Saturday, right here at Webster's Fine Stationers!  On Saturday, March 30, from 3:00 until 5:00, you will meet four local authors, get their books personalized to you, and will be discussing their different crafts, from self-help to screenwriting.  On our speaking roster will be Altadenan Ellen Snortland; Pasadenan Kogi Steven Sakai; Monrovian Adrianne Marie Hall; and L.A,'s Christina Hamlett.  This is an incredible line up of experienced, knowledgeable, and prolific writers, that won't be duplicated in Altadena again - until we host the next one!

We invite you to join us for this extra-special event - come join in the learning experience this coming Saturday, enjoy meeting friends new and old, and have a tasty nosh or two - we'll hold a seat for you!


Have an enjoyable week, friends!  We'll be taking a short blogging hiatus and hope you all enjoy our lovely spring holidays. A joyous Passover and Easter to all of you!  We'll talk again in a couple of weeks.

Lori and Scott 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Local Love And Mayberry

Altadena Postcard by Hugo Arteaga

There's been a lot of talk lately about our town's identity.  Many people agree that Altadena is a bit like Mayberry, that fictional town Sheriff Andy Taylor and Barney Fife watched over in the early 1960s.  Aunt Bee cooked her homemade goodies, Floyd the barber cut hair and dispensed advice, and young Opie fished at the local pond.

Of course we're not actually Mayberry, this is California, after all.  But there is still much of that small-town flavor in Altadena.  Maybe it's because of our "remote" location and no direct freeway access - folks have to drive 3 miles north of Pasadena to get here.  Or maybe it's because there was such a strong community base of local businesses and business owners back in the day.  We think it's the combination of the two that keeps us unique in the eyes of not just our residents, but others outside as well.

Looking at the postcard (pictured above) designed by local graphic artist Hugo Arteaga, it's evident we have a vibrant town history.  The Altadena Historical Society would be happy to show you the ephemera they've collected through the years that proves the point.  We've always been an idyllic place to live in and also to do business in.

Then there are those who disagree.  No Mayberry here, they say, Altadena "mom and pop" businesses don't actually serve the community well any more.  Bring in chains, bring in Starbucks, bring in the big box stores!  The latter has already happened, and the rest can't be far away.  And while we argue amongst ourselves about it, Mayberry is indeed fading away.

We look at the situation this way:  while we are opposed to Walmart in Altadena, that doesn't mean that we're opposed to the growth of our community.  We welcome new business here, but we'd like to see those businesses be homegrown and independently owned.  There's a good reason for that, and it's not to keep our town from reaping economic benefits or good jobs. As we said above, it's to keep our town unique and prosperous.  How can we be prosperous if we don't have a chain business on every corner?  Easy, if we rewrite the Altadena Community Standards to accommodate and nurture small, independent business.

From this article in Time Magazine, author Judith D. Schwartz quotes New Economics Foundation researcher David Boyle as saying, " many local economies are languishing not because too little cash comes in, but as a result of what happens to that money. Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going. When money is spent elsewhere - at big supermarkets, non-locally owned utilities and other services such as on-line retailers - it flows out, like a wound."

In this article, the organization Reclaim Democracy notes that "Each year brings more national chains displacing locally-owned businesses throughout the country. We see clones replace unique establishments...", and asks two questions, "People across the country are losing sense of community in their town, and consider this trend a symptom, but could it be a cause as well? Also, what are the impacts of this trend on our economic well-being?"  They state, "The disappearance of local businesses leaves a social and economic void that is palpable and real - even when it is unmeasured. The quality of life of a community changes in ways that macroeconomics is slow to measure, or ignores completely."

There is a lot to say about the importance of independent businesses in communities, much of which we've highlighted in past blog posts.  The problem is not the lack of positive information about it, it's getting people in our communities and civic organizations to read and understand it.  Right now there is a discussion on The 3/50 Project's Group Page on LinkedIn on whether local business organizations help small businesses grow.  The venerable Cinda Baxter - former retailer, retail consultant, speaker, and founder of The 3/50 Project - has this to say:  "an association's/organization's level of success has more to do with the its leadership than its charter or mission statement. I've seen entire towns thrive under the guidance of groups led by open minded, determined, positive men and women. On the other hand, I've seen well-funded, established associations fail their small business community horribly, simply because the President or CEO was so deeply pro-big box. Sadly, those are the cities and towns with sagging (or worse) downtown business districts, but jungles of big boxes on the outer edges, reducing the amount of revenue that returns to the community. The size of the community has almost zero impact".

She goes on to give her advice to local associations, which we believe as well: "Listen to your members, then deliver what they ask for. Too often, association leadership thinks they know more than the 'rank and file,' which only pushes the small business community backward; and, remember that what works for a national brand doesn't necessarily work for independent brick and mortars. The latter have no corporate office to refer back to for legal assistance, marketing tools, special vendor pricing, and national advertising. The independents need extra support---in response, they'll thrive, and return a greater percentage of revenue to the local economy".  More food for thought, and more to chew on here, on this latest report on local business and towns with buy local or local first programs.

We apologize for missing last Sunday's blog posting - our mainline at home got backed up and we were taking care of it.  We hope you're enjoying this beautiful Saint Patrick's Day - have a great week ahead, friends, and make sure you check this blog next week when we highlight the authors participating in the Official Launch Of Authors Tour USA on March 30!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Springing Spring

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.
--Helen Hayes

How'd you like that little taste of spring we've had this week, friends?  Didn't it whet your appetite for longer (and warmer) days ahead?  Of course it did, and we're no exception!  We're both very happy that Daylight Savings starts next Sunday, March 10 - so happy, that we turned the store into a Springtime Fantasy!  Weaving in flowers that herald the start of the season, mixing in some cute bunnies and chicks, and finally, adding some fabulous terrariums filled with all types of cool looking succulents, has turned WFS into a wonderland of color, scent, and texture!

Tillandsia Plants
Altadena photographer and artist Molly Tierney, has been busy transforming reclaimed barn wood into handsome hanging or sitting platforms for air plants, or Tillandsia, a member of the Bromiliad family and distantly related to pineapples.  We've been talking with her for just about a year now about bringing in some of her garden designs - now, you can finally see what she's created!  She's also crafted cunning little plants in sea urchin shells, if you don't want to commit to a wall hanging, and very cool looking little wood holders for the air plants.  We've also been busy planting up those great recycled glass terrariums from Roost, a little company up in Northern California.  Cute hens and chicks, the common name for the succulent sempervivum family, and so appropriate for this time of year, are arranged neatly inside - take a look at the largest terrarium....

We have smaller succulent gardens, too, in some very pretty small apothecary jars, even in a vintage 70s green pressed glass chalice!  You'll never know what you'll find here at WFS, but you can be assured that you'll always find something interesting!

In other news this week, our friends at Mother Moo Creamery (Sierra Madre) have announced that they're making the most excellent date shakes this side of the oasis!  See this post on Michael Copess' blog, East Of Allen for further delicious information!

Finally, don't forget to save the date of March 30, for the launch of Authors Tour USA!  This will be a wonderful event, with 5 different authors, tons of information, good food and friends - do make plans to join us, won't you?

Enjoy your week, friends, and we'll talk again next week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, February 24, 2013

You Deserve An Award!

As the country waits on tenterhooks to see which celebrities win what award, we'd like to give a huge shout-out to all our independent retailer kin. Far or near, all of you deserve an Oscar, and dare I say,  a solid week of relaxation and pampering!

For all you do - the people you make happy every day and the communities you support - we say bravo!  Now take a bow, will you?

We'll be back next week, friends.  Have a great week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bring It On!

With Valentine's Day in the rear view mirror, we've got our sites on warmer days ahead as we head toward Spring.  Gone are the red hearts and pink candles, so sad to put away the last vestiges of holiday finery!  But, as we said, there's much ahead in the pipeline, as Easter nears.  Our front table depicts the nearness of Spring and focuses on local food products and great cook books - you'll have to come see it!

Of course, the key word in that last sentence is "local", because we love promoting our budding food businesses up here in Altadena, the new foodie capital of California!  Speaking of local, there are a couple of rather important things going on here this week.  One is the Town Council meeting on Tuesday, 2/19, where the public has been invited to give their opinions (again!) regarding big-box chain business in Altadena. The group Neighbors Building A Better Altadena has asked for a temporary moratorium on big-box development while our Community Standards are being rewritten, and we think that's a smart move. We don't see the benefit in rushing headlong into a commitment that would change our community so drastically without being entirely sure that's what we all want.  Sure, jobs are necessary, but we'd rather they come from independent business, not chain.  There's some great resources to study at The American Independent Business Alliance's latest newsletter, particularly the news that the Imperial Valley  Independent Business Alliance was able to influence the city of El Centro to pass one of the strongest local purchasing/contracting preferences we've seen yet!  The ordinance states "Local Business Enterprises" that are both locally owned and generate a majority of their revenue locally will win a contract if they come within 10% of the lowest bid by an outside company.  Food for thought for our town, too!

The other important meeting this week is being held by the good folks at the Altadena Chamber of Commerce at the Community Center on Thursday, 2/21 at 7:30 pm.  The meeting is for business owners who'd like to discuss needed updates to the Community Standards, so if that's you, please make plans to join!

In other news, our book signing with the authors and illustrator of The Chocolate Princess In The Land Of Plenty has been postponed due to an illness in the family.  We will let you know of the new date once we plan it.

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

Lori and Scott

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Altadena Valentine

Scott and I are lucky in that we hardly ever get sick.  We do try to eat good, healthy food and get enough sleep, but owning your own retail store isn't exactly a relaxing experience.  After five and a half years of working just about every day except for national holidays, it's a wonder that we haven't had to take sick time off.

As I sit here writing this, I'm also blowing my nose into a tissue, my eyes are watering and I'm dead tired.  Yes, I got the crud that's going around, but Scott and I are lucky in another respect, as well.  We know Marcia Copess of HomeBody Botanicals, and sell her botanical remedies and body care products at WFS.  How wonderful to know that when you wake to that dreaded tickle in the back of your throat, a natural remedy is right within reach!  HomeBody's Elderberry Elixir, Fire Cider, and Winter Chills Tea are seeing me through, enabling me to remain vertical and pretty much coherent.  I've talked to many people who are suffering with whatever is going around, be it a cold virus or the flu.  So many don't want to take a flu shot, and the flu shot doesn't guarantee that you'll escape, nor does it protect you from the common (or uncommon) cold.  Upper respiratory congestion leading into bronchitis seems to be the prevailing complaint from this particular virus making its way through Altadena.  Luckily, I seem to have been able to contain this cold to just my nose and eyes with the use of Marcia's products.

I love our creative Altadena artists, and that includes those who formulate organic and wildcrafted botanical remedies and body products!  Thanks, Marcia!

In other news, be sure to look for our email and Facebook page for information on next Saturday's book signing with the authors and illustrator of The Chocolate Princess In The Land Of Plenty.

We had a lovely Valentine-themed poetry event last night, with jazz by local musician (and poet) Amin El, who plays a mean standing bass, and his friend, Taka, who accompanied him on guitar. The poetry recited by Aldonia Bailey, Brian Miles, Debra Johnson aka The Smile Lady, Amin El, among others, was touching, sweet, sometimes bawdy, and as always, relevant to life today.  Here's a couple pictures of the festivities - if you're in the area, come on by, we hold these poetry events just about every month.

Poet And Muscian Amin El Enthralls The Audience

Amin El and Taka playing smooth jazz

The Lovely Aldonia Bailey Recites Love Poetry

Today we held a fundraiser for Altadena Community Church's bad-weather shelter for the homeless.  I'm proud to say that we're going to give them $150.00 - here's a big thank you to our community for helping out!

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

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Webster's News You Can Use, Mid-Winter 2013

In lieu of our regularly scheduled blog post, please see our latest edition of Webster's News You Can Use, Mid-Winter 2013, here.

Have a great week, friends, and we'll talk again next week - we'll be back to our regular schedule!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Put A Little Love In Your Heart ( And Community)

Think of your fellow man
Lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart
You see it's getting late
Oh, please don't hesitate
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Another day goes by
Still the children cry
Put a little love in your heart
If you want the world to know
We won't let hatred grow
Put a little love in your heart

And the world (and the world) will be a better place
All the world (all the world) will be a better place
For you (for you)
And me (and me)
You just wait (just wait)
And see, wait and see

Take a good look around
And if you're looking down
Put a little love in your heart
I hope when you decide
Kindness will be your guide
Put a little love in your heart

And the world (and the world) will be a better place
And the world (and the world) will be a better place
For you (for you)
And me (and me)
You just wait (just wait)
And see
----Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday, and Randy Myers

This past week saw an extreme change in our weather pattern.  We went from the coldest I've ever felt it here in Southern California back to warm and sunny just a couple days ago - but I'll tell you that was one long, cold spell we had!  It proved to me that we are so not acclimated to chilly temperatures, and Scott and I were overjoyed when the mercury topped 75 degrees in beautiful Altadena!

Just as our weather can change dramatically, so can our shopping habits.  In a post on our Facebook page this week, I posted an article from Retail's Big Blog that recounted former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recent speech at the Big Show in New York.  The gist of his speech was that retail just may end up being a core driver of employment in the future, if the global community begins to plan ahead for sustainability and focus on what he terms "the three pillars" of stable governments -  peace and stability, development, and rule of law and respect for human rights.  In short, and in my opinion, this equates to everyone adopting fair trade practices.

If we truly care about being responsible global citizens, and having a world economy that thrives, we must learn to cooperate.  Cooperation and fair trade practices start at the grass-roots level, in our own dealings in our communities.  Four years ago, I wrote a blog post called "The Meaning Of Think Global, Buy Local", in which I explained what happens when you shift your shopping.  We're still at it, doing what we can to be good global and community citizens.  Over the years, we've concentrated more on buying from hyper-local companies and community artists.  We love doing this, and we love being able to donate to community non-profits!

Our latest came yesterday, when Scott and I handed a check to the Christmas Tree Lane Association in the amount of $512.00!  See the Altadenablog article about it here.  We are so pleased that their merchandise sold so well this year, and want to thank our customers for buying so enthusiastically!  Keep it up, friends, you're contributing to a great cause!

We'll talk again next week - until then, have a great week!

Lori and Scott

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Video Killed The Radio Star.....


"I heard you on the wireless back in '52
Lying awake intent at tuning in on you.
If I was young it didn't stop you coming through.
Oh-a oh
They took the credit for your second symphony.
Rewritten by machine and new technology,
and now I understand the problems you can see.
Oh-a oh

I met your children
Oh-a oh
What did you tell them?
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
Pictures came and broke your heart.
Oh-a-a-a oh

And now we meet in an abandoned studio.
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago.
And you remember the jingles used to go.
Oh-a oh
You were the first one.
Oh-a oh
You were the last one.

Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can't rewind we've gone to far
Oh-a-aho oh,
Oh-a-aho oh
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.

In my mind and in my car, we can't rewind we've gone to far.
Pictures came and broke your heart, put the blame on VCR.

You are a radio star.
You are a radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
----Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley
We were driving to the store a few days ago, and, as always, Scott and I were listening to KNX Radio 1070.  While gazing out the window, contemplating the day ahead of us, I heard anchor Bob Brill discussing his new book with another reporter.  Of course, the title of the book, "NO BARRIER: How The Internet Destroyed The World Economy" grabbed my attention right away!  
As we've discussed on various occasions here, the problems that independent business owners face today are a direct result of the internet.  How?  Doesn't the internet mean instant connectedness and therefore the chance to get your product in front of the global community?  It may seem that way, but so not true.  Right this minute, I could open an eBay store and list dozens of items for sale, but with so many thousands of other similar products pushed by other vendors, it's unlikely my products would ever be seen. 
Which leads us to the corporate mega-vendors who dominate the real-world internet marketplace - Amazon, Walmart, Target, and the like.  With enough purchasing power to buy and sell certain small countries, these behemoths have permanently changed the global economy, and not for the better.  All have implemented the use of the internet.  As I listened to the radio spot, Mr. Brill answered the questions of "why don't you think that the internet is a good thing for economy and job creation" by explaining that “the Internet has destroyed the old business model we’ve come to rely upon and eliminated businesses while becoming the most powerful tool the world has ever known.  For all the good it has done, the Web has touched every life in a negative way as well, whether we want to believe it or not.”  The book is forwarded by noted economist Dr. Pamela Falk and contains comments from top leaders of the past 20 years to every day business people whose careers have been eliminated, never to return. Mr. Brill not only looks at where we’ve been but where we are going and, in the simplest of terms, how the United Nations is grappling with it.  I'm very excited to read this book!

In other news, we have heard nothing on the sale of the Webster's complex.  We still wait to find out something - anything! - but nothing seems to be forthcoming.    
We're hosting a book signing with local author Randy Jurardo Ertll, whose book  Hope In Times Of Darkness: A Salvadorian American Experience will be discussed.  The event notice is here if you'd like to join us.  Of course, tasty appetizers, coffee and tea are complimentary, and the event is free to the public.

Valentine's Day decorations started going up inside the store this week, which is always a nice respite from the emptiness after removing holiday decor..  It's like taking your Christmas tree down at home, and how everything looks so bare without it!  This year our theme is My Funny Valentine (you'll see why in a couple of weeks), and our decor reflects both the red hearts that are standard Valentine fare and icy winter elements, like bare white trees festooned with snowflakes.  Who knew that it would actually be icy and freezing when we planned this out so many months ago?!  I don't know about you, but I'd like our nice warm Southern California back, thank you very much!

Stay warm, have a great week and we'll talk again next Sunday,

Lori and Scott

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 Retrospective And Ruminations On 2013

"There are places I'll 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.....
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them"
---The Beatles, Rubber Soul
2012 was an incredible year here in Altadena, and, if you wonder what such a year would look like, I'll refer you to this informative Altadenablog article.  We've written here about several of these events, including the most controversial of them, which is the issue of Walmart in Altadena.  While we will continue to oppose the Behemoth from Betonville locating here, there is also truth in what Tim says in his article: "But, while we have issues with Walmart as a corporation, we also don't think it's the big enemy of Altadena businesses: Pasadena is, and the internet is.  An emphasis on buying local -- and Altadena businesses providing reasons to buy local -- is what is really needed."
While I was stationed at the Altadena Farmer's Market (another hotbed of controversy, amazingly enough - see Joseph Shuldiner's rebuttal of Altadenablog's assertion that they aren't responsive to the community), it was gratifying to talk with a number of people who shop at our store there. One conversation stood out, though, and it was with a woman named Amy, who I'd had an online go-'round with a couple years ago about our store.  She stopped at our booth, greeted me and introduced herself, then said, "I was quite pleased that this year I was able to accomplish my holiday shopping locally - between you and the pharmacy, I got just about everything I needed!"  That was wonderful to hear, and I'm so glad that Amy was pleased.  I think that if more people tried shopping locally, they might be very surprised and pleased, too!
While we are nostalgic for what once was in Altadena, hence the Beatles' song at the head of this post, I feel we can't lose sight of what the possibilities are for our future.  Besides Walmart, and the Farmer's Market, there are lots of things changing the landscape of our fair town. One of those things is the recent sale of the Webster's complex by my father-in-law, the majority shareholder of the family corporation.  We were informed of the sale not long before the Christmas holiday, and still aren't aware of the details, save that the entire property has been sold to a developer.  The property is now in escrow and as soon as we know more, we'll let you know.  It's never a good thing to live without clarity; to exist in limbo; and to not know for sure what we'll be doing a few months down the road (makes planning ahead very difficult, no?); but we're being patient and hoping for the best possible outcome.
Of course, the best possible outcome would be to continue serving our community, in conjunction with the other businesses in the immediate area. It's always been my contention that a walkable, communal, and very special shopping area could be developed here, and if you've read this blog for any length of time, or listened to the video we produced with the help of local HalfCity Productions, you'll know this. Perhaps the year 2013 might be a year of positive change in Altadena - let's hope so!
We hope you had an inspiring and invigorating holiday season, friends!  Have a great week ahead, and we'll talk next week,

Lori and Scott