Thursday, June 18, 2015

Much Ado About Service

Let's face facts, shall we? Retail is a service business, where all our best efforts all boil down to how we are seen by the people we do business with. The most fabulous offerings won't get you very far if your customer service, in the opinion of your customers, is lacking.

However repugnant it is, lousy customer service has been a part of the landscape ever since there have been transactions between merchants and the public. Nothing proves this better than this recent article we stumbled upon (hat tip to Andy Sernovitz) - Poor Service Has Existed Forever: Tablet Inscribed With 3,765 Year Old Customer Service Complaint. Pretty awesome example of an ancient merchant fail, isn't it?

What you won't find here at Hoopla Emporium is lousy customer service. With whatever service you come to us for - UPS shipping, private mailboxes, or just to browse our mostly local offerings in the store, you can expect to be treated as a valuable part of our enterprise (because you are!). We can promise you that, because Scott and I are the ones that deliver that service daily! Just as a reminder, if you have an exceptional experience, you can find us on Yelp here.

Speaking of service, we just wrapped up our 4th semi-annual Open Studios Alta/Pasa/Dena Tour, and it was a blast! We loved hosting the kids from Room 13 USA, and look forward to sending them 20% of the proceeds of the weekend. We're looking forward to doing more with them in the future. Now, it's on to helping plan Altadena's Best Fest! This festival, celebrating what's great about living, working, and doing business in Altadena, is going to be huge. We're planning on closing Mariposa Ave. down between El Molino and Santa Anita, to host art vendors, local food makers, and a car show or two. As a town, we've needed a replacement for the long-gone Old Fashioned Days festival and all of us on the Best Fest committee hope this will be it!

Here are a couple of pictures of the adorable things the kids at Room 13 make, and a picture of Scott and I in front of the store during Open Studios:

Candles from crayons, Room 13 John Muir High

Needle felt creations and art from Room 13 John Muir High

Polymer clay pastry decorations from Room 13 Eliot Middle School

String doll, Room 13 Eliot Middle School

Thanks for stopping by our blog, and we'll see you again soon!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Springtime Hoopla

From time immemorial, spring has been the harbinger of change. Whether speaking of seasons, or the weather, or of something more personal, springtime is the most popular time to make a change. You'd think that New Years would have that designation, but no, it's spring that people change, or transition.

Changing up some accessories in your home is one way to make change for spring. Adding new pillows, window treatments, even picture frames, can liven up your environment and help make it feel fresh. Same thing in your garden! Adding new decorative elements in your garden can also make it look more festive, particularly in water-wise gardens. Hoopla Emporium has brought in some very fun outdoor d├ęcor that we think you'll love! Spring gnomes, solar powered fairy houses, wind chimes, plant stakes, and fairy garden components are fun and colorful, and will help accentuate focal points, or even become a focal point, in your garden spaces!

We also have some beautiful spring jewelry for you here at Hoopla - vibrantly colored sea glass bracelets from former Altadena native Shayla Diamond and her company, Lotus Moon Arts, are perfect for brightening up an outfit; as are her lovely turquoise and red coral bracelets and earrings! Long, vintage look watch necklaces are a huge trend now, and we've got some that would make fabulous Mother's Day gifts; and Lotus Moon's adorably chic key chains are always in fashion.

Spring is wonderful time for art, as well. There's new art on the walls here at Hoopla, coordinating with our gnomes and fairies. Here's a picture of Janell Mithani's beautiful painting of a fairy on tree bark:

Speaking of art, the Alta-Pasa Open Studios Tour is scheduled for June 6 and 7 this year, and Hoopla! Emporium will once again be a stop on the map. We will be hosting young artists involved in Room 13 studios in public schools in the area, and we're looking forward to it! Here's a poster that gives greater detail about the upcoming tour:

We know this will be the best Open Studios Tour yet - stay tuned for more information!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Independent Retailers Making A Comeback? Survey Says.....

A recent survey done by the Institute Of Local Self Reliance says that sales at independently owned retail shops were up by 8.1% in 2014. Holiday sales were up by an average of 4.2% (5.7% for those communities with a vested Buy Local program), beating the performance of many national chains and coming in well ahead of the 0.9% decline in December retail sales reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
 This bodes well for the future of independent retail, and, as one of our fellow retailers put it "people are getting sick of crappy service and cheap quality products in chain stores." While we won't go so far as pointing fingers, I think you'll find that locally owned, independent businesses are naturally more friendly than your average big box store. 
This is much food for thought, especially as we steer our communities toward the future. Let us know - when/where was the last place you received quality service and product? Was it a big box store, a multi-national corporate store or restaurant? Or was it in a small, locally-owned business or eatery? Why was the service different, and would you prefer to see more of this kind of interaction? We'll revisit this subject when replies have been tallied, and we thank you for your participation!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Years Cleanse? Try Tea, Instead!

Although this title could mean many things, such as cleaning up the store after a busy holiday season, it's meant as a reference to internal body cleansing.  We get asked a lot if we carry any "cleansing" products - i.e., teas or other tisanes that might help a person's body purge any "toxins".

It's a great thought, isn't it, that you can spend the holidays eating and drinking whatever you want, and wait until the new year for a "cleanse". I sure wish that were true, and many other people do, too, it seems.  Unfortunately, the use of the words "cleanse" and "toxins" are marketing-speak to promote products that claim to rid your body of unwanted, and possibly dangerous, compounds that you (might have) ingested. Your body's liver and kidneys already rid your body of anything toxic. A "cleanse" isn't really needed if your organs are already doing their job.  You may unintentionally create an environment in your body that fosters bacteria if you do.  There have been many studies done recently that point to this same conclusion.  One of the best overviews I've read is here, and this is why we don't choose to sell cleanses here at Hoopla! Emporium.

We do, however, sell tea. Tea, whether they be true teas (Camellia sinensis), or herbal, all have beneficial ingredients that can, and do, help you stay healthy.  Black, white, or green teas all contain varying amounts of caffeine, but also contain polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and phytochemicals, which are beneficial.  Find out what different teas can help with here.

At Hoopla! Emporium, we carry Rishi Tea, a high-quality, fair trade line with many organic choices.  We also carry World Flavorz, and Tea Drops, both local companies.  The following is a short list of the different, healthy, choices we have on our shelves:

 Mint Teas:  From Rishi Tea comes Green Mint Tea, Peppermint Rooibos, and Pacific Peppermint.  Peppermint is a fragrant herb that makes for a soothing drink. Peppermint helps you digest foods better and also reduces flatulence and digestive issues. Peppermint is prescribed to people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and gallstones in capsules. A cup of peppermint tea will ease nausea and vomiting, especially if you suffer motion sickness. If you have heartburn, don’t drink peppermint tea as this might aggravate your condition. Peppermint tea brings down the severity of herpes outbreaks. The natural mint flavor of the herb helps to freshen your breath. Other health benefits of this tea are control of muscle aches and chronic pain, clearing of congestion and mild coughs, mild asthma and reduction of stress.

Fruit Teas: Also from Rishi Tea, Blueberry Hibiscus, Blueberry Rooibos, and Cinnamon Plum are tasty choices for a healthy sip.  Hibiscus tea is known to lower blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol and strengthen the immune system (it’s rich in Vitamin C). Hibiscus flower infusions have known to reduce hypertension as well, in people prone to this condition. A recent study reveals that hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants, which protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals.  Blueberries, as well as certain stone fruits, are rich in antioxidants as well.

Green Teas:  We carry choices of green tea from Rishi Tea, and from Tea Drops.  Green Tea comes with such a host of health benefits, that it’s called the ‘wonder herb’ by tea drinkers and medical practitioners alike.
Drinking green tea lowers cancer risk and also inhibits carcinogenic in cigarettes and other compounds when imbibed. Green Tea contains potent antioxidants called polyphenols, which help suppress free radicals. Green tea also stops certain tumors from forming. Green tea lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels and thereby promotes heart health.  Green tea also lowers blood pressure, prevents and fights tooth decay and dental issues, and inhibits different viruses from causing illnesses. We suggest trying Rishi Tea's Matcha Green, now in teabags!

Spice Teas:  From all three of our vendors, spice teas are very popular during the holiday season.  Black tea (or green, or Rooibos) teas are mixed with certain spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and newcomers like turmeric and ginger.  These teas are festive and soothing, and we've all heard the buzz about the four spices mentioned.  Turmeric has been found to be an anti-inflammatory; cinnamon and cardamom are high in antioxidants; and ginger has a myriad of benefits, from soothing an upset stomach to fighting morning and altitude sickness. We also have Rishi Tea's Serene Dream, which contains Valerian root, lemon balm, lavender and chamomile, and can help with insomnia.

Black Teas:  Despite the fact that black tea has caffeine, drinking it hydrates your body. We have many different choices here at Hoopla! Emporium, including Rishi Tea's wonderful chai teas. Tea Drops' Rose Earl Grey is fragrant and delicious!

White Teas: More delicate in flavor than a black tea, white tea still offers quite a healthful punch.  We suggest trying Tea Drops' Vanilla White for a lovely cuppa.

We're expanding our selection of fine teas, so you'll see more here in the store soon.  Please drop by, email, or visit us on our Facebook page if you have any questions at all regarding tea, and certainly come by if you need any tea accutrements - we carry loose leaf tea bags, strainers, and tea pots! We don't claim to be health professionals, but we do know our stuff when it comes to what we carry in the store.  Ask us, and we'll tell you all about it!