Sunday, January 5, 2014

So Long....Farewell.....

Mother taught us long ago to keep quiet if we had nothing good to say, so it's been quite a while since we've posted here.  What was once  a weekly blog of exciting experiences at our store and informative posts about how we all can support our towns has been silenced.  Why?  The very thing that we've been writing about for years has happened here - the Webster's shopping complex has been sold to an investment firm in Beverly Hills, Greenbridge Investments, and WFS is not a part of their plans for the future.  Our last day will be on January 31, 2014.

What will they put here?  It's anyone's guess, and we've heard everything from a bank with a Starbucks, to a holistic medical center. We'd love to stay but the rent and common area maintenance would be prohibitively expensive ($2.75 per square foot, plus approximately $1,000.00 NNN). Who's leaving?  The Daz-e Thrift Shop, affiliated with the Philathropic Educational Organization (PEO) of whom both my grandmother and great-grandmother were members of, will be leaving.  We'll be leaving, and the Altadena Arts Center has already left.  We hear that the new owners have a buyer for the liquor store. and the pharmacy, no longer owned by the Webster family, will remain.  Here is a rendering of the improvements these new owners will make:

With rental prices as high as they've set, we sincerely hope that they won't be sitting on empty storefronts for very long.  We're afraid, though, that only corporate businesses will be able to afford that amount monthly, and unless Altadena changes its shopping habits drastically, whatever they put here will not get much traffic.  Sure, some people will patronize Starbucks (or whatever coffee joint they end up putting here), but there are many people loyal to The Coffee Gallery, Foxes, Sidewalk Cafe HTS, and the Little Red Hen, just as always, and we don't see that changing much.  We wish them luck in their endeavors, though.

Scott and I found out about this about a week before Thanksgiving, and apparently, our store was up for rent before we even knew about it.  It's been difficult to process, particularly during the holiday season, but we've come to realize that this is all for the best.  Who knows if this new development here at our 87-year old family complex of stores will be good for Altadena?  What we do know is that starting fresh somewhere else is necessary, since we have never seemed to be able to escape the grip of nostalgic rancor because of the splitting up of the stores six years ago. We'd like to leave that as water under the bridge, since we were unable to stop what happened.  Instead, we'd rather celebrate the six years we had here - the jobs we provided to the recovering community; the artists, writers, and budding entrepreneurs we were able to highlight; and most of all, the fact that we helped provide some continuity to the family name and business, and had a whole lot of fun along the way!  We loved being part of Authors Tour USA, and are proud that Pasadena's Mayor Bill Bogaard actually came up to the store and spoke to the attendees of their launch party in March of 2013.  We enjoyed bringing the art of  local teacher Jay Carlton's greeting card line, Mr. Ferguson's, to the public before anyone else did, and seeing our monthly Eccentric Poetry Jams evolve into the spoken word and musical extravaganzas that they became.

We took a pass-through department (no windows, remember?) that didn't have its own identity, like the pharmacy or the Hallmark store did, and turned it into a vibrant, art-filled wonderland unlike other stores.  We celebrate our community every single day here, and I'm sure that once we find a new home we'll be doing the same thing!  Follow us on our Facebook page, on Pinterest, or LinkedIn so you can keep in touch with us. We won't say goodbye, instead, we'll just say see you later, until we meet again!

Scott and Lori Webster

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.

But Pinterest?  Isn't that just another picture sharing site?  Yes, and it's so much more than that. With all the metrics Facebook provides Page administrators, it's still just a daily chronicle, and one so overused by so many that it's become ubiquitous. Do people actually remember everything they read there?  Pinterest, on the other hand, may seem overwhelming, but we know people who peruse that site who are actually looking for inspiration.

We're on Pinterest, naturally.  We like that we can divide up our photos into different categories (called boards), and we also love that in our infrequent spare time, we can cull through other people's photos and find what inspires us.  I find it fascinating looking through those boards that are devoted to inspiration, be they collected images, poetry, quotes, or sayings.  We have a board for what inspires us called Core Beliefs - What Makes Us Tick.  It's interesting to see which quotes and words of wisdom get repinned (meaning that someone liked it so much, they "pinned" or copied that picture onto one of their own boards).  The following three quote memes were the most popular on our board:

The first quote about friends was repinned a whopping 243 times, the Never Lie quote 86 times, and What Will Matter 8 times.  Something said in all of these resonates deeply with many people out there, it seems, and is very telling about how people think about relationships. It's a subject that is universally felt by all of us and we like how putting those feelings into words can help people get through some dark times. It also makes us feel so grateful that we have so many true friends.

Speaking of which, our entire complex of stores has been sold off by Scott's dad to an investment firm located in West Los Angeles.  They want a lot of money for rent, which we don't think is warranted, given the current traffic though here.   This investment firm, Greenbridge Management, says they want to help our community by giving it another bank, a Starbucks (maybe), and other stores that will increase consumer activity in Altadena.  While the jury is still out on whether or not our townsfolk want increased traffic, I'm sure the other businesses in town will be pleased by any such increase.  We certainly would be, too.  But it's not looking good for us, so it seems there might be no actual Webster family members in the complex of stores that began 87 years ago, in 1926.

As the quotes we printed above point out, however, we know we can get through this change in our life and business with a little help from our friends. We choose to remain optimistic about our future, be it here at our former family enclave or elsewhere. Stay in touch with us, and we'll keep you informed of any news.  Onward and upward, friends!

Have a great week, and we'll talk to you soon.

Lori & Scott

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!

One thing is for certain - we can always count on our local artists and entrepreneurs to provide us with inspiration and fabulous hand made merchandise to please even the pickiest of gift-givers!  New in the store this summer are the cutest kids' hats from MySoul Designs that are colorfully perfect for the fall season ahead; and Lynda Pyka's beautiful infant and toddler sized embellished onesies for little girls are adorably affordable, plus there are coordinating socks!  Photographers Tony Russo and Bernie Kane are new to our walls, and their work is undeniably stirring.  Fresh and vibrant colors make Peggy Carroll's acrylic on canvas works sing, and Steven Guiterrez's intricate pencil work still draws oooohs and aaaaahs from customers! Of course, Patrick Gothard's designs always draw the eye as well! Local food vendors are helping to add spice to your palate with tasty sauces, like Jabberwocky Smooth Jerk Sauce, David's Unforgettables, Earl's Gone Wild.  Offerings from Sierra Madre Grocery Company will make your appetizers and main dishes be the absolute best, while chocolates from Imagine Chocolates and John Kelly Chocolates are a sweet (local) treat!

We'd also like to thank our friends, local photographers Ibarionex Perello and Deb Halberstadt, who both recently volunteered their skills for us!  Ibarionex, while testing out a new wide-angle lens camera, took some great shots of the store; and Deb took some fabulous photos of our self publishing seminar held last week, and we thank them both!  Here's a couple of the pics, Ibarionex & the store below, and Deb's photo of seminar leader Adrianne Marie Hall.

Please consider this an open invitation to drop by and see all this, and more, at our store nestled between the pharmacy and the thrift shop - we're open daily and would love to see you, and make sure you sign up for our monthly newsletters, where you'll find out about all our in-store specials and events!

Until next week,

Lori and Scott Webster

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!

By clicking the link we provided to AMIBA, above, you'll see an article entitled "The Benefits Of Doing Business Locally".  One of the choicest takeaways from it is this:

"When asked to name our favorite restaurant, cafe, or shop, it's typically a unique local business. Your local paper’s "Best of" poll is proof. Those businesses define our sense of place, but we often forget their survival depends on our patronage.

Local owners, typically having invested much of their life savings in their businesses, have a natural interest in the community's long-term health. Community-based businesses are essential to charitable endeavors; their owners frequently serve on local boards and support numerous causes.
Yes, some chains give back to towns in which they locate, and not all local businesses are exemplary models. However, the overall impacts are clear: locally-owned businesses play a key role in our community that chains rarely do."

Our independent businesses work long and hard to provide their communities with unique services and merchandise not found at chain stores.  If those services offered at a local business are a commodity (i.e., a service that is also offered by national chains or institutions), you can bet that the value received by you, the consumer, at that locally-owned business will be greater.  Our bottom-lines depend on us being better, by being different, and by being relevant in our communities.

On this last day of Independents Week, let's all give our local businesses some props.   Or better yet, stop by a favorite neighborhood business tomorrow and say "thanks, I'm glad you're here".  We love hearing that and it never gets old!  Just think - someday, you might have need to call a local business and ask them to stay open a little later for you.  Not too long ago, we had a woman call us right before our usual closing time, in tears, to ask if we could please stay open for her, because her dying father needed to sign a power of attorney form.  Of course, we said, and we stayed and waited for her to drive up from Huntington Memorial Hospital.  I just wonder if Staples would've done that, don't you? 

Friends, Scott and I want to let you know that we've sold our home (my family home) in Westchester and will be moving back to Altadena.  We'll need to be out of the house in 30 days, so that means much packing ahead for us, and we'll most likely be taking a blog-break during this time.  Thanks for understanding, and we'll be back after the move.  Have a great week!

Lori and Scott

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

Throughout the five plus years of this blog's lifespan, faithful followers will know that we like using snippets of songs as they relate to whatever subject is being discussed here.  Most harken back to how we're feeling as individual store owners, and some touch upon the collective experience, but all are pointed, and poignant.  Perhaps the affinity for song lyrics comes from our late Boomer status, or just our love of music, who knows?  Sometimes you just can't say it any better than what's already been written.

July 1st obviously kicks off the month, and the celebration of our nation's independence on July 4th.  But we see that you might've noticed the difference in spelling of the word "independence" in this post's title.  We all know the definition of  "Independence".  "Independents" refers to us independent business owners - those of us who are making it on our own, without a corporation, a franchise or a co-op to help.  July 1st signifies the kick off of Independents Week, when we celebrate all our local, independent businesses and the people who operate them.

It takes a lot of perseverance and guts to run an independent business, especially these days.  The words in the Eagles' song we used were not written about owning your own business, but we think this verse echoes the mindset of many of us.  Did we do it for love?  Did we do it for money?  Did we do it for spite or did we think we had to, honey?  Some of us fit neatly into one of those categories, some of us don't, and some of us have a bit of all in our makeup. The one thing we have in common, however, is our will to survive in the long run.  Long live our independents!

We'll be back next week, friends.  Until then, have a great week, enjoy your 4th Of July holiday, and we thank you for shopping local!

Lori and Scott

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!

It's not just one thing that is providing this momentum of activity, it's a mix of several factors happening concurrently.  Our burgeoning foodie movement, lead by the brilliant thinkers (and doers) Jospeh Shuldiner, Gloria Putnam and Steve Rudicel at the Institute Of Domestic Technology, is making news in Altadena.  Tying closely into the foodie movement, the Institute Of Urban Ecology is ramping things up and is located at Altadena's Zorthian Ranch.  We also have had new restaurant openings, with AltaEats on Allen Ave. and Pizza Of Venice on Fair Oaks; and two central business-district restaurants seriously revamp their hours and offerings.  Amy's Patrio Cafe on Altadena Drive and the Park Bench Grill both changed ownership recently, and we all welcome their new owners, their extended hours, and most of all, their kicked-up menus!  Of course, the Altadena Ale House and stalwart The Coffee Gallery continue to delight with their community-centric events, as does the lauded Bulgarini Gelato.

There has also been an influx of new businesses opening around town as well.  Altadena fixture Ben McGinty is quietly opening up a little gallery on Mariposa Ave., where Mary's Collectibles used to be; and dynamic duo Ian Wilkins and Denise Goddard have opened a framing gallery called Merge, near Amy's Patio Cafe on Altadena Drive.  Word of mouth has it that a gently-used children's boutique is opening up across the street from us, at the former Gallery At The End Of The World building.  Altadena's Fancy Food Truck Friday continues to attract crowds, and our book signings and monthly poetry jams have never been more well-attended.

Even with all this moving and shaking, it was still a pleasant shock to have actress and writer Polly Frost contact us about her performing her one-woman play about growing up in Altadena at our store.  It's going to be fabulous, and we couldn't be more excited, but imagine how we felt when Pasadena Star News' Larry Wilson wrote about it here.  In his words, from that article, "But these days Webster's has become an actual cultural hub in Altadena. It has Earth Day celebrations featuring noted authors. It partners with the Arroyo Food Co-op and the other small-and-green foodie operations the town is becoming known for as it gets even more bohemian -- west of Holliston, at least -- than it used to be."

Bohemian!  Hmmm....we like that!  Thanks to Larry Wilson, and to all of our wonderful artists, writers, food crafters, natural products manufacturers, and stationery and jewelry designers - all of you make us who we are today - Webster's Fine Stationers, Your Store For Local! 

We'll be back next Sunday to let you know more about upcoming events here and around town.  Until then, have a wonderful week!

Scott and Lori