Saying Goodbye After 32 Years The Cobblestone Cottage
For the first 10 days after Cobblestone Cottage announced it was closing its doors for good, the phone rang off the hook. Customers couldn’t believe it was true.
“Over those first few weeks, customers were crying in the store begging us not to leave…to reconsider…to find another location,” store owner Kathy Allie said. “They said they would follow us anywhere.”
One customer even apologized with tears in her eyes for not supporting the store enough, admitting she always felt they would “be here forever.”
But after 32 years in business, the store will be shutting down sometime in June.
In March, Kathy and her daughter Jamee Brandt, who has also been the store manager for over 18 years, took it to Facebook to share the news. The live post garnered over 800 positive comments and reactions as well as over 500 shares. In the video, Jamee listed three reasons for the closure: the desperate need to decrease overhead, sales declining in the last two years because of the internet shopping craze and Kathy’s hope to retire.
“It’s been really hard to compete with the internet,” said Jamee in the post. “We’ve been wanting to shrink the footprint of our store and the landlord wanted us to take it all or nothing and we couldn’t handle that overhead anymore.”
“Plus it’s time for this gal to put up her retail shoes,” Kathy added.
Kathy mentioned this logic in a thoughtful letter to her employees, about 18 at the time, saying she was proud of the business for bouncing back from the 1994 earthquake and surviving stock market crashes and the housing crash in 2008.
Kathy said the biggest challenge the store faced was trying to rein in the overhead cost of running a business, so she’s always tried to be a good manager of her money. Part of that challenge included coming up with ways to keep the store unique and current with the times.
“We’ve always changed with the trends,” Kathy said.
One of the changes the collectibles store made was changing its merchandise from mostly home décor to apparel and women’s accessories.
“We knew we had to make the store more interesting,” Kathy said. “The store is never the same and merchandise is always being moved around.” Kathy, who never expected to be in the retail industry for this long, stayed because of her passion for it.
The idea for the store stemmed from a trip to England Kathy took, where she fell in love with English cottages. When the store made its start in 1987, 80 percent of the items sold had an English theme and coined the phrase “in the English way, as their tag line.”
Lining its shelves with scone mixes and jams, while the aisles were filled with sculptures and walls covered with artist renditions of the English countryside.
What started out as a small 900-square-foot boutique located in the River Oaks Shopping Center on Magic Mountain Parkway, quickly grew into its current size of three storefronts in the same original spot.
“When we opened, Valencia Town Center was an onion field,” Kathy reminisced.
At that point, Kathy was a homemaker and volunteered for schools and church; she never thought she was going to own a store.
One thing the store prides itself in is its involvement in fundraising for nonprofits. Before its closing, it will hold a cereal drive for Helping our Children. In addition, the store has helped the Assistance League with its “Operation School Bell” initiative, raising money to pay for students to get a new outfit for the start of school.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Kathy said when asked why she does it. “I’ve been blessed, let’s bless somebody else.”
The most rewarding part of all this has been working with the customers and staff, particularly with Jamee.
“She’s an amazing woman,” Kathy said of her daughter. “We both learned so much from each other and that joint effort is why our store had the great success it had.”
Kathy also said its been great see a third generation of customers.
The charm of the store, friendliness of the staff and reputation as carrier of the best brands all contributed to the store’s success.
“I wanted to create a place people can slow down from the hustle and bustle and enjoy beautiful things,” Kathy said. “I think in our 32 years we accomplished just that.”
Cobblestone Cottage is once again filling the philanthropic spirit. With a donation of $20 or more, Cobblestone Cottage will gift you a mug with their logo which is sure to be a collector’s item. All proceeds
from these donations go to Assistance League Santa Clarita. Stop by the store for your mug today!
photo by Joie de Vivre photographie
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