Small Shop with Big Gift Ideas in Valencia

Santa Clarita Valley isn’t exactly the location you’d expect to find a great boutique shop with a broad variety of gift ideas for any occasion. I grew up here, and this (Awesome)town grew on the back of large retail chains. Sure, 20 years ago Howard & Phil’s was a staple of the Canyon Country (Cowboy) side of Santa Clarita, but it’s been more than 10 years since they’ve closed their doors. Buck McKeon is still a staple of the US Congress district out there, but the days of small and/or specialty retail shops are long gone from Santa Clarita. To be fair, there are still plenty of mom and pop shops in the area, but most of them are restaurants.

Now, I’ll admit that the Westfield Mall out there (the Valencia Town Center) is impressive. The new outdoor (The Patio) shops have some good selection, especially if you have kids! The Wokano there is larger than most of the other Wokanos I’ve seen, but the Dink’s NY Deli Diner is perhaps my favorite spot on The Patio. It really is a good representation of a piece of New York, and I *LOVE* New York!

In need of some last minute shopping, I stopped by the Mall of Awesometown. I figured with as many shops as there are at this mall I was sure to find something for the two people I still needed to get gifts for this Christmas. After a solid hour-and-a-half of walking around the mall and through dozens of shops, I was still empty-handed… Time for the Northridge Fashion Center… Oh, it’s just the Northridge Mall now (I’m getting old!)

I had parked my car in the parking structure off Magic Mountain Parkway because I figured I’d checkout some of the outdoor shops on my way into the mall. I hadn’t seen anything on the way to the mall, so I wasn’t really paying to much attention to the shops on the way back to my car.

It was almost like a scene in a movie. The temperature had been dropping all night. I had been walking around for more than an hour, and my body temperature was on the rise. You could see my breath. My nose was getting cold and red. My ears were starting to chill. When what to my surprise… I see this little shop La Via Bella. Was it blurry vision from the cold weather (it’s Southern California, so it couldn’t be that cold)? I figured I need to check it out, since there was definitely nothing worth gifting from the Brookstone just on the other side of the street.

I walked in, and it was an instant relief from large chain retail shopping. The store is decorated with items that it sells, and they aren’t clustered together by similar looks and colors. It is decorated in a way that you can look at a setting and thing, “Hey, I’d like my entryway to look like that!” or “I think that would go great in my nook as well!”

To top it off, the store is run by two wonderful women who are more than happy to help you or just allow you to browse around. They both provided excellent gift suggestions and were very pleasant to work with. I’ll be sure to be back to La Via Bella in the near future for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, and next Christmas as well! This was a pleasant find amongst the mountain of chain retail stores in the Valencia Town Center.

Yes, I did walk out of the store with gifts for the two people I was shopping for as well as a piece of decor for my own home! 🙂

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Is Business Wiki a Viable Option?

Wiki projects have become widely used from sharing shopping experiences to the ultimate online encyclopedia. Something that I’ve been thinking about for a while is whether a business wiki a viable option. A business wiki would be for business professionals to share valuable business process knowledge to help others expand their business while potentially learning from others they would have never expected to learn from? Are executives and employees willing to share information that might potentially increase their competition?

Most of business is run on removing competition. Stifling competition. Killing competition. Keeping everything a secret. Keeping business knowledge scarce. What would it be like if that wasn’t the case? If there was a free flow of informations for companies to learn from past mistakes of other companies?

If your competition goes up, the only option you have is to innovate. Innovate your product. Innovate your marketing. Innovate your customer care. It would force your business to move forward, to always be looking forward.

I’m not suggesting that companies freely share their product ideas. You still closely guard company secrets like the formula for Coca Cola. What I’m talking about are business processes. For example, how to optimize your customer retention. How to improve your shipping department. I believe that the free sharing of this kind of information would spark a tremendous amount of innovation and improvements in businesses that would help revolutionize the way the world does business.