Back by popular demand!
Story and Photos
By Emily G. Peters
The past few years have been the era of the reboot. “Gilmore Girls,” “X-Files” and more have all come back to us through popular demand. Yet Bear Essentials Gift Shoppe in Arcadia has achieved a much rarer phenomenon: the retail reboot.
Before its premature closing three years ago, Bear Essentials had been a staple in Arcadia’s community. Locals Susan and Dennis Pink started the business in 1983 after Susan gained success selling handmade goods at craft shows around town. Slowly, they ramped up business until the time came for their very own storefront.
“In 1995 we opened our first store on Huntington Drive in Arcadia,” said Susan Pink. “We were at that location for 20 years.”
But even established businesses can fall prey to the economy. Pushed out of their original location by soaring rent costs, they closed their doors in July 2014. Yet the couple wasn’t ready to give in.
“One month after closing, we went back to our roots and started doing craft and gift shows again at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Arcadia,” said Pink, who still holds shows at the hotel four times a year. “At the continuous request of our customers, we opened our new location on Foothill Boulevard in October of 2015.”
It’s the diversity that makes the shop special. They carry jewelry, kitchenware, flags, clothing, seasonal decor, Willow Tree and Jim Shore figurines, gourmet foods and so much more. Working with consignment vendors allows the store to carry unique handmade items unavailable in other shops or online. They also change inventory frequently, infusing a little excitement into each return visit. And like most successful small business owners, the Pinks are fiercely protective of their customers’ shopping experience.
“We always want our customers to feel comfortable shopping with us,” said Pink. “Our core values are to provide high quality, unique and handmade products at reasonable prices. Special orders are often taken to meet a customer’s needs, and we can even order large amounts of items to help with showers, weddings and more.”
Bear Essentials also enjoys hiring locals to help new employees on their career path. “We have trained so many young adults over the years!” remarked Pink. “They have all gone on to be successful people, and we are so proud of them.”
Competition with online shopping and big box stores remains a challenge for the gift shop. But shopping small has its upsides.
“When you shop with us you can see and touch the item,” said Pink. “You can get it gift-wrapped, which is always free. We can meet an immediate need. And you are always greeted with a ‘hello’ and a smile when you shop with us.”
For business owners facing similar challenges, Bear Essentials Gift Shoppe’s success sends an encouraging message: if you treat your customers right and offer quality products, loyalty can restore a well-loved business to its rightful place in the neighborhood.
Bear Essentials Gift Shoppe is now located at 122 E. Foothill Blvd. in Arcadia. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org | (626) 446-4995 | www.bearessentialsgifts.com | Facebook @bearessentials gifts. Enjoy free admission to their upcoming gift show at Embassy Suites in Arcadia this March 30 – April 1 and May 4 – 6.