A variety of stores are located in Old Town Pasadena, but only a few of them can make their customers feel like they’re home. Lula Mae, a small gift shop, is more than just a business, it’s a place that makes every shopper feel like a special member of the big family.
Established in 2003, the gift shop Lula Mae is owned by Marci Toombs. The store was named in honor of Toombs’ great great grandmother, who was a strong and independent woman. Though the owner didn’t have much experience with startups before opening the store, the knowledge and skills that she acquired from working in a family-owned business and the faith she had in what she was doing helped Toombs make her dream a reality.
Though Lula Mae is pretty small, it has many different gifts, which makes it really easy to lose track of time while looking through all their products. When picking a gift for a loved one people usually want to make it quite special, and Lula Mae provides their customers with such opportunity. Almost everything in the store is handmade by local independent artists and each item seems to have its own little story behind it.
They sell a variety of gifts, such as jewelry, crystals, books, and etc. However, the most popular item shoppers can find there are the humorously offensive, yet cute greeting cards. Customers can purchase them for any occasion, but it’s probably better to make sure in advance that the receiver is not suffering a lack of humor.
“I feel like what makes this store special is that it has it’s own little heartbeat,” Toombs said. “I feel like our number one goal has never been to make money. I feel like [it] has always been to create happiness.”
Lula Mae also provides numerous workshops, so their customers can not only buy unique gifts there, but they can also learn how to create something special themselves. Toombs teaches people different kinds of handywork, such as calligraphy, loom weaving, macrame and lots of others. In addition, she also shares her experience in starting a business and teaches others about the numerous aspects of wholesale. The appointments are booked online on their website. Any additional information about the workshops as well as promo codes for discounts can be found on their Instagram.
“When you have a “Plan B” you’re automatically excusing your behaviour for failure,” Toombs said. “If I mess up on something I could think: ‘Oh I have this to fall back on,’ instead of ‘how can I make this better’.”
One more key to their success is that all the shoppers feel welcome and appreciated in the store, or as they call it their “Happy Place.” People of all ages have become their regular customers. With every purchase, people get a piece of candy as an appreciative gesture for taking their time to stop by. Even when talking about her employees, Toombs refers to them as her family.
“I love this place. This is not even like work to me. I get so inspired,” said Nubia Perez, a Lula Mae employee. “ I’ve been shopping here since I was in high school. And ever since I came in here, I was like ‘Oh my god!’ It’s just everything, it’s like so much inspiration, so beautiful and I love her [Marci Toombs].”
Lula Mae is a store where every single person can feel special. The inspiring atmosphere and the friendly staff can become a great relief after a stressful day at work, but what makes it really different from any other place is its creative and peaceful environment. When looking for a special little something for a friend, a loved one or just for oneself, Lula Mae is definitely worth visiting.