Magnolia: Style, Selection and Service

- Photos by Sameea Kamal

- Photos by Sameea Kamal

They say that nowadays you just can’t find good customer service. But a customer of Magnolia Boutique, located on Foothill Avenue, said she loves their service so much that she doesn’t give out her own business cards, but Magnolia’s instead.

Store owner Karen Crisci opened the boutique in 1998 with the help of her husband and mother-in-law, she said.

After spending 25 years of doing sales and marketing for a cruise company, where she coordinated many of the travel company’s events, the shop owner wanted to live near her family and open a store that would allow her to use her design skills.

work 361“I was always very, very creative,” she said. “My number one asset is that I’m an idea person.”

Magnolia sells clothing, jewelry, gifts and home décor. The store also provides event and wedding planning services, mural paintings and silk floral designs. The seasonal holiday decorating for homes and businesses is Magnolia’s mainstay, the owner said.

The clothes are designed for women in their thirties, forties or fifties – for a woman on the go, Crisci said.

“I put together different looks- I can outfit you for anything,” she said.

According to staff, the store’s personalized service in helping customers select clothing is what makes it unique.

“We care about how the person looks,” Crisci said. “I won’t just say to someone, ‘Oh you look great’ – it has to come from the heart. We would only put someone in an outfit we know is right.”

According to Kimberly Toy, an employee of the store who specializes in floral designs, working at the boutique feels like a family environment.

“I see the difference in what we do and what other people do,” Toy said. “When I go to a store I want to feel like I’m welcome, like people will meet my needs.”

Toy, who has worked at the boutique for ten years, said Magnolia applies that mindset to the way they serve customers.

“We go out shopping together a lot and we’ll say, maybe Mrs. Smith would like this, and then we’ll call them up and ask,” she said.

Crisci tries to find clothing that is age appropriate, but also stays on top of current trends.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to try things. Animal print is very in this season, and so are colors like teal, electric blue and purple,” she said. “Pearls and strands are in, too”

Crisci tries to buy only clothes manufactured in the United States, though it can be difficult to do, she said.

Despite the poor economy, the store owner says the recession has made her and her employees work harder and that business is growing and thriving as a result.

work 360“I’m not going to allow it to get me down,” she said. “It really lets you know what you should do all the time.”

Magnolia has been able to maintain all its employees, with no reduction in hours for anyone.

“Everyone who works here is a creative person,” she said.

Crisci believes in treating her customers like family, too.

“If people don’t come for a while, I’ll call them and say, you haven’t been here,” she said. “You don’t have to buy anything but I just want to know if you’re okay.”
Crisci is an Arcadia resident who says the city is a comfortable place to be.

“I love the city so much,” she said. “Growing up, I would come to visit my aunty and I’d think, I want to live here someday.”

The store owner said her family traveled a lot growing up, and a visit to the art museums in Europe was probably her biggest influence.

According to Dr. Cathleen Jones, an Arcadia resident who has shopped at the store since it first opened, the selection is unlike any other store, especially in Arcadia.

Jones said she particularly enjoys Magnolia’s selection of glasses, which she is famous for wearing at work. She owns about thirty pairs in different colors and designs, which her patients have come to love.

“People come to see me to see what kind of glasses I have on, and I have several people that come in and compare them,” she said. “We spend more time talking about Magnolia than about their blood pressure.”

Jones said that many of her male patients who come to see her also shop at Magnolia, too.
“Husbands will go there and ask, what does mywife want?” she said. “She’s a big hit.”

October 29, 2009

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