Claremont business goes in growth mode

Heirloom boutique’s world of eclectic treasures is about to get even bigger.

While many mom-and-pops struggle with lackluster sales, residents continue to flock to Village West to lose themselves in Rob Lewbel and Becky Morgan’s haven of homemade trinkets, out-of-the-ordinary finds and locally-made products; so much so, that the owners have decided to make it easier for patrons to explore their creative odds-and-ends. The owners will achieve this by expanding their business, first into north Claremont and then the wide expanse of the Internet.

“Claremont is going international,” Mr. Lewbel quipped.

In addition to their sanctuary on Indian Hill Boulevard, Mr. Lewbel and Ms. Morgan will expand their business with an online retail store, to be launched sometime this fall. A workshop and warehouse has also been opened in the Claremont Business Park, located at Foothill Boulevard and Monte Vista Avenue. The space will be used for extra inventory, wholesale items as well as for Mr. Lewbel’s creative inclinations.

The goal is to eventually allow the community to join in the crafting, with the ability to come down to the warehouse and use some of Heirloom’s tools to make projects of their own.

Booming business has allowed them the luxury of opening themselves to a broader market. Sales are up 30 percent from last year, Mr. Lewbel shared, and the store’s current online offerings have netted an increase of over 60 percent from 2012. They hope sales will continue to soar now that products will be available at the click of a button.

“We have been very fortunate,” Mr. Lewbel said. “We took a risk and it is really paying off for us.”

The crafty couple, who contribute about 20 percent of the store’s handmade products, has come a long way in the 2 years following their Village debut. They began in October of 2011 fueled by their vision of creating a community gathering space similar to the concept of an old-fashioned general store. That initial vision thrives with the help of the community. Locals have taken to the store with increasing enthusiasm, whether stopping by to browse or participate in one of the store’s ongoing art workshops.

Contributing to Heirloom’s small-town feel is the store’s in-house workshop, where Mr. Lewbel can often be found heeding his creative whims, crafting a lamp out of a recycled whiskey bottle or taking part in some other repurposing project. He enjoys sharing his craft with others.

“It conjures that feeling of the small town glass blower or the pizza store where you watch the guy make the pizza. It creates conversation and people enjoy it,” he said.

Though the in-store crafting will continue, the quarters have become a little cramped, Mr. Lewbel admits, which is part of the reason they have chosen to expand. The off-site workshop will provide him with some needed elbow room to take care of business.

“We need to expand the space so the ideas can flow,” Mr. Lewbel said.

The extra space will also mean more room for merchandise, both in-store and online.

“A lot of parents and kids affiliated with the colleges come in the store and are interested in buying things online for Christmas gifts,” Mr. Lewbel explained. “It’s time to pull the trigger on that make it happen.”

While diving into new ventures, they haven’t forgotten what Heirloom’s all about: providing a home away from home for locals with an eye for the eclectic.

“We could have just stuck to selling online, but then we would be missing that human element, which is the reason why our store is so successful,” Mr. Lewbel said. “It’s entertaining, and more importantly, it brings the community together.”

Heirloom is located at 175 N. Indian Hill Blvd. For more information, visit  

—Beth Hartnett


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