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Upland's own gift shop is unique compared to many
Posted May 2, 2007

Soothing music playing all around, the sweet aroma of cinnamon and flowers, little trinkets all over, walls covered with warm colors and shelves of candles, dolls, tea sets and frames, neatly set tables and smiling faces throughout.

This retail therapy can be prescribed at one store: The Sideboard.

The Sideboard is a unique collectible and gift store that is located in the heart of Upland’s downtown district near the main street of Euclid Avenue.

“Our aim is to sell different things,” Claire Cushing, one of the three owners said, “And to look for the new and unique specialty items [for the store].”

The store first opened in 1983 a few doors down from the current store. Originally the store was owned by Marty Shaw and Linda Wilson. In Dec. 2005, Cushing along with Evey Stauffer and Judi Matlock bought the store when it was up for sale.

“Our main reason is because we love it,” Cushing said of why the women purchased the store. “We wanted to see it continue.”

“We thought it was an important asset to the area,” Cushing added.

Cushing was one of the original employees of the Sideboard and Stauffer has worked at the store for 10 years and managed for eight years.

The major competitors for the Sideboard are stores that carry unique specialty and gift items especially large chain retail stores like Target and Ross.

Both Cushing and Stauffer named stores like Target as competitors because of their selection and mass quantities.

This store is a one of a kind retailer of special gifts and collectibles that are popular and in some cases, hard to find.  

“We just follow the change in décor in the industry,” Stauffer said. “We feature special gifts.”

Along with the three owners, the Sideboard has five part time employees that work at the store.

“I just love everything about the store,” Carol Watkins, who has been employed for eight years, said.

Watkins said that she also enjoys the ladies at the store.

The store currently brings in around $300,000 in annual revenues.

“I think that we are holding our own,” Cushing said. “Things are going slow at the present time but we are going through what everyone else is.”

Both Cushing and Stauffer said that the location does not provide a great number of customers. However, the store does attract people to come to the downtown.

“It [The Sideboard] adds to the family feel of the town,” Diane Brassard, owner of Antiques ETC., a neighboring store in the downtown said. “It makes the town a destination to for people to shop.”

The secret to success for the small, relatively unknown store, Cushing and Stauffer said, is making it a friendly atmosphere so that when customers come in, they feel comfortable. Also, the store and its employees are a tight unit.

“We are like a family,” Stauffer said.

The Sideboard attracts many different shoppers in the area as well as further away.

“It is just a wonderful store,” Pat Mendoza, a regular shopper from Brea said.

Mendoza said that the variety in merchandise and prices is what has attracted her to spend hours at a time shopping at the store.

“It is a beautifully laid out store,” Sandy Burkhart, owner of Carriage House Antique and Collectables, a neighboring store said. “Anytime you get more retail stores, it brings more people.”

Burkhart said that the customers of the Sideboard, which she named as primarily women, contribute to the success of the downtown as they bring business to the area. She also said that the women who own and work at the store are what make the Sideboard a success.

Art Purvis, owner of Purvis Gallery of Design Expert Custom Picture Framing, another neighboring store, said that stores like the Sideboard are important to the downtown because they create a destination for people, including families, to have fun and spend a day somewhere.

“It is a gathering place for residents,” Mayor Pro Tem, Brendan Brandt said of the downtown area.

Brandt said that many cities do not have an established downtown like Upland does.

“It is really important to keep it going and expanding it,” Brandt said.

Brandt said that currently a private group is conducting a study on Upland’s downtown. If all goes according to plan, the group may begin changes to give the downtown a facelift by adding more upscale stores and restaurants to make it like downtown Pasadena which would attract a lot more business.

The Sideboard is a unique store that provides a family like atmosphere which continues to attract customers. When the thought of shopping is stressful for most customers, the Sideboard is oddly enough the perfect spot for those in need of some relaxation and retail therapy.

Marilee Lorusso can be reached at mlorusso@ulv.edu.