The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Cloverdale Comments - December 2015


Cloverdale Comments - December 2015

by Carol Russell

“A sale is something that happens while you are immersed in serving your customer.” —Unknown

In 2015, two businesses opened here that, while very different, share a deep passion for great customer service. They also share growing popularity! 

We stopped into Karma Café at 8:30 a.m. as tables around us filled up with hungry but happy customers enjoying a range of scrumptious, modestly priced breakfasts like the Champion Panini (sourdough bread, sausage, bacon, egg, spinach and pepper jack). For luncheon, they can try a deli’ delight like the Coolio (sourdough, tomato, avocado, olives, cucumber, hummus, spinach and ranch dressing). Add coffees, salads, soups, customized smoothies, “house made baked goods” that never get boring (including three-berry tartlets and queijadas, a yummy Portuguese custard) and, whether hardcore Vegetarian or Carnivore, you’ll find much to love. 

Karma Café’s owners, Sherri Hicks (she handles the business side) and Cloverdale native Richard Wright (the baker/chief), “know each other’s quicks and strengths” and share the same “moral compass” as business people. They met eight years ago when, as District Manager for a well-known chain, Richard hired Sherri to manage a restaurant. With a food career that began as a little boy in his grandmother’s kitchen, where he could truly be whom he was, it’s clear Richard thoroughly enjoys working with Sherri and vice-versa. 

Sherri’s family also helped to forge the Karma Café. Her daughters and sister contributed terrific ideas, including its striking color scheme and menu design plus meal suggestions, while her boyfriend financed the venture. 

The more we spoke to Richard and Sherri the more we could see how much customers matter in every way to them. One of their great rewards is the satisfaction of seeing the comforts they create through their fine food, inviting atmosphere and modest prices. Well-fed, relaxed, feeling at home, customers truly become part of the Karma Café community.

After this delicious start to our day, we visited Estate on the Boulevard, a unique “lifestyle store” where Reece discovered the perfect gift for a passionate collector of – this is true – moose images!

Self-described as “Four Chicks From the Sticks”, Estate’s owners (Cathleen Alyce, Martha McLaughlin, Tina Krummes and Cathi Fowler) have an absolute commitment to their customers that, like Sherri and Rick, immediately ensured they’d be welcomed by our entire community and sought out by visitors.

With its inviting, artistic, free-flowing displays, Estate offers a delightfully stress-free shopping (and browsing) experience where each Chick has blended her own special passions into creation of a visually appealing, eclectic store with eye-catching, practical and/or distinctive merchandise that’s always affordable.

Tina focuses on one-of-a-kind, primitive items handmade by folk artists around the country, including: dolls; candles; handmade furniture, and woven fabrics. Cathleen loves furniture, especially French farmhouse style, using it imaginatively to establish Estate’s display infrastructure and “look”. Like her colleagues, Cathi takes care to choose not only what she loves but also what customers love, such as marvelous glassware and clothing. Martha loves everything vintage and whimsical exemplified by the highly collectable but can’t-find-them-anywhere, 1930s-60s table radios that guys instantly gravitate to. With every day bringing new items, customers quickly learn: “If you like it, buy it! It may not be here tomorrow.” 

This is the perfect time of year to visit Estate: the Chicks love celebrating the Holidays with special items for our homes and unique gifts. Check out the hand-made Christmas dolls, chicly tailored yet ultra-comfy ladies’ “Hoodies” and charming candles with a hidden timer that can turn them on as night falls.                                              

Estate gives us customers an increasingly rare retail experience. We’re greeted with a welcoming smile expressing genuine pleasure that we’re there; yet, while the Chicks are always ready to share their merchandising expertise, they know when to leave us to browse on our own. As we leave, we’ll enjoy a warm goodbye that lets us know we’ll be welcomed back – whether or not we bought anything today. 

And so our two featured businesses, while very different, truly do provide an identical core product: great customer service! In so doing, they also provide examples of how sales happen. Karma Café: 124 S. Cloverdale Blvd.; M.-F.: 7a.m.-3pm, Sat.: 8am-3pm. Estate On the Blvd.: 219 S. Cloverdale Blvd.; Thurs.-Sat.:10am-6pm, Sun.: 10am-5pm