Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Old World Designs" for Needlepoint

A small business success in Menlo Park, California.

Little shops come and go in suburban villages these days, so it is always intriguing to discover one that has been serving customers for more than two decades. Old World Designs--a nirvana for needlepointers--is one such story.

Its owner, Linda Mendenhall, doesn't just do all the smart businesswoman things--marketing, marketing, marketing, and supplying what her customers need--she has one more key to success.  She turns her customers into friends.

Everything is pretty at Old World Designs: even something as simple as a wall of yarn.

From the first time I wandered into Old World Designs, on Santa Cruz Avenue--Menlo Park's main street--owner Linda Mendenhall's warmth was as present in the room as the canvases and yarn. No chilly, "Can we help you?" here.  "Let me see what you are working on," she says with real interest. Or, "What color do you need? Gee that's pretty."

The lighting is wonderful in this charming little shop. That's another key to making customers feel comfortable.

Linda is an avid needlepointer herself (that goes without saying--and yet I did it anyway) and she is genuinely interested in people. That last attribute may the one thing that has kept her needlepoint business going, through good times and bad, for twenty-one years.

Linda's smile is also a source of light at Old World Designs.

My father had just died when I first stepped into Old World Designs one day with a needlepoint canvas I was obsessively working on to keep away the gloom. It was something I bought in Washington D.C.

Linda took one look at it and told me the name of the store where I bought it! Did I say she really knows her business?

The next thing I knew we were exchanging family stories and both pulling out our hankies.  Our friendship has grown from there.

A business that knows its business in a niche of color and beauty. With a sunny owner who is always interested in a chat. That is why I nominate Old World Designs as the place in which I would most like to be caught during a torrential rain storm.  Not that we have any of those in California.

Old World Designs
727 Santa Cruz Avenue
Menlo Park, California 94025
Open: M-F            10-5:30
          Saturdays   10-5:00

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Anonymous said...

Old World Designs is also my "go to" needlepoint store. No matter how long I have been away, Linda remembers me and has welcomed me with open arms!!

Robin Chapman said...

That's what makes her such a good businesswoman. Or maybe, having a personality like that is why she wanted to have a store in the first place. Whatever the reason, being a customer of hers is really a delight.