In 1972, two New York ex-patriots founded Sign Of The Bear Kitchenware & Tableware in California’s Sonoma Valley to delight cooks and hosts with a head-to-toe satisfying shopping experience, and that approach to doing business hasn’t changed under current owners Stephen and Laura Havlek.
Married partners in the business, Stephen and Laura purchased Sign Of The Bear in 1991 with the intent of making the experience of shoppers even more enchanting.
Now almost 50 years after the store first opened, Laura Havlek said, “We are still hoping to delight cooks and hosts. We hope people walk through our doors to a sense of joy, abundance, craftsmanship, humor. Cooking and entertaining are such fundamentally human, connective gifts. They are the knowledge and love we pass from hand to hand through the generations.”
To succeed in that mission, Havlek said that Sign Of The Bear has created a compelling team, presentation and array of products. As a result, the store has become a gathering place for locals and tourists visiting Sonoma for the region’s beauty, atmosphere and, of course, wine. The staff members are a particular Sign Of The Bear draw, with each adept at addressing customers as if no one else is present in the busy store. The merchandising arrangements provide products with an engaging showcase that is easy and efficient to shop. The assortment itself offers an array of products developed to meet the full range of needs encountered by cooks and hosts who are actively employed in orchestrating delicious experiences.
Under those circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that Sign Of The Bear would endeavor to support and comfort hard-working hosts and chefs by offering WellnessMats, products that have self-evident virtues for the store’s shoppers.
“Our success is a gift from so many friends: The wonderful people we work with every day, our team, our town and so many manufacturers who, humblingly, support us all,” Havlek said. “WellnessMats’ most compelling promotion and marketing is their product. Their mats are that good. When customers stand on or walk across them, they stop.”
Of course, Sign Of The Bear wants to make absolutely certain shoppers fully appreciate the comforts the store lays at their feet, so staff ensures customers recognize what they otherwise might pass over.
“We handmade our sign 10 years ago and it says ‘Standing is Believing’,” Havlek said. “Their mats make such a difference. They’re tough, beautiful, and they hold up.”
Indeed, the store itself is testimony to the virtues of WellnessMats products.
“We stand on the same mat — between our counters — that we bought all those years ago,” she said. “We worked hard to keep their look fresh.”
As it turns out, WellnessMats can help retailers both be comfortable and also to get on top of their customer service game, Havlek said. At the same time, WellnessMats can act as a customer amenity in the store, with proper placement acting as a sales tool, too.
“We keep [several mats]on the sales floor for customers to love,” Havlek said.
It also helps that WellnessMats works hard to ensure its products are productive sellers, Havlek noted.
“On the back end, WellnessMats works hard to keep pricing and distribution clean, in a way that supports us,” she said. “They enforce MAP in a way that matters.”