Archive » April 15, 2010
By Grant Harvey, Journal Intern
In 1963, Albert Spaulding purchased The Santa Ynez Feed and Milling Company, a grinding mill that sits where the old College Hotel burned down in 1935. Lisa Spaulding, daughter of Albert and manager of Tumbleweeds Clothing Store & Sage, has used some of the old photos from the Carriage Museum in Santa Ynez to decorate the store as a cool tribute to the history of the building.
Tumbleweeds is one of the four corners of the Spaulding’s stranglehold on Santa Ynez. Rounding off the corner empire, Tumbleweeds sits among other giants of Albert Spaulding’s legacy.
These include the Santa Ynez Feed and Milling Company, started by Albert but now managed by his son, Quinn; Dos Carlitos, a restaurant built by the Spauldings and rented out to its current owner; and Sage, a store with something for every room of your house, started and ran by Susanna Spaulding. Tumbleweeds also belongs to Susanna; however, Lisa Spaulding is the manager.
Tumbleweeds was begun by Quinn Spaulding above the Feed and Milling Co. as a pet and riding supply store, until it was eventually moved into the storage facility where they kept the bins of seed in 1992. It went from more of western clothing to California casual lifestyle with the switch of hands to Susanna. Susanna would get the clothes for tumbleweeds, which is all made with organic fibers, from Los Angeles mart shopping at the California market-center.
Lisa Spaulding, a tennis coach for 20 years at Birnam Wood golf club, was called in by her sister to help run the store in 2001. “Growing up in Catholic school background, when my sister and I discovered clothes it was even more momentous,” Spaulding says, reminiscing. “It sort of makes sense that we now run a clothing store.”
However, Spaulding does not regret the change in occupation. “It’s the most fun job, with wonderful customers and eight fabulous employees.” Spaulding’s attitude is reflected in the store. From the moment one enters, there is an overwhelming sense of comfort and a cool vibe. “And the great thing about the store is there’s great value.”
Tumbleweeds offers all manner of things, from a variety of natural-fiber clothing lines in cotton, linen, wool, Tencel and silk, in a variety of brands that no other stores in the Valley carry – including Allen Allen, Christopher Blue, Eileen Fisher, Mododoc, Patagonia, Pendleton, True Grit, Woolrich, as well as CDs and DVDs of local artists and good-feeling music of all kinds to pick up for the ride home.
Back to the clothing aspect, Tumbleweeds offers both male and female clothing, in mostly neutral colors for a simple and sophisticated look. One line in particular that emphasizes this is Eileen Fisher, a hot-selling Valley exclusive at Tumbleweeds. It stands for the “affordable, great looking, casual California clothing,” that Spaulding loves. Tumbleweeds also features the popular Nic+Zoe line, Fossil shoes and purses, San Diego Hats, countless belts and shoes, and even a fine collection of silver jewelry and pearls.
For men, Tumbleweeds features the Tommy Bahama relaxed line, casual clothes from a more outdoors-based brand that have a relaxed weekend kind of feel. Continuing on the casual vein, if someone is looking for sunglasses, they have those too, for men and women. And, right when you walk in or before you leave, there are the great-smelling Thymes lotions wafting the entrance to the store.
Summarily, Tumbleweeds Clothing store has a unique selection and a family feel. Lisa Spaulding is proud of this, saying, “Some customers may stop by with their kids why their husbands are in the feed and milling company, or stop by after picking up some essentials from Sage. Then, they can head over to Dos Carlitos for lunch.”
The family element translates to camaraderie between stores, which has in turn translated to a new recyclable bag soon to be available in all four of “The Corner” stores. Tumbleweeds even uses some items from Sage in their decorating, adding to the neat eclectic vibe. All in all, Tumbleweeds is worth the tumble in.
Here is what else the Valley Journal learned about Tumbleweeds:
Why did you start this business?
My brother Quinn started Tumbleweeds in 1984, as a Western-style clothing store, to diversify the Santa Ynez Feed Store’s retail business. Two years later, my sister Susanna S. Davis took over and turned Tumbleweeds into a natural fabrics California-lifestyle clothing store.
What is your business background?
I taught tennis for 20 years at a golf club as a United States Professional Tennis Association teaching pro and I managed the Santa Ynez Feed and Grill Restaurant for three years. My sister trained me to manage both Tumbleweeds and Sage.
What is the best business advice given to you and who gave it to you?
My parents, Al and Jean Spaulding, taught me to be conscientious and to work hard.
Biggest challenge your business faces today?
Our challenge is and always has been to give customers knowledgeable and friendly service, and to find and sell the best and best-looking products available.
Simplest thing I’ve never learned to do?
Ask for help.
What sets your business apart from your competition?
Our whole setting is unique. A customer can stop in Sage to buy a lovely birthday gift, have fish tacos at Dos Carlitos, stroll through the Mill for dog food and end up in Tumbleweeds to buy a darling outfit for that evening’s ranch BBQ.
Books on bedside table?
“Marketing Your Retail Store” by Bob and Susan Negen, “Knockout” by Suzanne Somers and “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.
Why did you set up your business in the Valley?
My parents bought the Santa Ynez Feed Store in 1963 and encouraged the kids to get involved!
How could local elected officials make it easier for you to be successful?
By promoting tourism and by being business-friendly (i.e. Allowing signage for buildings and for townships).
Where do you see your business in five years?
Growing by meeting the needs of old and new customers, and venturing into online shopping.
Finally, what is on your to-do list?
Improve my computer skills and to re-study and use my three years of Spanish instruction.
Business name: Tumbleweeds Clothing Store & Sage of Santa Ynez
Owners: Albert & Jean Spaulding
Address: 3532 Sagunto St. & 1095 A Edison St., Santa Ynez, CA 93460
Hours: 10 to 5, Monday-Saturday