Tag Archives: Business

Thrift Shop Story: Tiny Odds and Great Ending for Lost Euros

(A)ThriftShopSometimes last February, I brought a bag of various items including my good old purple wallet, that I had carefully completely emptied (or so I thought), to the community thrift store in Point Reyes Station.

I was using a new wallet now, a black one, and everything was dandy. In April, I went to spend a little time in France with my dad. Landing in Lyon on a sunny afternoon, I went straight to rent a car and zoomed out of there without a concern in the world. But then, when I opened my wallet to get Euros to pay for my first French expense…I could not find my French money! I thought I had about 200 Euros in cash with me, but lo and behold, after taking my wallet apart… I had none.

It dawned on me that I must have left my euros in my old purple wallet! I came back from France and another month passed, so busy I never even called the thrift store, until June 6, when I decided to drive over there and take a chance. After all, even if the odds where very small, it was worth trying! I explained my story and left my name and number, hoping for the best, but not holding my breath… Then I went home and got back to work. A few hours later Jane Vait, the manager, called me and said: “Emmeline, I have your euros!” Wow…

As agreed I met Jane at the store, where she gave me back the 210 Euros that she had kept safe all that time, not knowing if she would ever know whose money it had been. Jane and her wonderful staff are the most gentle and dedicated people, they work for the community day in and day out and one is always well received at the store, but this is beyond what one can expect: it is beyond ordinary honesty! The kind of stuff that makes life brilliant and friendly. I am from France, but as a naturalized American, I am very happy to be a West Marinite!

Today, I want to shout a big thank you to Jane and her whole staff for their greatness, and for their honesty! To all the Community Thrift Store staff I say: “You are wonderful! ”

~Emmeline Craig, Painter and owner of the Blissful Gallery in Stinson Beach.

~Like The Thrift store on Facebook: https://www.facebook.comWestMarinCommunityThriftStore

Our Window Washer Men

(With thanks to the Mills Brothers)

For me for you he does his work with class
He shines like new the dirty window glass
No one rubs no one scrubs like he can
Oh the window washer man.

You can hear the Mills Brothers version on Ken Levin’s answering machine. He and his son, Sam Levin, along with their partner, Jamal Tyson are the guys on the ladders all over West Marin and occasionally over the hill. Ken is not quite over the hill, although he’s moving toward retirement and clearly delighted to share the business with his son.

Ken arrived in West Marin in 1970, having left his high school teaching job in New Haven when he could not tolerate policemen in the hallways and an atmosphere of threat their presence implied. He found his way to the left coast when, of course, so many young people could not countenance our involvement in Viet Nam. It was also the time of communes and much else that now seems long ago. After some starting and stopping up and down the coast, Ken was invited by a friend (read girl) to visit her in a cabin she’d found in a cool place called Point Reyes Station. He still lives in that cabin. The friend has moved on.

Ken’s working life in West Marin included making granola for the old health food store in Point Reyes. He spent several years working as an early childhood educator, married and had the joy of fathering son Sam. Ken soon decided to take care of his own youngster and no longer worked with other kids. And Sam had the luck to be raised right here.

Ken joined Michael Parmeley in the window cleaning business after Michael’s partner (and a close friend of Ken’s) died unexpectedly. From the beginning, Ken enjoyed the work as it kept him outside; was physical; his customers were and are pleased and appreciative; the results of the work are there for all to see (through) and it does no harm. Ken feels blessed and especially now because his son has joined him in the business.

Sam worked with his dad in summers during high school, so when he decided to join the business, he knew he would enjoy it. Sam enjoys the challenges of steep terrain and architects who do not consider the problems posed by inaccessible windows that still need to be washed. He says, “Some windows are really “unclean-able,” but we usually find a way.” Sam’s been working with Ken for ten years now. He’s a snowboarder, a succulent grower, a hiker, and very interested in the arts.

Now why do you smile? “I’m happy all day long.”
I’ve got my health, and I’ve got my job
And so I sing this song
Oh the window washer man.

These Women Are A Team

(L)HowsBusinessAnd you can’t miss it if you have any dealings with them. Martha Howard owns the law practice behind the gorgeous roses next to the Inverness post office. Dakota Whitney works with Marty about 12 hours/week, perfect for a mom with two young boys. Dino Williams, the office manager and legal assistant, greases the wheels and complains only that those climbing roses seem eager to climb through the front door. Dakota describes Dino as the backbone of the office and “the best math-mind” among them.

Marty is our local attorney in estate planning which means wills, trusts, associated taxes and probate. Sometimes, she does elder law, addressing the needs of older adults, some of whom cannot afford nursing home care without qualifying for Medi-Cal. How these specialties emerged, how Marty went to law school to become a criminal lawyer but ended up with a Masters in Tax Law had to do with too many drunk drivers and the wish to work more at home to be with her young son. By 1980, she was firmly ensconced in West Marin. The rose-adorned building she’s occupied since 1986 came to her when an upscale dress shop decamped. Marty points out that most of their clients are in their 60’s and 70’s. (According to a Forbes survey, 35% of adults actually have some form of estate plan.) Marty loves the intellectual challenge of her work and really doesn’t love the unavoidable feeling of never being completely finished. There is always more work and more detail, and yet another pressing problem to address.

Dakota went to law school at a time when women were more and more present, in class and in practice. For seven years, she worked for a big firm in the City where she felt very content, even walking to work from Telegraph Hill. When she got pregnant with her first child “everything changed in a second.” So, the growing family came back to Inverness where Dakota was raised, and she’s never looked back. She reflected about life at that big law firm where she worked on complex business litigation: how the young associates worked together with real joy and friendship; and how you hoped not to be assigned to work for one of the partners who were notorious task masters. For women, even then around the turn of the last century, after so much discussion, after such big cultural shifts, the majority of young women associates did not choose the path to partnership. Dakota looked at the lives of both male and female partners and just didn’t want those lives for herself. She agrees with Marty that intellectual challenges are important and adds that the inevitably personal interactions also make her very happy to be doing this work which is often critical to clients’ well being.

Marty and Dakota and Dino are aware that women’s lives in the legal profession continue to change. Big firms still have few women at the top, but no one any longer says, “Oh, you’re a lady lawyer, huh?” The days when judges and lawyers all “knew each other” and were all male, are past. And women often run our bar associations, and they fill 46% of law school classes. All-female law firms are no longer unheard of, and in West Marin, we have one of our own. So stop by and smell those gorgeous pink roses!