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Take Five: The artisans of Foothill Boulevard

January 26, 2011|By Gene Pepper

The wraps are removed, the atomic clock will be synchronized — a tradition begins. The new, beautiful Flintridge Bookstore and Coffee House will soon be open on Foothill Boulevard in La Cañada.

The road to success for Lenora and Peter Wannier has been studded with more barriers than a U. S. Marine Corps obstacle course. Ambush-style, one hurdle after another has popped up. There have been the usual city agencies, state agencies, utility companies and other unforeseen entities that have impeded progress. But the Wanniers seem to conquer all of their problems with a can-do attitude where others might be thrown by these adversities. They have forged ahead on this tortuous journey to get their dream bookstore built.

Calm reality is what clearly comes across when Lenora, who has a degree in library science, speaks. A Caltech graduate, Peter excels in measured recognition that life is always going to throw 100-mph fastballs.

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At the time of my interview with the two entrepreneurs, most of the obstacles had been met. They are veterans, indeed, of their toils of planning and construction. But neither of them exhibit bitterness.

They have been "in labor" much longer (three-plus years) than anticipated. Within a relatively short time, they will open their own work of art. Neither fears the proximity of national bookstore chains. Nor do they fear e-books, reading devices or the ever-mighty Amazon. Peter believes wholeheartedly in La Cañada and is proud of the number of schools in the city. He says books are verbal works of art and will be around a long time.

Lenora is expanding the young-adult and children's section and the new store features games, puzzles, gifts and "intelligent" toys. The coffeehouse section will be increased and it will be a welcome haven for the residents of the city.

Within weeks of opening, the new store will be showing off its new Espresso machine. This does not mean a new espresso coffee machine. The new device will offer Print-On-Demand. Computer driven, the new high-tech marvel will contain a data base of 1.5 million out-of-date (and also current) books that can be downloaded and printed as paperback books on good solid paper, wrapped with a four-color cover. All of this in about 15 minutes.

At the moment, the big-box stores can't compete with Lenora's and Peter's keen sense of place in our city, with highly-trained employees whose sole function is to provide the latest in technology and unbeatable customer service.

So now you've had a cup of coffee or tea, and in no time you're walking out of the store with a new real book. Or you have downloaded a treat — that one-of-a-kind book you loved as a child, which you can give to your child, or a special gift for a special person.

We can thank Lenora and Peter Wannier for being so able and practical and for being true artisans of Foothill Boulevard.

GENE PEPPER can be reached at gep@aol.com or at (818) 790-1990.

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