Taking a stroll down memory lane

Open since 1997, From the Heart offers stacks of stickers and a table full of scrapbooking supplies to loyal connoisseurs. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz
Open since 1997, From the Heart offers stacks of stickers and a table full of scrapbooking supplies to loyal connoisseurs. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz

Nila Priyambodo
Co-editor

Rows and rows of stamps, silk papers and journals line the walls. Tables of ribbons, buttons and pens sit in the middle of the store. A sign above the wall reads one of Thoreau’s quotes, “The world is but a canvas to creativity.” No, we are not in a craft lover’s fantasy. We are in Joan Bunte’s store, Stamp Your Heart Out.

Stamp Your Heart Out offers supplies to the arts and crafts connoisseur since 1979.

“We provide a creative outlet for people,” said Bunte, owner of Stamp Your Heart Out.

Originally located in a 470 square feet structure on Bonita Avenue in Claremont, Stamp Your Heart Out recently moved to a 1,800 square feet shop in down-town Claremont’s Harvard Avenue.

From the Heart allows customers to create their own paper figurines, including leaves and animals using the shop’s personal die cut. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz
From the Heart allows customers to create their own paper figurines, including leaves and animals using the shop’s personal die cut. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz

“The art industry was blossoming and so was our store,” said Bunte, who only had a handful of employees when it first opened. “We could no longer accommodate our customers with such a small store. I took advantage of the growing trend and industry.”

Now with a bigger space and more than 20 employees, Stamp Your Heart Out not only offers arts and crafts supplies, but it also offers classes to its customers.

Every Saturday and Sunday, customers can sit in on a free demonstration equipped with all the mate-rials needed to get the project finished.

Stamp Your Heart Out, the only niche store in the area that offers free classes, conducts about nine a month, including how to make creative greeting cards and envelopes and decorate containers and glassware.

With a successful store in tow, Bunte decided that she needed to open up another store, one that specializes in scrapbooking.

At her convenience, the shop next door was vacant. In 1997, Bunte opened From the Heart only 10 feet away from Stamp Your Heart Out.

“Creating memories is a really important concept for me,” Bunte said. “These scrapbooks become wonderful references when you’re older. You get to see all the things you’ve experienced when you were younger.”

From the Heart offers columns and columns of papers and scrapbooks of every theme and color. It also has its own die cut machine, which lets customers cut papers into different shapes and figures.

Rows of silk paper hang from the walls of Stamp Your Heart Out, the sister store of From the Heart, open since 1979. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz
Rows of silk paper hang from the walls of Stamp Your Heart Out, the sister store of From the Heart, open since 1979. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz

“I like to call this a cookie cutter for paper,” said Thelma Diaz, a From the Heart employee since its grand opening.

On top of that, customers can even buy stickers by the yard.

“They have a better selection here than most stores I know,” said Claremont resident and social worker Martha Selis, who frequently shops at From the Heart. “They even have a better selection than Michael’s.”

With bigger arts and crafts chain stores like Michael’s to compete with, it becomes difficult for smaller stores like Stamp Your Heart Out and From the Heart to flourish. But Bunte and her employees attribute their success to customer service.

“When you come to our stores, it’s all about customer service,” said Teri Jackson, who has been working at Stamp Your Heart Out for more than a year. “We help pick projects that everyone can do and where all the materials are available at their fingertips.

“If we don’t have it, which is unlikely, we’ll call other stores to see if they carry it,” she added. “Our customers are always No. 1.”

Customers, like Emma Spiro, keep shopping at Bunte’s stores for this exact reason.

“They make you feel welcome,” said Spiro, a math major at Pomona College. “Her stores have a personal feel to them, and they are always helpful. Their employees make you come back for more.”

Jackson even recalled one of her favorite customers.

“One woman came into the store just to be cheered up,” she said. “We have that effect on people.”

Bunte also attributes her success to her knowledge of the arts and crafts world. Bunte attends at least two trade shows per year to look for unique items that can complement the items in her store.

Shelves of wooden stamps nearly bombard amateur shoppers as they enter Stamp Your Heart Out. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz
Shelves of wooden stamps nearly bombard amateur shoppers as they enter Stamp Your Heart Out. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz

“We know our products,” she said. “We understand what we’re selling. Chain stores have employees that are not specialists. But we are.”

The employees know the products first hand, and they even joke around saying they work for paper and stamps.

“We use the money from our paychecks to buy these things,” Diaz said. “The women who work here play with our own products.”

Stamp Your Heart Out and From the Heart receive about four boxes of new items each day; items that Bunte found at these trade shows.

With new products coming in everyday, From the Heart and Stamp Your Heart Out have customers that range in age—from upper elementary students to college students to women in their 60s.

Stamps and scrapbooking are no longer for grandmothers and mothers. The trend is moving toward the youth.

“My friends and I love to scrapbook,” said Spiro, a 22-year-old. “Old people aren’t the only ones doing this now.”

And with annual revenues increasing each year, Bunte does not see herself opening another store. However, Bunte sees From the Heart and Stamp Your Heart Out continuing to prosper.

“It’s important for us to provide an inspiration for people to get through their projects,” Bunte said. “You can’t succeed if you are not passionate at what you do.

“It’s only ever about passion,” she added. “And this is my passion.”

Stamp Your Heart Out and From the Heart are open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, until 6 p.m. on Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information visit www.stampyourheart.com.

An example of a finished scrapbook page on display in From the Heart. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz
An example of a finished scrapbook page on display in From the Heart. / photo by Reina Santa Cruz

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