The shell crown got me. A beautiful headband adorned with what appears to be glass beads, an array of peachy pink shells (the good, mermaidy kind), and quartz crystals lined with a soft white braided trim to cushion the part that wraps the head. I pick up the tag to check the cost, expecting my eyes to widen from an astronomical number you normally find at a specialty shop. Instead, they squint, making sure I’m reading the price right. Not only was the sum very reasonable, the laugh you’ll get after reading the tag description makes the gift more worth it: For use with housecleaning, bill-paying and other onerous tasks. Also suitable for break-ups and Mondays. Sold.

I spoke with Patti Boyd, who is part owner of the curiosities shop along with her sister Susan Ochoa. Wondering if this is her first time in retail, I quickly learn that it is not. Boyd is a seasoned vet, first opening a store in Berkeley, California, over 30 years ago. And although this is the first time the sisters have owned a business together, Ochoa actively helped Boyd throughout her career.

Boyd explained that her goal for Lost & Found slightly differs from their earlier ventures. “I wanted more of an interactive shopping experience, connections between me and the customers or Susan and the customers,” Boyd said. “But also having a lot of interesting things going on that people would like to talk about. People like our paint color, people find things in the decor that they are intrigued by and also in our merchandise.”

I asked Boyd what business advice she can dish out. “The customer is always right, and if you fully believe that, it will make you open to what people have to say,” Boyd said. “You can disagree with them, but they don’t have to choose to be your customer either. So, it’s a motivator to find common ground and it generates a lot of respect between the shopkeeper and the customer.”

Connection to the community is tops for Lost & Found, which the sisters note has been easy in such a friendly town. “It’s community building when you take time to really visit with people and help them out, even if it’s not for something that you’re selling,” Boyd said.

Boyd and Ochoa provide unique items – many locally made – with good price points for their quality. Though not everything is inexpensive, Lost & Found sends the message that value exists at every price point, both high and low.

When it comes to their trade secret, it’s simple: Keep the store clean and make sure the coffee’s fresh. “Just the basics,” Boyd said. “Sometimes it’s subliminal. (For example), you have a dead bee in your window, which we have frequently, and if it’s unattended, that message comes through. Even if the customer isn’t conscious of it.”

As for the business advice they’d tell their younger selves just starting out, Boyd doles out an encouraging tip, a note-to-self to fold up and tuck safely in your wallet: “I would tell my younger self that your efforts will be rewarded. Have that confidence. I think a lot of people have anxiety (about) if their business will succeed, and it’s certainly an uphill battle paying rent and getting permits and doing all that preliminary stuff. But if you just keep putting energy into a business, you’re going to get results. You just have to have that confidence and that openness to your customers.” 

And the key to her success? “I never give up,” she says. 

Lost & Found Gifts and Sweets is located at 905 Linden Ave. The shop is open Wednesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Visit them online at https://www.restaurantji.com/ca/carpinteria/lost-and-found-cafe-/ 

 

 

Megan Waldrep is a columnist and freelance writer, currently living on a 34-foot sailboat. To learn more about Megan, visit meganwaldrep.com.

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