Friday, May 1, 2015

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 45, May 1, 2015

Odenthal of the Antique Virgin

The Yachats Gazette was happy to renew its conversation with Valerie, the owner of the Antique Virgin located at the corner of Hwy 101 and 3rd street, on the east side. The Antique Virgin has just undergone serious expansion.

TYG: So, what gave you the idea for the new expansion?
Valerie: It made sense to do so. Yachats is becoming more prominent on the Oregon Coast. When the space became available, after a lot of consideration, discussion with my husband, we decided it was the smartest move we could make. And we would regret it if we didn’t take advantage of the space being open.

TYG: What kinds of new merchandise are you selling?
Valerie: We are expanding a lot of what we already have. We have a bead room now that is just beads and tools and equipment.

TYG: I like that! It’s that room back there, right?
Valerie: Yes! We also repainted the bead room to have a very nice bleached clamshell color. We painted the walls so the beads would be truer to their own colors and stand out.

TYG: And here, on the other hand [in the expansion space] you left it painted more exotically because there’s all this exotic stuff that’s unexpected.
Valerie: Whimsy! We wanted it to be a positive experience whenever anybody comes in here. A lot of our stock and atmosphere is whimsical.

TYG: I like it! How long have you been in business?
Valerie: This is the fourth year I’ve owned the Antique Virgin! I bought it in 2011, and it’s definitely gone through a lot of changes; it’s evolved.

TYG: Where did you get the idea to buy the Antique Virgin?
Valerie: I had visited the store when we first bought a home in Yachats in 2006. My daughter and I would come over for a couple of weeks—my husband loved our home, and he never wanted to leave, so my daughter and I would get in the car and come over just to do something. We would always be excited when the Antique Virgin was open. We bought a lot of gifts here for my husband. They were always whimsical, they were always one of a kind items; I could come into the Antique Virgin and find things I would never see anywhere else. I just loved that. It was like going through somebody’s attic—it was so much fun.

TYG: Like that Roman column, that Ionic column is quite interesting. If you notice, it has the classic Ionian element with the curl, but it also has a little bit of Corinthian with the leaves. Not particularly standard. I mean, the Parthenon was actually Doric!
Valerie: I learn so much when I talk to you! [laughter] Can I just go back to something?

TYG: Sure!
Valerie: When we expanded the store, our budget was practically zero in order to accommodate all the changes that had to be done. My landlady, Christina, was very supportive in creating the opening in a timely manner, and I had a group of friends who were... basically, if it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have been able to have the store look as good as it did in this short amount of time.

TYG: You did this overnight, right?
Valerie: Pretty much. They volunteered their time, they were incredibly supportive, and I would not have been able to do it without them. It was a real gift, that they would do this. Adrienne and Dale Yeadon were one couple who were huge in helping me. Glen Zimmerman is an amazing craftsman, and he helped so much around here—he did so much work. He’s the one who helped put up the swinging jewelry boards. There’s also Marci Chapman—she was a huge help. People were taking things back home and painting them up and bringing them back. Or creating things, and bringing them back construction-wise. And there was also Jirivil Wood, also a big help. And Robert Bradford—he was also a really big help. And my husband Bill of course, who helped me keep my sanity when I was about ready to lose it! My friends were very patient with me. There were times when I was so overwhelmed—we kept the store open the whole time, and were never closed for construction.

TYG: What did you do before this?
Valerie: Ah, well! I worked for Charter Communications and was the director of marketing in the Los Angeles area, and also for the regional area.

TYG: Interesting! You had a pretty big job; you were in the high levels.
Valerie: Yes, I was very much a corporate person.

TYG-Graphic Design: Wow, I have a hard time imagining that! You just seem so comfortable!
Valerie: I am comfortable, here! [laughter]

TYG: What’s the story with little Lu?
Valerie: Little Lucy is going to be eight years old in August. She’s half Italian Greyhound, and half we don’t know. She loves being at the store, she greets everybody. The biggest challenge we’ve had with the new door opening is... she’s used to guarding the door [off 3rd street], but all of a sudden people were coming in this door [in the middle of the building], and she was running back and forth almost like she was saying, “I’m only one dog! I can’t watch both doors, you know!” [laughter all around] And Lucy [spends time] outside, so we’ve also had to train her not to come around the front. She’s pretty good—she’s trying to be a good girl!

TYG: I think she’s doing pretty well.
Valerie: Yes. She loves being here, she has her bed underneath the desk.

TYG: So what new vendors are there?
Valerie: Well, most of my vendors are around Oregon. They’re not necessarily in Yachats, but quite a few of them are. I also have some vendors from Washington State. I’m getting some new vendors, I hope—some craftspeople—and also, we do a lot of business in fair trade. I try to get as much fair trade product as I can.

TYG: What is fair trade?
Valerie: Basically, different areas in different parts of the world are actually paid a living wage to make their product. They’re paid better than what factory workers would be paid. These people are usually their own contractors; they’re independant. And people from the United States and other more industrialized nations will go around to these different countries, and find these products that are made in villages. They’ll communicate directly with the maker, the hand-crafter, and they pay them a much better amount for their wares. They bring these products over here, and then retailers like myself will buy from them. These items are one of a kind, hand-made, usually better made than stuff from the factories because the materials are better. So because of fair trade, and all those components making a better quality product, you will pay a little more money. But your conscience is clear knowing you’re buying something, and it’s not slave labor.

TYG: Got it. Although, it’s not really slave labor anywhere.
Valerie: Well, there are some places in India and China where they’re not making any money, and are basically indentured servants. It’s really awful. But the problem with fair trade is authenticating it. A lot of places, a lot of vendors will say they’re fair trade when they’re really not. It’s just kind of the flavor of the month.

TYG: So, how’s business been going?
Valerie: Well, we did the remodel in late March, and as of the end of March, we’re doing better than we were last year at this time to date. But March this year didn’t perform as well as March last year. We’re just waiting for summer. [laugh]

TYG: Then again, you should look at the traffic! I bet business is already picking up.
Valerie: It is! We’ve been getting a lot of people coming in, and what also helps, is having our neighbors! We finally have Mystic Antiques next door, with Fred and Tracie, and they’ve got this fantastic shop as well. It really helps, because now we’ve got this really cool corner, and also, the Yachats Farm Store is doing better. We’re all going to help each other—it’s very symbiotic. It’s going to be a great summer, because I think we’re going to have more to offer as a whole.

TYG: Thank you, that’s awesome!
Valerie: Thank you! You’re getting good at this! [laughter]

Interview with Kathy Hubbell

The Yachats Gazette was very interested to speak with Kathryn D. Hubbell, APR, M.S. at her cottage in Yachats about journalism and public relations, which are her areas of expertise.

Kathy: So Allen, what grade are you in now?

TYG: I’m in seventh grade.
: How do you like it?

TYG: I like it a lot!
: Good! What’s your favorite subject?

TYG: I’d have to say my favorite subject is... Well, I don’t have a favorite subject! It’s more sort of a group with some pretty disparate subjects: science, mathematics, history—those are my three big ones.
: Oh! How did you get into writing?

TYG: Really, it was just an idea. The three reasons I started this were: one, to help the community out, spread the word about new businesses; two, to fill a void, because there was no such thing before us, and there still is not...
: It’s really hard for a small community like this to sustain a real newspaper.

TYG: I’ve done it monthly.
: I got my start writing for a little newspaper down in Canyonville, Oregon. They sold it after a while, because it’s just very difficult to keep the money flowing.

TYG: Ours is a monthly. Did your newspaper charge for reading?
: If they were subscribed to the newspaper, sure. But mostly they sold advertising. 

TYG: For me, there’s no subscription [...].
: What has the reaction been?

TYG: It’s amazing. The community has been so helpful! Six of my advertisers signed up the first day, and we got two interviews the first day. So we got the first issue out in three days of me first starting to poke around for advertising. And it just happened to come out right at the end of the month [...], but now we’ve switched to the first.
: In the [issues of the Yachats Gazette] that I’ve read, you’ve been just reprinting the interviews word for word, without a lot of narrative. Are you going to do narrative stories?

TYG: No! Well, I may, like comics or something. But right now, I think what’s most interesting is what other people say. Not what we interpret them to say.
Kathy: [laughs]
Okay. You could write a general story about Yachats, if you wanted to. There’s lots to write about here.

TYG: Yes.
: Some of that comes out of the Mayor’s office every month, though.

TYG-Graphic Design: We don’t get that, because we don’t live in town. But I’ve had a chance to read a couple, and they’re very good.
: They’re pretty interesting! It’s not all the news, though. So, what did you want to ask me?

TYG: So, first thing: What exactly is “communications management”?
: Oh, you’re referring to my Master’s degree. That’s a degree that I got at the Syracuse University in New York. It’s a combination of upper-level public relations classes, and upper-level business management and finance classes.

TYG: Ok so, it’s not really communications management, but sort of just general management.
: No, it’s communications management. It’s all geared toward communications. The kind of communications I do is business communications. It’s not interpersonal—it’s what businesses have to do in order to survive and thrive.

TYG: So, what is your definition of public relations? Because I think we all have a general, vague definition that’s probably pretty close to synonymous, but we all have our personal flair.
: Why don’t you tell me yours?

TYG: Well, my definition is—for the Gazette anyway—my definition of public relations, the Public Relations Department, if you will (well, it’s not really a department, it’s just the three of us working there) is going around, spreading the news, spreading the word. Facebook and our blog are a great way to do that. Spreading the word about local businesses, so the paper itself... and that’s what my definition is.
: So you would define it mostly as publicity.

TYG: Yes, publicity... also interactiveness.
: I don’t know if “interactiveness” is a word, but that’s okay.

TYG-Graphic Design: “Interactivity”?
TYG: I think so. I think it’s “interactivity.” Well, for example, on both the Facebook and the blog, you can write comments.
: That’s good! You need to have that. Well, my definition of “public relations” follows along with the Public Relations Society of America, which I have been a member of for about 20 years now, and a very active member. And that is, that “public relations” is the management function that helps a business develop new, truly beneficial, two-way relationships with the various publics upon whom its success and failure depend. So it’s way beyond publicity and media relations, although that’s a good part of it. It also goes with internal communications: do you have a good rapport with your own employees?

TYG: I don’t have any paid employees; it’s a completely family-owned business.
: No, if it were a regular business. I’m just saying you general, not you personally. And, if you have vendors, people who supply you in order to run your business, do you have good relations with them?

TYG: Yes, and that I can supply too, because they’re my interviewees and my advertisers.
: Well I’m just speaking in general, to give you a general idea. And it depends upon whether or not you have good relationships with anybody who regulates you. A pharmacy is highly regulated—do they have good relations with the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, the people who regulate them? And if the government regulates them at all—do they have a good relationship with those people? So [“public relations”] is all two-way relationships on a huge number of levels.
Sometimes a company does something that the general public doesn’t like, so it depends on whether or not it’s established good relationships within its community, and whether or not there’s a lot of good give and take there. You can list probably up to 15 target publics for any given business, but they have to have these good, mutual relationships with in order to have a really good business.

TYG: Probably fewer, with mine. More like five groups. So, what did you do before [your business] AdScripts?
TYG-GD: Let’s ask what AdScripts is!
: Oh, well now it’s me, a single person, as a consultant and trainer in public relations. What it was when I ran the full company was a public relations and marketing firm. I started it in about 1983 in Eugene. I had graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s in Journalism, that I told you about earlier, but it was in the middle of a recession—I graduated in 1980. Not only was it hard to find a job, but the first two jobs I got, they eliminated the whole department in those companies! So I decided to hang out my own shingle for two reasons. One is, I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket that way [...] and the other one, was that I was a single parent with two kids. I wanted time with my kids that I could control and wouldn’t get fired for. So I started [my company] in 1983, but I actually moved to Montana in ‘84, continued working with a long-time client in Eugene and kept the business going in Montana. And then, about 2003-2004, I was really burned out with running my own company. I didn’t enjoy it anymore, and I’d always said that if I didn’t enjoy it, I’d quit. And that’s when I went to Syracuse and got my Master’s so I could teach, and I’ve been teaching ever since.

TYG: Wow!
TYG-GD: You had grown children when you got your Master’s?
: Yes, grown and out. Grandchildren! I’ve got five grandchildren at this point. So right now I’m working on setting up some training workshops in Gresham again, where I live, and I teach at Marylhurst University.

TYG: Cool! [...] What did you do before AdScripts?
: I had actually gotten my real estate license at the same time, because I was really scared about not supporting the kids, and I sold houses for the first year after graduating from college [...]. I was an older student then, and when I got my Master’s. It wasn’t too good an idea to support two kids on a commission income in the middle of a recession. Not a good idea. So I went and worked for some other people, and when those jobs were eliminated, I finally started AdScripts. So I didn’t do a whole lot before [that].

TYG: Cool! So, why did you move back here from Montana?
: Because I wanted to teach. I knew there were opportunities here, and I had friends here [...]. I still miss Montana a lot, and I debated for a long time whether it was the right thing to do.

TYG-GD: Is that where you’re from?
: No, I’m from the San Francisco Bay area.

TYG: Oh, so’s my Dad! [...]
: I grew up in Lafayette/Walnut Creek, across the Bay, and my dad worked at Berkeley. [...]

TYG: I know you contacted us after visiting the [Yachats Gazette] Facebook page. What did you find so interesting about it?
: I thought you were doing a great thing there! I’m hoping to retire here, sometime in the next five to eight years, maybe. [...] I’ve thought for a while now that it would be great to have a little community newspaper in Yachats. [...] Before I finished school, in Eugene, I started my career down in Southern Oregon when lived on a ranch and I worked in Canyonville and I wrote for a little weekly newspaper down there. I saw exactly how hard it would be to sustain it. If you don’t have the commercial base of advertising you just can’t. But, you know, yours is not coming out as often.

TYG: So, what is the “William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award” [which Kathy received in 2014]?
: That’s an award for lifetime achievement in public relations from the Portland Metro Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America [PRSA]. They decided that I needed it, I guess! [laughs] That I’d done so much in my career that they wanted to recognize it.

TYG: That’s awesome! [...] What did you do?
: One of the things that I did was that I was on the National Board of Directors for PRSA, so I was going to New York every quarter—they would fly me in to New York to take part in the board meetings, and that was really fun for me. New York is a great, fun place to visit.

TYG: I bet!
: Yes... I’ve held a lot of different offices in the PRSA, and I’ve worked with all kinds of different companies and events. I helped get an audience of about 30,000 into Missoula, MT for the International Choral Festival. I did all the national and international public relations work.

TYG: [chorus of wows] Was that fun?
: Yes! They have, every few years, choirs from all over the world come into Missoula to sing. I was absolutely addicted to the whole thing—it was really, really fun.

TYG-GD: Was that one of your favorite ever PR events?
: I think in a lot of ways, yes. It was such a kick to go to the airport and meet the planes coming in from all the other countries and get to meet people I’d been corresponding with for over a year already, because I was their main contact at the festival. And then to be able to go to the opening choir concert, [which] is in a park near the university in Missoula. At the first festival, the first choir, there was a full moon that came up, and then you heard these beautiful strains of music coming out, and everybody was just “WOW!” you know—it was magical, it really was. And then the last choir concert of the whole week is a mass concert, so you have 700-800 singers all together. They’ll rehearse during the week, and they’ll have gotten the sheet music a month before, but then they all come together—and everybody ends up in tears. [...]

TYG: Well, thank you so much for your time!
: You’re welcome! Let me know when this comes out!