It’s hard to believe Diane Staples and her beautiful shop have only been here for six months because when you talk to Diane it’s as if she’s lived here all along. In fact, one of the things that drew her to South Pasadena was that it reminds her of the small towns she grew up in back east. Diane certainly fits right in and is very active in the community, the chamber and shares a great camaraderie with her fellow business owners in town. She reminds me of the Kris Kringle character in Miracle on 34th Street because if she doesn’t have what you’re looking for, she loves to point people to other boutiques in town.
But oh the things you do find in Retreat are a wonder! An eclectic mix of unique, handcrafted gifts like gorgeous ukuleles to dynamic prints and artwork, one of a kind jewelry, perpetual movement globes, kalimbas (finger guitars), tongue in cheek greeting cards and custom coasters and street signs.
Those South Pasadena street signs and coasters have become a hot ticket item Diane says due to the immense pride South Pasadenans have in their community. The local artisan who makes them, David Cheaney of Cheltenham Road explains, “Diane and I talked about Retreat being a special place for South Pasadenans – “their” gift shop so to speak, so we wanted to have community themed items that could only be found at Retreat.” He goes on to say, “we wanted something that was representational but also flexible enough that folks could make their own imprint. So the signs can be bought as is or they can be customized to reflect places in the community that resonate with the customer.”
“Word is out” says Diane, “ David’s signs and exclusive South Pasadena coasters are a hit! They make great gifts and the neighbors are hungry for South Pas merchandise!” It’s true. As a 25 year resident myself, I have always longed for South Pasadena specific gifts and these are not only just the ticket but gorgeous, handcrafted art for your home.
Along with all that awesomeness, Retreat has several new things in for the holidays like their locally made ritual kits that come with instructions and all you need to create things like love and abundance in your life, and the artisanal, hand-poured, wellness candles that purify your home. The shop itself is decorated for the holidays and customers agree that Retreat is just that – a retreat from the hustle and bustle, a warm and inviting place to shop and visit. It’s not uncommon for folks to browse, shop and visit for an hour or more, such is the good energy and delightful customer service.
Diane is effusive, “I love the holidays, I love my community, I’m so excited when people come in and I love to hear them say that they always find something that they can’t find anywhere else. A recent customer said, “you’re going to kill it at Christmas!” and I laughed and said, “I hope so!” because whether you’re looking for a guy, a girl, a retiree or a baby – I love providing something for everyone.”
Diane also lives above the shop, something she says was the best decision she could have made. “It gave me ten hours a week of my life back and probably gave me ten years in terms of my well-being. I don’t have a car anymore; I walk everywhere, I shop our local shops and what I love more than anything is that every single day I walk down my street and run into people I know whether they are customers or other shop owners.” She laughs and says, “my daughters tell me I’m living the Gilmore Girls life and I agree! The residents are so warm and kind and supportive! It really does mean the world to me.”
Retreat is located at 950 Mission Street, just west of the Gold Line, so stop on by for a holiday retreat and be on the lookout for holiday fun including a trunk show on December 16 featuring local artist Amanda K. Lockrow and other festive events. Follow Diane on Instagram @retreatlifestyle and Facebook @retreatlifestylejewelrygifts