Secret Shopper

Todd and I made a last minute decision to travel to California recently to attend our Friend Carol’s surprise birthday party. We arrived early the day before into Sacramento and decided to take a little road trip. The foothills were an unbelievably vibrant green which enticed us to head out on the road toward the Napa Valley. Not far from Sacramento is the city of Davis. We checked the store locator on the Park Hill Collection website and up popped “Crème de la crème”. We soon found ourselves in a busy neighborhood of small shops, restaurants and homes bordering the University of California, Davis. As soon as we spotted this beautiful little shop sitting at the end of an arcade of other businesses, we knew this must be it. At least we hoped it was.  The interlocking paver stones led the way to vintage green paint trimmed windows that filled the shop with dabbled sunlight. Window boxes of English ivy completed the inviting exterior. Stepping through the shop door we discovered a lovely mix of thoughtfully selected gift items. It immediately inspired us to think more about creating additional small objects for our line. The shop was filled with customers that seem familiar to the place. It was obvious they were return customers who had discovered this jewel box long before we did. Each display was a treat to look at with a mixture of fine soaps, paper good, small pots and boxes as well as books and other objects. The very picture of charming. Usually when we visit a store we just walk in as a “secret shopper” to see what the place looks like. Honestly we do this too, because we never know if we will be scolded for a late shipment or something. Usually if this happens we can help with a quick resolution. When you walk in it is the last thing you want to face, especially on a rare weekend off. Happily in this case all is well. The Park Hill Collection catalog was sitting next to the front counter where owner Christie Zamora cheerfully greeted everyone. She had just placed an order and our faces looked a little too familiar to the guys in the catalog. We were busted, but in the best possible way. We took a few photos, purchased a great book and were leaving as it started to lightly rain. Just like in one of those French films! (Cue the French instrumental).

Creme de la Creme

We headed next to Napa along the curving roads realizing this prestigious wine country known internationally for producing fine wines is really a bunch of farms.  It still maintains its humble rural beginnings along with international acclaim. I love that. Soon we arrived at one of our favorite places, Sweetie Pies Bakery. It was the perfect bookend to our French inspired day. We passed through the green screen door already in a trance and before I knew it had eaten cookies, cakes and a home-made “Twinkie” all before I took one sip of my latte! We came out of this altered state to admire all the baked goods in the glass cases and on counter tops. We happily noticed too, the bakery and fresh baked pie metal signs from Park Hill Collection as well. We were so proud to see them hanging along with all the incredible, from scratch crafted creations. It was a very full day. My stomach told me as well as my mind.

The next morning, Todd arranged Lilly- of- the –Valley, one of the birthday girl’s favorite flowers as a gift. We spent that afternoon with old friends drinking new wines from California. It was a great trip, but as always it is good to go back home.