The customer is always right. Again.

Over the last 30 years, I've seen corporatism rise in our society. Be part of a team, the want ads would say. And thus, the team became important — while more and more, the customer’s importance waned.

Of course, in the old days, the customer came first and the watchphrase of many a thriving business was, “the customer is always right.” That watchphrase was the oil that kept the interchange workable. It might not always have been accurate, but it was prudent because it created a trust. You knew if a company kept to that maxim, you would be treated fairly.

I've frequented Sport Chalet for more than 30 years now and it has been a fixture in La Cañada for much longer than that. And when Norbert Olberz ran the place, he practiced the above maxim. But after his departure, more and more corporatism began taking over, much to my chagrin. So much so that instead of it being my first choice for sporting goods, it became my choice of last resort.

Until this last Sunday. Via email, I received a flyer from Sport Chalet titled, “Our New Store Policy.” I read further. It carried words to this effect: If customers are dissatisfied with anything the store has sold them, they can take it back in and the company will make it right.

I honestly didn't believe it. So I printed the flier and took it into the store, in search of a manager. I quickly found one as he was standing next to the doorway to greet each customer as they came in. “Is this legit?” I asked when he greeted me. He read the flier and assured me it was. Boy, did he get an earful. A basketball with a lifetime warranty, a sleeping bag with a lifetime warranty, socks and shoes I had purchased recently were all falling apart.

“We will make it right,” he said. And I swear, he did. With personalized service that used to be a hallmark of Sport Chalet, he ensured every single return was handled perfectly.

To put it simply, Sport Chalet has gone “old school” on its customers. And it restored my faith in them. In this day and age, that is worthy of note.

Phil Gilbert



A word in favor of Andrew Blumenfeld

Sometimes knowledgeable, charismatic leadership emerges when we least expect it. Andrew “AJ” Blumenfeld is that candidate and he is running for a seat on the La Cañada school board.

He graduated from La Cañada High School a few years ago and has researched education reform at Princeton. Andrew brings a deep study of the issues facing all school boards, and especially the challenges of improving instruction and learning at LCHS. But this is only the beginning of how he can serve our community. To learn more about Andrew's issues and goals, please see the introductory video on his website,

I understand concerns some may have about the time Andrew spends at Princeton — but I know what this commitment requires, and I know that Andrew can meet the community's high expectations for this position. Andrew is committed to attend meetings, to promptly return phone calls and emails, and to be in town to hold office hours to meet with constituents.

In the 21st century, distance isn’t everything. This is something my fellow board member, Joel Peterson, did not consider in his comments that appeared in this newspaper last week. As a school board member who has missed three of the last seven board meetings, he should know as well as anyone that this is not about distance — it’s about commitment. And I could not be more confident in Andrew’s commitment, and his capacity to follow through. Most importantly, Andrew is focused on improving instruction and learning. We know that systematic reform is long overdue when we hear about the high numbers of students receiving paid tutoring when they find themselves struggling in classes taught by known problem teachers.

Please join me in supporting Andrew Blumenfeld’s campaign and his election to the school board on Nov.8. Our students and community deserve to be represented by a strong advocate for students and families. I am speaking for myself, not as a member of the school board.

Cindy Wilcox

La Cañada

Editor’s Note: The writer is a member of the La Cañada school board who is not seeking reelection. She is also a co-chairman of Blumenfeld’s campaign.

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