All Wrapped Up owner Lisa Walsmith has certainly found just the right cocktail of vision and action.
Author and speaker Mike Robbins shared the proverb above during his keynote address at the Bank of Marin’s Spirit of Marin Awards luncheon on Sept. 26 at the gorgeous St. Vincent’s School for Boys campus. With Walsmith on hand to receive a Spirit of Marin Award as the owner of the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Business of the Year, the quote seemed to go right to the heart of what has made All Wrapped Up an essential Mill Valley business in an era when many others like it have met their maker.
“The reason why I’m here 26 years and was voted Mill Valley’s business of the year is because of my customers and this town – they keep coming and coming – they’ve been extremely loyal to me, and I’m so grateful for that,” Walsmith says.
To express that gratitude, Walsmith is hosting a party in the parking lot outside her shop on Oct 19 – “from noon to whenever” – featuring food from her neighbors Boo Koo and Balboa Café, live music from the local Cole Tate Band, a trunk show from a Napa Valley organization called Our Hands for Hope, a special delivery from Fed-Ex representative Meagan Ashley including Sift cupcakes, and much more.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone – people should just bring their appetite and be ready to have a blast,” she says. “I want everyone to know how much I appreciate them.”
Walsmith, who grew up on Long Island in New York, moved to the Bay Area 30 years ago, having come out here to visit a friend from home just moved here and fallen in love with the area. She lived on a houseboat in Sausalito for one year before moving to Mill Valley, which she never left.
Walsmith’s business spawned from a large printing services business in the back of her building called Business Works, a tiny piece of which was a contract postal unit, which provides postal services at locations other than a post office. The owner of Business Works wanted to divest herself from that portion of her business, and Walsmith’s action and vision went to work. She jumped at the chance to take over the contract postal unit.
“That was the first day of the rest of my life,” Walsmith says.
From there, Walsmith continually looked to expand and diversify her business, slowly moving her operation closer to the front of the building and expanding into adjacent spaces. And when Mohammad’s Rug Gallery closed eight years ago in the storefront space – two years after the Postal Annex opened across the street – Walsmith’s vision and action took over once again.
The move – taking on more square footage and rent than ever before – drew the ire of her Walsmith’s now ex-husband, who thought it was a terrible idea.
“Best thing I ever did,” she says with a laugh.
The move, coupled with Walsmith’s purchase of a Chevy Suburban that she turned into a mobile billboard ad for All Wrapped Up, allowed her to grow her business to fit into her new space.
Walsmith says she owes much of her success to her ability to diversify the business. When the U.S. Postal Service decided that they no longer wanted to be responsible for mailboxes that weren’t within their post offices, Walsmith turned her 150 post office boxes into private mailboxes, giving customers a street address and, for the first time, giving them the ability to receive packages from multiple delivery services, not just the Postal Service.
The switch gave Walsmith a “constant, assured income” that has now grown to 350 private mailboxes. “That was huge,” she says.
Notary services have been a huge portion of her business as well, and her retail shop runs the gamut from coffee table books and children’s books to candles, jewelry, scarves, body products and a large section of gift cards and paper. She hopes to open an online retail shop in 2015.
Walsmith’s pitch to gift buyers is clear: you can walk in the door needing to buy Aunt Jane a birthday present, find the perfect gift, have it wrapped for free and then ship it from there to anywhere in the world.
“You can walk in with nothing and you leave with nothing and Aunt Jane’s birthday is taken care of,” she says.
With the community’s longstanding support as her ballast, Walsmith has more than done her part to reciprocate. Walsmith, whose son Cameron attended Mill Valley schools, has made herself an integral piece of the fabric of Mill Valley, sponsoring fundraisers for Kiddo!, the Mill Valley Schools Community Foundation, the Mill Valley Little League, Tam High Boosters and the Strawberry Seals, among others.
All Wrapped Up also serves as the Mill Valley Chamber’s Satellite Office and Visitor Center on weekends and after hours daily, dedicating space for community information and answering a steady stream of questions from visitors.
“I couldn’t be happier with where things are right now,” Walsmith says.
The 411: Lisa Walsmith’s All Wrapped Up customer appreciation party is Saturday, October 19, from 12pm on, in the parking lot adjacent to her store at 38 Miller Avenue.