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  • Randy Pench / rpench@sacbee.com

    Susan Crane surveys what's left of Party Concierge, the Sacramento party-planning business she and her husband, Lawrence, have run for years near Richards Boulevard and Dos Rios Street. A fire early Monday morning consumed the warehouse that the business had occupied.

  • Randy Pench / rpench@sacbee.com

    Lawrence Crane, left, carts a block of ice, destined to become a sculpture, out of the Sacramento warehouse where he and his wife, Susan, have run Party Concierge.

Cathie Anderson: Burned-out company prepares to party again

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 - 1:00 pm

Watch where you step in the sooty debris that litters the former home of the Party Concierge. Four walls surround you, but the roof is almost gone. Look up, and you'll glimpse the red roof of the nearby building that will become a new home: 601 N. 10th St.

Midtown architect Donald J. Fugina Jr. is firming up plans with Susan and Laurence Crane, the husband-and-wife team of event planners who lost their business to a five-alarm fire back in August. They don't expect renovations at the 42,000-square-foot building on 10th Street to be finished until spring.

"That is temporary, we think, until we get whatever we're going to do with our building," said Susan Crane.

They are salvaging what they can from their old home on Richards Boulevard at Dos Rios Street. From two trailers across the parking lot, the Party Concierge staff of 14 sees daily reminders of the past as lumber and metal are trucked away for recycling.

"You get attached to debris because it's what you were," Lawrence Crane said. "It's a symbol of your success, and … as you see it go away, you realize that you really do have to start over."

The fire shook things up, Laurence Crane said, and in adapting, they've seen that change can be good. The Cranes had to replace three staffers who exited amid the tumult, but they found newcomers who bring fresh ideas to challenges.

Laurence pulls out blueprints of their new office renovation, and as soon as Susan sees them, she rushes to find a picture of a new programmable robot they're purchasing. It will allow them to do three-dimensional carvings that they had to turn down before.

The Cranes haven't lost their pluck or their panache. It's evident from the charming, rustic scene they've created outside their makeshift HQ: a scarecrow in patchwork clothes rising atop hay bales and giant, colorful leaves.

Going wild in Roseville

Brad and Lauren Christian, both bow hunters, were looking for clothing that their two daughters could wear, apparel that would affirm their parents' love for the outdoor lifestyle.

It was hard to find, and when they did find it, the gear had no sense of style.

So, the Roseville couple created a line of clothing called Button Buck, named for 6-month-old deer with antlers just forming.

"I design things that I know are authentic to outdoorsmen because I am one," Brad Christian said. "and if I can get these California moms who have great style, who shop at Nordstrom to say, 'Oh, my gosh, I love that. Reserve me the first one,' I know I'm on the right track."

After getting close to breaking even, the Christians are now talking about moving their inventory out of their home and perhaps hiring their first employee. They sell Button Buck apparel mostly at www.buttonbuck.com.

The company's first year has brought strong endorsements. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation started selling its apparel in the store at its headquarters in Montana. Influential sportsmen such as Dave Hurteau, deputy editor for Field & Stream, have favorably mentioned the clothing.

Christian grew up in Colorado and often camped outdoors on Pikes Peak, so hunting for him means time spent with family outdoors. He emphasizes that in the apparel and the marketing. It's resonated with many parents, regardless of whether they hunt.

One photo shows a dad skipping rocks in the river with his son, with type that reads: "Raise wild kids by acting like one."

"Dads identified with it," Christian said. "We had many conversations with tons of people about this, and they said, 'It caused me to look at myself and what I was doing for my kids. ... I want my son to love the outdoors, but what am I doing that would set the example for my kids. When I go to the duck blind or when I go hunting, am I bringing them with me?' Telling stories like that is huge for us."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Cathie Anderson





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