Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: William Glen scions ready to reclaim Dad’s legacy

Mark Snyder, holds a dip and chip holder that is soled at his family store William Glen on Tuesday, November 25, 2008. Mark's father Bill Synder is about as close as you can get to retail royalty in Sacramento. For 45 years his store, William Glen, has rolled with changses in consumer tastes and tough ecnomic times.
Mark Snyder, holds a dip and chip holder that is soled at his family store William Glen on Tuesday, November 25, 2008. Mark's father Bill Synder is about as close as you can get to retail royalty in Sacramento. For 45 years his store, William Glen, has rolled with changses in consumer tastes and tough ecnomic times. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Siblings Mark Snyder and Amy Guthrie, scions of William Glen co-founder Bill Snyder, grew up in a household where their parents insisted that the family eat together every night. The candles were lit, feet had to be planted on the floor and no elbows were allowed on the table.

“One could argue that manners are too stuffy and too rigid,” said Mark Snyder, whose father died in 2009, “but sometimes, they’re a good indicator of society and how we’ll behave toward others.”

Certainly, that upbringing imprinted so deeply upon the brother-sister team that they couldn’t let the legacy of William Glen be lost when the store closed Dec. 30, 2010, after 47 years in business. They are opening a new William Glen store at 2310 Fair Oaks Blvd., directly across from the Pavilions shopping center in Sacramento. They note that it will be only 4,100 square feet to temper the expectations of longtime Sacramentans who browsed the 18,000 square-foot showpiece in Town & Country Village.

Still, they will stock a similar mix of high-end housewares, signature holiday and baby gifts and innovative gadgets such as the Corkcicle, which keeps wine bottles chilled on hot summer days. Where the old William Glen store offered gourmet dining, Snyder and Guthrie eventually will have an espresso bar and pastry shop. They are focusing, though, on just getting their retail assortment displayed in time for an October opening.

“We’re presenting this as a shopping experience,” the 42-year-old Snyder said. “Years ago, I remember reading an article that someone wrote about our Dad’s original store before the remodel that happened in the mid-1980s. They wrote that it was like a Turkish bazaar, and you went from room to room and really enjoyed the ambience.”

He and Guthrie say that, while there’s a lot of cost and effort involved with creating beautiful presentations and retaining knowledgeable salespeople, a fine housewares store still can be financially successful. They say their Dad did it despite competition and tough economic challenges in the ’70s, ’80s and the ’90s. The secret, Snyder and Guthrie say, is listening to what customers want and going out to find it.

They opened up the holiday store Christmas and Co. and the adjacent housewares boutique Chef’s Mercantile at 116 K St. in 2010, they say, and both have been profitable. The siblings had long wanted to regain control of the William Glen corporate name, but they had to wait until that entity was legally dissolved in 2013. That year, Snyder and Guthrie applied for and were granted the right to change their corporate name to William Glen Inc. from C&C Merchants.

Guthrie, 40, is confident that not all young people like the disposable culture that is emerging, and many want to buy quality products that will last.

“Sure, you can go to Ikea and spend $50 and outfit your entire kitchen and throw it away in six months, but what about the impact on landfills?” she said. “Why not go and buy something nice for $50 and have it to pass on to your children. Do we want to clutter up our Earth? Or, do we want to teach our children ... to really appreciate fine things and get back into the kitchen and really enjoy family?”

She and Snyder also plan to carry merchandise from local artists and artisans. For instance, Prosper Design Studio’s Maren Conrad and Elizabeth Wood will be supplying table linens printed with signature images from local artists’ work, Guthrie said, brimming with excitement about the table-scapes planned for the store. It’s this sort of passion that she and Snyder believe Sacramentans have been missing.

“Everywhere we go, we are asked to ‘please open another William Glen,’ ” Snyder said, “and now we believe the perfect space and opportunity have presented themselves to us.”

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