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William Glen is back in Old Sacramento: More than Christmas and cooking blended

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William Glen is back in Old Sacramento, at 116 K Street, Sacramento California. Here's a salute to the Christmas, wedding, gifts, and other seasonal decorative items, and kitchen store that this author walked to each year for nearly two decades to enjoy the exquisite decor and displays. If you check out the May 24, 2013 Sacramento Business Journal article by Kelly Johnson, "William Glen name returns," you can read all about how the siblings Mark Snyder and Amy Guthrie have re-claimed the name of the home goods and gift retailer that their dad co-founded and built into a Sacramento institution.

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For the past 15 years or so, this author has admired the crafts, figurines, and bought kitchen equipment from the store that was close to home. Back in 2010, the original William Glen store in the Arden Arcade area's Town and Country shopping mall closed. But since last May, Snyder and Guthrie launched their own two stores in Old Sacramento — Christmas & Company and Chef’s Mercantile. They named their company that owns the two stores C & C Merchants Inc., as in Christmas & Cooking.

Now two years after the closure of their late father’s store, the name William Glen is once more available for Snyder and Guthrie to use

Last spring, on May 1, 2013 C & C Merchants changed its name to William Glen Inc. The siblings’ stores have kept their respective storefront names, but they’ll gain the name of their store as “William Glen Boutiques.” They also hope to open a store with the William Glen name at some point, according to Kelly Johnson's May 13, 2013 article in the Sacramento Business Journal, "William Glen name returns." As a nondriver, senior citizen of low mobility, the slow walk in the wet curb from Watt and Marconi Avenue to Fulton and Marconi to enter the Town and Country Shopping mall had been an adventure since the 1990s.

Braving heavy traffic and often bikes competing for space between the curb and the bike lane meant walking the mile each way to see the displays or buy a kitchen gadget, such as a package of cheesecloth, or sit in the cafe area and have a sandwich with a side of salad and some water was a treat a decade ago.

The displays between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were a site for art-craving eyes, and I loved to take in the visual awe and exquisite work of the artists, the Christmas decorations, and even the view from the eating area, usually of Christmas trees on display. It was as if an art gallery was taken away when the store closed in 2010. So now that a new store has opened, it's still there in all its splendor. For this author, it means a long bus ride to the light rail, another long ride to downtown, and a slow walk because of advanced age, to see their store in old Sacramento, where it's now located.

The Arden Arcade William Glenn store, the one that closed in 2010, was a state of mind. For the owners it was family, but for this senior citizen with no family within 3,000 miles to celebrate holidays with, it was the only substitute in the neighborhood, just to view the decorations and enjoy the splendor and the smile on the faces of the figurines, sculptures, Santa dolls, and everything else holidays, including the miniature displays that moved. Bless 'em.

Bill Snyder, launched William Glen with his best friend, Glen Forbes, in 1963

One can't imagine how exquisite the art displays for each of the fall and winter holiday seasons were to the local senior citizens and others living within walking distance of the Town and Country mall. Today, where William Glenn store used to be prior to 2010, there are other retailers, but nothing to compare with the statues, figurines, Santa dolls, angel sculpture, and table set decor for each holiday seasonal celebration. It was so much more than a retail store for knick knacks and kitchen equipment, home decorations such as glassware, candles, artificial flowers, or seasonal dolls such as elves.

As a senior in search of a place to have a luncheon sandwich, especially at holiday time, one could sit and watch the view of trees on the patio, stare at the Xmas balls or Halloween dolls, or the Thanksgiving table settings and imagine what it would look like to decorate one's home with such art or color. The memory reminded me of walking down the streets at Christmas time in Manhattan 60 years ago, looking in the store windows at the displays and exhibits as a teenager, and seeing all that glitter and sparkle. The scenes of the displays stay in one's mind.

As for the original William Glen story, the place gave artists ideas that might inspire the holiday spirit or ambiance. In one's mind, it could be so much more than a decorating studio and candle shop, mainly because the store was so big with all those compartments with different displays in them. Besides the kitchen and other home goods, the store focused for many as a gift retailer with an extensive line of quality home merchandise and cookware.

Sure, the old store at Town & Country Village was so popular, that many of our neighbors showed up at lunchtime at the local retail landmark, recognized for its personal service, as a destination for world-class goods and as a popular spot for wedding and Christmas purchases. Before the Christmas season, the Halloween decor all in orange and black lent almost a movie set aura, where you could bring your kids to see the displays, or your neighbors to look at how to set an artful Thanksgiving dinner or decorate for Christmas or other holidays.

Mark Snyder and Amy Guthrie learned the retail trade working at William Glen with their dad. But hats off, thanks, and kudos to the vendors, those talented artists who created and designed everything from Santa dolls and statues of Halloween witches to cat figurines, angel crafts, and lots of glitter and sparkle.

When the store closed in 2010, the community hoped for something new to spring up. The vendors were true artists in every sense, and the service was excellent. Thank goodness the William Glen name is back, this time in old Sacramento. The company has evolved. Their standards are tops. And there's still the same warmth and history that community has enjoyed decade after decade.

It's good to see the name back again after more than 50 years which included generations visiting the store at holiday times. It also could have been an art museum of holiday displays and creative brilliance in a sense, and that's what Arden Arcade needs, now that the new store is located in Old Sacramento, where there are lots more foot traffic, visitors, and retailers. In the meantime, a salute and thanks for the memories of what brightened the eyes in Arden Arcade around holiday times prior to 2010. And for the present, check out the new store and the latest in its offerings in old Sacramento. See, "Christmas & Co in the Sacramento area on the A-List - KCRA 3 A-List."

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