The name “Landis” is very familiar on Larchmont Boulevard. It all started with Arthur Landis’ original department store in 1933, then morphed throughout the years into separate storefronts: Landis General Store, Landis Labyrinth Toy Store, and Landis Gifts & Stationery.
This past November, Edie Frère, owner of Landis Gifts & Stationery, 138 N. Larchmont Blvd., and a host of Larchmont area friends, family and loyal customers, celebrated the store’s 25th anniversary with a lively open house.
“I feel happy and amazing and ready for the next 25 years!” exclaimed Edie while reveling with fellow partygoers.
Loyal customers who shop at the stationery store love it for all that it offers: hostess gifts, greeting cards, monogrammed blankets, soaps, bowls, candles and of course, stationery.
“The store is an artistic outlet for me,” enthuses Frère. “I can’t draw or sing, but I’m a great audience, and I have fun working with the companies and artists who create our collections for us.”
Frère grew up in Hancock Park and attended Wilton Place Elementary and Marlborough School. After school, she often found herself shopping at Landis General Store. After college, she worked for the U.S. State Department for over a decade, first for the Chief of Protocol in Washington D.C. and then at embassies in Copenhagen and Paris. It was in Paris that she met her husband Christian.
But when she returned home, the store called out to her.
She and her neighbor, Chris Wolfus, who lived across the street, decided to go into business together. They took over the original Landis Department Store from Arthur Landis’ son, Bob, and moved it across the street. The original store existed to sell crafts, clothing, office and school supplies and housewares. When Wolfus and Frère took over, they added a stationery section that would eventually branch off into its own storefront, owned by Frère.
Today’s Landis Gifts & Stationery is best known for its detailed and personalized baby announcements, birthday party and wedding invitations and more.
One might think that the popularity of online invitations would have cut into Frère’s business model. But that would be wrong.
“No one cherishes an email or a fax. When you receive a hand-written envelope in the mail, its still the first thing you open,” Frère says knowingly.
When the stationery store opened in 1990, there were plenty of other small shops selling gifts and small items on the boulevard. Not so much anymore.
“Things have evolved on the street. There are more restaurants and coffee shops now, less necessities like the hardware store,” observes Frère. “Larchmont is hipper than it used to be, but still old-fashioned. I enjoy seeing people, especially young families, come to Larchmont for the experience. It’s still safe and cozy.”
“Edie and her store represent what Larchmont should be,” says Sage Machado of The Sage Lifestyle. “Edie is smart and lovely and kind. She’s the face of the neighborhood.”
As the street continues to evolve around her, Frère is happy where she stands.
“I don’t see any reason to change,” declares Frère. “This is such a nice store with terrific people who work in it and nice people who shop here. I’ve found my niche. I like it here.”
By Sondi Toll Sepenuk