• Business Profiles

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  • Bringing Visual Spice to Big Bear: Graphics Designed Ink

    Combine an unflinching passion for customer service with an artists’ unending creativity, roll it into a printing business, and you get Sevag and Melissa Bagboudarian and their new business, Graphics Designed Ink (GDI). Located in the building that formerly housed Little Green House, this personable young couple are ready to serve Big Bears’ printing needs. 
    Sevag is an artist first and foremost, having used his “God-given skill” to create graphics for his parents’ business-owner friends when he was a mere 12 years old. Then at 15, he was hired to paint small elements on Rose Parade floats. For the next 27 years, his artistic talent fanned out to pursuits ranging from large print shop graphic design and management to designing red carpet "step and repeat" backdrops.  Recently, he created all of the graphics at the Peterson Museum, a gigantic project. 
    In their remodeled and sparkling clean shop, customers will find the newest and largest latex printer, which is environmentally safe, “a green machine,” said Sevag. He believes that a printing shop should be uncluttered and dirt free, as dirt in a print job is unacceptable. 
    “We want to bring 21st century printing to Big Bear,” said Sevag, noting that while they cherish the history of Big Bear, “we hope to add some spice to the visual landscape here,” through signage and graphic design for Big Bear clients. His big clients have included VIACOM, Disney, Comicon, G-3. and Twitter, for which he creates all the graphics for their four-day Twitter show in Las Vegas.
    His work with the Rose Parade float barns had an additional benefit, as it was there he and his wife met. “My father and grandfather were both float animators. I spent many fun-filled days with them in the float barns,” said Melissa. They have been inseparable since their first date at the Houston Steak House in Pasadena, where they celebrate every wedding anniversary. The couple have four girls between them.
    Their business partnership came about when Melissa left 8 years of surgery center patient care experience and signed on with Sevag to open and run the business, sharing their commitment to delivering superb customer service. “If we don’t have it, we will get it. Not only will we meet your deadlines, we deliver to our customers,” Melissa said.
    In the shop, customers join them at the “creativity table' where Sevag and Melissa sit down with customers to listen and understand their projects and ideas.  And “every Friday, is free cookie day for clients,” said Melissa, who bought an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie baker to offer freshly baked treats.
    “We print everything” is the motto at Graphics Designed Ink. If you need something printed, they do signs, pop-up tents, backdrops, business cards, exhibit materials, tablecloths, car wraps, and everything in between,”Sevag said.
    Sevag and Melissa are committed to “always being available for our clients.” The Grand Opening is Friday, November 16 at 3:00 p.m. Graphics Designed Ink is located at 559 Bonanza Trail, Big Bear Lake, (909) 878-0899. Their hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    ~ Ellen Clarke


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  • Jersey Mike's Subs
    Opens in Big Bear
    September, 2018, Big Bear Lake  - It all started with a Craig’s List advertisement for part-time help.  Crystal White had no idea that taking the job would lead to a skyrocketed career with Jersey Mike’s Subs that would soon lead to co-owning and operating the new franchise in Big Bear.  Five and a half years ago, Crystal became a part-time employee. She would soon be the manager of a Redlands Jersey Mike’s, then in charge of quality control. Recognizing her talent, the area director assigned her to opening other locations, 35 of them.  Later, she joined the company’s Sweat Tears for Years (STAY) program that assists with financing new franchises.
    At first, the company did not want a franchise in Big Bear, citing the area’s demographics. After talking with a local food franchise owner, the market value looked promising. The decision was made to open with a local owner and operator. Crystal jumped on the chance to make her home in Big Bear.
     “I’d visited Big Bear many times from Redlands. My boyfriend and I love to hike and enjoy the natural forest and the peaceful way of life.  It was an easy decision,” she said.  Sporting a friendly, bubbly personality and an energetic work ethic, she is excited about opening.   
    Crystal used a contractor/owner who has built or remodeled 40 other Jersey Mike’s locations and knew the requirements well.  In every California Jersey Mikes’ Subs, a surfboard on the wall is included in the decor. Wanting to add Big Bear flair, Crystal replaced the surfboard with a colorful snowboard in her brightly lit and attractively appointed Jersey Mike’s.  And, she said “the City championed us through the entire process. They have been great.”
    Crystal said the company wanted her operation “to run like a local deli.” The company, with 273 California franchises, wants all locations, along with owners and managers, to get involved in and support their communities. 
    “I joined the Chamber to get involved and meet fellow business owners,” Crystal said.
    Already, Crystal is planning benefits, including a fundraiser for the Friends of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo (FOBBAZ). The fundraiser for FOBBAZ offers community members a free sub for a minimum $2 donation. The fundraiser runs from September 26 to 30.  A
    First Responders Day is September 25, featuring a free lunch sub for active and inactive law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs and highway patrol.
    The company promotes a national Month of Giving every March, with proceeds donated to a national nonprofit chosen by the corporate office.  In Big Bear, Crystal plans “to host one fundraiser per month.” The franchise will have many options for beneficiaries of the company’s generosity with approximately 140 nonprofits Valley wide. 
    Offering hot and cold subs, Crystal said Big Bear will have an item on the menu that only one other California franchise offers - their popular French fries.  Crystal described them as “crunchy, but a little thicker than others.”  Favorites also include the original Italian sub, the Chipotle cheese steak and the “sub in a tub,” a chef salad.  In addition, they will offer gluten-free and vegetarian options and are considering serving breakfast.  
    Jersey Mike’s Subs is located at the former Blockbuster building in the Stater Brothers shopping center, 42173 ½ Big Bear Boulevard, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315.  Online and telephone ordering are available.  Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily beginning on opening day, Sept. 26. For more information, call (909) 866-0447.  
    - Ellen Clarke
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  • Health Has A New Face At
    Bear Valley Wellness Center

    June 22, 2018, Big Bear City, Calif. – Sometimes business paths are chosen, but other times they are chosen for us. That was the case for Windy Sirignano, owner of the new Bear Valley Wellness Center in Big Bear City, Calif. The shop celebrates its official grand opening Friday and Saturday, July 13-14, 2018.

    Sirignano didn’t find her passion for wellness right away. As a matter of fact, she worked as a well-paid direct sales and marketing executive for a successful tool company, which she took over for her mother who had fallen ill with cancer. “But it was so unfulfilling,” Sirignano said.

    Sirignano began researching the benefit of more holistic approaches for treating cancer including the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, desperately trying to find relief for her mother. Sadly, her mother succumbed due to the harsh treatments she was receiving to deplete the disease. It was then that Sirignano’s path became clear.

    The planning process for a new holistic wellness center began more than two years ago, and when the right location became available, Sirignano took the leap. On Jan. 1, 2018, she opened her doors informally and started feeling out her clientele. “I wanted to gain acceptance from the community,” she said. “I’m driven by their needs. I want to be the conduit to help people find their own path to holistic wellness through CBD and other natural products.”

    CBD is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid compound that studies have shown has therapeutic potential for a variety of disorders including, but not limited to, chronic pain, cancer, anxiety, diabetes, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, antibiotic-resistant infections and some neurological ailments. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasm, anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic, anti-tumoral and neuroprotective properties, and activates serotonin receptors, which can have an antidepressant effect. In addition, the use of CBD is completely legal and safe.

    At Bear Valley Wellness Center, Sirignano prides herself in selecting only products that are third-party tested, non-GMO, organic and from certified pharmacologists. “Many products out there are not authentic,” she said. “There are no laws in place to prevent anyone from just putting a fake CBD label on a product, even when it isn’t. You won’t find that here.”

    There are no stupid questions at Bear Valley Wellness, either. Sirignano attends droves of seminars and conventions annually to stay on the forefront of cutting-edge holistic care and passes her knowledge on to her customers with individual consultations. “This is not cookie-cutter,” she said. “Everyone has unique needs, so I need to be the resource center.”

    While she affirms she is not a replacement for a physician, she does encourage a holistic approach wherever possible. From sublingual oils to vaporizers and topical ointments to beauty products, everything found on the shelves is made from simple, clean ingredients, and are all tested and proved by staff and clients alike. Event pets benefit. “Quality is guaranteed,” Sirignano said.

    Bear Valley Wellness Center is at 633 W. Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear City, CA 92314. For more information about the event, the products or to book an appointment, call Sirignano at 714-747-0820.

    - Stephanie Thoth

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  • Game-Loving Family Opens Second Location in Village

    October, 2019, Big Bear Lake - Customer experience is the catchphrase these days for attracting and retaining customers.  For Marilyn and Matt Vecchio, owners of Mountain Room Escapes, (MRE) it is the product and they want it to be excellent.

    Opening first in Big Bear City, with a "trapped in a ski lodge during a blizzard" experience, MRE opened its second location in the Village with a "spooky lodge escape" theme, just a few months ago. Their Village location Grand Opening is Tuesday, October 23 at 4:00 p.m. with the Chamber networking mixer following immediately.  See Mixer notice at right. 

    Long time Big Bear residents, Marilyn and her husband and six kids are avid game-players, frequently playing their current favorite, Settlers of Katan.  Years ago, the family decided to gift "experiences" instead of Christmas gifts, including a room escape game.  

    "Matt looked around during one game and said, 'Mom I could do this,' " Marilyn remembered.  After that, the two dug in and began exploring it as a viable business for Big Bear. 

    Their goal is to provide a resource for Big Bear families and a memorable customer experience. Game Night is every Friday, where kids may choose from board games and stay to play for $5. Community groups hold small meetings there. In turn, Marilyn and Matt support worthy causes in the community.

    "We recognized a need to provide something worthwhile, safe and fun for our community kids.  They don't have much to choose from," said Matt.

    Both nurses and instructors, Marilyn, who retired in June now works full time with Matt, who credits Bob Poole as his business mentor.  They constantly analyze their games and their guests experiences. 

    "If someone is unable to figure out the clues and escape the room in the one hour and 13 seconds period, they get really bummed," said Marilyn.  In that case, the game host spends extra time with the guest, going over the clues and offering reassurance to the guest.

    Mountain Room Escapes now employs  seven shift employees. Group reservations book fast, beginning with the first booking at 9:00 a.m. until they close at 10:00 p.m. 

    ~~ Ellen Clarke

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  • Natural Healing offers
    Eastern Medicine in Big Bear

    July 18, 2018 - Big Bear Lake - Instead of retiring after practicing natural herbal medicine in Los Angeles, Dr. Sun S. Cho chose to move to Big Bear and open a practice in our community.  Her business, Natural Healing, is located across the street from Big Bear Middle School at 41304 Big Bear Boulevard, Big Bear Lake. She opened her trademark orange door for business on April 1st.

    Dr. Cho has been a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist for more than 30 years.  She said herbal medicine is the main treatment method within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  TCM is the world’s oldest continually practiced professional medicine, dating more than 2,500 years ago. Unlike Western folk herbalism that treats diseases or symptoms, TCM is based on an individual pattern diagnosis and a disease diagnosis.  A patient’s pattern is made up of body signs and symptoms, emotional temperament and the overall compensation of the body.

    Adorned in her orange treatment uniform with a black skullcap, Dr. Cho greets her clients and guests with a warm smile and a dedication to her practice. She enthusiastically believes in the benefits of eastern herbal medicine.  Her practice includes acupuncture and massage, moxibustion and cupping therapy, the latter two less known by the public. 

    For the unfamiliar, moxibustion consists of holding a burning “moxa stick” close to, but not touching, the surface of the skin.  Moxa is made from the dried leafy materials of Chinese mugwort. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences.  Cupping involves placing special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being. It is a type of deep-tissue massage, Dr. Cho said.

    Dr. Cho studied acupuncture and oriental medicine at the Korean Cancer Patients Clinic where she studied under the guidance of a 107-year old mentor, who continues to travel the world and is a premiere specialist.  She received her Ph.D. in acupuncture and oriental medicine from Yuin University in Compton.  After growing up in the large city of Taetu, South Korea, and then L.A., Dr. Cho is now enjoying the “quiet and beautiful” community of Sugarloaf, where she enjoys the mountain vistas. An avid exerciser, Dr. Cho possesses also has a deep commitment to her church, describing herself as “very religious” and enjoys regular bible studies. Dr. Cho has two grown children who both reside in California.

    Natural Healing is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. She suggests making an appointment, but walk-in clients are accepted.  She takes most medical insurance and parking is available behind the building. Call Natural Healing to make a consultation appointment with Dr. Cho at (909) 878-0818.

    - Ellen Clarke  

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  • Local Family Opens Ben & Jerry's 

    May 17, 2018, Big Bear Lake, Calif. – Things just got a lot cooler in the Big Bear Lake Village. Ben & Jerry’s opened its doors April 4, and father-daughter team Tim and Carissa Wolcott couldn’t be more excited to serve the community they love.

    Best known for his cutting-edge photography and love of the great outdoors, Tim has been a Big Bear name since 1994. He was a pioneer in creating the first “green” printing process free of heavy metals and chemicals, and art gallery, the Gallery of American Landscaping. A senior in high school, Carissa already knows the entrepreneurial ropes and is looking forward to her college education.

    The Wolcott family history is seasoned with bakers and grocers, Tim’s own father owning a local Big Bear bakery, Something Special, until 2004. But his dad also had a dream of opening an ice creamery, which got Tim thinking. It wouldn’t be long before he and his daughter took the reins on their newest business venture.

    The business model was simple. The Wolcotts wanted to bring a brand to Big Bear that was trusted and “real.” Ben & Jerry’s seemed the only option after interviewing countless other brands, especially with their fair-trade policies and dedication to healthier ingredients. All Ben & Jerry’s products are non-GMO with no artificial flavors or colors. Established in Vermont, the brand also has a California dairy for easier access and guaranteed fresh delivery.

    Tim and Carissa signed the lease at The Village Shops in November 2017, and immediately began construction. Appreciating the history of the 100-year-old building, the Wolcotts maintained the beams originally cut at historic Pederson Mill from Ponderosa Pine and recycled everything they could right down to the existing moldings. Commercial kitchen and freezer space was added to accommodate plenty of stock, with three new freezers coming soon. The entire endeavor was assisted by Tim’s father and funded by Tim’s great grandfather’s prized coin collection, making Ben & Jerry’s Big Bear a five-generational effort.

    Ben & Jerry’s Big Bear features 32 unique flavors of ice cream and sorbet. There are even gluten free, vegan and nut allergy-friendly varieties. Staff create each delicious cone and edible bowl from fresh ingredients on custom waffle irons each morning, hand-dipping them in chocolate and candy adornments. Customers can enjoy a pre-packaged pint or select from the case for a custom-packed pint of their choosing. Don’t forget to order ice cream cakes for all your major parties and events with any combination of your favorite flavors, including upcoming graduation.

    Speaking of events, Tim and Carissa recently acquired an additional 1,000 square feet to the rear of the parlor to be a party room. Tim has special interest in providing fundraising opportunities for youth sports, school projects and more through Bear Backers of Big Bear Valley and the National Park Foundation. In addition, Ben & Jerry’s is a new field trip destination for Bear Valley Unified School District.

    Ben & Jerry’s is at 652 Pine Knot Ave., Big Bear Lake, inside the Village Shops. For more information, to order a cake or to book an event, call 909-366-0474, or visit the website www.iluvbigbear.com. Follow Ben & Jerry’s on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/benandjerrysbigbear/.

    - Stephanie Thoth

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  • Reclaimed Barn Wood Furniture Specialty at The Furniture Store

    There is “real” reclaimed barn wood and then there is “real” reclaimed barn wood.  Bob and Nancy Wallace, owners of The Furniture Store of Big Bear, say their Montana reclaimed barn wood furniture is the real thing. Skilled craftsman at the Bozeman, Montana factory build all of the high quality furniture.  

    The couple re-opened the store on November 1 at its new and larger store across the street from the previous location.  The new store provides better visibility on the Boulevard, easier access and more parking, Bob said.    

    Not a newcomer to business or Big Bear, Bob has owned several antique and furniture businesses both here and elsewhere in California, including Dinky Dalton Antiques and Chantilly Lace.  In doing so, they have a loyal and long-standing customer base who appreciate the quality and design of his furniture. “I have a client who wanted a mountain cabin home in Big Bear, but decided instead to furnish his entire home in the Simi Valley with our barn wood furniture,” he said.

    To stay on top of production and orders, the Wallaces visit the Boseman factory often, spending weeks at a time. Customers may choose from furnishings in several showrooms, including dining room, living room, bedroom, bathroom and the kitchen. 

    The store also carries complimenting rugs, lamps and artwork.  The work of a particular photographer, with several large pieces on display, feature western themes with cowboys and horses, favorites of Nancy.

    The store specializes in custom built genuine reclaimed barn wood furniture, from bathroom vanities to kitchen cupboards.  About half of their business is from custom orders. “You dream it up, we’ll draw it up for you” Bob said.

    “People should know that we are not a discount store.  We sell high quality furniture at competitive prices, most of which are 30 to 40 per cent lower than what you will find online,” Bob said. 

    The public is invited to visit the new showroom at their Re-Opening at the store on Thursday, November 15. The Chamber will host a grand opening ceremony at 4:00 pm.

    You will find The Furniture Store at 41530 Big Bear Boulevard in Big Bear Lake, (909) 878-0800. Be sure to call first, as store hours vary, depending on the Wallace’s travel schedule.

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  • "Gems of the West Sparkles
    with Responsive Customer Demand

    October 12, 2018, Big Bear Lake - Any successful small business not only listens, but responds to customer requests and demand. It is a quality that has earned local businesses recognition through the Chamber awards program each year. Exemplifying that practice are Gems of the West owners, Janet and Colin Roberts, who just completed their remodel if the existing business to add a brand new crystals section.

    "Our customers started asking about crystals and telling us successes with crystal healing properties. We thought, let's research it," said Janet Roberts.

    Employee Liz Moran began several months of extensive online research and talked to customers and fans of crystals to find out more. The result is a large new section with crystals to address stress and anxiety, depression, love and relationships and wealth and success, among others.

    At the Grand Opening of the crystals section, the first 75 adults will receive a gift bag with a combination of six stones for good luck. "In my research I found that not all sources agree on the meanings or values of the stones," said Liz.

    The good luck stones represent one of eight different sets of stones each provided with an explanation about the various stone qualities. As the mineral selenite can quickly unblock stagnant energy and remove negative energy, one is included in each bag to cleanse the stones. Customers may choose their own stones and there is now a quiet area in the store for study and contemplation.

    As their research pointed out, the stones come with a healing and wellness advisory: "Crystals, stone sets and the information we provide are for the love of healing and wellness. These are intended to be used in the highest and best good to support general wellness or to complement other therapies. They are nor a replacement for regular medical care or counselling. If either you, or someone you know, has a serious health issue, you or they should consult their own physician and/or other appropriate professional medical advisor. They should make use of crystals, stones or stone sets for general wellness or healing purposes as part of their complete healthcare program."

    Janet’s interest in Geology started in High School, exploring the exposed granite batholith of Dartmoor in Devonshire. In their early married life, Colin’s interest in photography drew them back to the moors of southwest England where they lived, where they learned more about rocks and their formation. Janet is a biologist and life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Colin has managed their successful UK business since 1991. Both have a shared passion for western geology and minerals.

    ~~ Ellen Clarke


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  • The Fitness Source
    Opens in Big Bear Lake

    June 1, 2018, Big Bear Lake – It was love at first sight with Big Bear Valley for fitness buffs Michael and Stephanie Ibasco, and now their dreams are reality with the opening of The Fitness Source. 

    For the past six years, fitness instructors and Las Vegas gym owners Michael and Stephanie vacationed to Big Bear Valley enjoying its many trails, often visiting Wolf Total Fitness in the Stater Bros. shopping center on a day pass. Realizing its great potential and location, the Ibascos often spoke of how they’d love to own a gym in Big Bear.

    While Wolf Total Fitness was not on the market, the Ibascos took a chance and connected with the owner of the gym through a local realtor. A combination of good timing and fate sealed the deal. “The owner was ready to move on,” Stephanie said. “He (the owner) wanted the location to go to the right people who would put their hearts and souls into it … it just worked out.”

    The Ibascos took over Wolf Total Fitness on Jan. 27, 2018, and immediately began transforming the gym into a state-of-the-art facility, much like their facility in Las Vegas. Now branded The Fitness Source, the gym has had several aesthetic upgrades including the installation of mirrors, along with the replacement of cardio machines and a number of equipment advancements.

    In addition to a full-scale renovation, a variety of classes were added for all fitness levels. Members can now enjoy basic fitness classes, cross training, Piyo, a combination of Pilates and yoga, regular yoga, step and occasional boot camp sessions. All classes are taught by personable, certified and experienced instructors.

    The Fitness Source offers personal training with a free initial consultation. Trainers evaluate needs and goals and establish an appropriate fitness plan with the most health benefit. An app is also available featuring videos of Stephanie as she walks viewers through safe use of all the gym’s equipment to eliminate risk of injury, as well as a tanning salon.

    “We want to bring what health and fitness is today to the community of Big Bear,” Michael said. “We’re growing things organically and spreading the wealth of health.”

    “We are so excited to be in Big Bear and to be part of the community,” Stephanie continued. “This has been a dream of ours, and now it’s just so exciting to have it actually happen.”

    Cost of membership at The Fitness Source is based on tiers running from $40 to $55 per month. The lowest tier features basic access to the gym while the highest tier gains full access and offers discounts on personal training. Hours are 5:15 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

    The Fitness Source is at 42169 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake, CA 92315. For more information, call 909-866-5300, email to stephanie@thefitnesssourcebb.com or visit the website www.thefitnesssourcebb.com.

    - Stephanie Thoth