You could say that running a business is in Lori Malkin's blood. Her parents, Christine and Keith Patterson, owned three stores locally, so Lori grew up talking shop around the dinner table. Her father ran the business end of things while her mother managed the stores. Lori remembers playing sales girl in her mother's shops as a little girl. "But I'm not pretending anymore," she said. Her parents opened their first store, Vogue, in 1948, then added Christine's about five years later. Not long after Christine's opened, Lori was born and has been following in her mother's footsteps ever since.
She started out in the family business at age 5, stuffing envelopes. Back then, she worked to earn enough money to buy a hot dog and a root beer at Vest's Drugs on 19th Street.
Over the years she did everything from wrapping gifts to balancing the books, working summer vacations and Christmas breaks all the way through college. As a result, she understands every facet of running the business, though she says that being a salesperson is still her favorite part of the job.
"I love people and sales," Lori said.
The legacy of business was passed on to her much like the color of one's hair or eyes might be. But she wasn't just handed the family business. After high school she attended Brooke's College for fashion merchandising, and after managing her mother's store for several years, eventually bought the business from her in 1980.
Although her two sisters also worked in the stores when they were younger, Lori is the one who really had a passion for it.
Christine's and LoLo's, the two shops she owns and runs in the Stockdale Fashion Plaza, cater to women of all ages, types and styles. In fact it was the third and fourth generation repeat customers to Christine's that inspired her to open LoLo's in 2001. The store's name comes from Lori's nickname and is a fitting addition to the store that is her mother's namesake.
But Lori is more than just a shop owner; she is also an advocate for the community where she has spent her whole life. As well as being an active member of the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club, she hosts a bunco night each month and donates all the proceeds to a different charity each time.
"Depending on who we're sponsoring that month, we decorate the store in that theme," said Lori. "When it's breast cancer awareness month in October we do all pink." The bunco nights are held at Christine's. They can accommodate 40 players inside the shop during winter months, and 100 players once the weather warms up and the party moves outside. At least half of the women who attend each month are regulars. Players pay $25 to attend and the bunco prizes are all Brighton products, which are donated by the shop, along with all the food and drinks for the event.
"It's really become a popular and fun night," Lori said. There's even a waiting list to play.
The monthly bunco parties usually coincide with a specific charity's big fundraiser, and the shop works with someone on their board in raising funds. One such charity is Links for Life, a local group that provides assistance and support to women affected by breast cancer. Christine's raised $14,000 for this charity in both 2005 and 2006. Along with bunco, the store held a raffle for luggage, and had a "Mammograms and Margaritas" party to raise funds, all of which were held during October. In April, the bunco proceeds will go to support Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, which advocates for foster children. "I wouldn't be in business if it weren't for the community's support, so I want to give back," Lori said.
Some of the charities which have benefited from the bunco fundraisers include the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Children's Miracle Network, Henrietta Weill Memorial Child Guidance Clinic, Toys for Tots, the American Lung Association and Hoffman Hospice.
She and her husband, Bob, have five children: Drew and Jeff Johns and Brian, Brooke and Brittany Malkin. Recently she held an all-family fashion show for the Stockdale Country Club Women's Organization. Although the luncheon is given to honor all of the women who have served as president of the organization, the show was a special tribute to her mom, also a former president, who died in November 2005. The models included her two sisters, her seven nieces and nephews, and her own children. The women and girls wore clothes from her shops, and the boys modeled golf clothes from the country club. In all, 19 family members participated in the show, which is further evidence that a business built upon the foundation of family nearly 50 years ago, still stands firm upon that foundation today.