Every month we spotlight a Woodlands employee to connect you with our team and feature what they do, day-in and day-out, to keep their department running smoothly. We appreciate our hard-working employees and want you to get to know them!

Since joining the Woodlands family in 2010 as a bagger, Sara has worked her way up to Gifts and Housewares, where she is in charge of all buying and display arrangements. She is a master curator and decorator, and she makes our stores beautiful.

How has your career led you to this role?

I was an insurance salesperson before I joined Woodlands Market in 2010. I started as a bagger, then became a checker. Later, I worked at the small deli Woodlands used to own in Ross. I moved back and forth between there and Kentfield before becoming Manager of the deli for two years. A year and a half ago, I came back here to Kentfield to become the buyer for the housewares department.

I love my work. I really appreciate being able to curate the departments and choose what items we carry. I get to shop all day without spending my own money. What’s better than that? I have creative freedom in every store. It’s a fun challenge to figure out the schematics within each space and find the right pieces for the displays.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I arrive in the morning and begin by dusting and rearranging the inventory to fill any space left after items have sold. I restock the shelves and arrange the displays, then head to the office to check email, pay invoices and browse catalogs to place orders for any items needed. I usually spend three days a week in Kentfield and two days in Tiburon. Sometimes my schedule changes based on what the stores need, but I also have an assistant who I can trust to keep the Tiburon store going if I can’t be there for some reason.

We order seasonal items well in advance to make sure we have whatever we want in stock at the right times. For example, I order Easter items six months in advance, and Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s items are placed a whole year in advance. After each holiday, I make notes on what has sold and what didn’t, and that informs my order for next year. We constantly adjust and fine-tune our ordering for every season.

I do my best with the limited storage space we have. Our San Francisco store has very little space, so we ship them only what they need to put out on display. I have someone to be my eyes and ears there, and she makes sure everything is stocked and that the displays look good. Kentfield and Tiburon have more storage, but I try hard to not have any back stock and make sure to sell everything that’s ordered.

How do you curate the department and find the different items that are sold?

I often attend industry trade shows, where thousands of different vendors set up show rooms for new products. I go into these events with a baseline idea of what I’m looking for, though I almost always end up finding something new and unexpected that ends up being a great fit for the store. I purchase these new products and incorporate them into our inventory.

I walk around the shows and place orders for products that I feel our customers will love. The vendors display their products beautifully, so I get many new ideas for Woodlands displays.

What special items are currently on the shelves for this Valentine’s Day?

We have heart-shaped paper plates and napkins, a wide assortment of kids’ Valentine’s Day cards, and all sorts of other themed items, including decorative metal, marble, stone and gold-plated hearts, gel sticker window clings in various Valentine’s Day-themed images, heart-shaped sparklers and heart necklaces. Woodlands is feeling the love this Valentine’s Day!

What do you love most about working at Woodlands?

The People. I work with really great people, and our customers are fantastic. I also love buying and putting the displays together, and it’s very satisfying to stand back and admire a finished display that the customers can enjoy.