La Verne’s Label Lady a Juicy International Success

January 28, 2009
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randi-november-20083You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to outhustle La Verne’s Randi Marshall, owner of the eBay online store, A Slice in Time, where visitors can shop for prints literally thousands of classic crate labels, vintage postcards, cute animal picture prints and a host of other antique slivers of Americana. Indeed, her collection of original La Verne citrus crate labels is the largest in the world, unless another rare find is discovered.

A peek at her go-go M.O. (method of operation) and vibrant entrepreneurial streak was on display again last fall after she learned about U.S. Bank’s takeover of venerable valley institution PFF Bank & Trust. With the sale of the bank also came the end of PFF’s tradition of distributing free citrus crate label calendars to its customers on the day after Thanksgiving.  For years, while everyone else went shopping at the mall on Black Friday, Randi had been scooping up the calendars and reselling them to crate-label collectors and enthusiasts around the world in her eBay store. All good things come to an end sometime, right? Not for Randi!

“I got back in my car, and said, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, what am I going to do? I have so many customers, this is terrible, terrible,’” Randi recalled. But in her instant of terror, she also found her “aha” moment.

“I’m driving along feeling sorry for myself when the light bulb went on. “You dummy, you’re a graphic artist, you own all these labels, you can make the calendar,” she remembered thinking.pride-of-la-verne1

With her new idea, she shot up Wheeler Avenue in her Red Porsche Carrera and was no sooner cited for excessive speed by an LVPD police officer.  The ticket was a small price to pay because as soon as Randi got home, she started work on producing her first citrus crate label calendar, which she now sells in her Slice of Time eBay store along with more than 5,000 other items.

Not only is Randi fast, she’s also giving. She donated the crate label prints now on display at La Verne City Hall. Similarly, she bequeathed sets to the University of La Verne library and to La Verne Heights Elementary that was once part of the vast La Verne Rancho orchard. If La Verne is awash in citrus culture it’s because Randi helped reintroduce this colorful chapter of the city’s history.

Her own juicy citrus-crate label odyssey began in earnest about five years ago while she was researching the history of the San Gabriel Valley for an author who wanted to recall the romance of the valley’s bygone era. In her studies, her eyes were opened wide to the vast citrus belt that dominated California’s lush landscape from Escondido to Sacramento. 

At first, she began her business by buying reproductions of crate labels for a few dollars and then listing at auction. Bidding on the labels was intense, and they quickly sold. Not long after, Randi opened her online store, realizing she could not only squeeze out  a nice living reselling citrus crate label reproductions, but also become a first-class, world-class collector. About this same time, she went to an old town La Verne antique store to purchase some original La Verne citrus labels, but found there were none to buy. After confirming the paucity of prints with La Verne historian Galen Beery, Randi gradually was able to track down an owner who had inherited a collection of La Verne’s historic citrus labels, which she subsequently bought a little at a time.

Perhaps Randi runs such a “pure gold, sun-kissed business” today because she simply loves what she does. The labels are her children, when she’s not looking after her son Travis, a business major at the University of La Verne, and her husband Boyd, a successful software executive. When she pulls out both rare (few made or still in existence) and common prints from her collection, she fuses with light, glowing over the snow-capped mountains, majestic orchards, magnificent missions, brilliant flowers, horses and buggies and wholesome wildlife that were the themes of so many of the lithograph artists who had been hired by the different growers and packing houses to help brand their produce.

Indeed, Randi often gives talks to groups interested in La Verne’s citrus heritage. After one discussion, several members of the Brethren Hillcrest Retirement Homes came up to her to describe their boyhood experiences working in La Verne’s citrus fields, fondly recalling how they were paid a quarter a night for lighting smudge pots when temperatures turned freezing. They also got to skip school the next day for their night-time service.

While that era is largely gone, visitors can recreate at least a part of that period by visiting Randi’s online store. It’s a slice of time you won’t want to miss.fuschia1









One Response to “La Verne’s Label Lady a Juicy International Success”

  1. Absolutely loved this local info………Ann

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