2008 marks the 60th anniversary of Wonder Weavers, located at 2222 El Cajon Boulevard. Ms Beatrice V. Nelson moved from Louisiana to California in 1944, during World War II, for a job building war ships. Once the war ended, women were pushed out of the workforce. Beatrice found herself unemployed in San Diego. The dress that she wore on interviews had a hole, so she visited Jeanette Marten at the original Wonder Weaver in La Mesa. Beatrice was astonished by the price of mending the hole and realized that this was a business she wanted to learn. She worked with Jeanette for three years learning the trade. In 1948, Beatrice bought the business.
Beatrice married George W. Strafford shortly after, and the two sought out a new location for the business. Beatrice did some background investigation and discovered the future plans for San Diego entailed the development of major highways. She foresaw that El Cajon Boulevard would become a center of activity in San Diego and sought out a site which allowed the family to live and work in the same location. Beatrice's family from Louisiana flocked out here to help with the business and many of them became weavers.
After years of driving a taxi cab, George and Beatrice became business partners. Beatrice ran the shop and weaved while George ran the pick-up and delivery service with stops in La Jolla, El Cajon, Imperial Beach and Coronado. This service was the key to gaining new clients and eventually landing corporate accounts with hotels and high-end department stores.
Their son Stan has great memories of growing up on the Boulevard. He got his haircut across the street at Mike's Barbershop and hung out with the Chargers when they worked out at the Ed Marcus Studio, which were both located inside the Lafayette Hotel. He knew one day he'd run the business, but with a surfer's lifestyle, he never really wanted that day to come. After years of weaving, arthritis took a toll on several family members, and all of a sudden, his time had arrived. With long blond curly hair, his mom did not feel he was suited to work the counter, so for almost twenty years, Stan lived in OB, surfed during the day and weaved at night.
In 1991, Beatrice Stafford no longer wanted to run the business full-time. Beatrice, at the age of 88, with her daughter Carla still run a knitting business which is only open to the public on Fridays. After twenty years in OB, Stan moved back to the neighborhood to meet the demand for weaving. He was shocked by the crime in his old neighborhood. He worked proactively with police to shut down drug houses and he continues to paint out graffiti. His satellite location is around the corner at 4394 Texas Street. He has turned the yard into what he calls the "Garden of Eden." In the winter Stan works 80 to 85 hours a week, but he is able to unwind during the summer when people aren't wearing wool and cashmere.
Besides the fact that cigarette burns are now far less common then moth holes, the weaving business hasn't changed much over the years. There are still few people that know the trade. In fact, Stan is one of five professional weavers doing this type of work in California. The Stafford's always treat garments as their own and produce quality work at a reasonable price. Between the 40 accounts with local cleaners, 25 tailors, department stores, and garments delivered from all over the world, Stan is thankful that they all don't show up at once.