Author Archives: DACredefineAC

The Clothesmine – Tag, You’re It!

The Clothes Mine, LogoJames & Tracy Lindenberger have a lot going on – between 3 bustling stores in 3 towns along the 49, the kids after school activities and an upcoming grand opening here in Angels Camp, time is short. But they are gracious as always as we sit down at their newest Clothes Mine location in Angels Camp – located on the corner of Stockton Road in the large Save Mart Shopping Complex.

Their website is 

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 I’m here to learn more about them before their Grand Opening on Thursday September 8th at 5pm, where they will kick off a fall sale of an additional 25% off of clearance items for the month to coincide with their opening. (Don’t miss their grand opening promotions at the bottom of this post!) 

“I got into the retail business at the original Clothes Mine with my family in Sutter Creek when I was 11 years old, it’s what I’ve been doing my whole career” Tracy tells me. Thereafter, the couple met at Saks 5th Ave outlets – both of them working in retail management, Tracy as the manager, James as the assistant manager.  They went their separate ways for a while, both working in retail – at Saks, Foleys department store (now Macy’s),  and they both learned the science of successful retail management before meeting up again and forming the ultimate partnership in marriage before expanding on the local family boutique business here on the 49 corridor.

Sweaters Accessories coats“What we both brought to this local business is a ton of experience with large scale specialty store boutiques. We know how to run a great POS system, analyze the products that sell, know what to buy in what season, and make sure everything is measured for the best possibly results not only in our retail sales, but our customer experience as well. We want people to come into the store and find what they are looking for, or find something that excites them, a unique item they couldn’t find anywhere else locally.”  

And boy are they organized, they both know exactly every brand I point out on the floor in the store as I ask them about their products.  “When we go to market at the shows, people always say we are the most organized buyers. We know what colors, sizes, styles we need before we get there. It makes it more fun, less stressful and ultimately better for our customers.”

The Clothes MineBut their primary focus has always been customer service – Tracy explains that this is even the genesis for the store in Angels Camp – “My family has owned the boutique in Sutter Creek for over 40 years, and we opened here in Angels Camp because our customers asked us to.” 

They explain that although they carry a selection of popular clothing for men as well as Tux rentals, their target customer is a woman in her 30s- 70s who wants to be able to find great quality clothing for work and for life without having to drive to the city to shop. They have a wide variety “Basics” program; pants, slacks, jeans, skirts, sweaters, as well as cute dresses for special occasions. They also sell accessories, bags, and a selection of jewelry from local artists. “We work hard to be the store you can count on”. This fall they are expanding their selection of plus size clothing and looking into adding an Athleisure wear line – clothing that can be worn for yoga, tennis, golf, and then carry on as casual, easygoing daytime clothing as well. “We don’t have as much tourist traffic yet as we used to downtown – but we fully anticipate we will in the near future, people just aren’t used to seeing us in this new location yet.”  

IMG_8816I watch them both arrange clothing on the tables and the shelves as we wrap up the interview,both of them tucking tags and refolding sweaters and jeans, such a learned and natural movement that it’s done almost subconsciously at this point. It strikes me that they are really cute together – how much they compliment each other in this business, and how sincere they are in their desire to help people find the right fit, both literally and in style.IMG_8788

“We just want to be a resource for our community. We want our customers to always give us feedback and help us continue to serve them better.”  

As I head out the door, they give me details about the specials and giveaways they will be doing at the grand opening and for the entire month of September – It would be selfish of me not to pass them along to the good folks of Angels Camp so here you go!

  • 10% OFF all regular price purchases on September 8th
  • Additional 25% OFF clearance merchandise for the entire month of September.


  • Denim fit event, French Dressing Jeans: Be one of the first six customers to try on a pair of French Dressing Jeans and receive a cute FDJ tote bag!
  • Denim fit event, Lola Jeans: Try on a pair of jeans from Lola, our newest denim vendor, and be entered in a drawing for a free pair. The promotion will kickoff on 9/8, but will run for the whole month of September.
  • Pant try on event, Slimsation: Try on a pair of Slimsation pants and be entered in a drawing for a free pair! The promotion will begin on 9/8 and run for the whole month of September.
  • Local jewelry designer jewelry drawing: During our grand opening event, meet one of our local jewelry designers, Becky Barnes of Murphys, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free piece of jewelry that Becky has designed. 

So now that you know all about the deals they are offering, and since fall is coming and you are surely missing some essential piece in your fall wardrobe, it’s your turn to visit their newest store location, mention this article and take advantage of their September sales! Tag, you’re it! 

Angels Creek Cafe – Consistency & Confidence On The Menu


“Pick food you like to eat so you can cook it how you like it, so it tastes good.”

The ladies of Angels Creek Cafe are modest and relaxed as we sit in the cool cafe one summer afternoon. The doors are closed, the lights are off and the chairs are stacked on the tables. Jen has got her arms on the counter and is learning about the new POS system from one of their vendors and I distract her with questions about their history, inspiration and plans for the cafe.

IMG_8653If you haven’t met them yet, Kay and Jen are the nicest people to talk to. They have plenty of ideas and opinions, but they won’t talk your ear off either.  They embody a sense of confident, laid back hospitality – this is who you want cooking up your food and pouring your coffee when you sit at the counter half awake for breakfast on a Monday morning.

These are exactly the right people to be running the downtown cafe in Angels Camp.

Formerly Sue’s Cafe, The Angels Creek Cafe has quickly revived to become a breakfast and lunch staple – well currently THE consistent staple of the downtown food scene. As another downtown business owner, I admit I eat there at least 3-4 days a week for one meal or the other and I’ve never had one thing I didn’t like. Their most popular dish is the “Chuckwagon” breakfast – a combination of some breakfast favorites that you should definitely plan to try. My employees tend to like the breakfast burrito with gravy on the side, but my personal favorite is the breakfast sandwich with bacon on sourdough – and I have them add avocado. It’s like a grown up grilled cheese with a California twist and it hits the spot every time! Oh, and bacon of course.  Any time I ask for a substitution or addition, they do it happily if the ingredients are something they carry in the kitchen.

Jennifer, who was a truck driver by trade and happened to meet Kay in Angels Camp in 2000. Kay, a born and bred Calaveras local joined Jen in the trucking trade in North Dakota where the oil boom kept them busy working 7 days a week, 14 hours a day for 14 week stints for several years.  When they came back to Angels Camp for a visit one summer and went to find breakfast, they noticed that Sue’s wasn’t open and they quickly started a conversation with her about the possibilities of working out a deal to take it over. A handshake deal was made and the ladies went back to North Dakota to give notice, then immediately moved to Angels Camp to take over the cafe in April of 2015 – their first restaurant management experience.  “We thought it would be a fun opportunity, so we took a leap of faith, but we didn’t really know what we were getting into.” 

“We figured it would be a casual cafe with a few people trickling and out, we had NO idea it would be as busy as it has been. We picked food we liked to eat so we could cook it the way we knew how, so it would taste good and people would enjoy it. We really just kept it simple.

I’m not a cook, I just cook. Don’t ask me to cook you a lobster,IMG_8658 I’m no chef.” 

 The success they have had with the cafe has everything to do with the consistency of the quality of their food. It also has a lot to do with several other cafe’s closing recently, something both of them wish hadn’t happened “This town needs more restaurants and more variety, we hope some other places open up soon, we wouldn’t mind the break either.”  Since Jen is the cook and runs the cafe, the consistency come from her own management of food preparation. She’s brought on more help, the busier they have become, but she trains them herself in the kitchen to do things the exact same way.

I ask them about their plans for the future, and remember that they also just bought the corner bar, Claussens’ at Raspberry and Main. Kay is managing the bar, Jen is managing the cafe but they both insist that they work so harmoniously together and can’t imagine life any other way. It’s really refreshing to hear. What is the goal or dream here for the cafe and bar?  “Well, we are happy doing it and can’t imagine stopping now. People rely on us and recognize us in the community. We wouldn’t want to walk away and leave that vacancy. Plus I just love to feed people – probably 97% of the people who come through the cafe are happy that they did.”  

Their customers consist of mostly locals, repeat customers and now a lot of tourists who know they are open consistently are coming back regularly too when they are in town. We all know restaurant work is a lot of work – but these two have proven that if you have consistency and discipline, a friendly face, food that tastes good, an open sign and a lot of pluck, there are definite possibilities to be had here in Angels Camp.

 What types of restaurant do you think would do well here? I ask them. “A micro-brewery is their instant simultaneous answer. Angels Camp needs a micro-brewery, an ice cream shop, a sandwich shop or somewhere you can get good soups and salads. Let’s get some variety folks!”

How do you want people to think of Angels Creek Cafe?  “We want people to know there is a friendly place they can come to get really good home cooked food that is made with love. As long as the people of Angels Camp are happy I’m here, I’ll be in here cooking.” 


A Jewel on Fire in the Motherlode

Tick Tock, Tick Tock…

citizen“My father was a watchmaker and ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the inner workings of a watch. You could say I’ve got a fixation with time pieces. Old gold watches, with those intricate yet sturdy parts that are keeping time moving forward in the palm of your hand.”   Paul Coca, along with his wife Noreen, are the owners of Firefall Jewelers located on main street in Angels camp and in Valley Springs. I recently stopped in to see how business was going and learn a bit more about what they do.

“We don’t sell a lot of watches now, but maybe again in the near future…” Paul explains as I ask him about his craft. “I started my career as an engineer, putting pen to paper as a draftsman, engineer in Silicon valley.  I always loved the artistry and math behind design and the process of creating.”  Paul explains that it was an obsession with opals that propelled his re-birth into the jewelry world. In 1983 Paul Sr. took a year sabbatical to learn how to cut opals, and that led to a major decision, to switch careers and become a respected goldsmith – trained by a Master European trained goldsmith at the Revere Academy in San Francisco to which he was offered a full scholarship.

Custom JewelryAs the only American Gem Society members in the 49 corridor, Firefall has a very high GIA rating – similar to that of Harry Winston or Tiffany’s. It’s a lot of hard work to be a GIA graduate and be AGS certified for appraisals, yet both Paul Sr. and his son Paul Jr. have completed the certification and undergone years of training.  GIA is a non-profit, educational institution founded in the 1940s and is recognized throughout the diamond industry for its unbiased integrity and strict, comprehensive grading standards. Between the two of them, Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. have modernized the jewelry trade in the Motherlode, forging a marriage between draftsmen design skills and digital creative with the first laser and CAD design in our area in 2006.

“One of the major benefits we have seen of working here in Angels camp, is the amount of foot traffic we get into the store on main street. Tourists come in and connect with our story and our jewelry and buy unique pieces once, then the next year, and every year thereafter. We get a lot of repeat business from being in this location”. 

custom ring

When I ask about his best selling pieces, Paul pauses, “The best selling pieces we have are the heirlooms people bring in to have re-created and reimagined, these are very sentimental memories that we handle with care and love”.  He continues on and tells me how they see so many people at the highlight of their dreams, life’s most glorious moments, and then again in times of sorrow, death and loss. “What we are really doing here is ministering to people, helping them however we can. Our desire is to be trusted, calming advisors who can lend a hand in an important moment, the jewelry is just the vehicle to our most important mission. People typically walk into a jewelry store with trepidation, doubt, or concern that they are going to get taken advantage of, our goal is to be warm, honest and 100% professional and to know beyond a doubt the quality of our work so that we have the opportunity to care for our clients.” 

FullSizeRender (1)As we wrap up our interview, Paul leads me on a tour of the newly remodeled workspace in their new Main Street location and demonstrates some of the tools they use in their creative process. I ask him casually about how the name Firefall came about – assuming it had something to do with the Yosemite phenomenon that occurs annually 2 weeks a year. He stops again as if to see how interested I really am, then opens up to me about a ministry they were involved with in San Jose. “Every Friday night for 11 years, we would play music on the streets of San Jose, ministering to runaways and throwaways, many of whom we “adopted”. To those kids, we were Mama Noreen and Papa Paul. He shares with me a CD of their music, an album of serious quality produced with the help of known artists. As it turns out, Firefall was the name of that ministry. “When we moved our business here, we wanted to carry that mission of caring for people over to what we do in every aspect of our life. It doesn’t just start or stop at home, it’s a life.”  

P&NWhether it’s high profile customers who are looking for their high end custom designs (which sell out immediately despite the fact that they employ 2 additional goldsmiths in house), the Citizen watches shining in the case, or whether it’s a surviving relative with a heartfelt desire to carry the memory of their loved one with them in a redesigned piece, the Coca family will go out of their way to make sure that each customer is treated with great respect and appreciation. With so many facets revealing great depth and radiant light from this jewel of a business, there is indeed something more than meets the eye for anyone who walks in the door at Firefall.