Creating Magic

2015 Valparaiso Popcorn Parade

2015 Valparaiso Popcorn Parade

2015 Meet & Greet

2015 Meet & Greet

You just never know where the magic will lead you.

Most years The Flanagin Fairies have a heartwarming story to tell after appearing at Valparaiso’s Popcorn Festival and this year was no exception.

Here is a little background….

Our sole purpose as the Fairies is to create magical memories for the children and sometimes we find out that we did exactly that.

After the parade the Fairies do a meet and greet for the children at the Festival.  The wonder and excitement you see in the children’s’ eyes make all the preparation worthwhile.  After chatting its customary to give the child a pre-printed photograph of your fairy character, a sticker or sometimes even a little fairy ornament.

Last year Crystal Snowflake (aka my daughter Erica Flanagin George) had a creative idea to give some of the children a very precious, one of a kind, keep it under your pillow “magical moon stone”.   Crystal presents it to the child with a cute little saying about how it has magic and it will make their dreams come true, but only the good dreams of course.  She keeps them in a pouch and the children cannot see them at first and sometimes will even tell the child that “oh wait that stone doesn’t have enough magic let me find you a different one.”

Spoiler alert:  you can buy them by the bag at most craft stores in pretty colors originally designed to put in flower vases.

So here is this year’s story……

The Fairy Gladmother was chatting with a sweet little girl and when it was about time to go on her way, the mother asked if I (The Fairy Gladmother) remembered the “magic moon stones” that we gave away last year at the meet and greet and I said YES, I sure do!   And then she pointed at her daughter Madelyn and…….there is was!


Magic Moon Stone (picture with mom's permission)

Magic Moon Stone

Madelyn’s mom had turned it into a necklace that Madelyn was wearing.

Our hearts just melted. We ARE creating magic!

You just never know where the magic will lead you.




Conversation stones

Conversation stones on a silver platter

Last weekend I was making some conversation stones for our reception counter.  Disney encourages making a personal connection with your customers (guest).  Thought this might be another way to get to know them better and in return they get to know us better.  Just a little something different and something fun.

At an appropriate time you ask the guest to randomly choose a conversation stone which have sayings on them like; what was your first car; what is your favorite hobby; who was your favorite teachers; etc etc etc.

While preparing these stones, it got the wheels turning.  Who was my favorite teacher?  Sadly, I couldn’t think of a favorite teach nor one that made a big impact on my life.  I don’t think that is, in itself, a bad thing.  They were all fine teachers, just did not make a big impact.

But then I realized there was someone that did make a big impact on my career.  I don’t believe he knows how important he was to my future.  His name is Ro Chabot and he held my hand many years ago when I was learning how to manage databases and beginning programming. I remember more than once calling him crying because I had tried everything I could think of and could not fix the problem and he would laugh and walk me through it.  At the time I did not know how valuable this education was going to be but I now make a living managing databases all day long in our bulk mail business.

I never regretted learning DOS, dbaseII and 123 (which is now called Excel) way back in the early 80’s. This old knowledge comes in handy every now and then.

Thank you Ro Chabot for all the knowledge you shared with me, your patience with my inexperience and your lasting friendship.  You may not have been a teacher in my formal education system, but you were truly my most valuable educator.  Thanks also to your lovely wife “Jo” for always being my friend.

(BTW the stones have only been out a week and we have had so much interesting conversation because it them.)

Ro & Jo

Ro & Jo

Have a Flan-tastic Day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me:  From shorthand in 1970 to WordPress in 2010.  Who knew?

She felt special

DI 2013

My daughter Monica attended the Disney Institute  Approach to Leadership Excellence program at Ivy Tech yesterday.

When I asked her if she liked it, her response was “Yes being there was awesome enough but Jeff (Noel) sending me some magic was amazing!!!!!”  Over 100+ attended, she was presented these coveted ears in front of everyone. Now if you think I am crazy by calling them “coveted”, just attend a Disney workshop and you will see what I am talking about.

He went out of his way to make her feel special.  He certainly didn’t have to do that but he walks the talk.  Disney philosophy ” Make your guests feel special” and that is exactly what he did.

What do you do to make your guests (customers) feel special?

She will always remember how he made her feel and that is part of the Disney training. And by the way, Jeff wasn’t even attending this workshop, he went out of his way to make sure she got her ears!

Have a Flan-tastic day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me:  Writing before the sun comes up.

A little piece of the magic

It was a vision in 2008 after attending the Disney Institute.

How can I bring a little piece of the Disney magic to my business?

Fast forward 2013


Have a magical day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me: I am writing this post in the early morning on my balcony at the Boardwalk WDW




Finding your company’s brand

This card is for Caitlin.

Not a card I received, but I card I give

Simple way to find your brand….ask your customers.

It really doesn’t matter what YOU think it is, it only matters what THEY think it is.

If you don’t get the response you hoped for, then work on changing your brand.

I wanted to know and here is what they said:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Quick, efficient, cost-effective, friendly service.  You are awesome!

Dawn Duty, Boys & Girls Club of  PC

Friendly, efficient , cost saving service.

Kathy Bledsoe, Contemporary Dentistry

Very helpful, make the best suggestions to suit our needs, friendly service!

JoLynne Ellis, Members Source CU

Great personal attention and service

Laura Shurr Blaney

I would call you the BETTER BUSINESS BRAND,  as you are always striving to help NGO’s and business’s be better.

John Rouster, Every Child Ministries

Excellent customer service, flexible, and knowledgeable!

Kris Krouse, Shirley Heinze Land Trust

Excellent customer service, going above and beyond, expertise/extreme knowledge of mail system, always there to take care of you when you need a job done, no worries in your performance, competence, anything. When a job goes to Flanagin’s, I do not have to think twice about it. It will be done and done well.  

Thanks to all your Flanagin team! You make my job easier!

Susan Antoszewski,  Marketing and Communications, Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce

I’d tell them that you do an excellent job of efficiently preparing mailings and you understand the postal service’s regulations.

Larry Galler, Small Business Greatness Coach

Exceeding customer’s expectations with Sunshine!  I know that’s not exactly what you’re looking for but it’s the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about your company.

Debbie Thiel, (just a little biased J and our real ray of sunshine here at Flanagin’s)

I always tell my customers we partner with a mailhouse in Valpo called Flanigans

Russ Franzman, Russ’ Printshop

I’d call your brand: personal efficient local expert caring

I’d say that the biggest challenge regarding your brand is leveraging the homey/family thing with the expertise that you bring to mailing services. Those two elements are not generally complementary, so for you, absolutely unique. Care is required to bring them together in just the right way.

Sandi Weindling, Dunes Learning Center

When I think of Flanagin’s, I think of people who are honest, friendly, local, detailed and professional. I think of Flanagin’s as an extension of REGIONAL’s marketing department, who can be counted on to do the job. Flanagin is that partner that you only have to ask one time and you know without a doubt the job will be be done on-time and correct.

Kevin Kosak, Regional FCU

 My perception of your business is extremely helpful, professional, and I never have to worry about things getting done.  I can send a mailing list over to you and I know it will get done in a timely and professional manner.  Also I know I can always come to you with questions and I will get the answers I need.  I have always been more than happy to recommend your business to potential customers. 

Sue Stymiest, Resource Director, Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce

I know for me, I choose you because of your reliability, cost, and flexibility to work with and suggest solutions for my unique constraints!

Anand Bhatt, Sonicwave International

Friendly. Customer-centric. Relaxed. Compassionate. Accommodating.

Sue O’Leary, former Pres Independent Cat Society

I would say that Flanagin’s brand is a service business that helps other businesses save money on postage.  Not only postage, but time. 

I have always perceived Flanagin’s as a top-notch business.  Even from the days of sending out the Memorial Opera House newsletter, I can remember the wonderful customer service.  Some of the nicest, easy to do business with, business people in Valparaiso.  Not always looking to make the next big deal for themselves, but ALWAYS trying to make the next big deal for Valpo as a whole.

 One of the things I think about when I hear Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service is they do a job that I dread (figuring out the USPS) and they do it with a smile and on time and save me money.

If someone asked me about Flanagin’s,  I would give high praise for customer service and delivering a service that is valuable in dollars and time saving for all they serve.  They are what every small business should strive to be….the best at what they do and the nicest while doing it.

Kurt Gillins, Program Director Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce

Direct Mail marketers who perform at a very high customer service level and get results.    

Rex Richards, President Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce

I just tell people that Donna knows so much about the Post Office systems and mailing rates that it is not worth the investment in equipment and learning time to do it yourself .

Paul Campbell, Acme Print

Flanningans is an awesome direct mail supplier – they are the final piece to making sure your mailing gets mailed to the right place, right person, at the right time – and they do it in the most cost-effective manner that saves any business time and money!!

Karen Wilson, Indiana Furniture

I am thinking of your business as a one stop mailing, where I am being shielded from many complexities of the mailing  process.

I have a confidence that you know what you do and stay on top of any changes in rates and regulations.

Mietek  Boksz, John Paul II Foundation

When I think of Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service – I think of Donna.  She’s friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and fun! Flanagin’s is easy to do business with and always does a good job.  You are mailing campaigns made simple.  

Beverly Lewis, Owner Beverly Lewis Group

Anyway, Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service has helped us streamline our weekly statement mailing process. Utilizing Flanagin’s has saved us about five hours per week in labor and savings on postage as well. Their staff is very team oriented and really cares about the customer.

Scott Reed. LTF Eye Clinics

Quick bulk mail service that saves time and money.  Also great for cleaning up databases

Olga Petryszyn

I would say you are very professional and on top of things. You offer prompt, helpful, and courteous service. I also appreciate that you anticipate our needs and alert us to things we should know about as a customer and as a nonprofit organization.  You hold a positive and stable place in the network of businesses we deal with.
            Kathleen Nielsen, Independent Cat Society

I think of a networking engine/ opportunity. Not only are you out there at different events, but your product/ service (bulk mailing) provides the opportunity for organizations to network by passing along information to other entities.

Kimberly Newhard, Shirley Heinze Land Trust

I would say Flanigan’s bulk mail is a bulk mail service business with its eye on being involved in the community. 

You ladies are clearly philanthropists.  🙂

Jessica DeWitt, former owner of Jem Research

You are the poster child for customer service.

Christine Livingston, Indiana Dunes Tourism

You ladies are your brand.  Service is what you stress and everyone associated with you screams service.

            Chris Mahlmann, ValpoLife

High quality service. Very caring about your clients and meeting their needs. Extremely knowledgable. Excellent customer service. 

Lorelei Weimer, Executive Director, Indiana Dunes Tourism

I think of you as my personal mail consultant and full-service mailing house.

Liz Simmons, Via Marketing

When we think of Flanagin’s, we think of friendly, reliable service.

Lorella Rouster, Every Child Ministries

Just like Granger, you’re reliable, you get it done!

William Stack, Owner Spinnaker Group

Marketing service company

Bruce Lindner, PCACS

Scatter Kindness,

Donna Flanagin

Random me: Why was this post hard to share with you?

Hidden History #15 Not Just Any Tree

An outdoor feeling

A tree next to an outdoor billboard seems appropriate.

Gives the proper outdoor feel.

It’s not just any tree, look closely.

A closer look

Each customer gets a place of honor on our Company Tree.  We are truly grateful to our customers, without them we have nothing.

Have a Wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service

Random me:  First job was a car hop at Dog & Suds.

Hidden History #9 The Disney Institute

What is that little symbol in the corner?

The Disney Institute was instrumental in changing how we view our business, our employees and our customers.

It was only fitting that they be a part of our company’s hidden history.

It may not be recognized by many, but the symbol on the lower right hand corner of the chalkboard represents the Disney Institute.

Our daily subtle reminder.

Click here for Hidden History #10

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service

Random me:  I’m grateful for summer morning sunrises.

Hidden History #4 Not Just a Number

2001 Main Street

2001 Main Street.  An address with meaning.

Each of our Main Street businesses have a unique address.

Each unique address corresponds to the birth year of my grandchildren, children or husband except for one (click here).

Hidden History #5 click here.

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service (click here)

Random me:  Every morning is beautiful, depending on whose eyes are viewing it.

Hidden History #3 The Bird Nest


A bird’s nest with 3 eggs

Nestled under the roof of the Railway Station is a real bird’s nest. 

Inside are three blue eggs representing the core of our business.

My daughters Erica George and Monica Decker and myself.

Click here for Hidden History #4

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service (click here)

Random me:  I struggle daily with balancing work and family.

Hidden History #2 – Ashley’s Jewelers

The General Store


Ashley’s Jewelry by Design

Displayed among the items at the general store is a ring box from Ashley’s Jewelry by Design in Chesterton, IN (click here). 

Ashley’s was our very first customer and we are proud to say that they are still one of our customer’s 16 years later.

Click here for Hidden History #3

Have a wonder-filled day’

Donna Flanagin

Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service

Random me:  I have officially given up cartwheels, waterskiing and mini skirts!

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