Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Faith in Humanity Affirmed? Check!



We decided to decorate our little front garden last weekend for Easter - adding some Easter ducks and some clip on chicks (on the pussy willow branches.)  We did it with a bit of trepidation, wondering if the little display would last.  It certainly wouldn't be a big loss financially if someone had taken these items - the total cost was well under $10 - but it would have been a spiritual loss of sorts.  (Okay, we will qualify that - a fairly minor one as spiritual losses go.)  Anyway, it made us very happy to come in every morning and see that our chicks and ducks were all in a row.  Except the ones on the pussy willows, which were not in a row, but present and accounted for.  Thank you honorable people of Cambridge!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Return of the Prodigal Bun(ny)


You see above a customer holding two bic pens with knit rabbit pen toppers.  The one with the small green dinosaur ring around its neck just returned to Joie de Vivre after a mysterious and up to now inexplicable disappearance. We get very attached to small things at Joie.  Previously, we used little devil duckie pen toppers; we were selling them, they were cute, and not incidentally, having pen toppers is an excellent way to keep one person in particular (okay - it's me) from chewing away the tops of all the pens - a bad habit I developed in my youth.  The little devil duck toppers were discontinued awhile ago and slowly all of ours disappeared.  As anyone with any life experience knows, pens do disappear, along with socks and keys and . .  anyway, we started out with three rabbits and one went missing long ago.  Just after Christmas this year we realized we were down to one.  After a week or two, we resigned ourselves to its loss.  Several months later, last Friday night, to be exact, I was invited to a Trivia night to benefit the Arlington Children's Theatre.  I would be sitting at a table with among others, four people who work very part time here during the crazy holiday season. (those among you with detective skills are doubtless saying aha!)  When we were paying our share for the table, one person took out her checkbook - and the pen on the left.  I snatched it out of her hand instantly.  She laughed.  "I've been meaning to bring this back for the longest time," she told me.  It may sound ridiculous, but when I texted this photo to the two current Joie de Vivre employees - I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say they were thrilled. (employees, correct me if I'm wrong.)  So, the lost bunny story has a happy ending, and we will try to keep a better eye on our pens, at least for awhile.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Unclear on the Concept - or - We Love Packaging !

  We are always on the hunt for squirrel items, as we love squirrels and so do many of our customers and while at the  Gift Show a few months ago, we were taken with these "jungle bookmarks."  Of course the juxtaposition of jungle and squirrel was quite the added plus as we are always on the hunt for the silly as well.  (the other two in the series were gorillas - okay - and hummingbirds - maybe remotely possible in a jungle.)  One of our witty customers suggested perhaps this was a sophisticated reference to the concrete jungle and we had to agree it made a kind of sense.  Today, I was sitting at my desk when I heard a muffled snort from the next room where someone was unpacking an order of very cute "wildlife" items.  Okay . . .  dogs can be kind of wild, especially when you're throwing them sticks or you let them off their leash, but I've always thought of them as really the epitome of the domesticated creature.  We hope we'll find more to add to the incongruous collection! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Am We Being Churlish?

Joiedeblog has a question for its readers - if said readers were to purchase a wonderful book of pictures of treehouses . . . and if said readers were going to be paying $37.50 for this handsome hardcover . . .  would said readers feel a little bit miffed if there was a sticker on the front cover that said "As Seen On Animal Planet!"  Or, if that didn't bother them, would it bother them if they tried to remove the sticker so as to leave the beautiful cover photo completely visible - or were planning to give it as a gift to someone they judged indifferent to Animal Planet - and found it was well nigh impossible to remove it without damaging said cover?  It bothers us!  And we don't think we're being completely churlish in thinking that a truly removable sticker could have been used!  


And in a related story, we would like to lodge a small protest against large removable price stickers on gift books that are anything but - you begin to take it off and next thing you know - the book looks like it came from a bargain bin!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Always Read The Police Report Before Leaving the Station !

I thought I was done writing about DumpsterGate - but I was wrong!  I picked up a copy of the police report last Friday, because our new Dumpster company needed it to file an insurance claim.  I went to the beautiful new building in East Cambridge, gave them my file number, and was back in my car 5 minutes later, report in hand.  This morning, I thought I would be prudent and make a copy of the two page report before I sent it. As the second page printed my eye caught a strange phrase on page one: "3 birds, contained inside a bird cage, were dead."  Come again?  What? I read more - and my police report actually belonged to a Cambridge man who reported a house break-in: one stolen laptop and three dead birds.  When I called the Records department to request a copy of MY report - and gave them the file number of the one I had received, the clerk said "that file is from 2008!"  I looked - and yes, the date on the file was 8/17/2008.  The number bore no resemblance whatsoever to the number I had given them. So . .. my advice to one and all - always make sure that you are getting the report you asked for.  And spent an hour driving over to pick up.  And paid for.  (Okay, only $1)  At least they agreed to mail me the correct report!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Do People Still Send Postcards?

We've always sold a lot of postcards at Joie de Vivre.  Over the years we've had customers who bought lots of them, and despite a recent slow down in notecards, we still sell a lot of postcards.  Postcards are a time honored inexpensive wall decoration of course, and we have customers who do other interesting things with them as well.  Writing teachers who give one postcard each to a class of students and ask them to write a one page story about the picture for example. (always thought that would be a lot of fun to do.)  And I think some people buy and keep them because they love the images.  Anyway, a young woman bought a bunch the other day and on impulse, I asked her what she did with them.  And she told me about PostCrossing.  It's a website where you sign up to send postcards to people all around the world.  You request an address, and send a postcard.  Once you've sent yours, your name will come up when someone else, somewhere else, requests an address.  I took a look at it and instantly joined - and just sent my first postcard to a 26 year old philologist in Russia who likes Scottish Country Dancing, music, and speaks 6 languages!  (You get to fill out a profile of who you are and what kind of postcards you might enjoy, though of course you can send whatever you like.)  Anyway, in these days of decreasingly interesting snail mail - this strikes me as a great idea - therefore, I pass it along to my postcard loving customers!  Have fun!  Who knows, maybe you'll get one from me.

Friday, March 7, 2014

DumpsterGate Update

So, the police came and took notes on our dumpster incident - two big, tall, very nice policemen.  And when I say they took notes - I mean it - they had a tiny little composition style notebook and wrote down all the details.  They called into the station, got my file number, and left us with this.  Way to rock it old school !!
(and any readers who are confused by this post, please see previous blog entry!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Waiting for the Police to Come

Our blog post today has a rather dramatic title - but that's exactly what we're doing here at Joie this lovely afternoon.  Don't worry readers - we are all okay - but we have suffered a rather surreal theft.  Last night when I was leaving the parking lot, I noticed that one of our two dumpsters was - gone.  I thought it was odd - but I was on my way somewhere, so decided to deal with it in the morning, assuming in the back of my mind that our dumpster company, a new one, was switching out the old container for a newer one. Then, this morning, I was distracted and forgot all about it until our neighbor who shares it came in to ask where it was.  So, I called the company and after much back and forth - they checked with the drivers, the dispatchers, etc - they said they had nothing to do with it and could not proceed to replace it until we supplied them with a police report.  It kind of boggles the mind - who would take a dumpster?  A customer (whose husband is a contractor) suggested - a contractor.  She knew of disappearing dumpsters suddenly reappearing on job sites . . . and it's true, you would need either a truck or a several strong people to take that thing away.  Who knows.  But the theft happened, rather brazenly, in the middle of the day, because it was there in the morning.  Anyway, here we sit waiting for the police to come!  Stay tuned . . . for more Dumpstergate details!

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Mysterious Ways of the World

It happened again this week.  It actually happens more often than you'd think, but still, it never ceases to amaze me.  We sell a beautiful metal garland light made designed by Tord Boontje for Artecnica.  Or, more accurately, I should say, we carry this item, as we rarely sell one.  Still, it's lovely, and even if it doesn't sell well, we love it and it adds some serious whimsical beauty to the store.  We have it in both gold and silver.  Anyway, the other day a young woman asked me about them in the morning.  And then, she bought the silver one.  Toward the end of the same day, I was helping a customer at the desk when I noticed a woman looking up toward the lights.  She kept looking, and when I asked if she had a question or needed help - she said she wanted to buy one.  So - we had not sold one for probably two or three months at least - and then - two gone in one day.  It's just this strange retail thing that happens.  And a variant - I look at an item in the morning and think to myself - "I probably shouldn't have ordered that - even though I love it, it never sells."  And then, that very day - you can probably guess what I'm going to say.  A non-retail variant is when you think of a person you haven't seen or talked to in a long time - and then they walk in or call you.  The world is funny that way.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Back in the Saddle !

First- yet another apology!  I just got an email from a dear friend and Joiedeblog reader . . .  who said - basically - "You must be swamped with work and school or something because you haven't blogged in a long time."  Guilty as charged.  And feeling guilty.  I am starting to wonder if Joiedeblog would be better served if I posted on Facebook - so easy to pop up a comment and a picture- and keep this blog for the occasional longer, more contemplative post.  (Any blog readers with opinions on this, please let me know your thoughts!)  Anyway, since my last blog, I have been to New York twice, and Baltimore once, and I have found lots of good new items, and had a chance to catch up with a lot of Joie's suppliers and makers.  Some people complain about these shows - how much work they are, how tiring they are - but I can honestly say that with the exception of shows when I have been physically ill - a bad cold, a bum leg, etc - I always always enjoy them and wind up feeling inspired and energized. And, that's how I'm feeling now!  So - I hope that will translate to lots of Joiedeblog writing energy as well - stay tuned to find out.  And, a small teaser just to give you an idea of some of the things that will arrive here this spring:  solar pope, magnetic putty, fairy dust, octopus marbles, bouncing robots, air guitars, hedgehog puzzles, bobble head Einstein, and I conclude with that time worn, perhaps shop worn phrase that I generally dislike, but is sometimes like all cliches, apt - "and so much more!"

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Special Things We Get to See and Say

Sometimes when we're on the phone, we find ourselves saying things like, "Let me go in the back to see if we have the purple queen," or "You're looking for what?  Three singing pickles and a set of zombies?"  We do sell a lot of odd things - that sound even odder when discussed as though they weren't.  And sometimes we get sent excellent notices - like this one!  And I thought Cinderella would be with us always . . . .

Friday, January 17, 2014

Guest Blogger !



I was born in a factory in Newburyport, MA and had more relatives than I could count.  One day a thousand of us were put in a box and set on what I think was a loading dock - that's what I overheard these voices calling it. Next thing, we were in a truck and eventually, I saw the light of day again in a store in Cambridge, MA called Joie de Vivre.  I spent a few weeks on a shelf in the back room, and then got taken up to the front desk with maybe 40 of my friends.  We would hear a voice saying, "would you like a small bag for that?" and then one of us would get grabbed.  One day at the end of the day, someone grabbed me, but I didn't see any customers. Then I was opened and stuffed with cash and checks, and brought into the back where I lived in a grey metal box, along with some rolls of quarters and pennies.  I got to go out once or twice a week to the bank, and over the weeks, my age started, alas, to show.  People also wrote things on me, and sometimes I heard someone laugh when they read what someone else had written.  And out would come a pen for the response.  Eventually, I began to rip in several places, was scotch taped a few times, and then was put in a desk drawer.  I stayed there for several months, then I was taken out and pushpinned to a wall with another old bag just like me.  We don't know how long we'll be here - but we know we've already had a much longer life than the average bag.  If we're lucky, maybe we'll make it into the Joie archives of ephemera . . . people sometimes save strange things . . . .  oh - and ps - I am the bag on the left!