Dear Blog Readers,
We have become the kind of blogger we never wanted to be — the kind who has a "read our blog" button on our website but the newest post is months old. We blame Facebook for this — it's so much easier to write something there and we seem to have more followers there than we did here on the blog. Still, we can't quite bring ourselves to give it up altogether yet — so instead, we're posting this little note to explain our lack of current entries. Please do check out our facebook page, we think it's fun, if not quite as long form.
sincerely, the Joie de Blogger.
Monday, June 29, 2009
It was fun! And I'm tired! We had lots of people stop by on Sunday, and some of the lucky earlier ones got to see Smallini , the world's tiniest magician do tricks in the Suitcase of Wonder. We have vowed to think of a reason to unpack that particular suitcase at Joie again - it was a very special and wonderful performance. At times during the weeks before this whole event, I had doubts about doing it. Business wasn't stellar, it seemed like a lot of trouble to pull it all together. . but I am so glad I didn't wimp out. It was so lovely to see people and hear the stories about their favorite items and memories of the store. And to all those who made a toast to 25 more years . .. even though I do sometimes question my future as a shopkeeper (might still want to be a ballerina or a diplomat or a squirrel trainer or . . . who knows what!) it makes me very happy to be reminded that Joie de Vivre has meant so much to so many people besides me!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Twenty Five years ago we opened the doors of Joie de Vivre at 5 pm with a small but lively party that lasted til 8, and got a little wild in the back room before we took it out into the night. (I was just a kid!) We had friends, curious neighbors who wanted to see what was behind the paper that had covered the front windows for the last month, and curious people who were checking out the rumor that an "adult" store was opening - this last, thanks to my first business card which read "Joie de Vivre, toys for adults!" (Those people were probably disappointed to see postcards, toys and photographs of flamingos!) People liked the store and we sold some things right away .... a good omen. Yesterday, our prebirthday party party, was well attended with lots of familiar faces as well as some surprised newcomers wandering in curious to see what was going on, and happy to get cake, champagne, and a 25% discount on everything. And today, we get to do it again! And for the sake of symmetry, we will do our raffle drawing at 5 pm, just at the time we first opened those doors. So much is the same, so much is different. More later. With some pictures, if I manage to take some that aren't too blurry!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
When I opened Joie de Vivre, I was determined not to have "sales". The merchandise seemed fairly priced to me, and we offered a very wide range of prices (try for a wider range than a ten cent plastic goldfish to a $1000 kaleidoscope!) We did have a few sales - for our 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th anniversaries. And a few years ago I broke down - or some might say, got smart - and started having summer sales on merchandise that we were no longer carrying - whether because it was discontinued or because it just hadn't worked for us. ("Hadn't worked for us" is the nice way of saying that our buyer (me) made a mistake) So, though sales are no longer unheard of here, they are generally not storewide - only on selected items. This year as we turn 25, I decided to have a longer than usual storewide sale. My first impulse was - "I'll do it for 2.5 weeks. . and start it on the 25th. .. 25% off! But I found myself waking up at night, worrying about running out of everything, so I changed my mind and cut it down to a ten day sale. Still starting on the 25th. . still 25% off. It's kind of my version of an offering - both to the gods of life and retail, and to our customers, who have kept us going for twenty five years. Maybe it's not the smartest thing to do . .. but, I want to do it - and, it's starting. . . tomorrow!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A wonderful thing happened the other day. I received an email from a P.T. Widdle, owner and operator of the Suitcase of Wonders, asking if I would like the world's smallest magician to perform in the store on Joie's 25th anniversary this Sunday. I had never heard of Smallini. . . but I love magic and performance, so I arranged for an audition which happened this morning. I wanted to make sure that the show would be appropriate for our birthday celebration - It will be perfect! Preview: I'll just say that it involves a theatre built into an old fashioned suitcase. A few toys from Joie de Vivre are among the props and cast. And a charming man stood in for Mr Widdle who was otherwise engaged; Peter Ross of Newton. I had wanted something besides our raffle (5 bags of our all time favorite things) to make the birthday different from the cake and champagne of the day before - and now we have it. I hope all reading this will be able to see this charming and enchanting little show. And don't worry, we will have cake and champagne on Sunday as well!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Almost every time I get my hair cut at the salon on the next block the owner tells me the same story. We're chatting about the neighborhood and how long we've each been here when he says "You know - I have to tell you, " and sets down his scissors. He continues. "When you first opened, I was sure you wouldn't last a year. I told everyone you would never make it. But you did, and I learned something. I never say that about anyone now, no matter how crazy I think their business might be." I have to admit, I get a kick out of being the one that proved him wrong - he's pretty positive about most things. And someone else predicted my failure from the start - the man whose space I took over, who actually told me, right to my face: "You'll never make it, this neighborhood is really going down." Of course, as he was reopening in a bigger space just one block away, I took his opinion with a large grain of salt. To myself I was thinking, I'm just try trying this for a few years; I'll see how it goes. All of these stories to say - yikes! Twenty five years later, I'm still here. And to be honest, it's just as difficult for me to imagine my life twenty five years into the future as it was when I opened the doors of Joie in 1984.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
In trying to get ready for our twenty fifth birthday, and also do regular business, many things of varying urgency have been piling up on my desk. We received an order from Tomas Savdra - maker of wonderful metal balancing toys - the other day and he had mistakenly sent us an extra owl. As it was late in the day, I put it in the paper tray of my printer so I would remember to call him, and went home. The next morning, I checked my email and saw an invoice I needed to print out. I hit print and the first page went through; then the printer made a strange noise and abruptly stopped. You guessed it - the owl had been sucked into the printer. It was not a small owl and it was hard to get out. Then I couldn't make the printer work. Miraculously, both owl and printer wound up surviving this trauma. Later in the day I was reading an article in a trade magazine about how to make life as a retailer easier. "Clear the Clutter" headed the list of suggestions. Not a bad idea...
Monday, June 15, 2009
We are getting close to a BIG birthday - our 25th. That means that twenty five years ago, I was covered with either paint, grease or sawdust, trying to get this place ready to open up. I wasn't doing it completely alone: I didn't build or install the shelves, or lay down the rug or do the lighting, but I painted and sanded and I was the one on her hands and knees scraping up the accumulated gook and grease left behind by the wonderful Mr. Frank Fox, the previous tenant. The opening day had been slated for June 1st, but the aforementioned lovely Mr. Fox failed to vacate the premises in May. More about him another time - what a character! And I was very naive, expecting that everything would happen just as planned. I'm older and wiser now, even if those two qualities have not grown at the same pace. . . I'm twenty five years older - but I don't feel that much wiser. Anyway, we are planning a birthday party and celebration and details can be seen on the website by clicking on "News." And yes, there will be cake . . . and champagne - and other types of bubbly drinks too!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
We just got in a fun new item from the wonderful company Fred - its called Food Face and as you can see, the idea is to draw faces on the plate with your food. But we were surprised: the boxes we got in don't look exactly like the box in the picture. They have an addition: a white boxed warning in the upper right hand corner that says "Warning: Choking Hazard - Small Parts. Not for children under three years old." Now, I know it's the age of lawsuits and protection and all that legal stuff but my common sense wants to know - how exactly could a child choke on an eight inch plate??
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Some things that can be yellow at Joie de Vivre are suns, moons, and stars. Bees are fine too, as are rubber ducks, rubber chickens, and anything with a smiley face on it. But there are lots of things that can't be yellow. Glow in the dark fairies and plastic mini maracas to name two items. Right now we have a little display of glow in the dark fairies. It holds one or two each of pink, green and blue . . . and probably forty yellow ones. When it started out, we had equal numbers of all. If someone wants four of them, they'll buy one of each color, but if they only want one, two or three, they will not buy the yellow. Same thing with our mini plastic maracas, and once you have an entire display of only yellow. . then no one buys any. To restock, we must buy an assortment and the whole process begins again, leaving us with even more yellow - the curse of the assortment. There are some items I've had to stop ordering for this reason only. Manufacturers just stare at me blankly when I mention this problem. .. but other store owners know exactly what I mean!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Customer: "Do you have a pig that's a pen that can record your voice?" Me: "No, but we have a parrot that's a pen that can record your voice .. would that be what you want?" Customer: "No. I saw a pig like that here a few weeks ago" I know he didn't . I'm not that far gone that I can't remember what we had a few weeks ago . . . but . . . he was certain he'd seen it. He left. The parrot just wouldn't do.
Monday, June 1, 2009
These days we sometimes wonder if the photographs on the postcards and cards we sell are real. We sell lots of cards with animal subjects and there is a definite trend of manipulating image; it's so easy to put a cat on a bicycle, or two disparate creatures snuggled up together etc. etc. On the other hand, there are some real and amazing photos of just that kind of thing out there. Currently we have one I love: a Buddhist monk sitting on the floor holding a small red hoop over his head. A cat is leaping through it, as several other cats watch and/or ignore this amazing feat. Of course those of us with cats wondered if it could be a real photo. . . I don't imagine my cat jumping through any hoops anytime soon. But yesterday a customer brought that postcard up to the desk. "I was there," she said. "Years ago. I'd forgotten all about it until I saw this." "There" turned out to be Inle Lake in Burma where there is a monastery informally known as the "jumping cat monastery." When the monks need a break from their spiritual practise, they practise a - much more difficult art. If you google "Inle Lake monks cats hoops" you can read all about it. And I believe I saw a YouTube video . . .