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, August 31, 2009

The countdown begins . . . with 25 to go

I refer to the Tiki Time Drummers. We've been selling them for years, and now they are almost gone. When I found they had been discontinued last fall, I called the company who made them in a panic - and was able to snag the last 144 they had and while I wondered if I was a little crazy at the time, I was so right! They will surely join the "do you still have?" list at Joie... the small but select group of items that people ask for five, ten, fifteen, or even twenty years after the last one has been sold. Of the many items we have on our website, the Tiki drummer is the most frequently requested. Because of him, I've talked to the Seattle Police Department (they love him) and a fainting goat farm in Pennsylvania. Now I've decided to write an article about him, so I'm documenting the sale of the last twenty five. Six of them are being shipped out tomorrow - to Hawaii - an internet order!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Virgins in Heaven

No, this is not going to be some x-rated post - but I couldn't resist using the title of the above card. It's been one of our best selling birthday cards for the last year, giving our other top seller a run for its money. The inside greeting says "Hope you find paradise on your birthday." A few nights ago I was called out front. "Someone wants to talk to you about a card." It was this one, and an excited woman was waving it in the air saying "I know these women! They are the Sisters of Divine Providence and they were my teachers at the Sacred Heart School in Kingston, Mass!! And that was over fifty years ago!" She was kind of beside herself at the weirdness of seeing them on a birthday card. The photoshopped guns didn't seem to faze her. So - we have this information to present to the world: The one on the left, Sister Mary Noelle and the one next to her, Paul Marie, were "a couple". Sister Mary Noelle was referred to as "Sister Mary Masculine" by the students and had a crewcut under her wimple. The one on the right was also a Mary. She didn't remember the names of the two in the center. "I have to buy this card!" she said. "No you don't!" was my response. "I'm giving it to you!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

back from New York and hard at work

So, I just got back from the New York Gift Show. I have a briefcase full of orders placed, leads to follow, things to research more, contacts made, people to call etc etc etc. But maybe I'm NOT hard at work. Maybe I've been playing with the squirrelizer. Okay I admit it. I spent a little too much time sending this picture out today. But I have been working hard - my last day off? I can't remember. And it was for a good cause: to introduce friends to the joys of squirrelizing. The work I didn't finish? I'll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow. It's only a day away . . . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

New York Gift Show!

I'm in New York for the big August Gift Show. When I tell customers and acquaintances that I'm about to go to New York on business for a week, they often ask: "Will that be fun...?" in a way that indicates they think it might not be. But it is - it's a lot of fun! I get to see show friends and find out what's been going on. Some of these people I see more than my "regular" friends. And, I get to look for... I never know what! The next singing hamster, the next Midsummer light, or windup toy or glowing ball. Yes, it's a lot of walking - I've heard the whole show is 12 miles long if you walk every single aisle in every single section. I wear comfortable shoes. I bring my own lunch to avoid paying crazy money for awful food. I have a sweater that comes on and off depending on the reliably unpredictable air conditioning - either freezing or the opposite. I love being in New York too, walking the streets, so much to look at. I've found LOTS of great new things. I lost my cell phone on the M-34 bus. I've been in a serious traffic jam (half marathon on the West Side Highway - who knew?) and the subway closed this morning - ceiling collapse at 181st Street. I've had two great dinners and the chance to drink wine and talk shop with friends... it's 90° here, and the apartment is not air conditioned... but all is well!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lessons Learned*

(*Harvard University is trying to copyright that phrase, so I'm using it now, before it's illegal!) We overcharged a customer for a chicken handbag last week. I got a call from the front desk asking if the price was $34 and I said yes. After the customer left, I realized I had confused the chicken bag with the koi bag. But I had seen and recognized the customer so I resolved that the next time she was in, I would refund her $4. Several nights ago as I was eating dinner at the bar at Rendezvous with a friend, I noticed the waiter bringing a celebratory dessert with candle to the women on our right. I looked more closely at the two of them - there sat was my overcharged customer! I was excited to think I could correct my wrong so soon after the incident. I found $4 in my purse and went to the end of the bar. "Hi," I said. She recognized me, though she seemed a little puzzled. "Didn't you buy a chicken bag in my store a few days ago?" I continued. She pointed at her friend's dessert and said: "Shhh! It's for her birthday!" but it was too late. "Chicken bag!?" asked the friend. "You know I wanted that bag!" With flaming face I soldiered on, telling her we had accidentally overcharged her. I stuck out my hand and gave her the money. "It's not her only present," she reassured me. My friend jumped in at this point and soon we were all laughing, but I felt foolish. Lessons Learned - or maybe relearned would be more accurate: Birthday celebrations often involve surprise. Think, before you open your mouth!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

maybe not the plastic monkeys

Two twenty somethings were in the store for quite awhile this afternoon. We said hello, but Sunday is kind of a friends browsing together day. . people who are content to just look around, not needing much attention from us. At one point, they were standing by the desk in front of our "smalls" section. That's where we keep the inexpensive bins of stuff - party poppers, bubbles, magic flowers, fortune telling fish, chinese finger traps, etc.. "Wow," one said to the other. "This is like the Buffet of Childhood Memories." Her friend agreed. A moment passed. "Well," said the first. "but maybe not the plastic monkeys. Those I remember more from Scorpion Bowls." I joined in. "I'm glad you don't remember those from when you were a child!" We laughed and they moved on to the next.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Guess who's coming to dinner?

A friend was in shopping for a hard to please woman. "She likes flashy and over the top" was one of the things I had to go on. That doesn't really describe much of our merchandise but I started to wander around the store, looking for inspiration. My eye landed on the Koi Toy - the floating light up goldfish from our friends at Fred. "Do they have a pool?" I asked. "Yes" came the answer, and a Koi Toy was wrapped up to go. A few days later I got a report. It was a success, she really liked it. She liked it so much that she brought it to dinner at the Red Inn in Provincetown, and asked for a bowl of water. Many patrons stopped by to admire or to covet as it floated on her table, serenely changing colors and lighting up the rather traditional Inn. I wonder if it's the first Koi Toy to go out on a dinner date with its owner?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

that's times .0625, right?

August 1st marks the end of the 5% tax era in Massachusetts. All the amounts we say so automatically - that will be 1.05, 10.50, 36.75, 8.93 - must now be replaced by strange new numbers. The wonderful thing about 5% is that it's so easy to figure out - you just take 10% of the sale and divide it in half. No calculator required. Some of our younger, more calculator dependent employees did find doing it difficult - but it's really not, once you get the hang of it. And it always seemed to impress customers: "You're doing that in your head?" was a common comment. Why not just program the new tax into the cash register, one might ask. An embarrassing admission: our cash register, purchased for $50 from an antique store that was closing, doesn't "do" tax. We love it, but it's a very simple machine. So, calculators in hand, we are ready to chart the brave new world of 6.25%. That will be . . . 1.06, 10.63, 37.18, and 9.03.