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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thoughts on Black Friday

I was reading my niece's Facebook page - she's a pretty committed anti-materialist and posted a link to a Day Without Shopping - evidently what many are doing these days the day after Thanksgiving instead of participating in what the media now calls "Black Friday." I sympathize. And yet. I do make my living selling things - and things that other people make their living selling to me. I don't want people to come to my store and buy things they can't afford with money they don't have - though of course, I do want Joie de Vivre to survive. But I've come to hate the way the media reports on shopping - as though it was some kind of sporting event. It's how they report on everything that has to do with money - not what movies are the best each weekend, but which movie grossed the highest. Which mall is the fullest. etc, etc, etc. Endless discussion of what people plan to spend this holiday season, and where. I guess its part of the 24/7 news cycle - but I remember a time when nothing much was written about the shopping season until January, when all had settled down and the figures were in. Anyway, if you come on in to Joie, whether you spend one dollar or a hundred dollars or just say hello- we'll be happy to see you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 25th

It's the night before Thanksgiving. One month from now it will be Christmas night, and the holiday rush will be over and done -except for the clean up - and the staff party - which we now hold in January after we've all recovered. Who knows what to expect this year? The economy so crazy still . . . the days of predictability are long gone. But one thing I know - I'll be in the store working all day Thanksgiving day. My tradition is to do the window display and put out the Christmas merchandise on that day. I do this to honor and not undercut Thanksgiving - a holiday I love - for many reasons, but one of them surely is that Thanksgiving has remained amazingly uncommercial - and can be celebrated by all, regardless of religion. After work, dinner with friends. Then, Friday, we'll begin the countdown. And one thing I'll give thanks for tomorrow, besides family, friends, and life - will be Joie's customers - who have kept me in business, even during these trying times. Thank you all - and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dancing Ballerina - movie star!

Tiki drummers are no more — but we have a new "most requested" website item — the Magneto Dancing Ballerina. We have been selling this dancing girl for our entire 25 year existence thanks to Lydell Kahn and the folks at Merry Thoughts. It's a simple and charming toy that engages all — well, maybe not your average teenage boy — we'll amend that to "engages many." We were a little mystified by its recent rise in popularity on our website and talking to some purchasers, we found out why. It's played with in the first scenes of the movie "Doubt." We "doubt" we would be getting this many requests if not for that fact. They're coming from all over the country — I need to order more ballerinas first thing in the morning!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Visiting Celebrity

It was a quiet morning at Joie de Vivre. I was in the back at my desk, trying to knock a few things off my endless "must do asap" list. Nancy came back to ask if we had any copies of "Why Cats Paint" left. "Why Cats Paint" is a book we sold a lot of maybe fifteen years ago. It's a scholarly work on cats who paint - complete with detailed notes. criticism, and many photographs of cat artists in action. It is very very funny without letting on for a single word that - does it go without saying? - the feline subjects aren't really "painting." I knew we had a copy left so I came out to see who was asking. It turned out to be Burton Silver - the book's author! Meeting him was a completely unexpected and delightful treat. He was in town from New Zealand and had been told by a Boston friend that Joie was a must see. So I now am the proud and happy owner of an autographed copy of "Why Cats Paint" - and got to spend some time trading stories with Mr. Silver - like the afternoon I heard a woman reference the book on the NPR Show "Talk of the Nation" - a show about animal intelligence. She mentioned it to prove that animals are much smarter than we give them credit for. True of course - but possibly not the best way to "illustrate" her point. The stunned silence of the hosts was priceless. "Why Cats Paint" is still in print after fifteen years - a classic. I think I'd better order a few more copies!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shop Local

What does shopping local mean to me? It means I'm always running into my customers. Sometimes they know they know me, but aren't sure where from. It's the same for me - the older you get, the more worlds you've lived in - someone could be familiar from anywhere. Contra dancing 30 years ago? Montreal? Vermont? The craft world, back when I was a woodworker? Or maybe just the occasional visit to Joie de Vivre. Yesterday I was at the gym, washing my hands post exercise when a woman stopped me to tell me that what she had bought a month earlier had been a big success. "It was the jeweled pretzel necklace" she reminded me. "I was going to give it away but I decided to keep it. It's such a great thing, thank you so much for finding it. I just love it!" I was smiling as I opened my locker and took out my street clothes. Partly because a $15 necklace could bring someone so much pleasure. And partly because I was thinking - this is what shopping local means to me - meeting a customer in the locker room at the gym.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It Never Hurts to Ask

A woman was shopping today, and asked if we could ship her purchases back to the west coast so she wouldn't have to lug them around town for the rest of her stay. Of course we could, and I asked her to write down her name and address on a piece of paper - actually, it was a bag as all our shipping forms had mysteriously disappeared. I looked to see where she lived - Corvallis, Oregon. I hesitated. One of my best friends from high school lives there. What were the chances? But I decided to ask - do you know . . .. ? Her face lit up. "Yes, I do!" she said. "I've known her for a long time - and my husband teaches with her at the University of Oregon." This woman comes to Cambridge every year or so and always stops at Joie - she says its one of her favorite things about the trip. And all these years we had a friend in common and didn't know. So, as my mom and grandmother taught me . . . it never hurts to ask!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Are All Sock Monkeys Cute?

Our answer - a resounding no! A sales rep sent us this, writing "Sock monkeys plus wine = best gift ever!" We think more like the scariest gift ever . . .

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cafe Joie

Monday morning I came in and made a few new displays - my favorite was centered around the "Play With Your Food" and "Food Landscapes" calendars we just received. We have a lot of silly food things - fake icecream, the lego "Snack and Stack" silverware, bacon bandaids - the list could go on and on. Then I read my email. Former employee and cartoonist extraordinaire Crispin Wood had sent me another page from his Joie files. The theme? Playing with Food. Cosmic . . .
(Click on drawing to make it bigger!)