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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Russell Stover? I'll take 10 Woogie Lights!

When I walked into Joie this morning after several days away, I was told that someone had called through AT & Ts hearing impaired system, and wanted to place an order. The phone call - where an operator translates what you say by typing it, then translates what she gets back - took a half an hour, and finally he agreed to email us. When I read the email, he was requesting ten gift baskets (warning sign - there are no gift baskets anywhere on our website). The ten baskets were to be filled with Russell Stover candy, flowers, jams and "animals." They needed to go out for his "client," "urgently," today. I emailed him back explaining that we did not sell any of those type of items, and said that if there were things on our website he wanted, he should let us know via email. He called back with another patient operator, and a very odd list - 10 Rabbit Woogie lamps, 10 Wine Monkeys, 10 Bags of Happiness and 10 pieces of jewelry. Something about the phrasing was making me suspicious (to say nothing of the quick switch from chocolate and jam to expensive Woogie lights and Wine Monkeys.) An example of text: "so i will like you to get back to me with the cost for this different items and i want each items to be pack in one pack and i want ten pack of all items okay so can i have the cost and also send me your location address so that the carrier Manager will be able to quote pickup charges and delivery cost to all my client am sending this to and as well confirm to me if you can get this done for me today so that the carrier will come for the pickup alright." Then he called back again. It was only because of the hearing impaired operator that I was now giving him the benefit of the doubt . . . and we were going back and forth when I said to the operator (which seemed safe as he presumably could not hear) - that I doubted his credibility and thought this was most likely a scam. A scam that was starting to take up a lot of our time. She hesitated. "I can't really say anything about this," she said. Then she added, "But I would go with your gut feeling." "Thanks," I said. Please tell him that we can't get this done today, and I don't think we are really the right store for him. Can I hang up now?" "Yes, of course," she said. He did not email back to protest that he really did want those rabbits and wine monkeys, or to threaten a lawsuit for treating a hearing impaired customer badly. One hour of our time and end of story. Luckily, due to piles of snow it wasn't terribly busy - and we did get a few laughs out of it in the end.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Wow. Somehow it got to be the evening of December 24th, and all that retail holiday craziness is over. And, our apologies to any who didn't realize that we close at 4 on Christmas Eve. We at Joie are . . . . tired! But happy. December is both demanding and fun - and it's definitely a treat to see all our many customers - some of who come to Joie only once a year - just like Santa Claus. (Note to said customers - try coming to see us maybe twice a year - we'll miss you.) The official Joie scribe is typing this from Mom's house and will soon return to sit by the fireplace with a glass of wine - and then . . zzzzzzzzzzzz. But all of us at Joie want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas - or Happy Solstice - or just a relaxing day off - and to say thanks for your patronage - we couldn't be here without you ! Thank you!

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Do You Spell That??

It was a busy Sunday afternoon at Joie de Vivre and we had our full holiday staffing - five or six people behind the desk. A woman called, asking us to put the Woodstock Chimes xylophone on hold . . . someone started writing, then asked "How do you spell xylophone?" Four people answered immediately and reasonably confidently: "X . . . " - then all fell silent. Then we started laughing. How DO you spell that word? It was really funny - but - count us Joie de Vivre staffers out on your next spelling bee.

Unrelated postscript: five days to Christmas . . . and its snowing !!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Best Intentions . ..

So much for live blogging the Midnight Madness party - it's too crazy !! maybe towards the end . . .

Friday, December 17, 2010

One Week?

A mind boggling thought: I realized when I woke up this morning that one week from today is Christmas Eve. Only one week left of the crazy busy nonstop period we call the "holidays." It doesn't seem possible, but it's true. And tomorrow night is our now annual Midnight Madness Shopping Party - when we and several other stores in the neighborhood stay open until midnight to have a little party and help out shoppers who are running out of time. (we hope that this late night event helps make up for our insistence on closing at 4 pm on Christmas Eve itself) So . .. we will post from the event itself tomorrow night (live blogging Midnight Madness anyone?) - and probably see at least some of you readers soon !

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Know You've Been In Business a Long Time When . . .

. . . there is a ten year old girl in your back room learning how to make up gift boxes . . . and she is aiming to follow in her mother's footsteps - and she's the daughter of someone who started to work for you twenty-five years ago !! And . . . you know you're doing something right when moms who worked for you for twenty five years ago still like to come back and work a few shifts at Christmas for fun. (okay, and discount and a little money too). I feel like one lucky - and amazingly old - person and store !

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Being Just a Little Bit Bad . . .

We became the official Cambridge home of "Wee Forest Folk" this year. Wee Forest Folk is a small company,and they have been making charming whimsical dressed mouse (and sometimes bear) sculptures right down the road from us in Concord, MA for the last 30 years. We met them at either the Toy Fair or the New York Gift Show - can't quite remember - and did some small orders which led to them asking us to be their Cambridge distributor - a post we happily accepted. A few weeks ago they dropped off some Christmas figures for our display case... and Sunday we sold the focal point - the holy family figures. Being us... we couldn't resist the opportunity to replace the family with something else... but we promise - he was only there for five minutes. The dignity of our display remains intact - and several customers told us that in Europe, it's traditional for the holy family to be absent until the 24th of December. In any case, we did save our brief fun in pictures and here it is - devil duckie takes one of his fifteen minutes of fame...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Worth Staying Open A Little Late For This . . .

We close at 6 on Saturdays . . . though when it's the holiday season, we sometimes stay a little later if customers are still shopping. It was about 6:20 . . . and now there were just two customers left - a mother and her daughter. I'm not the best judge of kid's ages, but I would guess that the daughter was maybe six years old. "Make up your mind, they're trying to close!" urged Mom. "I already picked something!" was daughter's reply. I was the only one left behind the counter and her small hand thrust two objects at me. What were they? A tiny dragon keychain and a small unicorn eraser. There was just something about the moment that was beautiful and perfect - these two miniature mythological creatures selected by the paying youngest customer of the day. The crumpled bills came out of a purse, I wrote up a sales slip, gave this last customer of the day her change. I wondered if she knew that dragons and unicorns are not (forgive me, believers) real creatures. And then I said goodnight, ushered them out and shut off the lights.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Warning . . .

For some reason, the crazy owner of Joie de Vivre decided last year to try earning a college degree from Harvard in her "spare time." It's a bit like climbing the mountain — it's there — and it's actually been quite interesting, challenging and rewarding. But this fall's course has a big ending requirement — writing a ten page paper — which unhappily is coinciding with the beginning of the busiest time of the year. So, owner feels a bit more like the Joie de Vivre hamster in wheel than usual this year . . . and may not blog quite as frequently this month . . . just saying . . .

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . .

Well . . . we didn't open at 6 a.m. this morning, or have any deep discounts . . . and there was no line jockeying for position when I unlocked the door at 10 - but, people were out shopping and it was a fun day. We have donned our gay apparel - or put out almost all of our seasonal merchandise (done yesterday before an evening Thanksgiving dinner) so we're ready - Christmas cards, advent calendars, ornaments, snowglobes . . . all the stuff that comes, like Christmas, but once a year. This beautiful papercut on view in our window was designed by our friend and ex-Joie employee Danielle Nekimken - and made by Annie Howe in Baltimore - check out her beautiful work here! Click on this photo to see how beautiful and intricate it really is - and find the devil duck while you're at it!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh the Irony!

"Keep Calm and Carry On" has become a very popular phrase indeed this year. We have it at Joie de Vivre many ways, including the above mug which we've been sold out of for a month or so. We received our reorder this week, priced them, and called the people who'd been waiting for them to return. Today, a woman came in for hers, and when we peeled off our non-permanent price tag (the kind we've been using successfully on all kinds of things for years) - the red paint came off with it. Whoops ! We grabbed another mug. Same thing. Another, fine - customer left happy. I went to the stockroom to try the remaining 16 mugs. Only 4 survived my slow and careful price tag removal . . . . uh oh . .. keep calm . . . . make note to call the company tomorrow . . . carry on . . .

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Almost Perfect Item for Joie

This should really be a series - items that are so right for Joie de Vivre, except for their price. This beautiful machine is a mechanical party popper popper. As our customers know, we have been selling party poppers for 15 cents each (7 for $1) for years and years and they are a very "pop"ular item. This machine, courtesy of the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre folks in England takes the drudgery out of popping poppers - it does it for you. Very elegant . . . and very fun. I love it and would buy one of these for all my friends and loved ones . . the only trouble is - its cost- approximately $700 (depending on pound to dollar fluctation of course) And, kind of chintzy that for that amount, they supply only 50 poppers, not even a complete box! Oh well . . . I do love knowing that someone went to all the trouble of making this machine!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Antlers . . .

. . . they're not just for Christmas anymore! These lovely sets were spotted recently on some California kayakers . . . and I recognize them (& the kayakers too.) They came from Joie de Vivre where we had fun wearing and selling them several Christmases ago . . . but made the mistake of packing them away after the holidays!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Warm Fuzzy Feeling Part Two

So . . . . besides the fact that people who have worked for me for years and now have "real" jobs and/or husbands and kids are willing to come and work at Christmas, I realized something else kind of amazing. Three of the people on the list of former employees that I emailed - started to work at Joie de Vivre when they were in - - - High School ! I have known one of them for twenty five years now . . . and one for seventeen years . . . and one for . . maybe ten? It really is a wonderful thing to have these relationships with these wonderful people. And that's it for this week's posting of warm fuzzy feelings . . . will go back to less sentimental posting - promise !

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Warm Fuzzy Feeling

I sent out an email a few weeks ago to all the former Joie staffers in the area, even those who have worked just a little at Christmas, to find out if anyone wanted to work again this year. We always need extra people during December, and its great to have people who already know the store. All of these former employees now have full time jobs, and or kids, or are going to school - in other words, they're kind of busy. I made a point of saying I would love them even if they didn't have extra time or the desire to work this year. But everybody said yes. And two people who live out of town who I hadn't emailed called me to say they would like to work. So, it looks like old home month again this year. Then I was out for a walk this afternoon and ran into a former Joie-ette I had not emailed as she has a full time job and two young children. "Let me know if you have any holes in the schedule," she said. "It would be fun to work a little." That was a nice surprise. It makes me feel very good that these former employees still like Joie enough to want to work - hence the title of this post - and thanks everybody !!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just Like Mae West Says . . .

You can't have too much of a good thing! Our proof - the latest sound machine - the sci-fi special. Yes, it will make the front desk just a little bit more noisy to have FOUR sound machines sitting there - that's 64 buttons to be pressed by customers total . . . but - they are all so good. And we think this one is going to be as popular as the others . . . space ships, ray guns, transporter room, aliens, UFOs . . . what's not to like?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mysterious Plastic Puppy Cup

This week a man stood in our store holding a lenticular dog cup, one of a set of four, each printed with a different dog. He was a well dressed man, and he held the cup from many different angles, scrutinizing it closely. He put it down and picked it up again. he rotated it in his hand. He held it closer, staring at it. At least ten minutes passed. Now, there was nothing particularly strange about this cup to the casual observer. Anyone who saw this man inspecting a plastic puppy cup at such length might have thought - that guy must be a little crazy! And I know if I saw a person staring at anything that intensely for that long, I would be wondering about them myself. But I was not alarmed because I knew this customer. He is a regular shopper and a theoretical physicist. When he stares at something for that long there is always a reason. And this time it turned out that he had never seen a lenticular image on a curved surface. He was trying to figure it out, and how it could be done just a little bit better. Another customer got involved in the discussion. This sort of thing is one of the things I love about standing behind the Joie de Vivre desk!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Somewhat Quaint But Fine Expression

A week or so ago and customer and neighbor was in shopping for a gift for a woman friend. I showed him a few possibilities, he chose one, I wrapped it, and off to the birthday party he went. He was in again yesterday with a friend, looking around, so I asked him how if the present had been a success. His answer: "Oh yes, it was very well received." For some reason the expression really struck me. Of course I've heard it many times, but this time I realized exactly, literally, what it meant - the person liked it - received it well. Of course you could say "she liked it a lot" and it would mean the same thing. But I find "well received" particularly charming and also apt. Of course, I'm a fan of Jane Austen, Dickens, George Eliot, etc. and do enjoy a certain turn of phrase . . .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's Behind That Door?

Joie de Vivre is long and narrow and in the back of the store, to the right of a card rack, a door leads into our stockroom. The other day a man was browsing in the store for quite a long time - almost two hours. He was quiet, didn't say much, but as he bought a couple of cards he asked if he could go into the backroom. We said "no." He asked, "What's back there?" We said, "our stockroom." He looked puzzled and asked, "Why the sign?" We looked at the door. A large TinTin poster takes up most of the space, and right over it is a small tin sign that we sell. What does it say? "Adult Supervision Required." Whoops ! He clearly thought we had something pretty interesting behind that door. More interesting than the boxes of postcards, extra salt and pepper shakers, boxed wind chimes, shopping bag stock and packing materials that we store back there. And its funny - years ago we actually did keep a few "adults only" items in the back - anyone remember those little "surprise" chickens?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Of Window Displays and Broken Cameras

We haven't been doing too many themed windows this year, but last night I put in our Halloween display. Skeleton flamingos - or skelemingos as they say in the trade - and I recycled the twisty trees made by Kate for our Valentine window last winter, add an inflatable Edward Munch scream, some lights, an orange star . . owls, mice, bats, ravens . . . check. Finish with two bags of leaves gathered last week in Vermont. People were walking by, pointing and laughing - making me realize how much people enjoy it when you take the time to do a real display. (resolve - do more!) You'll have to come by and see - or imagine it for now - there is no photo to accompany this blog because on same Vermont trip I dropped my camera on a country road as I struggled to find and answer my cell phone. It was a crisis call informing me that our charge machine had broken - a fate my camera now shares.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Morning Glory Madness

We love morning glories, and we planted some around the base of the tree in the middle of our little sidewalk garden this year. The vines grew, then grew some more, but by the end of the summer we had yet to see an actual flower. Checking in with our official gardener we found similar stories down the avenue - prolific greens, no flowers. Then, one day late in September we noticed . . . something pink . . . peeking out from the vine. A flower ! That day there were five or six of them. Two weeks later, several dozen. Meanwhile, the morning glory vine continued its climb to the top of the tree. Now the vine has made it all the way to the top, at least fifteen feet up (I estimate) and there is lots of "glory." Will our stockroom ladder reach high enough for us to cut it back in November? Will we have to call the fire department and borrow a ladder? Stay tuned . . .

Friday, October 8, 2010

We Repeat Ourselves Because We Must !

Joie de Blog has been blogging for over a year now . . . so we write this post with an odd sense of deja vue, we wrote about it a year ago. However, the event we write of is so wonderful that we will write about it every year from now til Kingdom Come! What is this wonderful event? The HONKfest - a two day event - features lots and lots of crazy, talented musicians playing brass band music with quite a difference. The performers are all ages and come from all over the country. Lots of them wear zany costumes. There are girls performing with hoops. Dancers. Loud & excellent music. They'll be playing in and around Davis Square Saturday from noon to 6 or so, and Sunday, they all march in a giant parade, along with local floats and paraders, right past Joie de Vivre en route to Harvard Square where they do it all some more at the Harvard Square October Fest. If you can catch any of it - you won't regret it! (then come and say hi to those of us who must work inside - unless we decide to run away and join the party!) For more information - !

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Whoops !

I always like to reassure customers who are worried about picking up that expensive kaleidoscope - or showing a toy to one of their children - that those of us who work here (okay, especially me) break more things than all of the customers put together. Here is a photo to illustrate my point. In an attempt to find room for the newly arrived big box of skelemingos, I was up on the ladder, trying to move some boxes without really looking to see what was behind them. Things started wobbling, then several boxes hit the floor. Guess what was in one of them? Happily, they were inexpensive display ornament, not the special ones we sell, but . . . they still made quite a mess. Everything else survived. And I was left cursing my carelessness again. I always think I've learned my lesson and then, crash ! But hope springs eternal . . I will be more careful, I will be more careful, I will, I will, I will !

Friday, October 1, 2010

Joie Wants to Know #2

Why would a company put a large sticky label on a pen? A label that covers a third of the pen? A cute pen, a cow pen, the kind of pen someone will buy for someone else for a gift? Since so many of our customers are buying gifts, we try to take ugly labels off in advance of gift wrapping and just in general. to make a nicer presentation. So we started taking - or trying to take - the labels off these pens. Fifteen minutes of concentrated effort and the three pens we tried all had lots of little pieces of label and sticky stuff still clinging to them. What about just leaving the labels on and letting the "end-user" deal with it? We won't say that thought hasn't occurred to us but it just doesn't seem right. And could also lead to one of our customers asking us to remove the label before we wrapped it and us having to admit that - we can't. We have returned items to companies before for this reason . . . and I think we will be returning those cows. We hope they're just a bad bunch. Ahhhhhhhh - these are the little things that can drive you crazy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Joie Wants To Know . . .

I'm in the back unpacking today. We got a lot of large boxes - Christmas merchandise is starting to arrive. I just opened up a box large enough to hold - let's say, three large fluffy bed pillows. In other words, fairly large. Inside: a lot of paper, and one small box, the size of a - let's say, a good, thick, old fashioned telephone book. And that was it. And, inside that small interior box?Something delicate, easily broken, made of glass? Nope! One dozen fabric holiday headbands. I had to go out to the front of the store and deliver an impromptu "what not to do when packing boxes" speech, complete with visual aids - the boxes themselves. My question: Why would anyone pack something in this ridiculous way? Why?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Made in the U.S.A.

A customer whose daughter is studying in Thailand for a year told me she had wanted to send over something made here in the good old USA. What did she choose? Silly Putty. She said it was a huge success - with an art professor who had never seen it before. Her story made us remember just how cool silly putty is - the snapping, the bouncing, and most of all, the fun of pressing it into a newsprint image to make a copy, which can then be morphed the good old fashioned way - by pulling and stretching. Our customers tend to assume that everything inexpensive that we sell is made in China. Not silly putty. And by the way, not the original Slinky either. And another fun toy that we sell- boinks - are also made here - I just verified it with a phone call to the company in Indiana!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Literally - How Can I Help You?

Monday morning puzzle. A man is asking for a "spinning kind of toy" that the bought here seven or eight years ago. No matter what I asked him, he could not remember anything specific about it. Just that he wants one. The only thing I have to go on is the word "spinning." I can't solve this puzzle !

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Good Thing Coming To An End

Don't worry — it's not Joie de Vivre! But, it is a beloved product we've been selling for years. The story goes like this: one day I saw a picture of a fake coffee cup "spill" in New York Magazine. It looked very funny and it gave the address of the party store on the upper East Side of Manhattan where you could buy them. I called them, and wound up talking to Jeremy Sage, the man who made them. In a funny conversation, I found out that he grew up in Cambridge, just blocks from Joie de Vivre. And that he had played Jesus, in Jesus Christ Superstar, for several years on Broadway. And a few other things including yes, he would be willing to sell us some of his spills. We were his first customer, though within a year after the article was published, he was exhibiting his work at the New York Gift Show. So, yesterday — ten or fifteen years later — I faxed him an order, and later found a note stuck to my computer saying "call Jeremy — he has some news." I called. "I'm retiring," he told me. "In a couple of days." When I expressed shock and surprise, he said, "well, it was a spur of the moment decision." He said that a lot of his accounts have closed . . . and he's bored . . . and he doesn't really need the money. I tripled my order for ice-cream and coffee spills, but that's it. We do buy similar things from another company who jumped on the bandwagon after Jeremy's spills made such a splash, but — they are not quite as good. And they don't make the ice-cream cup spills. And you can't choose your coffee cups. Or personalize things. His was truly a small and accommodating business, and we are very sad to see him go!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bubble, Bubble

This morning I was leaning down to turn on some lights and I found a bubble clinging to the wall. It was fun to find an unexpected bubble. We sell these no-pop bubbles — they have just a little bit of plastic in them like the blaseball balloon "bubbles" of old you blew threw a straw — and they don't pop right away. We often demonstrate them to customers who haven't seen them . . . after they've been in the air for maybe 30 seconds, you can catch them on a fingertip. I knew the last time we had blown some was last Saturday ( the day a woman walked out of the store with a few unpopped bubbles in her hair) so the bubble I found this morning had been there for three days. Not a bad life span for a bubble!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another We Would Be Selling This If We Could

This time, the product doesn't exist except in our imagination. Joie employee Nancy, a BIG fan of devil ducks, designed this lovely version. We sent it to the company who makes devil ducks and amazingly, they have failed to jump on it. Okay, we know they're kind of at the end of the devil duck line, and that you have to make a new mold, and probably make hundreds of thousands of the little things... but we think they are missing out big time by not producing this product!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It Really IS Pretty Good !

We have been selling Garrison Keiler's "Pretty Good Joke Book" for probably five years. Most of the jokes come from his once a year Prairie Home Companion Joke Show, and the book is popular as everything from a hospital present to a birthday gift to a just plain "here's something fun" gift. This Labor Day weekend, my sister and I drove to Albany to celebrate my mother's 86th birthday and I grabbed a copy of the joke book for the drive. It was fun to read them and they really made us laugh. Then, I read some at the birthday celebration and got my Mom laughing til she cried. She liked it so much I left it with her, so we didn't get to finish the last couple of chapters - but, we have more of them here at Joie. Now I understand why this book sells as well five years later as it did when we first bought it . . . it's really really funny ! (and, bonus - they update it every year or so with lots of new jokes- we're now up to edition 5.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is That New?

The other day a long time customer was in shopping. I showed her a few new things and had left her to browse when I heard her exclaim excitedly over something. I looked up and the something was an item we have been carrying for maybe three or four years. She thought it was new because she had never noticed it before. This happens more than you might think. People who come in and look around often think they've seen it all - but they almost never have. And customers should not feel bad about this - a favorite story of mine involves a former part time Joie staffer who worked here for several years. He was famous for asking me "when did we get this?" about an item that had been on display in the same spot for at least a year! (If you're reading this Mr. "X" - you know who you are.) Anyway, I guess the moral of the story - if there is one - is - if you're looking for something here and don't think you see the right thing - it never hurts to ask - there might be a perfect thing that you just haven't spotted yet.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Just Saying . . .

When a customer that you don't know at all asks you "How old do you think I am?" and she's a woman . . . and she has also just confided that she is joining an on-line dating service . . . decide how old you think she is . . . and then subtract five to ten years. No matter what. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the awkward position of guessing she is in, say, her fifties, only to find she is in her forties. Just a word of warning . . . make it easy on everyone and guess low !

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eating My Words

or maybe I should be drinking my words . . . anyway, here is an illustration of the importance of good design. Last year I did a post on how frightening sock monkey wine bottle covers were. Based on the picture above, you can probably understand my reaction. But this summer, the clever folks at Fred released their own version of a wine monkey, and it struck me completely differently. I ordered some and we sold out quickly. Based on the picture below, you can probably understand that as well. The monkeys themselves were virtually identical. It just goes to show . . . the importance of packaging. And it's another example of never say never. I called the wine monkey the scariest idea ever . . . and now I think it's only a tiny bit scarey - and more cute and fun.

Friday, August 20, 2010

If Only We Could

. . . we would be selling this product. It's wrong for us on so many levels. It's a condom for starters. Joie de Vivre tries to be a family store. And it's certainly disrespectful - but as Sarah Palin is so disrespectful towards others herself, that doesn't bother us much. (The Obama versions DO bother us however - they're funny and the text is not disrespectful to Obama but in our book a presidential condom is inherently so) Anyway, you won't find this here at Joie de Vivre, but we thought you readers might enjoy knowing it exists . . .

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Happy Squeaky Wheel

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you may remember our post from awhile ago titled "Inquiring Minds Want to Know." Those minds were wondering why a nicely designed water based clock would be in a box covered with cheesy pictures of bosomy girls. So, yesterday at the Gift Show I saw the company that makes the clocks, and noticed the clock was now packaged in a simple clear box. The company owner recognized read my name tag and said "I'm glad you came in, we wanted you to see this new box." (They had previously sent us stickers to cover over the aforementioned girls.) He told me he had changed the packaging in large part because of my complaint. That made me happy. Sometimes I feel like I'm always complaining about things... it's nice to know that people are listening at least some of the time. It gives me hope - maybe Chronicle Books will remove that picture of Tiger Woods from the "My Listography" book.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Flamingo House

The house we rented for our beach vacation is called the Flamingo House - by our family and I'm sure by others. It used to have weathered pink shingles, but they were recently replaced with grey aluminum siding. The interior is still loaded with flamingos of every kind - large paint by numbers, flamingo mugs, plates, pillows, lamps - you name it. A good rainy day kid activity is counting flamingos - but we were lucky to have none of those days this time. We used to rent this house every summer but haven't been back for awhile and I had forgotten how many flamingos Joie de Vivre had contributed - in the photo above, the jack in the box and the wooden flip toy, and a standing wooden flamingo puzzle to name just a few. It was fun to see them - (and yes, I brought some more to add to the flock this year!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Behind the curtain at Joie...

heh heh heh... now that the cat is away, we Joielings are well, er, ummm... ready to blame whatever may happen on devil duckie!
WHOOPS! did you see THAT?!
oh noooo... we'll never be able to explain this...
me? I thought YOU were supposed to be here at 10 this morning...
hmmm... does the computer screen often go blank like this?

But all kidding aside (ahem), in Linda's absence we would like to acknowledge her amazing presence at Joie de Vivre. How many times has a customer said to us: "This place is like a museum — you should charge admission!" ...or "Who finds all this great stuff?" ...or "This place is too fun." So yes, there really is one tireless mastermind behind Joie — someone who not only finds the best tiny plastic ducks, smiling whirling sugar bowls, a device that makes horses gallop, dogs run and hummingbirds fly, and books that make you laugh 'til you cry, but also creates a whimsical atmosphere in which to bring them to you.

Enjoy your well-earned vacation Linda! (we're pretty sure the carpet will have dried out by the time you get back...)

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's That Time Again

Time for Joie de Blog's summer vacation ! Off tomorrow to the Jersey Shore. I love Long Beach Island and if it wasn't so darned far away from Cambridge, I would have loved to have opened a seasonal store down there - I even picked out a name- Beachy Keen. But that seven to eight hour drive, (no airport or train) - it would never work. And this way, it remains a true vacation - a special and relaxing treat. Anyway, for the next week, I have invited a few guest bloggers to post - we'll see if they do! Joie de Blog will resume its regular blogging next weekend from the New York Gift Show!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Right Tool for the Right Job

Girl, about 10, at the store with several friends, asks seemingly randomly: "Will I get to eat pie tomorrow?" I look over and realize she's addressing her question to the flat cellophane fortune telling fish. These fifty cent fish have been around forever - you place fish on your palm and its actions tell you if you are fickle, passionate, in love, etc. Me: "You'll have to ask the Magic Eight Ball - the fortune telling fish only knows about love." Girl: "Oh. Okay!" and off to the Eight Ball she went.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Joie de Vivre Recommends !

I think this will be an occasional series of website recommendations. We're sure that you all know about many cool sites, but every once in a while, I come across one that really makes me laugh. (& it's funny how many of these have been made into books - Cakewrecks, Stuff White People Like, and the Blog of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks to name just a few.) Anyway, a friend alerted me to this one recently and I think it's really funny. Catalog Living. For best results, should be viewed by those familiar with Pottery Barn catalogues and the like.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Priceless !

We hate to disappoint our customers . . . but we have an item hanging over our register that is not for sale. They say the devil makes work for idle hands and some days are not so busy here at Joie . . thus this rarely seen winged devil duck. People often inquire about it, but they don't seem to want to make their own - to do so you must make a glow in the dark fairy into a regular little girl by removing her wings and then attach those wings to a miniature devil duck. We did break down and sell the tiny winged rubber chicken, and rubber pig . . . and might be persuaded to part with the winged ninja . . . but the devil duck is not for sale. Apologies to all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

They're Not Just For Easter Anymore !

or - I knew there was a reason I saved those chenille chicks. A good friend is in the "Fried Chicken Club," a group of former co-workers who meet monthly or so to keep up with each other and - often - eat guess what? Fried chicken. She was having the gang to her house and wanted to do up her dessert so she called to see what sort of chickens we might have here at Joie. Here you see the rather spectacular results of our collaborative work! Rumor has it the cake was delicious too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Umm . . . Time for Version Two??

We sell a pair of wonderful books published by Chronicle Books - Listography and My Listography. They are basically blank books with lists to fill in - Listography, the original. has pages for room-mates, movies, past loves, favorite books, and it was so popular that they came out with "My Listography," a version aimed at those who still lived at home with Mom and Dad. I was enthusiastically recommending it to a customer today as a great idea for a ten year old girl and as I flipped through the pages, showing her the contents I came across "People I Would Like to Meet." The example of such a person: Tiger Woods. Whoops! I don't think Tiger Woods is a very good example of anyone a ten year old girl would like to meet these days. I think Chronicle Books is going to have to do a version two and get him off that page. It's just one page in the book . . still . . . it definitely made me uncomfortable . . . quite the example of "how far the mighty have fallen." My question - should we keep selling it because of all the other great pages . . . or wait for My Listography, Version 2??

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

R.I.P. Flat Cat

"Only one left." These are words we never like to hear about our most beloved products, and I had to say it about the Flat Cat just the other day. This simple and wonderful product was made by Blue Q, one of our favorite companies and we have been selling it for years. As a matter of fact, we were their first customer, at their first gift show in New York, and I believe the Flat Cat was their first product. I looked at our last cat and thought of the many items I have let slip through my fingers — the wall mounted musical airplane . . . the cowboy hamster . . . the photo-ing on car — all things I thought I'd take home "some day" and then a customer asked for one and it was the last one. It's true that sometimes companies bring discontinued items back — but the flat cat has already been discontinued and revived once — so I grabbed the flat cat and he is now living with me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Our Occasional Tshirt Series . . .

spotted on a customer this week . . . and lest anyone accuse us of ethnic slurs . . . I am 3/8ths Irish !

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's Corn Season and That Means . . .

You need these ! I had my first two pieces of Massachusetts corn this week and what could possibly be better than to eat corn using these "Unicorn Corn Holders" ? We nominate them as the perfect summer gift - just pick up a bag of corn from your favorite farmstand . . . and a pack of these - you get 8 in each package - and off you go. (price, you ask? $8.50) And, unicorn alert: we have noticed more and more unicorn products out there, some of which will be arriving soon at our door. We're not sure why, no one really ever knows how these things happen (except maybe Malcolm Gladwell) - but it's starting to look like unicorns will soon be giving owls a run for their money. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Morning

Shortly after I opened the door this morning a woman walked in. She was just browsing, in for a card, and started to laugh at one of the silly books on the front table. Then she noticed the Tomas Savrda pieces and we talked about them for awhile. Next thing she was laughing at the taco purse. She moved over to the Mullanium bird sculptures and the Boss/Brown clocks before going back and buying a few cards and the Irresponsible Science book to give to her son. While she was checking out, she noticed the new little prints of paintings by the Mincing Mockingbird and we started talking about them and during the course of that conversation I found out she was an artist herself. She bought a print. I love it when people "see" all the aspects of the store - don't see only the jewelry, or only the kid's toys, or only the cards - that doesn't always happen. . . . a nice start to the day !

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh - Maybe This is How They Do It

Well . . . if you read our last post, you know we were wondering how one could make money selling things at a 60% discount. We just got a clue - maybe you just mark up everything a ridiculous amount, then it's easy ! My sister just sent me a link, showing a tin Ocean Liner that we sell for $18 - on a website that has it priced at $66 (!) If you search out items online there will always be a little price variation - I would expect to see this particular item going from a low of $15 to maybe a high of $20. Then I thought - of course it's possible that they simply made a mistake . . . so I checked out their other tin toy prices - all insanely inflated. Buyer beware - the website I refer to is They sell clothes and other things primarily - maybe they thought their customers would not realize what fair prices for tin toys are . . ? ? Crazy ! Below - the boat. Joie - $18.00 Unplugged Byron Bay - $66.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What's Wrong with This Proposal?

Someone called me from a website called the Savvy Source with a "partnering" proposal. They "really wanted to work with us." I asked her to email me the particulars and the deal went something like this: We choose an item and discount it 40 to 60% (red flag there.) They email it out to their supposedly local mailing list and the item can be purchased at discount - through their website only, not ours (red flag #2)- for 4 days. We then pay them 40% of total of everything they've sold. (Red Flag #3) The email cheerily concludes, "there is no out of pocket expense for you." ? ? How can we possibly make any money giving them 40% of an item that we are already selling below our cost? ? I emailed them back asking how this could be a good idea for us. Oddly - they never got back to me on that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Missed Marketing Opportunity !

Just think how many of these we could have sold this weekend . . . had we only known they existed . . . hmm . . . on reflection, the fact that they do exist is kind of scarey . . .

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Beautiful, Enchanting, Illegal

A customer asked me if we sold sparklers yesterday and I had to tell him that sparklers are considered too dangerous to use here in Massachusetts and are therefore - illegal. I have so many fond sparkler memories from my youth - running around with them in the backyard, or on a beach in the dark, or drawing pictures in the air, always mesmerized by their sparkling beauty. They are such a perfect Joie de Vivre item, we would certainly sell them if we were in one of the 45 states where they are legal. And on the other hand - robo calls - why are they legal? It seems like things should be the other way around - those annoying robotic phone calls should be illegal - not the magical sparklers! It's all wrong. In any case, a reminder to anyone thinking of coming in and discussing the sparkler question in person - Joie de Vivre will be closed on the 4th.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Customers Just Want to Have Fun

Almost every day a customer approaches us with an "I really hate to tell you this" expression on their face, pointing to the coffee spill or the ice cream spill. Here in the store they don't take the wine spill as seriously as even though we have a French name, and that name roughly translates as "joy of life" - it's not easy to believe we would be drinking red wine before . . . lunchtime. Ellen, a customer in Shelburne, Vermont, sent me a photo of a wine spill she recently bought at Joie . . . which nicely illustrates just how realistic that one looks in the right environment. Red wine, white carpet - perfect!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Birthday to . . . Us !

So today is Joie de Vivre's 26th birthday. Or, as CakeWrecks might have it - our 26rd, or our 26st. No official goings on this year, hard to know what to do after that rocking 25th! And it's a pretty quiet day in here, perhaps due to the infernal heat outside - my walk to the bank this morning felt like a forced march. But later, we will lift a glass of champagne to toast the store, and all the customers and staff who have kept it going for all these years. Thanks everyone !! Joie hearts you all.

Note: anyone reading this who is not aware of the CakeWrecks site really should go there right now ! And yes, we sell the book !

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Unusual Saturday

I spent roughly three of the eight hours I was working at Joie today - in the barbershop. And no, I was not having my haircut. I was watching the United States lose to Ghana in the World Cup. Last week one day, I heard ecstatic screaming - no other way to describe it - coming loudly through the walls between the barbershop and Joie, and when I went to investigate, found that the U.S. had just beat Algeria in the last minute of a game. "Come over and watch with us anytime," they said, and today, with the U.S. playing Ghana, it seemed crazy not to go. We had very slow business - probably a combination of the beautiful day and the game - so I took my cell phone (in case of a rush at Joie) and went next door. Heartbreakingly, the U.S. lost - though it was exciting for Ghana to win as they have now advanced farther than any African nation in any World Cup series. I don't really watch sports much - but I really like the international aspect of this event. And man - do those guys work hard. It was also interesting to sit in the barbershop and watch how quickly the men and boys got in and out. Not like my salon, where a haircut takes an hour! No appointments, guys just wander in and get their hair cut. So ... interesting afternoon !

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Curse of the Legally Required Label

Sometime in the last few years, the powers that regulate the import/export world decided that each product that is sold IN this country that is produced OUT of this country must bear a label to that effect. That, combined with the ascendancy of the bar code, has led to a lot of work for Joie de Vivre. We try to present everything nicely in this store, and to that effect, we remove any labels that we assume a customer would want to take off at home (like a big sticker with a bar code that says "Made in Thailand" on a tiny little plastic toy.) Last week we got an order for 200 small plastic kaleidoscopes from a department at U.Mass Boston. Each one arrived with a big label attached. We took them off - it was slow going - and the labels left a sticky residue that could only be banished through vigorous application of (commercial plug alert) - Goo-Gone. This took us hours and hours. Strictly speaking, we didn't have to do it - but we can't imagine our customer would have been too happy to have to do it themselves - and if they didn't do it, the items would have looked cheezy and felt sticky. This made us long for the good old days when this sort of labeling was not legally required. And another thought - we've been in business long enough to be able to say "in the good old days" - yikes !

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Movie Review !

We interrupt this blog to urge all readers to go see Toy Story 3. It was wonderful. Action packed, smart, funny, suspenseful, and loads of emotional intelligence. And a very nice ending to the Toy Story story. It also made me nostalgic for a former Joie de Vivre product - the little three eyed blue guys that we sold years ago after the first Toy Story. You squeezed their stomachs and the little green antenna on their heads lit up. Discontinued years ago . . . wonder if Toy Story 3 will resurrect them? I was dragged to the first Toy Story movie, didn't really want to go, but walked out of the theatre enchanted and in awe of Pixar's talented team. My respect for them has only increased over the years. Toy Story 3 gets four stars from Joie de Vivre. A.O. Scott of the New York Times says: "In providing sheer moviegoing satisfaction — plot, characters, verbal wit and visual delight, cheap laughs and honest sentiment — “Toy Story 3” is wondrously generous and inventive. It is also, by the time it reaches a quiet denouement that balances its noisy beginning, moving in the way that parts of “Up” were. That is, this film — this whole three-part, 15-year epic — about the adventures of a bunch of silly plastic junk turns out also to be a long, melancholy meditation on loss, impermanence and that noble, stubborn, foolish thing called love. We all know money can’t buy it, except sometimes, for the price of a plastic figurine or a movie ticket." We agree with him - go see it !

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Happier Situation

After my little rant about big business a few days ago, I wanted to tell a problem tale with a happier ending. We recently started selling Steve Spangler's Geyser Tubes - they are scientific, amazing, and probably the most fun you can have with a bottle of diet coke and a pack of Mentos - as you will note if you watch this video. We ordered them two ways - with a "regular" top and the slightly fancier set
with three assorted caps to give assorted effects. I attended a party where a number of them were shot off a rooftop in Cambridge . . . and it was spectacular, but no one could see any difference between the fancy caps and the plain. Worried, I called the company. I didn't want to be charging extra for something that wasn't working. I would call, someone would be"looking into it," I would call again, same story. Finally, this morning I spoke with Renee. She said the reason it had taken them so long to get back to us was because they were testing them again. She said they couldn't see any difference at first and thought 'My God, she's right!"Then they realized that the observer's eye is drawn to the top of the geyser - and that the difference is only visible at the bottom - for the first three feet or so. If you look at the bottom, you do see the difference.She said that because of our call, they realize they need to change the packaging to alert purchasers to this. So . . . our phone call is going to lead to a package redesign. Not bad. And it's very nice to deal with people who take their product and their responsibility to retailers and consumers so seriously.

Monday, June 14, 2010

This is How Big Business Rolls

I saw some cards at the Stationary Show that would be perfect for us - a few featuring designs from the ONION, and a few others that were really funny. I was really excited when I saw them and I asked what their opening order was. "$1000." was the answer.One thousand dollars. That is a LOT of cards. I blanched. "But the reorder is only $150," the salesman added helpfully. In the twenty five years I've been in business I've never ordered from a card company with an opening order higher than $250 or $300. We talked and I explained how small my store was, and how much I wanted to sell these particular cards, and the salesman finally said he would "see what he could do." I actually was so enthusiastic about them that I said I would consider a $500 opening order and even pay in advance. I returned home from the show and a few weeks passed. I was showing customers a few sample cards I had picked up and everyone loved them, but I did not hear back from my contact. I called him and he passed me on to someone else and finally I was referred to an area rep. "How many pockets would you give to this line?" she asked. A pocket is one unit of display space - ten cards out on display equals ten "pockets." "Umm .. . maybe 20?" I answered. "They won't even talk to you then," she said flatly. "They want at least 96." We talked a bit more - I was still trying to convince her that I would be a good account to open. I described the card I had liked the most. "I would probably order 6 dozen of that card at a time," I said. "Oh, you can't do that," she said. "Didn't they explain that to you at the show? You can't order the cards by style, they just send you cards. You can choose birthday, or romantic, or friendly - but you can't order by style." I was astounded - they want you to order $1000, give their line lots of space, and then they won't even let you choose the cards you like best ?!? Some of their designs were awful - there was no way I would ever go along with that. All that back and forth for nothing. But . . . I intend to get in touch with the Onion and tell them that they've licensed their cards to the WRONG company - a company that won't sell to the quirky little stores that would probably be their best customers . . . so stay tuned . . .

Friday, June 11, 2010

Joie makes the big "Times"

Two women were shopping yesterday who said they had never been to the store before. How did they hear about it? They said they read about us in - the New York Times !!! I am a former New Yorker - grew up on said publication, still read it every Sunday and during the week on the web, and consider the "Gray Lady" to be as good as it gets newspaper wise. Our name was in it?? Really ??? A quick search by Nancy found the link and here it is ! Right here. Okay, the New York Times itself did not write about Joie de VIvre. This is excerpted from a Frommer's Boston review. But . . . it was published IN the Times, Joie de Vivre right on their web page. It's not as glorious as the time I saw a large photo of my sister and her first daughter right on the front page of the Sunday Times "mother daughter enjoying day in the park" - causing me to scream right at the news stand - but give us time . . . this is just the beginning !

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What Does a Pirate Popper Look Like?

"Why is this a pirate popper?" The customer had a confused look on her face. She was holding a small pink plastic half disc. It did not look like a proper pirate accoutrement - I could see why she was asking. I came out from behind the desk to try to clarify, and I saw the sign, sitting in the little display of pastel colored poppers. "Pirate Poppers - $1.00." I remembered the poppers we used to have - they were black, with a skull and crossbones. When stock got low, I had combined them with the regular poppers and I forgot to change the sign. "These are NOT pirate poppers - these are just regular poppers" I explained, grabbing the unfortunate sign. We have a lot of improperly labeled boxes in our stockroom - something sells out and we use its box to store something else - and these misleading labels are less than helpful when training a new employee - but we really try to have our signs right out front ! (note to loyal blog readers: I apologize for the cheesy quality of these photographs which I took myself on the back desk.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Confusing "Thank You" s

There's a phenomena I've noticed from behind the counter of Joie. When a parent brings in a child, and buys them a little gift, they frequently instruct the child to tell me thank you. This doesn't really make sense to me. If the parent bought the child a little toy, shouldn't the kid say "thank you" to them? I actually did nothing -and half the time a very small child is too shy to even look at me, let alone speak to me. I mean, I did open a store that has fun little things in it that a child might want and a parent might buy for them, so in that vague sense I deserve thanks. But I don't think tiny kids really get that sense of it. In general, I like to, and feel I should say "thank you" to people for buying something and usually do. But, customers clearly also like to say thank you to us. I've definitely found myself in more than one of those "thank you." "No, thank YOU." "No . . thank you" games . . . it's funny.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Best Friends

This Memorial Day weekend was beautiful here in Boston. We had some business on Saturday, but Sunday was quieter. For an hour or so, the only people in the store besides me were two very nice twelve year old girls. They tried on the birthday crowns, sat down together and looked at books, played with almost everything and kept up a running conversation with each other about camp and school and siblings. Eventually, they said goodbye and left. An hour later they came back in. "We've decided to buy ourselves matching buttons," one told me. They spend some serious time looking for the right one. Their choice: "I'd rather be skipping and blowing bubbles." Perfect!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Curious Lists

My last sales slip of the day. I quickly wrote up the two items: Med School and Porn. As I was giftwrapping them, their purchaser laughed. "That looks funny on paper," she said. I had abbreviated both items - the long version would have been Med School in a Box and Porn for Women XXX (completely G rated by the way.) "We do write up some odd looking lists," I agreed, thinking how I'd been meaning to write a post about this for a long time. If you took our sales slips as pure lists out of context, they would be extremely enigmatic. Some recent examples: Chicken, monster, ninjas. Mouse, Kangaroo, Ego Booster. Food Face, lava, flip. Mind altering goldfish, coffee spill, mini slinky. Panic, Mxyklikker, Rainbow. Or with numbers: 10 car, 10 bubble, 10 boink, 10 fairy. Maybe we should start saving the oddest lists . . .

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Tipping!

Today, a very friendly and sweet young woman bought a set of mustaches - $7 - and a card. She asked if I would gift wrap the mustaches, which I happily did - then, she suddenly thrust a $5 bill at me. I quickly realized it was meant to be a tip - and a rather extravagant one at that - and I quickly refused. Every so often we do have people try to tip us for gift wrapping, but it is one of the things that we like to provide (except at Christmas, when we physically can't keep up - but that's another story). So, we had a little tussle - she trying to give it to me, me refusing it, back and forth a few times, until I convinced her that we REALLY don't accept tips. "But you're always so nice to me," she protested. My answer: its just what we do: we try to be as nice and helpful to our customers as we possibly can be. She finally believed me I think, and pocketed her $5, thanked me again and left.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Compass Necklace and a Confession

This post requires a confession from me . . . so here goes. Over the last ten or so years, I have been watching and keeping up with a soap opera - to be specific - General Hospital. It all started when my gym got televisions, and ballooned into a bit of an obssession for awhile - now under control - and yet, I sometimes check their website at night to find out what's going on. It only takes a minute to read - much less time consuming than when I (confession #2) used to actually tape the show and watch it at home at night if I wasn't going to make it to the gym. There! You all know my secret. Anyway - yesterday, I read the summary and saw this: Jason thanks Sam for understanding why he needs to protect Michael and gives Sam a present. Sam grins. Wow, it's even wrapped! She opens the box to find a small compass on a chain, meaning Jason will always find his way to come back to her. Sniff. Pass us the Kleenex, please. I immediately wondered if this necklace was the beautiful compass necklace that we sell, made by Lee Ann Herreid of Individual Icons. So, I emailed her to see if she knew. She didn't, but she obligingly watched the entire episode on Hulu and reported back: "It wasn't my compasss. Bummer, huh? It did not really look like a compass. It was all silver and really tall. They did not give a good view of it. I was trying to figure out of I could zoom in on it... red box, thin chain, tall silver... thing. Didn't look like a compass." So... false alarm, but briefly exciting, and, we have the real thing right here at Joie de Vivre.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New York City - Just Like I Pictured It!

I am here in New York for the Stationary Show . . . but arrived a day early to go to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair as well as walk around the city some. The ICFF is a wonderful show, full of wonderful design. All too many of the things I am typically drawn to there have price tags from $1000 on up . . . so, not a good source to find things for Joie de Vivre on the whole, even though many of the things I saw were certainly whimsical enough to fit our mix. Like the canned anti-matter and gravity from the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co . . . (these I would love to get for Joie but it's unclear if they wholesale) Then there are the wonderful globe lamps from Tom Dixon . .. these are perfect for Joie - except that $550 price tag . . . if you want to see these in person right in Boston, go to Scampo in the Liberty Hotel where a cluster hangs over the bar. Actually they seem quite reasonable compared to the $12,000 Barbara Krueger lamp I coveted at Moss! Anyway, tomorrow, on to the Stationary Show - postcards, books and plenty of things Joie de Vivre can afford.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our Dangerous Merchandise!

We love snowglobes and have been selling them for years . . . from the tacky touristy to the original Austrian glass and everything we can find that we like inbetween. Recently, several customers have told us that they were not able to carry snowglobes on to their flights - and a friend just sent me photographic proof of the reason why: They are DANGEROUS !

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

For Mother's Day - your very own instant infant! Okay, maybe she'd rather have flowers or chocolates, a jewel, a wind-up toy or a gift certificate from Joie de Vivre . . . but we wanted to write about our Instant Infant today, because . . . we have one prominently displayed sitting on top of our Mother's Day display, and yesterday a man saw it, did a double take, and started laughing. "I had no idea that was still around!" he told us. "I know that baby!" And he told us that - the baby who posed for the picture is graduating from college this year. So . .. that's how long we've been selling that item. Wow.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Story of Our New Button!

A customer from New York asked me recently if I remembered "The Last Wound Up," a store that sold — you guessed it — mostly wind-up toys. I certainly do — it's where I saw my first Tomy windups including the fabled jumping mouse still sold here at Joie today. Not only that — it's the store where I first saw THIS ! We were chatting about the store, which has been out of business for years — and which briefly had an outpost on Newbury Street — and she mentioned the bumper sticker they sold that said "Don't Postpone Joy!" And a light went off in my brain. We like to make buttons... what about a button that said... and now it's here! Come on in and get one!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Customer Is Right !!

This entry is not for the faint of heart . . . and we apologize for the disturbing image! A customer mail ordered a magnetic dancing ballerina. She was thrilled that we had them and we sent one off to her in California. A few days later, an email arrived. The customer was "very disappointed in the quality. The ballerina has totally misshapen eyes, her "lipstick" is all over her face, and to top it off there are missing spots of blue on her dress." I wondered if she was being a little fussy. Then, I looked at the photo. NOT being too fussy. That is one scarey looking ballerina. So, we went through our stock to find a better one . . . and . . . no luck. The ones that didn't have a gash for a mouth looked like they had black eyes. You don't notice if you're not holding one close . . . still, they didn't used to be like this. Who is painting these ballerinas? Yikes!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Unbearable Cuteness of Being(s)

There was a very little boy in the store with his grandmother yesterday. Maybe two years old? He loved to talk and to identify things and he had one of those adorable little kid voices — excited and sweet. They had made it almost all the way around the store when he spotted the Snow White musical snowglobe sitting on the front desk. He got very excited, pointed at the base and said in his little voice "hi ho! hi ho!" I asked his grandmother if he had seen Snow White. "I don't think so," she told me. But I wondered . . . how else would he associate "hi ho" with a dwarf? Later, he spotted our much larger yard gnome with accordian, and instantly started with the excited "hi ho!"s again. Further questioning solved the mystery. He had seen a video. Someday, probably soon, he'll discover the words dwarf and gnome. But I kind of like "hi-ho"s myself . . .

Sunday, April 25, 2010

But What If The Bride Is A Guy?

As time goes by, I know it will be easier and easier to find same sex wedding figurines and decorations, but pickings are still a little slim. Danny Spirer jewelers is one of our oldest neighbors and they often buy little items from Joie to help display their beautiful wares. Wedding rings are one of their specialties and they recently purchased three bride and groom salt and pepper shakers. These ceramic shakers have a magnet on each mouth, and are irresistibly attracted towards each other. Perfect material for a D.I.Y. same sex marriage display!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day . . .

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The photo above was taken at an event the first year, when the day was free of commercialism and teach ins were held "to challenge corporate and government leaders." I just read an article in the New York Times pointing out how the day has now become a marketing platform for everything from "office products to Greek yogurt to eco-dentistry." The bottom picture is a display at F.A.O. Schwarz - a soy fiber penguin to teach children about recycling. Things have changed. Everything is a marketing opportunity these days, and "Green" is now inextricably linked to a different kind of green - the almighty dollar. And yet . . . any small improvement made, even in the name of money, can't be bad . . . can it?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Humble and Long Lasting

I was looking for a postcard for a customer today - she wanted something - anything - related to a warthog and I thought I remembered a postcard with a warthog. (Sadly, it turned out to be a wild boar.) I had brought the box of Art Unlimited postcards up to the desk to search through them, and when I grabbed the box to put it back, it ripped along the seams and all the postcards spilled out. !X?#*!@X# . . . I was mad - and then I had a moment of clarity. That cardboard box was probably 20 years old. A lot of stuff in the backroom of Joie is stored in cardboard boxes that have been around almost as long as the store. I kind of take them for granted - the Palm Press box, the Fotofolio box, the boxes that hold the wind up toys . . . these boxes have served Joie de Vivre loyally for years. Just plain old cardboard boxes. So, did I throw out the old box and replace it with a new one? No. I got some packing tape and repaired the broken seams. The Art Unlimited postcard box will live on for at least a few more years I hope.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Gift From A Customer

A customer was in yesterday and bought a tiny chick from our Wee Forest Folk display. He was also interested in our miniature automata, and he and Nancy were chatting about tiny things in general. Then he said he was going to make something for her. He pulled out a small piece of paper and from it cut an even smaller square. Then he closed his eyes and began to fold, while telling a story. A the end of his tale, he placed his gift in Nancy's hand. (We have included a tiny devil duck for scale.) And to our generous and talented customer - thank you!!