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 . . .