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, February 28, 2011

What is This World Coming To?

It's happened again! Another one of our wonderful products has made an appearance on "Whydidyoubuymethat?" It's clear that people just don't appreciate a quality product when they see one! Sigh. The posted picture just doesn't do it justice. For justice, take a look here ! And just for the record, this chicken bag has been spotted on someone's desk on Project Runway - and we know several women who carry it proudly!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pre-shopping Phenomenom

Two customers came in separately today, walked up to the desk and asked for something they had found on the website. They'd been pre-shopping! One said that made it easier for her because we have so many things in the store she sometimes finds it distracting. I didn't have time to talk to the other customer about it, but it was a funny coincidence to have two in the same hour. I'm not sure if I think it's a good thing - if it means you come in and out and don't look at anything else, buy the thing you want and leave . . . are you maybe missing something? And are we behind the desk thus superfluous - would people rather browse our website than our store? On the other hand . . . if it does make it easier for our customers, who am I to object? But . . . I can't help but think of all the things that aren't on the website. We'll never be able to put them all up there - we just have too many items .. . or "skews" as they say in the trade. . . anyway,customer alert - you may find yourself part of an informal survey ! I'm going to start asking people why they are preshopping - to make sure it's worth their while to come in? . . or just to save time? (Stay tuned for survey results . . . maybe in a year or so.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Original Magic Garden?

We have been selling a wonderful item called the Magic Garden ever since the store opened almost 27 years ago . . . but today, I saw a much larger and amazing Magic Garden - a fantastical place on South Street in Philadelphia, the work of artist Isiah Zagar. He began working on it over 40 years ago, and has also made countless murals and installations all over the city - it's well worth a visit and a Magic Garden worthy of the name. It's a little hard to see in this photo and the photo shows only a tiny part of the actual garden - which is a labyrinth made of glass shards, bottles, bicycle wheels, old toys and more. Google him for more pictures and information - and go to Philadelphia and see his work!!

Craft Fair ! (#1)

(no pictures for this post as I left my battery back at home - apologies!) I am now at the Buyers Market of American Crafts in Philadelphia, PA. Everything at this show is made by hand, in this country - this is the show where I find new kaleidoscopes, and jewelry and glass. And . . . glass jewelry - my most unexpected find so far was a glass booth where most of the work started around $500 wholesale - beautiful, but not Joie material. Then I noticed the row of . . . what looked to be . . . hanging glass fried eggs. And underneath them . . . could that be . . yes it was . . . glass bacon ! And miniature glass bacon and egg earrings. Very funny and unexpected - they will be in stock in May, along with some beautiful new kaleidoscopes, glass vases and "Morphicisms" - sliding arrange it yourself picture boxes. And still, half the show to go through today. One of the best things about coming to shows is that it makes me excited to get home, rearrange everything, and show off all the beautiful and fun things I've found - it's very inspiring!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Toy Fair !

I am in New York at the New York International Toy Fair. It's a wonderful show and I have found lots of great things for the store, and also had fun marveling at the just plain amazing assortment of kinds of things I see here. For example . . . right across from the sophisticated modern doll house . . . are the babies "n" bubbles. Then, Peter Rabbit having tea. Then . . . and this is very exciting - the return of the Aquapets - another example of "never say never." That's "never say never" as in "we will never be able to get Aquapets again, they have stopped making them." The only one of these items you will actually see at Joie de Vivre is the last one - but there will be lots of other new things - too numerous to list here! Coming soon !

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sweet !

Like all holidays, Valentine's Day can seem a little automatic - must buy valentine's for all the kids in the class, regardless of how you feel about them, must send one to Mom, must get that over the top gift for the new girl or boyfriend. Must go out to dinner and pay a lot of extra money for the "special" Valentine's Day menu . . . No wonder many couples who have been together for years basically ignore it. On the other hand, it's fun to pick out some red and pink card and write a little something for you loved one(s) in it, and fun to see a handwritten envelope in the mailbox or at the breakfast table. We sell lots of tiny things for Valentine's - a small pewter heart for 1.50 or a lightup snowglobe for $6, and we firmly believe its the thought - or in this case, the love - that counts. I think my favorite Valentine's shoppers are the newly blossoming teenagers. Yesterday a boy was in with his Dad and he took a long long time to pick out just the right little thing for his girlfriend - and was so thoughtful and considered about it - and then so excited when we wrapped it up in red and pink with lots of bows and put it in his bag. It was just plain sweet and whoever that girl is . . she's got a wonderful boyfriend !

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Basic Math

Every year I order too many calendars - because there's too many good ones to choose from and I always think they will all sell. Many of them are returnable for credit on other orders I place during the year so it's not a big problem, but we always end up with some from companies that don't take them back. We put them on sale for 40% off during January, but as most people who want calendars buy them before Christmas . . . we rarely sell them all. By February, we are not in the mood to look at sale calendars and they are taking away room we could use for new products, so years ago, we invented a special kind of sale. I make a big sign that says "Calendars - 100% off!" And the funny thing is, this really confuses people. They seem to think it's some kind of a trick when really, it's just our mathematical way of saying "free!" People come up to the desk asking "What does that mean, 100% off?" When we reply that it means we are giving them away, sometimes they look a little blank - it takes a moment to register. But once they realize we mean it, we get the next question, "How many can I take?" and soon, they are gone.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Um . . . Say What?

(Alternate title for post: I may not be as with it as I like to think.) The New York International Toy Fair begins in a week and both our mailboxes - actual and computer - are being flooded with "come to our booth at Toy Fair!" exhortations. We got a postcard today that gave me pause. A small airplane pulled a banner across the top of the card proclaiming "A New Game From the Creators of Quelf!" Underneath, in large, capital letters: FURT! Suddenly I felt like I didn't speak English. Quelf? Furt? Never heard of either. In small letters at the bottom the card said, "Be one of the first 50 people to run up and shout "Furt!" to receive a free "Freshen Up with Furt" pack!" Well, anything to get buyers into a booth, I guess. I doubt Quelf or Furt will be making an appearance at Joie de Vivre . . . but I have a feeling those words will remain in my head for awhile . . .