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, May 28, 2011

"Is It For Me?"

I was ready to leave the store promptly at 6 tonight - it was a hot and slow day, and I was looking forward to being outside in the garden. The lights were off, the door was locked, it was probably 6:05. As I walked up to the door to let myself out, I saw a Dad and a very young girl - maybe 3 - standing at the door looking in. I said hello and the Dad told me "this is our favorite store." I said hello to the little girl who was staring at the small giftwrapped present I had in my hand. "What's that?" she said. I told her it was a present. Completely genuinely, she asked,"is it for me?" I told her that no, it was for a friend who was moving out of town. "What's in it?" was her next question. I described the contents - it was a modest gift for a woman who is leaving the coffee shop next door to move to Maine with her boyfriend. A pack of gum (Blue Q's best), a wish token, a globe marble, an icecream eraser and a note, all wrapped up with festive ribbons in a little coin purse. She sighed. As she and her Dad walked away, I heard her begin "when I grow up . . ." but then they were a bit out of reach and I couldn't hear the rest of her sentence. Maybe she was thinking I'll own a store. Or I'll work in a store. More likely, she was thinking - someone will give me a present like that. In any case, she gave me a present - there's just something so delightful about being young and innocent enough to think that a complete stranger emerging from a store with a wrapped gift might intend that gift for you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More Strange Cat Items . . .

So I got a call from a long time customer yesterday. He wanted to know if we had a new product - wearable cat ears that are controlled by the thoughts of the wearer. Japanese! And, I didn't think he was crazy - I knew exactly what he was talking about. But they are not available for retail yet . . . maybe sometime in the next year and we have no idea what the price will be - he said he would pay up to $10,000 - but I think he was kidding me! We will keep you posted . . .

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cat Paw Ancestor?

Our cat paw is probably the oddest item found at Joie de Vivre. It's a discontinued Japanese toy which we buy from a man in New Jersey (really!) who has a lot of them in his garage, leftover from his days as owner of the legendary but long gone store, The Last Wound Up. Every time I call to buy more, I'm afraid he will say - oh, they're all gone. (One time he did convince me that he was nearly out of stock, and I bought 20 cases. That lasted us a long long time and I had to store them in my garage at home - our stock room not being large enough to accommodate them all. ) And "what is this?" spoken while looking at or holding the cat paw must be the most frequent question we hear at the store. Anyway, today, while indulging my quaint habit of looking at the Sunday newspaper, I saw a photo and mention of a cat paw letter opener belonging to none other than Charles Dickens, soon to be on display at the New York Public Library. The difference - it's an actual cat paw handle, made from the paw of a beloved (& deceased) cat. And it's engraved "C.D. - In Memory of Bob, 1862." Quite a strange way to honor a pet. And quite possibly, the original cat paw item? The first in a series (?) that led to ours?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sometimes Prices Actually Go Down!

Yesterday this lamp was $74.00 here at Joie de Vivre. Today, this lamp is $55.00. This doesn't happen very often. And we have sold at least a dozen of these at the higher price - it's a very nice quality piece and the price seemed fair to us. But, a few days ago we got a postcard from the company announcing a decrease - and it turned out to be significant. I called the company to see what was up, and they had found a new supplier for the lamp base. I immediately wondered if they had been made in the U.S. and were now going to make them out of the country - but that was not the case. (the bases were already being made out of the country). So, even though we paid original price for the lamps we have in stock now, we are lowering the price right away, because - why not? That's the way we roll here at Joie de V !

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Business Trip !

Joie de Blog is in New York for a few days . . . the main purpose of the trip is the New York Stationary Show, and the icing on the cake is the ICFF - that's the International Contemporary Furniture Fair which runs at the same time, featuring modern design from bathtubs to chandeliers to . . . . just a smattering of gift items that you may see one day at Joie de Vivre. But the real draw is just beautiful design - some of it simple, as in tables made of a single piece of wood - to whimsical, as in the black chairs with gold beads glued to the seat or the lamp made out of clothespins . . or the cloud mobile on steroids that's almost as big as a room. Part of me feels disturbed that people are making objects that cost enough to support several children in need in other countries for the better part of a year . . . . but another equal part just delights in seeing what people come up with when they let their imaginations run wild. Some of them would be perfect for Joie de Vivre except for their price tag - I don't think our customers will be wanting to spend, say, $1000 on a clock any time soon! Anyway, it's good to be in NYC and tomorrow - on to cards, postcards and the kind of things I can buy without batting an eye!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Difference A Day Makes

Or . . make that five hours of two guys from the phone company wrestling with our bizarre wiring system. Joie de Vivre is now - along with most of the rest of the business world we guess - the proud possessor of a high speed internet dedicated line. We had a DSL line before, but it was shared with a phone line so our connection varied, sometimes fast, sometimes quite slow. Relatively speaking of course. Because, it was still much much faster than our previous dial up - so much so that we were quite gleeful when we got it maybe five years ago. But, speed is relative, and as more and more companies put their catalogues on line to cut costs, I found myself sitting in front of the screen cursing as pages took their time in loading. Now it's truly super fast and I feel like a kid with a new toy. But, the internet is a miracle really, no matter how slow or fast it is, and that reminds me of a bit by the comedian Louis K. on flying. Here it is: “‘And then, we get on the plane and they made us sit there on the runway, for 40 minutes. We had to sit there.’ Oh? Really? What happened next? Did you fly through the air, incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, you non-contributing zero?” He continues, “People, like, they say there’s delays on flights. Delays? Really? New York to California in five hours. That used to take 30 years. Plus, you would die on the way there." If you want to see him perform it himself, google this: ""Everything's Amazing and No Body's Happy." We beg to differ, at least today. We're very happy with our new connection!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Got A Little Spare Time?

We received a sales email from a Taiwanese lighting company today. I had seen one and liked one of their products at a show but as they did not have a U.S. Importer yet, had forgotten about them. (To order directly from Taiwan, you must be a big importer to justify the freight cost.) Anyway, I was reading through the sales pitch on their color changing jellyfish lamp and stopped dead in my tracks when I read that the lamp is "a decoration with 16,000,000 color mood lamp. Flowing color or choice the color you like to display your room." Wow. 16 million colors. First, straight to google to find out how many colors there are in the world. An infinite amount was the answer, so . . . . could not dismiss this claim out of hand. I wondered. How long would it take to cycle through that many colors? 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour . . . there are 86,400 seconds in a day. Not even close to 16 million. How many seconds in a year? 31,556,926. So, if the color changed once a second, and you looked at the lamp without sleeping or otherwise taking your eyes off the lamp, you could determine the choice of color you prefer to display after a mere six months. That is IF you could remember any of them once you got past the first 30 or 40. I have a feeling that if they bring this lamp to the U.S. Market, they just might be revising that copy . . . .

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Really? You Do That?

A customer who told me he has bought some very successful "Secret Santa" gifts from us, was in shopping for a few gifts today. He spent quite awhile looking and talking to me about possibilities, and when he had narrowed it down to a few, said he would probably think about it as he still had a week before the gift was to be given. He started to ask very detailed questions about boxes - did the items come in boxes, how big were they, etc. As he seemed very concerned, I asked a few questions and figured out it was because he was planning to gift wrap them. "We can wrap them for you!" I reassured him. "Really? You do that??" he asked. A little light went off in my head. He had only been shopping at Joie de Vivre during the one month of the year when we do not gift wrap - December. I told him we gift wrap eleven months of the year, and explained how we just couldn't physically do it in December. He was very excited and decided to buy the gifts right then and there. He watched me gift wrap them, keeping up a running commentary of what an amazing job I was doing, (and how this technique should be on You Tube!) And the whole incident re-reminded me that we should never assume that customers know that we gift wrap. So, here, a mini announcement: we gift wrap eleven months of the year. For free. Plastic goldfish to jewelry and kaleidoscopes. (Just ask us if we don't remember to ask you)