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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Celebrity Visit

I was just writing up our November newsletter - and one of the new items I mentioned was "What I Hate from A to Z", Roz Chast's brand new book.  A new Roz Chast book is always very exciting and thinking about how many of her books we've sold over the years got me to reminiscing about the time - gasp - she came to Joie de Vivre!!  One of her close friends shops here regularly, and once told me she had given Roz and her family many gifts from Joie.  I was thrilled . . . and told her so . . . and she said, "Oh, next time she's visiting, I'll bring her in!"  My eyes got wide - and when that day eventually came, I could not have been more nervous if the President of the United States was coming in.  I was also terrified that she wouldn't really like the store - that she would just look around a minute, and then walk out.  But she came in, shyly said hello, then proceeded to look around for a good hour or more.  She didn't really say much but she left with a big bag of items from toys to a pair of acorn earrings.  It was really really really exciting.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Because We're Small

We received our big seasonal order from a company called "Mr. Christmas" a few weeks ago.  They make battery operated music boxes with lights and moving parts - very fun and popular.  We take each one out of its box and test it to make sure all is well - and on this last order found at least a half dozen pieces that were not working.  We called their customer service department, and they are very good about replacing any problematic items, but as we were testing, we found ourselves realizing - most of their product is sold through much larger stores - and there is no way that the products are individually tested. So a certain percentage of purchasers take these pieces home, gift wrap them and give them away, only to find that they are broken or don't work.  Then the burden of contacting the company and getting a replacement falls to the customer, not the store.  Just saying - one of the many ways small is good !

Monday, October 17, 2011

So Retro

I was working alone on Sunday and had the chance to watch two young kids having fun with a toy we have been selling for over twenty-five years - the beloved - at least by most - Penguin Race. It's a simple battery operated toy - three penguins climb a set of stairs and then roll down a track to the bottom where they begin their climb again, accompanied by a not unbearable cheerful climbing penguin cheeping noise, which definitely adds to the item's "je ne sais quoi." I actually have come over the years to find the repetitive kind of zen. Traditionally, the penguins remained standing up while rolling down the slide, but in recent years, there must have been some rejiggering because now they mostly slid down on their backs, and sometimes fall backwards down the stairs. This somewhat random penguin behavior elicited shrieks of laughter from the kids - every time something different happened, it was a giant thrill. They were calling the penguins by color: "Go Red, oh noooooo . . . . " It was impossible to watch them and not smile rather broadly myself. And I think their Dad was happy that they remained mesmerized the entire twenty minutes that he was looking around the store, only calling him over when things got unbearably exciting - maybe two penguins falling down the stairs instead of one. And their satisfaction when all three were inching up the stairs in a row - what can I say? It was just a lot of fun for me see a new generation enjoy this classic toy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

So Modern !

Joie de Vivre has its first QR code item! For those of you who don't know what a QR code is - it's that little black and white box you're starting to see everywhere in advertisements from Starbucks to Macys to business cards. QR stands for Quick Response and don't be overly impressed that we know this - we just figured it out a month ago at the New York Gift Show when one of our companies, Wry Baby, showed us a baby onesie with one of these codes printed on the front. "But, what IS that thing, and how do you read it?" I asked. He explained, helped me download the app to my (new) iPhone . . . and sure enough, when I got that little code into focus, something came up on my screen. And it was something funny, as you'll see if you visit it on our web page. So, we have our most modern item yet. I must say though, now that I have the app, I've tried clicking on other QR codes - and so far they have been nothing but boring advertising. Kudos to Wry Baby for actually making them something fun! Maybe we'll have to follow in their footsteps . . .

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shelf Life

In the retail world, merchandise is supposed to "turn" several times a year. In real life, that means that if you have a mouse puppet sitting on a shelf, it should sell maybe three or four times a year to justify its presence in your store. Of course, expensive things turn more slowly - we will sell dozens of wind up seals for every hundred dollar kaleidoscope. So there's different ways to evaluate - but by any standard, if an item has been around for a year - or two or three - and does not cost several hundred dollars - and the other variations of same item have sold . . . then you have an unwanted item. So, we have this bee lady. And she has been here for at least three years, while her companion moons and suns and dogs and flower images have been sold and reordered many times. So, it's not the cost - the others are the same price. But, I've become inexplicably fond of her - the plump little bee lady hovering over her flowery field. And I just feel in my heart of hearts that one day, the right person will see her and want her. Call me a hopeless romantic - I think I am, at least where this lady in concerned!