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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trend Alert !

I've been at the New York Gift Show for all of two days - and I've spotted a trend. There are suddenly a lot of items that I would characterize as "warm and fuzzy" accessories for modern media popping up. Bird collage covers for kindles, an embroidered "cozy" for Nooks and iPods - and the lovely item pictured above - a "media mitten" to hold your phone! You heard it first here - the marriage of DIY and high tech! It's not going to appeal to everyone, but - I'm already envisioning my I phone with rabbit ears.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Squeaky Wheel

I have been attending the New York Gift Show for the past 28 years. (Scary, but true!) Until a year or two ago, you registered once, then every show - which is two shows a year - they mailed you your badge and you just walked right into the show. Then - modernity struck. Suddenly, you had to register each and every time, and you received a bar code via email, which you had to print out, bring, and wait for their computer to process. Less expensive for them - much more time consuming for you. (of course, presented as "going green" - or - code for "saving money while trying to make it appear that we are helping the environment.") Somehow this fall, I neglected to register, and today when I showed up and confessed - they wanted me to pay $50. They evidently had no way of verifying that I have attended every single NY gift Show for the last 28 years - this despite having about a thousand computers there on site. I just balked. It seemed like a last straw of sorts that their supposedly modern new system could not verify that I was a bonafide attendee. Instead of meekly paying, I decided to leave my polite Presbyterian upbringing behind and make a little ruckus. So I found the right person and squeaked. Loudly. And guess what? They found a way to waive that fee. So, a small victory for me - but, it really annoys me that the system become so buyer unfriendly. However - there is good news too - once I got into the show I found all kinds of fun new items to buy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This Could Be Creepy Under Different Circumstances

Just musing . . . if you spotted a box in someone's backroom labeled cat paws, you might find it kind of creepy . . . unsettling . . . you might think witches, or taxidermy, or worse. But in our backroom, it just means - yay! the guy from New Jersey with an unspecified amount of these in his garage hasn't run out of them yet! more cat paws! We dread the day when we call and he says - "no more." Or - "they'll be $100 each" !

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello, Better Business Bureau?

I wonder if the Better Business Bureau still exists. If so, I have a company I would like to file a complaint against - an internet advertising corporation called "Advertpages." I have been trying unsuccessfully to get off their list for months. I have clicked unsubscribe, written, faxed - and I lose them for a short period of time, then they're back. I submit, for your perusal, the header list of some of the emails I received from them yesterday morning. Business Retirement Plans. Disability Insurance. Portable Diesel Generators. Become a Certified Nurse. Roof Replacement. Mortgage Refinance. Find Private Jet. Cheapest Domain Name. Apply for Renters Insurance. Apply to Criminal Justice Program. And, perhaps my favorite - Used Forklifts for Sale. I understand that email has become like regular mail, but I realize I still have this quaint notion that email will be either personal or important. If my mail box was flooded with paper versions of these, I don't think I would find it quite as annoying. Actually, I doubt anyone would spend the money to send an advertisement for "Used Forklifts" to the general public if they had to pay for each item mailed. This is the downside of email - it's so inexpensive to send these things.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hello! Hello?

When customers walk into Joie de Vivre, we generally like to say "hello." Just our way of saying "welcome to the store, we see you and realize you're here." I always feel that if there is some mutual acknowledgement, then the customer is more likely to feel free to ask a question, or for help if they want some, than if we said nothing when they enter. Plus, they're entering our little world - it seems not only polite, but friendly, to say hello. Yesterday a man walked in with his daughter - he was probably about fifty, she looked about ten. As they walked by the desk I said "hello" and he instantly snapped at me "We're only looking!" "That's perfectly fine," I replied - but I was taken aback - I intended my hello to convey nothing more than "hi, cold day isn't it" and he seemed to take it as "hello, I am now going to try to hard sell you lots of things you don't want." He was probably just having a bad day but it made me think of the big stores where people are paid to greet you and ask if they can help you the second you walk in the door. And that is kind of fake and annoying, and I feel sad if someone can't tell the difference between that and what I hope is a genuinely friendly hello !

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Esoteric Joie Find

So, say you were cleaning up at the front desk and you had only worked at Joie de Vivre for one year. And you came across a small bottle of water with a taped on label - pink with black magic marker letters spelling out "Peep Show Water." You would most likely think "what the heck is this??" You probably wouldn't think what I thought when it was shown to me. My thought was "oh . . .. I remember those shot glasses!" We sold these cool shot glasses - with no liquid in them they looked like plain clear glasses - but when you added water, (Peep Show Water recommended)or more likely vodka or gin, a cheesecakey girl or beefcakey boy was revealed at the bottom of the glass. A very cool optical illusion . . . leading to a perplexing bottle of leftover water!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cambridge Local - First?

A friend of mine apologized to me recently. "I'm sorry I didn't shop at your store this Christmas." He added, "I did all my shopping locally." This particular friend lives in Newburyport, a charming seaside town with lots of independent stores. I reassured him that I would forgive him - at least this one time - but the conversation got me thinking. I've been a member of Cambridge Local First since its beginning, but something about it has always bothered me - and it's the "Cambridge" aspect of it. What I think is really important is supporting small local businesses - and I don't care if they're in Cambridge, Somerville, Newburyport, or even goods that come from a small village in India. If it's small, personal and independent - that's good enough for me. I've brought this up time and time again at CLF meetings, asking if we couldn't make the stickers they give us to put on our doors say "Shop Local" and maybe then in smaller letters, "Member, Shop Local, Cambridge MA". This has never gone over well, so I still have a Cambridge Local First on my door. It may be time to take it down and replace it with the "Shop Small Stores" stickers I've seen elsewhere. I don't know - I really don't feel I should expect my customers to only shop in Cambridge just because they live here - and I certainly want my customers, who come from all over, to keep coming to Joie!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It Never Fails

Joie de Vivre has always been closed on New Year's Day. However, I am often in the store, making Christmas disappear - or at least shrinking it down to a manageable sale table. I wind up patching and painting walls, redoing a lot of displays - sometimes taking out the holiday window display, just generally trying to get things ready for the new year. And we always post our hours on the website and on our answering machine, and put a nice "Closed & Happy New Year" on our door. Yet it never fails - people walking by might look in, see me up on a ladder with a coat of paint, merchandise and stuff all over the floor, only half the lights on, and they feel impelled to knock, calling me over. Their inevitable question "are you open?" ?!??! (that's my thought process there) It's actually kind of funny and yet never ceases to surprise me. Anyway, just felt I needed to take a little blog break and post this - now, back to the floor! And . . . Happy New Year! May all you blog readers have a healthy, happy and rewarding 2012!