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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stealth Advertising

I was killing some time in an Apple Store on a recent business trip and started playing with an Ipad - because of course, I kind of want one. I idly pulled up our website and then thought - what a good marketing idea! I could pull it up on as many computers at the Apple Store as possible - someone just might look at it and become a new customer. Why not? So . .. I did a few and quickly realized this was not a job to do alone but with a posse of some kind. Any volunteers?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

Joie de Blog has been on the road a lot in the last month . . . four trips out of town in four weeks, and even though one was pleasure as opposed to business - and even though a Joie business trip is a pleasure, it was a lot of traveling and Joie de Blog is happy to be sitting in the store on a sunny Saturday afternoon, even if it's not the busiest Saturday afternoon ever. It's so relaxing to know that there are no more work trips until May - we can stay home, change some displays, catch up with things and unpack all the new stuff we ordered at the shows we've just come from. The only thing not to look forward to is doing taxes! But, I guess it means I still love my job if the prospect of being back is as exciting as the prospect of going away seemed just a few short weeks ago!

Monday, February 20, 2012

How Far the Mighty Have Fallen!

So, I am at the Philadelphia Craft Fair - a wholesale craft show where I find jewelry, kaleidoscopes, wooden puzzle boxes and many of the beautiful handmade items you see on the shelves of Joie de Vivre. I think this is the 20th winter that I have attended, before moving on to the Baltimore American Craft Council Show where I will also find a few things. Both shows are struggling. For example - where there were once 27 kaleidoscope makers exhibiting their work, this year there were only six. The show is expensive to do, flying to Philadelphia, constructing a booth, hotels, dinners, and many have decided that they can't afford it, with the economy the way it is. The craft movement is also greying, so retirement as well as economic difficulty has resulted in fewer buyers and fewer independent stores. There are curtains sectioning off part of the gigantic exhibit hall to try to minimize the way the show has shrunk, but even so, there are empty spaces in almost every aisle. This is all a very long winded (& hopefully interesting) way of introducing my title topic. I was talking to Marc Tickle, a kaleidoscope maker, and glanced across the aisle - and saw a very strange booth. It was the New York Times, another grey lady herself, "manned" by two guys trying to convince people to subscribe to the paper. ?!? Huh? At a wholesale craft fair? In the aisles with the exhibitors? How desperate are they? And why did the show management decided the New York Times was an appropriate "vendor"? I think I have a pretty good idea about question one - but question two - I intend to find out! Stay tuned . . . ..

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Thing We Hear a Lot . . .

Joie de Vivre is a store of extremes in some ways. A customer can come in and the place can be a madhouse . . . especially around Christmas, Valentine's Day, or a busy weekend. But during the week, we can go for an hour some days without one person walking in. And when one does, they often say "I've never been in here before when there was no one else here." I think they're partly amazed - and partly they feel a little odd or anxious being the only customer. I often feel I need to reassure them - telling them how normal it is for it to be quiet on a weekday morning when no holiday is looming . . . and I also feel what they're also wanting to hear is - this is normal, we're not going out of business anytime soon. And over the years I've noticed, some customers prefer to be here when it's relatively quiet - if it gets too noisy or hectic, they walk right out. Others love it when the sound machines are beeping, the fuzzy cow is singing, someone's trying a kazoo, and all the clocks are going off. It's just interesting how much the experience of shopping here can vary!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guess Where I Am?

If you guessed the New York International Toy Fair - you'd be right!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How Long Have You Been Open?

"How long have you been open?" is a question we hear fairly frequently. Lately I've been noticing that when I give the answer - almost 28 years - the questioners seem almost shocked. Now this could be because we are so up to the moment and trendy that they assume we must be new - but I don't think so. Sometimes I think they're shocked because they suddenly realize I must be a bit older than they think if I've been running the store that long. And I think these days, a store being open for "awhile" more often translates into years than into decades. But another thought occurred to me recently as I answered the question for the umpteenth time. People like to feel like they've discovered something new- tell their friends, post to their blog or on Facebook - whatever. But if the store is as ancient as we are, they realize they haven't discovered it really. And worse, if they live in the neighborhood or close by, they realize it's been here all along and they never even noticed it. Anyway, once I thought of all these things, the responses I get are easier to understand. And then there's the other side - the customers who beg me never ever to close. And I think - just how long will I do this? Stay tuned . . . we're definitely going for 30 at minimum!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Um . .. this is kind of . . . . hard !

I was going through some old files this afternoon, cleaning out my desk, trying to make room for the new year's paperwork and found a letter I wrote sometime last year to the Royal Langnickel paint by number company. I had bought some of their small paint kits, remembering how much I loved them when I was young, and when the order arrived, we opened up a few - thinking we would paint one and use it for display. It proved, to put it mildly, difficult. The picture above will give you an idea of the scale - the canvas is about the size of a typical greeting card. The picture below will give you an idea of how ridiculously over detailed it was. As I said in my letter - it kind of made my head hurt to look at that cat, let alone imagine trying to paint it. Never heard back from them either, so eventually I called. They were completely nonchalant, and claimed they had never had a complaint like ours. It seemed pointless to argue. But - would you give it to a six year old? A twelve year old? Rembrandt??