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, May 28, 2012
It's Memorial Day and we are not open. So I have a little extra time at home to browse through the pile of books on my table and generally muse on things. I was looking through a new book written by a designer/businessman I have always greatly admired (even if I have occasionally been brought to despair by the high prices of his beautiful clothing). His name is Paul Smith and the book is Paul Smith A to Z. Musings on everything from Abbey Road and Architecture to the White Stripes and Zebras, lavishly illustrated with photos and drawings. He has a small shop on 5th Avenue in New York that I've often gone into, occasionally to buy, often to admire. An interesting mix of clothing and small items from toothbrushes to handmade toys to watches and plates. In one of the book entries he writes about his shops saying "the premise is always the same. When you come into a Paul Smith shop, even if you don't buy anything, it should be a pleasant experience." This is exactly how I feel about Joie de Vivre. We never want anyone to feel that they must buy something to be welcome. Some days you're just browsing. Or you can't afford the $250 shirt - or in our case, kaleidoscope, that you fall in love with. It doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy looking at it. And you may come back another day, to buy the orange striped toothbrush - or in our case a postcard or a wind up toy. Anyway, it made me very happy to realize that my retail philosophy is shared by Paul Smith ! And though he is a business man, he is also an artist and writes eloquently of his love of everything from music to friends and family to the Queen (he's a Brit) to porcelain rabbits. I think he would approve of us closing for Memorial Day. Life beyond business and all . . . .
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Actually the world seems kind of impossibly large when you find out that three packages originating from a company in London, and shipped to us were sent to . . . Afghanistan ! Through the miracle of modern technology I was able to see the shipping label and they had everything about our address correct - except instead of USA, it was Cambridge, 02140 AF - and since to UPS, AF is Afghanistan - that's where they sent the boxes. Especially odd as we've been ordering from the company in London for at least five years, and they've always gotten our address right before. It made for a few funny emails anyway - and possibly some confused people in "AF" !
Sunday, May 20, 2012
I'm starting to think I should have numbered and tagged these "never say never" posts. We sold an item years ago - probably over 15 years ago - that we are still asked for today - it was a little plastic car crumb sweeper - good for sweeping up toast crumbs, or eraser dust and the like. It was made in Japan, sold really well, and all of a sudden we couldn't get them anymore. There was a Taiwanese knock-off briefly available but it wasn't as good, and even that disappeared - as knock-offs usually do. I had a request card from a customer who desperately wanted one - but I think I threw her card out a year ago - we'd been holding onto it for - ten years? and it seemed silly to keep it. Until today. At the Stationary Show, where, walking the aisles, I stopped at a Japanese booth - and there they were. The same little cars, original version. Just another reminder that I should never - never - say "never." You just "never" know what's going to come back . .
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Years ago we bought music boxes imported from Japan from a company called TMC Designs. They are no longer being produced or we'd have them still as they were beautiful — sophisticated (i.e. non-cheesy) images of clowns and fairies and animals. Sometimes the tune choices were — to put it kindly — a little odd. When we asked about this the distributors explained that the Japanese makers didn't really relate to the song selection so were somewhat arbitrary about what went in what. If the song was too odd they would be given a more appropriate song to replace it with. For example — there was a box featuring a cute little grey rabbit that played "Hey Jude" — and evidently was a sought after item in San Francisco until the tune was changed to something more along the lines of "Here comes Peter Cottontail." Anyway, we recently found a new music box company — a German company producing in China, and we got our first order today. A set of ducks in a pond that played "Waltzing Matilda." A circus monkey "The Entertainer." Two little fish "It's a Small World." All reasonable. But wait — what's the music on the box with the two elephants? Collector's alert! It plays "Old MacDonald had a Farm" as the elephants madly spin around. Pretty funny . . .
Sunday, May 13, 2012
It was Mother's Day today. And it was an absolutely beautiful day. We were not very busy - I'm sure people were out walking or at the Lilac Festival or who knows - I know you would have had to drag me inside on a day like today. Of the few who did venture into Joie, many were mother daughter combinations. The one that stuck out for me was a mother and daughter who came in, the daughter maybe 20 or so, and excited about bringing her mother to the store. The mother seemed a bit unenthusiastic at first, but she began to have a good time and was enjoying looking around. The odd thing was, the more the Mom was enjoying herself, the less the daughter seemed to. And she tried to talk her mother out of anything she was interested in buying. It was all little things, gifts she wanted to buy for other people. The daughter would say, "but you shouldn't buy something for someone else today, you should let me buy you something!" If the mother said so and so would like this book/ray guy/squeeze cow/whatever - the daughter would say no they wouldn't. Then, when the mom picked something up and said she liked it, would like it for herself - never anything expensive - the daughter just ignored her. I was tempted to intervene, but instead I bit my tongue. Eventually the daughter started urging her mother - who still seemed to be enjoying just looking around - to leave. I hope the rest of their afternoon went a bit better !
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
A small part of a documentary film was shot today inside Joie de Vivre. It's about a palindromist who lives in our neighborhood -see previous blog for a sample of his work. It was quite official, we had to sign both a location and a personal release form - as well as turn off our music system to avoid legal problems for the filmmaker. The action? Man walks into Joie de Vivre, hangs around and chats a bit - asks the Magic 8 Ball a couple of questions, buys a mother's day card - and leaves. Two of the three of us who were here fled to the back room for the duration of this, leaving me to be the one who just might possibly look awful on camera someday. I have seen myself on camera before - and can only say - results vary. Wildly. But, hopefully Joie itself will look good, and the filmmaker did spend some time filming various of our objects - from our tiny automata to balloon mobiles and sound machines. It will be interesting to see it someday - and we will be sure to let you know when that day arrives.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The weather for said sidewalk sale is looking a little uncertain - but never fear, the sale will go on shine or rain - if it rains, we will simply bring the sidewalk inside, where rain or shine, we will also feature additional bargains. And now we present our palindrome, courtesy of local palindromist extraordinaire, Barry Duncan ! Title - (not a palindrome) - Mass. Ave Sidewalk Sale.
Now, one lass send a memo: Shop, I hoot, on M.A., 5/5. Am not (Oh) side (yes) walk (sir!) sale? Very. Name varied. A mix: 11 hosts. Oh, hey! (Ad: 10-5, 5/5, 01 day, eh?) Hosts? Oh, 11 (XI) made, I rave, many. (Revel as risk? Laws eyed?) Is hot on M.A., 5/5. Am, no? Too hip! Oh, some madness? Sale. Now. On.