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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Picking Up Stars

We here at Joie de Vivre tend toward the philosophy that things will last forever.  Staplers, microwaves, cardboard boxes (and we've had some of those that hung around a decade or more), hot water heaters, air conditioners, paint jobs, displays, rugs, and super expensive signage.  It's a jolt to realize that in fact, almost everything eventually wears out.  Even things that don't really get picked up and used- like, for example,  super expensive signs.  Yesterday morning there was a small pile of debris on the sidewalk outside.  It looked like garden mulch but a quick check of our little storefront garden revealed nothing amiss.  (We get the occasional late night plant puller outer.)  And then I saw the star lying on the ground.  The star that had been affixed to the upper right hand side of our store sign.  (look at picture to right in blog) Completely water logged and shredding, it literally falling apart further under my fingers. And then I remembered the guy I hired to tack up a piece of the sign last fall telling me that the whole thing would need to be replaced.  I had conveniently put it right out of my mind.  Anyway, just want to warn you long time customers that in the next few months, (as soon as we figure out our new design) if you come to Joie, our sign won't look the same - but it will still be us !

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

A customer who collects Josh Simpson planets was in at the beginning of the summer.  She has a fair amount and wanted to look at every single one we had - some several dozen.  She spent quite a fair amount of time, scrutinizing them and bought a few, promising to return to see if we had received any new ones.  She came in yesterday, and asked if we had any new ones in the back.  I felt guilty, as I had hinted we would probably get another order, and we had not yet reordered.  But I confessed.  "No, nothing new," I told her.  Her response - "but, you have new ones out on display!"  I told her she had seen them before.  She asked to see the ones from the stockroom - and marveled that there were numerous ones that she didn't remember.  That's actually a complement to the richness of these little environments - they are so multi-faceted, that depending on what part of the surface one particularly notices, you might not remember it if held at a different place.  But it's also telling in that our memories are never quite as reliable as we think!  Something we saw two months ago can seem like an entirely different thing.  Not always - but - just saying . . .  it's interesting!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

If Grownups Wrote Like Kids

I was reading over a new book we got in this week - P.S. I hate it here - children's letters home from camp. They're slighty heartbreaking at times, but almost always very funny.  And one thing really strikes me about them, the way a kid will bounce from subject to subject with no idea how it reads.  "I hate it here, I hate it here, please pick me up, please please please.  We had really good brownies for dessert last night" - might be one example.  Or the kid who details a list of disasters from bug bites to getting beaned in the soccer game to scraping both knees - next sentence "I'm fine."   Imagine an adult writing in that style - "I was in a terrible accident today,  I was thinking of something else, and went right through a stop sign.  I hit someone but thank God no one was hurt.  I just found the best color of nail polish!  Moonshell pink!" or maybe - "My cat died yesterday. I've had him for so long - over 15 years, I'm really going to miss him so much.  Johnny Depp is getting divorced!"  It would seem downright peculiar for an adult to write that way, but kids do it all the time.  I have my grade and junior high school diaries as proof.  And P.S - I survived both camp and junior high.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Really? in 2012?

I was looking at a Toy catalogue the other day - needed to reorder something.  I don't order a lot from this company because it really is mostly aimed at kids, in a way that we don't aim at Joie - we like things that appeal to both kids and adults.  In any case, I hadn't looked through this catalogue at length before, and was taken aback to see their science kits divided into two separate sections for boys and girls. In the girls section:   snowflake factory, lip balm lab, bath bomb factory, Luxury Soap Science Lab, Beautiful Blob Slime Lab, Perfect Perfume Factory and Magic Crystal Oasis.  Boys get:  Volcano Crater Lab, Spooky Ice Planet Lab, Weird Slime Lab, Hyperlauncher Rocket Ball, Practical Joke Soap Laboratory, and Wild Physics and Cool Chemistry.  Pictures of girly girls on the girl's boxes and pictures of intent young male scientists on the boys.  Really?  After all we've been through?  To be fair, the girls kits did advertise "learn about the structure and changes of properties of matter, mixtures and solutions and chemical reactions."  They are not entirely fluff.  And I believe that most boys are probably not interested in making the perfect perfume or luxury soap.  But why exclude girls from Wild Physics and Cool Chemistry?  And what kid wouldn't be intrigued by a Spooky Ice Planet Lab?  Is it 2012 or 1952 here?  I don't think that boys and girls are exactly the same by any means - but I think these divisions are just plain silly.  And I think they are bad news for girls.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Zen of Retail

Every morning when I open the store, I walk around checking all the displays, straightening the cards, making sure the wind-up toys are facing the right direction, etc.  This morning, I picked up the large pin screen and pushed my face into it, and thought to myself: 28 years and I'm still pushing my face into the pinscreen.  Retail often requires us to do the same things over and over.  And over.  I don't think we've actually sold pinscreens for the entire 28 years - but probably close to 25.  At 365 days in a year, that's 9,125 days.  And some of those days we were closed.And some of them I was on vacation, or didn't open the store myself.  And some of them we were out of stock on large pinscreens.  Still, conservatively speaking, I would guess I have captured my likeness in pins at least 5 or 6 thousand times.  That's kind of a lot.  And I'm not done yet!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Resolved !

Someone who used to work for me moved to New York years ago, and to support her dance career, wound up working at Pottery Barn.  She didn't last long, partly because management required the staff to do and say specific things routinely to customers.  Okay, "Welcome to Pottery Barn" isn't that bad, but what really rankled her was the "add on sales."  If a customer approached with a mug, she had to ask if they wanted a coffee maker to go with it - that sort of thing.  We dismissed this as corporate annoyingness, and she wound up happy at The Enchanted Forest, a wonderful independent store owned by a friend of mine.  But lately, I've been noticing more and more of this in the small businesses I patronize.  Approach the counter with one bottle of wine and you're asked "Can I get you anything else?"  I bought an iced coffee this morning, brought it to the counter of a small gourmet shop and was asked the equivalent of "is that all?"  Yes - that's all I want.  It just seems so clear that the powers that be have instructed sales staff to say this.  If I wanted something else, I would ask for it.  Do they think I'm going to say - oh yes, I forgot - I want a bottle of your most expensive Scotch, that special cheese flown in from a small village in Italy - or a picnic for 6?  It's a small thing, but the more I hear it, the more it's started to bother me. I hereby resolve that we will not say that here at Joie de Vivre.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another Birthday

Tomorrow is July 4th, a once inviolate holiday when a retailer wouldn't consider opening, even for a second.  But things change, and now almost all the "majors" i.e. big big stores, are open.  This produces a little anxiety in we smaller stores, and several neighboring merchants have asked me if we're going to be open, then breathed a sigh of relief when I said no.  I've done the same. And I was in a local speciality food shop a few days ago - I thought the cashier, who I know, asked me if I was doing anything for the 4th, and I said nothing much, just hang out with friends and enjoy having a day off.  She then said "they wanted to open here, but the staff revolted," and I realized she had actually asked me if we would be open. I don't think anyone wants to go back to the Blue Law days . . . .  but sometimes it's just really nice not to have the choice to go shopping.  It might seem a little frustrating initially - but to me, a holiday seems more peaceful and relaxing - more like a holiday - when not much is open.  See you on July 5th!  and Happy Birthday America.