The other morning freshening and straightening the front desk displays at Joie de Vivre, I saw something that gave me pause. For years, we've had a little container of "various tiny things" at the desk. It's been an odd little collection - tiny devil ducks, tiny ninjas, nuns, and brides and grooms, snakes, rubber chickens, Japanese creatures of indeterminate species, tiny frogs, cats, cows, etc. Maybe 5 years ago there was a big shake up in the toy world when a few companies were found to be importing things from China that might not be 100% safe for children. This led to industry wide testing and rather stringent new requirements that every single item that was to be sold as a toy go through a battery of expensive tests. Every item - so if you paid $2500 to have your tiny rubber frogs tested, and your tiny rubber snakes were made of identical material - you still had to pay $2500 to separately submit proof for the snakes. (My $2500 figure is arbitrary, but various companies have assured me it was in that range.) Needless to say - a lot of smaller companies dropped their tiniest items, rather than pay for the testing. This is why we no longer have tiny devil ducks and ninjas - a truly sad thing for us at Joie de Vivre. Anyway, our available "various tiny things" pool has drunk considerably and when I looked at it the other day I noticed something truly odd. Our collection now features rubber chickens (evidently popular enough to justify the expense), a group of very realistic tiny animals from a major toy company - and a bunch of black men. And there is a reason for that - of the various races of tiny brides and grooms we had -(white, brown, black) - the black men were always left behind. When they were scattered in with other races, it was fine, and I guess because I knew this I didn't really think about it. But that morning, I suddenly thought - what would a black man think if he came in and glanced down at this? It really does look kind of bizarre. I think I will be removing the little black men from our display ! !
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, April 26, 2012
I was changing a display the other day — taking some powdered metal hooks and shelves off the back wall to make room for some new arrivals. As I took them down, I realized how few of them had sold in the year and a half since we'd gotten them in. It was puzzling — they weren't particularly expensive, they were beautifully made, nice colors, and they were animal themed — rabbits, hummingbirds, cats, seahorses — when I ordered them I'd expected them to sell really well. And I had moved them around the store a lot, trying to find a spot where they'd be noticed, but no matter where they were, they were very rarely purchased. I mentioned this to the other person working — who expressed an equal sense of "why don't they sell?" I said I was thinking of putting them in our upcoming sidewalk sale, then went about my business for the rest of the day. I left an hour before we closed. This morning, when I opened the store, I flipped through the sales books to see what had sold after I'd gone the day before... and my eye was caught by "hummingbird shelf." It's so odd — this seems to happen often. Just when you think you're really going to give up on something, just when you think, "we never ever sell these" — then someone comes along and buys one. It's like that odd experience when you think of someone you haven't thought of in a long time... and then within hours — you hear from them. The world is a strange and mysterious place!
Friday, April 20, 2012
I pulled a piece of paper out of my front yard the other day when I went out to get the newspaper in the morning - it was too big to ignore. That would be exhibit A - above. We've had some beautiful weather this week, and it's school vacation week so it wasn't hard to figure out that some neighborhood kids had been taking advantage of the 80 degree weather to make a little money - after all, a time honored American tradition - the lemonade stand. 50 cents seemed like a reasonable price as well - but what was that little blurry note beneath the price? I looked closer. It said "we take tips." Now I'm sure that grownups who patronize lemonade stands run by the younger set often do leave the whole dollar, or some extra change. But I found it kind of odd that the sign was not so subtly asking for them. Kind of reminds me of the day I noticed a tip jar in a fish store. The only service provided was the regular stuff of retail - you enter, ask for a pound of salmon, they give it to you, you leave. The idea of asking for tips for that seemed - kind of greedy to me. I can't imagine having a tip jar at Joie de Vivre, though people very occasionally have tried to slip us an extra dollar as a thanks for gift wrapping - a dollar we always refuse. Anyway, these were just kids .. . . but I found it an interesting indicator of how pervasive the "give me extra money" sentiment has become! and full disclosure, I find the whole tipping thing, outside of restaurants, to be kind of confusing!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Well, we have now concluded our scientific investigation into jelly bean preference by color, and the results upended years worth of previous experience. This is a photo of our jelly bean bowl at the beginning of the test period. We fully expected to publish another picture alongside it - a picture that would be dramatically different, showing a bowl full of black, green and a few yellow and purple jelly beans. Much to our surprise, we could not take that photo - the bowl looked virtually identical at the end of the test period. Maybe we influenced the results by telling people who expressed a preference for black beans to take as many as they wanted . . . maybe not. Maybe the taste buds of our customers have been subtly changing. At any rate, after several weeks of jelly bean consumption, we posit the theory that all colors of jelly bean are equally popular. Next years results expected post March 31st - and we promise not to April Fool you !
and we apologize for the odd spacing of this post - another mystery - to us, anyway!
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
These bunnies are waiting to cross Mass. Ave and staring up at the traffic light . . . they're on their way to Joie de Vivre. Easter is approaching - if you come by the store you can participate in our scientific study - we're evaluating the patterns of disappearance of jelly beans by color. (We will publish our findings, along with photographic evidence, in a future blog,) Easter is one of those holidays that took me by surprise when I opened the store - I never thought of it as a gift giving holiday, but I soon learned that oh yes, it is. My current theory is, regardless of one's religious persuasion, when spring starts "busting out all over" - and it certainly has here this year - you just feel like celebrating. And wind-up butterflies, chenille chicks and bunny puppets are as good a way as any!