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, December 30, 2013

A Problem We Don't Really Have

We are digging our way slowly out of the chaos that piles up when it's so busy that we don't have time to keep up with anything but helping customers find their gifts and get out the door!  And I do mean slowly; after weeks of rushing around like a crazy person, then slowing down for two glorious days on the 25th and 26th, I'm having trouble returning to a normal state of energy.  Naps beckon . . .  wine instead of coffee .. . . gift books instead of balancing books.  Anyway, I just returned from the UPS store on the corner and they had stacks and stacks and stacks of boxes waiting for pick up.  At first I was confused.  So many people shipping gifts late?  But then I realized - no.  These boxes are customer returns.  And I thought about our returns so far this week.  One woman bought a few too many hippie sticks and traded them in for a book.  One woman returned a snake top because - there was no top in the box.  (our fault - whoops!!)  Maybe another one or two, but we are don't usually have a lot of returns.  There will probably be the odd one in a month or two - someone trying to return some bedraggled piece of holiday merchandise, which even though we have no obligation to take back, we usually do.  And I remember once, years ago, having the bright idea to go clothes shopping the day after Christmas while visiting my parents.  The department store was a zoo - everyone trying to return things, lines of 20 people waiting to do so.  Happy to report that we don't have that problem at Joie !

Thursday, December 19, 2013

For the Baby in Your Life!

My niece posted something on Facebook from the point of view of a baby - about what it really wanted for Christmas.  I kind of reluctantly began to read it, thinking it would be something along the lines of "don't buy me a present, give to the poor" (not that there's anything wrong with that - but it wouldn't really be that interesting to read) -- anyway, because she had recommended it, I read it - and found the list of things the baby really really wanted quite eye opening - and funny.  And - if you can't find it in your heart to give the babies you know any of their passionately desired presents - we can probably help you out at Joie de Vivre with something they'll like!  Here you go - "A Ten Month Old's Letter to Santa." !!  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advance Notice Appreciated!

The Joie blogger was reading the Boston's Globe's last minute gift guide over coffee this morning.  She approached it with a bit of apprehension, not having been contacted by anyone there to see if Joie had any possible products to include, and felt she would see other, newer, stores listed and remember the days when Joie was likely to be there itself.  She was preparing to feel ill-used and yes, slightly jealous, as she began to look through - of course there were items fro Etsy, and various websites - and then, the Field Guide to Famous Felines poster caught her eye, one of our newer posters.  And, low and behold, there was our name and information, listed right above it.  So - yay!  Someone is still using us as a resource.  But - not yay - they didn't even tell us. So - now, I'm wondering, how many of the posters do we actually have in stock?  How fast can I get some more?  After thirty years in business, I feel entitled to say, "back in the old days" so I'm saying it now - back in the old days the writer including us in the article would have let us know so we could be prepared.  On the other hand - not complaining, and thank you for the shout-out, anonymous Globe sources!

Monday, December 9, 2013

To Quote A Joie Item . . .

"I'd like to take a brief moment to apologize!"  (imagine this said with a British accent - by our Sorry button, which says sorry ten different ways.)   The Joie blogger would like to apologize . . . for somehow thinking she could take a writing intensive course at Harvard this semester during the holiday season (the Joie blogger is a Harvard Junior, back in school after a 35 year hiatus.)  Why she thought it would be easy to write ten page papers and also keep everything rolling at the store, she couldn't tell you, but chances are good she won't attempt to do it again next year !  Anyway, the Christmas season is now in full swing, and we're enjoying seeing our many devoted once a year customers as well as our regular crew - but it feels like Saturday night at the most popular restaurant in town every day, so . . . we're just a little bit tired.  But - we have chocolate and coffee to get us through the day - and chocolate for our customers too - so, we know we'll make it!  Anyway, the last paper is due next Wednesdayand we look forward to resuming more regular posting soon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Brick and Mortar is Up Against - an Example

I recently tried on a dress at a clothing store across the street from Joie de Vivre.  I loved the it, and wanted it, but they did not have it in my size.  I asked them to see if they could order me one, but they called me later to say they would be unable to get it until January - too late for my dress need!  I knew the name of the company as I had also bought one of its shirts, so when I was sitting home one afternoon, I googled it to see if I could find the dress.  I did, within seconds. Didn't order it though, wasn't sure what size I did need, if I really needed it, etc, and clicked out of their site and onto another -  - maybe the New York Times, maybe Facebook.  The instant the new site appeared - the instant - up popped an ad - for that very clothing company.  I had never seen one of their ads before.  And in the days since - that clothing company pops up almost everytime I am on a site that has any ads at all.  It's relentless.  But it really helps me understand why people order things off the web.  They might prefer to return to a brick and mortar store - in a perfect world - but maybe it's raining, or maybe their kid is sick, or maybe it's the holidays and they're just crazy crazy busy . . . and there it is - the item that they want, popping up everyplace.  What could be easier than just placing that order?  That is one of the reasons the customer who says they'll be back for something never comes.  And doesn't think - oh, Joie de Vivre could probably ship me that item.  Of course, maybe they just changed their mind; I'm not completely paranoid.  But seeing the web work its insidious magic was both fascinating and sobering!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Losing My Voice

I am not speaking metaphysically today.  I can't speak out loud at all, which I discovered when I tried to answer the telephone at home this morning.  Nothing came out at all.  Then a couple of squeaks.  Then a very faint whisper.  (Happily my caller already knew I had a bad cold so she didn't hang up.)  Anyway, as I don't feel awful,
I headed to work, knowing I could spend most of the day in the back room where talking is strictly optional, i.e. mostly done at oneself.  But, my co-worker did have to eat lunch so I was on my own out front for a half hour or so.  And I realized - being able to casually say something to a customer is very important in retail !  I generally say hello when anyone comes in - couldn't really do that - and if I notice them looking at anything with puzzlement, I'll say something by way of explanation - or whatever - the demands of the job involve a lot of talking.  And it's very frustrating not to be able to just say something.  And talking on the phone is not really happening either - another constraint, as I often prefer to call people to ask questions - faster answers.  And, thus endeth my short treatise on the importance of the voice!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Unexpected Shout-out!

I have a friend with a wonderful store in another New England city who occasionally makes amusing drawings of things his customers have said.  It's kind of a retail thing - I'm not sure anyone but another retailer would really "get" most of them - but, I often look them over when I need some diversion from the never ending email and paperwork that seems to swamp me every day.  Anyway, just looked at one - and, we were mentioned!!

People do that in here too - show us wonderful items they got somewhere else - and I don't think it occurs to them that it can be a little annoying.  Of course, it's not always annoying - and often the item they are showing off is something I have seen and decided would not work here.  It can be annoying though, if there's other customers around and everyone suddenly gets interested in the non-available product!  Anyway, fun to see our name in lights as it were!  Thanks Matt - and for those who get to Providence - visit his store: it's wonderful! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Call Me Old Fashioned - I'm Disillusioned!

During the last few years of George W. Bush's presidency, we sold several items that, to put it nicely, "looked forward" to the end of his stay in the White House.  One was the incredibly popular Backwards Bush calendar, that counted down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to departure.  The other equally popular products - a series of items that featured the slogan "01.20.09" - Bush's Last Day.  We had bumper stickers, buttons, regular stickers, etc.  The man who ran the company was a somewhat hip older man, former New Yorker I believe, living in Vermont.  I don't recall exactly, but I think he was giving some percentage of his proceeds to good causes that were in trouble due to the cuts approved by Bush.  I saw him at the New York Gift Show this August, and he said, "do you have a minute?  I want to show you our new product."  I was taken aback when this new product turned out to be - stickers, buttons, mugs, etc printed with 01.09.17 - Obama's Last Day - and "just can't wait" on the promo literature.  He shrugged.  Have to make money somehow.  But a product like that without conviction behind it beyond that of cashing in on the next thing - no thanks. And I have taken a personal vow not to think much about the next presidential election until we are at least halfway through the current president's second term.
He also sells a series of Peace Magnets for cars.  I say - Peace, Love, Patience and Integrity.  Obama's far from perfect but how about the benefit of the doubt- at least until you start printing the President Christy merchandise.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Those Dangerous Bucky Balls, Revisited

A friend sent me a link to a New York Times article about Bucky Balls this morning.  Readers of this blog and Joie customers will remember those from several years ago - sets of small, very powerful magnets that were wonderful to play with - but eventually deemed too dangerous by federal regulators for children under 14 (! dangerous if child - say 12, doesn't understand that one should not eat magnets) - and then, deemed too dangerous to exist at all. And to be fair, banning their sale was not totally without cause - there had been several deaths associated with very young children (2 -3 year olds) who had swallowed them.) But now - evidently they are going after the owner of the company that made them personally, even though the product was completely legal when he brought it to market and he complied with all labeling requirements.  (I remember being asked to personally sign a pledge that we would not sell them as a gift for a child.) And, he removed them from the market when forced to. So, that aspect of it is the focus of the article.  However, another thing that really struck me was what the legislation says about our strange and outright schizophrenic definition of children - Congress passes a law changing the definition of a child to anyone under 14 - but allows us to try 12 and 13 year olds as adults on murder charges.  You can't sell them magnetic toys but you can put them away for life.  Sounds like the twilight zone to me .. .. ..

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Would You Put Me on Hold - Please?

Generally speaking, without exception, I hate being put on hold.  Not because I'm so annoyed that I have to wait half a minute - I'm not that self important - but because hold music and/or sales pitches are awful, annoying and leave me wanting to scream.  Without exception!  Except . . .  there is one company I call where I recently realized that I always find myself hoping they don't pick up the phone too soon. Because I love their hold tape.  And that company is called the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild.  Their tape is hilarious.  Last time I called, I mentioned this to them, and they asked if I would like to be put on hold at the end of the call.  I said yes, please! Their "operators" say things like "we're at the mercy of your bad attitude."  And "for a limited time, you can get 25 cents off your order - that's almost a quarter!"  And,  "Our motto can be boiled down to one word - Ultimate Maximum Satisfaction."  And "the customer is the one who comes to us for buying things"  (a variation on "the customer is always right.")  Then there's a bit where the operator starts repeating how "your call is important to us" and as she repeats it, she gets more and more emotional about how important it really is, especially since her boyfriend Michael left her, (they just wanted different things) until she's in tears.  So, I guess the moral of this  story is - never say "without exception!"

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our Tribe

The Joie blogger has just returned from a few days in Vermont, engaging in the time honored tradition called "Leaf Peeping."  But another time honored tradition, and certainly one that helps the Vermont economy no small amount, is the tradition called shopping.  It's amazing how many cheddar cheese/maple syrup selling "country stores" there are.  But there are lots of lots of other gift shops too and all of them count heavily on leaf season.  It's interesting how easy it is to spot owner run stores - or to spot an owner.  Maybe it's just a case of takes one to know one - but I had a number of nice conversations with other small shopkeepers.  One of them asked me where I had bought my necklace, and when I told her I had a store, it turned out she had visited it on her last trip to Boston - that was fun. Her four year old daughter was helping out and proudly informed me that she wore size 4T.  And then there was the guy with the store full of Steiff plush animals, and Christmas pieces, Austrian pewter, Matroushkas, and lots of other enchanting things - some of which have been seen on the shelves of Joie.  He and his wife have run the store for 30 years - just a bit ahead of me.  And there was the guy who ran the birding store, who remembered us from last year, and remembered I owned a store and was happy to chat about displays and that bane of retailers everywhere, the assortment.  (Yellow maracas on special this week!)  Anyway, it really does feel like a tribe of sorts - the quirky, stubborn, still there small business owners of the world.  We may be slightly endangered these days - but it's nice to see the range - people just starting businesses and those who have been around for years.  I'm happy to have a tribe!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Money's Worth

Hello faithful readers - first, Joie de Blog would like to apologize for a seemingly increasingly lackadaisical attitude toward blogging.  Our apologies!  We've been rather preoccupied with our cash register.  Our register is a workhorse, purchased for $50 almost 30 years ago from a store on the next block that was going out of business.
It doesn't have a tape anymore, and it's very noisy - if you're on the phone and someone uses it, it makes it hard to hear.  On the other hand, we find it refreshingly retro - no beeping!  Anyway, a few weeks ago we noticed that the totals it was giving us at the end of the day were not lining up with the totals in our sales books.  It was off by a hundred dollars, then off by more.  We weren't sure what could be happening  and were pretty sure it was not human error.  Then after about a week of our totals being incorrect - it cured itself.  Waiting for things to fix themselves is our strongly preferred method of dealing with anything but all things do not come to those who wait or so we've observed.  So, it was very gratifying that our beloved register did in fact seem to heal itself.  We're very close to trusting it again.  Still - even if it had given up the ghost - 30 years of service for $50 - that's hard to beat!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Joie de Vivre Bag Spotted in New York Times!

The Joie blogger is a former New Yorker and faithfully reads the Sunday New York Times - Sunday just does not feel like Sunday without it.  And though neither your blogger or Joie de Vivre itself could really be described as "fashionable" we found one of our products in the Style Section - Bill Cunningham's "On the Street" column yesterday. Well... "our" product - which we got from a great little company called Hi-di-hi.  Pretty exciting to think that without even trying - we are cutting edge - at least for a minute or two.  We'll leave it to you to guess which product is ours - click on the photo to enlarge!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Sadness of the Discontinued Item - continued

Here at Joie de Vivre, we kind of pride ourselves on trying to make people happy.  Ironically, we often wind up making them unhappy years later, when they return for another one of an item they have loved for years and we have to tell them that "you can't get there from here" - i.e. the item has been discontinued.  And we must stress, items are not discontinued because they are not popular - at least not here.  Often these items are among our most popular - but there are lots of different reasons why items cease to be.  Anyway, just yesterday I received a query from someone who sent a picture - "see the frog prince by the smoothie?"  (rather wonderfully question!)  And I looked - and saw a little fuzzy articulated frog prince that I had completely forgotten about - and that we probably haven't been able to get for ten or fifteen years.  It's good to know he's still living the good life, beloved and posing by smoothies.  But I had to break the bad "discontinued" news.  So, for those of you who have shopped here for years - perhaps you'll recognize this little prince and enjoy a small trip down memory lane.  And photo credit to the BuBBs - with our thanks!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

One Itty Bitty Rubber Chicken

The title of this post was taken from the "for" line on the bottom of a personal check we received in the mail last week.  It was for $1.10 - sixty cents for one itty bitty rubber chicken and fifty cents for postage.  We mailed the chicken to Springfield, MA.  Anyway.  . ..  some might want to brag about their biggest sales - and a large sale is always kind of thrilling.  But today, we want to brag about our smallest sale.  We probably should have asked the customer to just put a dollar bill in an envelope because the cost of depositing a check probably just about cancels out our small profit on a sixty cent item.  We just might keep that check instead of depositing it.  So we didn't make any money on the deal - we like being the kind of store where one can purchase one itty bitty chicken!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

To Another - Thirty Eight Years?

Next year will be Joie de Vivre's 30th anniversary - (get ready to party!) - and ever so often these days, we find ourselves wondering just how long Joie de Vivre will go on.  No immediate plans to close - don't panic anyone, but as some of our friends and aquaintances out there in the real world of regular jobs start talking about retiring, we can't say that the thought never crosses our minds.  But today, the Boston Globe ran an article about a local toyshop owner who is still happily working at - age 99!!  She has been running her business since 1939, and is hoping to celebrate her 100th birthday in her store next year.  Her name is Ethel Weiss and she says running that toystore keeps her young; one look at her picture and we think she definitely looks like she'll make it - she looks happy and full of life. So who knows - maybe Joie de Vivre will still be here in . . .2051!  We have at least one employee who says she'll still work Christmas - she's young, she'll only be 90 then.  And in the meantime . . . we would like to congratulate Ethel on her years of community service.  If there was ever the perfect time to use this expression, we think this is it:  You Go Girl!"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sometimes It Takes a While to Be Sure . . .

Still at the New York Gift Show.   Sometimes I look at things for several years,  loving them, but not sure if I should order them.  Usually my reason is price - they seem too expensive.  But at this show, I capitulated and ordered these free trade, made in South America, alpaca octopuses (octopi?).  I love them.  I've picked them up many times and had a hard time putting them down.  I hope Joie's customer's will love them as well.  But I figure, if I can really really love something for that long . . .  I should just take the plunge and order.  And I realized that I do that with other things as well - you look for a few years, and suddenly think "why aren't I just ordering this wonderful item?"  I talked to a few vendors about this today and they laughed - all knowing customers who had gone through the same thing.  So - coming this fall to Joie de Vivre - amazingly great alpaca octopuses, crabs and lobsters.  We hope you will love them as much as we do!  Worst case scenario - they all come home and live with me!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The difference between Cambridge and NYC -

Joiedeblog arrived in New York today to attend the New York Gift Show.  (A show which for no apparent reason was recently renamed "New York Now!"  with much accompanying hoopla - though no one we've talked to - other buyers, exhibitors, sales reps etc - think this change makes any sense and the show is the same as it ever was.  We do digress but  I guess the supposedly snappy new name makes someone feel like they're of the moment and exciting .. . .)   Anyway, I ran into some buyers who have several stores in New York who visited me in Cambridge a few months ago.  While they were at Joie de Vivre, I shared with them the sourcing for a few of our popular items  that they were not familiar with.  When they spotted me walking the aisles today, they rushed over.  "You're our hero," they said.  "The No Button you showed us is now our best selling item!  We're selling over a hundred a day!"  Wow!  It was a best selling item for us when we first got it in a few years ago - and to us, a best selling item might sell a couple of dozen a week.  In the big leagues, they're selling ... 700! And therein lies one of the many differences in running a store in Manhattan as opposed to Cambridge. Honestly, I'm not sure I could keep up that pace .. . .. I'm thinking I like our somewhat sleepy town!  They proposed that maybe I should be their buyer and I immediately thought - I'm not sure I could take the pressure.  Who can really tell in advance that any given item will be that popular - or make such predictions on a regular basis?  Over the years, I've found it to be a very tricky art,  so, I think I will stay right where I am!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

In My Inbox

When I wrote "In my Inbox" I realized I should say - in my actual physical inbox - we do still get (an increasingly little amount of) mail here at Joie de Vivre and we have an inbox to put it in.  Said inbox often collects a variety of other items during the day and right now it is home to an otter and a sort of alien reindeer.  The otter was a heating pillow.  We sold it recently and the purchaser returned it saying her microwave had burned a hole in its skin - our first complaint of that nature and we suspect a very very powerful microwave.  The little reindeer was spotted in our front zinnia garden a week or so ago.  We brought him in to protect him from the rain, and left him in the front window in case a distraught child was roaming the street looking for him.  However, a week brought no takers, so he made his way to the back room - and made an excellent companion for our burned otter!  I guess I can't keep them in my inbox forever, but I'm enjoying their gentle company for the time being . . .

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Better One or Better Two?

We have been selling the lovely solar queen for several years.  A dignified small version of Queen Elizabeth, she stands quietly in her pastel colored (or should we spell that coloured?) dress and does her mini version of the Queen's subtle wave.  Yesterday I went to the back to get a boxed queen for someone and was slightly taken aback by the first one I picked up. . . . it was something about that mouth - it looked not unlike - a vampire.  Just another example of what we learned a long time ago examining our plastic dancing ballerina magnetic toy (click the link and scroll down to May 1st) - some of the people who paint the faces might not be doing their absolute best.   Or in other words, it does not pay to look too closely at small plastic handpainted faces!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do I Own a Store?

Readers of Joie de Blog may have noticed a lack of posts in the last two weeks.  The blog writer's ladder related injuries have not gotten worse, in fact, the scars are almost gone.  There is a much happier reason for this silence - an actual two week vacation!  At the beautiful New Jersey Shore, specifically, Long Beach Island.  Finding that there is something about swimming, thunderstorms, sunsets, light on the water in the late afternoon, playing cards, cooking, reading and catching up with family that puts thoughts of Boston and Joie de Vivre right out of my head.  So, apologies to anyone who misses our posts - and soon - we promise, we'll be back!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Visible Signs of Trauma

Struck by how unlike a typical Joie de Vivre blog post title that is! But during the last days of having a face that shows clear signs of trauma, I am also struck by the varying responses I get. Some people immediately say "what happened to you?" Anyone I know personally clearly falls into this category - as well as some customers and people I see everyday at the coffee shop,etc. And I'm seeing that some people say hello without really seeing you - they give their normal greeting and then a few minutes later, out comes the "what happened??" It's surprised me how many people who I see on a regular basis - customers, people at the bank, did not say a thing. I do understand the reticence of a complete stranger - for all they know I have a crazy boyfriend or a drinking problem - though friends in the know - those who ride bikes and have accidents - have assured me that my face looks scraped, not punched. Anyway, I have my store of funny lines at the ready: You should have seen the last guy; or never talk politics at a fancy dinner - or, wow, that last customer of the day on Saturday was really difficult. I just haven't gotten to use them as much as I imagined! And the other thing that strikes me is how lighthearted I feel about the whole thing. I can imagine how differently I would feel if I had been beaten up or abused; would perhaps want to stay inside and forget the whole thing, so it's making me look at other's faces in a new way as well. All in all, that fall from the ladder has brought up a lot of interesting thoughts. And of course, not least of those thoughts is how lucky I am that it wasn't worse!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Proper Use of Ladders

The Joiedeblog scribe has a confession to make. Said scribe is not the most careful person in the world, and often does things too quickly and somewhat recklessly. Said scribe probably breaks more things at the store than all the customers and other staff combined, simply by "virtue" of her impatience and foolhardiness. So far, she has never broken herself, but her luck almost changed the other morning. There is nothing quite like the sensation of being high up on a ladder - with one foot off the ladder balancing a bit precariously on a shelf, and feeling the ladder start to wobble. Sometimes you are lucky and can get down before it collapses. Research has actually shown that luck is just about the only thing that can help you in a situation like this, and sometimes your luck runs out, and you crash to the ground, scraping your face on the ladder as you go, ending up looking like - well, we won't go there. Then just a little bit of luck kicks in - you stand up and realize that although your face is a mess, you can walk and move all parts of your body. So, as a public service, the Joie scribe would like to alert readers to the fact that, ladders, improperly used, can be dangerous. Please use them correctly, as we will be trying to do from this point forward. And . . . if you're here in the next few days to a week, now you know - "we" haven't been in a bar room brawl or arguing with a difficult customer. But, see magnet above - happy to be of service in some way.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Arrived at work today and found this post it on our front door! Thank you, child of the 70s, for setting us straight - and for preventing further embarrassment. The television is now right-side up!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Well then - what IS it?

We were unpacking a box today and noticed a new sticker on one of our old favorite products - the floating penguins. These two penguins are real surfers - you can tilt their container and make all the waves you want - they will remain resiliently afloat. The new sticker says - as you can see below - NOT A TOY. And we want to know - if it's not a toy, then what is it? It's clearly something one plays with . . . otherwise the penguins will just sit there. And it doesn't "do" anything besides make you smile. And though the definition of this word is rather elastic - we're pretty sure it's not art!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The right place

Something crossed my mind last night as I was lying in bed: "The penguin race at Joie de Vivre is in the exact right location." I must remember to blog about this, I somewhat sleepily thought and to my amazement, this morning I remembered the whole sequence of thought that culminated in that sentence. We've been selling the penguin race for over twenty-five years, long enough that people who appear quite adult sometimes get very excited when they spot it. "That was my favorite toy!" or "I had one of those when I was a kid!," and they can't resist turning it on. Little kids adore it. We have it displayed one shelf up from the floor, so a child can sit and play with it at just the right height. It's been a few other places at the store - but I would say its main function is to entertain kids while their parents get to pay attention to other things - like actually looking around the store and shopping. We have other things that are displayed in a very specific place for a very specific reason. The kaleidoscopes are quite close to the front desk, so we can easily talk about them with customers. Certain noisy toys are at the front desk so we can control their use - as well as easily demonstrate them. I've tried to move other things - the music boxes, the tavern puzzles, the Buddha Board - but they always wind up back where they started. Some items just have a place that makes the most sense, whatever the reason. On the other hand there are items we move around all the time - and that has its own interest, as people notice them more - or less - depending on where they are. Anyway, somehow, I found it deeply satisfying to contemplate the perfect location of the Penguin Race last night.

Friday, June 21, 2013

This morning I made lunch to take to work, grabbed my gym bag, and realizing I needed to pick up a few things at the market, grabbed a big bag for that. Nothing remarkable about any of that. But as I loaded up my bags and headed for the car, I realized that all my bags were Blue Q bags. And that I loved the design of all of them both graphically and functionally. Could have written: This morning I made myself a little lunch before I left the house . . . and I put it in my Blue Q lunch tote. I grabbed my gym bag, the versatile Blue Q zip up shoulder tote, and also grabbed my big Blue Q shopper for groceries. The only other thing I'll say is - that's how great those bags are. I do of course own other products that we sell at Joie de Vivre - but I don't think I own any in the quantity that I seem to pile up those Blue Q bags!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Things We Do For Joie

So, we recently had a chance to buy some French figurines that had (very sadly) been discontinued. Some Babar figures, some little bugs and a few of the characters from a series headed up by Barbapapa, a sweet pink guy whose name comes from the expression Barbe a papa - Daddy's beard - which means - a bit oddly - cotton candy. It does explain his color. Anyway, when we unpacked them we found that Celeste and Barbapapa were quite grimy, definitely not in condition to be sold. "I'll take them home and wash them" I said. So that's how I found myself spending part of an evening standing at the sink scrubbing away at tiny, grimy, plastic figurines. Exhibit A - in the dish drainer, and Exhibit B - all clean and dry. Anyone who happened by probably would have thought I was - just a little crazy? However, this was the end of the line for these items, so complaining to the company would have done no good. So, into the bath they went, and I have to admit, it was kind of fun to fill up the dish drainer with them all...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Does Not Compute!

We send things to customers all the time, both by UPS and through the mail. Lately, we've been using the mail a lot more for lightweight items as it is generally half the price until you get over a pound. So, I've noticed some weird inconsistencies in the post office pricing - for instance, we are about to send an 8 ounce package to someone in Portland Maine. I went to the USPS website and entered all the information to find out how much postage to use and found this: to mail first class - would cost 2.58 and arrive in two days. To use standard post would cost 5.60 and would take 3 days to arrive. I just can't wrap my mind around this! In what way does it make sense to have two choices with radically different prices - and, the more expensive choice arrives later. ? ? ? Maybe there IS a reason beyond email and the internet why the post office is going out of business. But to send the same package by UPS would be $10. Granted, it would get there in one day - but if we were sending an 8 ounce package to California by UPS it would cost $11 and it would take a week. (Mail to CA would take 3 days and cost 2.92) Anyway, this is a long winded way of saying that with the U.S. Postal Service - first class is the way to go - and half the price of standard. Too bad all first class experiences are not similarly priced!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Got Our Money's Worth!

Just before opening Joie de Vivre 29 years ago I bought a small refrigerator for about $100. It's been plugging along for all these years, but it just up and died this past weekend. Pulling it away from the wall was like an archaeological dig — we found all kinds of interesting things behind it and inside of its exterior grill — a tiny plastic groundhog, a lint brush, a small mitten, many marbles, lots of paper, a postcard from a friend traveling in India — (we kept the postcard and the groundhog.) Monday morning I called our local appliance repair guy and asked him if it was worth having him come over and look at it. He laughed. "How long have you had it?" he asked. And, "how much did you pay for it?" When I filled in the specifics, he laughed again. "I think you got your money's worth" was his professional analysis. So, off to Home Depot — no small fridges. Off to Target (the two places he suggested trying). They had one — but no sample out of the box. Off to Sears. One small fridge. With an actual display model. $130. The salesman tried to convince me to buy an extended warrantee — but I don't think we'll be in business for another 30 years! One last observation: trying to find anyone to help you at Home Depot or Target — almost impossible. Sears was a little bit better — but now I have a better understanding of why it's so difficult to reach anyone on the phone in these stores — there's no one around!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Quotation Books

We here at Joie de Vivre love a good book of quotations, and among our all time favorites are three books by Richard Kehl, that we have been selling for years and years: Silver Departures, It Takes A Long Time to Become Young, and Love Letters to the Universe. He is a collage artist and teacher, and has a knack for finding quotations you have not encountered a million times. I frequently pick up one of his books just to read a page or two, and while doing just that, found this optimistic quote on meaning from an extremely unlikely source — Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon, the artist — and if you've ever seen his work, you'll be aware that it does not generally make one smile. His quote:
"There it is. I don't believe in anything, but I'm always glad to wake up in the morning. It doesn't depress me. I'm never depressed. My basic nervous system is filled with this optimism. It's mad, I know, because it's optimism about nothing. I think of life as meaningless, and yet it excites me. I always think something marvelous is going to happen."
It makes me happy to think that despite those tortured artworks, Francis Bacon still feels this way. Thank you Francis Bacon, and thank you Richard Kehl!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Please Find Attached Our Event Flyer!

We get a lot of donation requests. From schools, advocacy organizations, art centers, you name it. Almost all of the organizations very worthy ones and we like to help out as much as we can. We must have given away hundreds of things for auctions and door prizes over the years. But opening an email titled "donation request" this morning it struck me how impersonal the way of soliciting these donations has become over the years. Initially, it was almost always done like this: a customer of ours, who we knew, would ask us if we would consider donating to something that he/she was involved with. We would talk about it and find something for them. These were people we saw on a regular basis - they were patrons of our store. Over the last few years in particular, requests have become very official - form letters send often to lots of local businesses via email. The cause may be worthy, but we don't know the person asking for the donation. And I'm realizing that it makes me feel a little - used, somehow. I prefer the personal approach. Of course, I donate to national organizations and causes where I don't know the people involved personally. And of course, we do still get requests from customers we know. And I know everyone's busy and harried and trying to be efficient. But the flood of requests from people we don't know, somehow doesn't feel right. (A smiley face in an email is not the same as an actual smile!) In any case, when we say yes, at least they have to physically come in to the store to pick up the donation. Maybe some of them will stick around and become customers. We hope so.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oh .. .. from Joie de Vivre? Hi !

We carry a lot of different items here at Joie de Vivre. It's a lot to keep track of, and we are thus almost always out of some of said items. And of course, as the laws of the universe would have it, as soon as you are out of something is the time that a customer walks in and asks for it. This is all a rather long winded way of saying that we wind up taking customers names and phone numbers and calling them when an item comes in. We can email too of course, but a lot of people just give us their phone number. Depending on what it is, the item wanted may return in a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months, but no matter how long, we will still call. And I've noticed something over the last five or ten years. Most people are not friendly these days when they answer the phone. Many could almost be described as hostile, their hello conveying something along the lines of "who are you and you better have an excellent reason for bothering me!" When I identify myself as calling from Joie about an item they were interested in, their tone changes to normal friendly human being. That's what getting hundreds of unsolicited sales calls will do to you - turn you unfriendly and suspicious, I guess. I understand, but it's kind of sad.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Before and After

Yesterday a customer came up to the counter to buy some cards, and pulled out a bag she had bought here. It was - very well used. I asked her how long she'd had it and the question elicited a heartfelt statement about how much she loved this bag, plus, my answer: two years. She told me she liked it so much she had bought a spare to replace it when it had really come to the end of its useful life. She kindly gave me permission to photograph it and I present it here - evidence that people really do use our products. And also as a testament to the wonderfulness of its makers, one of our all time favorite companies, Blue Q! Their bags are made of 95% post consumer content - and then that recyled content goes on to provide happiness for a good two years at least. What could be better than that?

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Riddle

"What is the difference between a pussy cat and a sentence?" A charming older woman asked me this question the other day. We were alone in the store and she had just wandered in. I had to admit that I didn't know. "Well," she told me, "A sentence has pauses at the end of its clauses - and a pussycat has clawses at the end of its pawses!" That made me smile; I love word play, and I also was taken with the use of the old fashioned "pussycat", a word rarely heard these days outside of "The Owl and the Pussycat." She then continued her way around the store, eventually coming back up to purchase a book and a flower pen. Just before she left, I thanked her for the riddle, saying I would be sure to remember it. She smiled, took her bag, looked at me, said "Meow!" and left. Delightful!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


We were lucky enough to overhear two great comments here at Joie in the last few days. The first, from a young boy - probably five or six - killing time while his mother chose a gift for a friend. He was looking through a glitter wand kaleidoscope - the kind where the glitter floats down through liquid and forms a kaleidoscopic image. "It's like a party!" he excitedly said, and I told his mom that I just might have to use his quote. Then this morning three teenagers were in, just looking around at everything (it's school vacation week) and having fun with our stock and with each other. Sometimes three teenagers can seem like about a dozen people - they get very excitable and crazy around each other, all in good fun, but these three were very easy to take. One of the girls looked at a miniature coffee creamer we have, and said "I love this even more than I love myself!" Then later today, a mom was in with her two daughters and each one purchased something with her own money - something we consider a compliment of the highest order! Anyway, bearing in mind the recent awful events in Boston, it's nice to have a little something on the lighter side to share with you blog readers. Happily, having kids around makes it very difficult to concentrate solely on the darker side of life.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Just Saying

So, the phone rang at 9:30 this morning. I picked it up at my desk in the back office. "Hello, I know you open at 10," a man's voice began. "But - if I happened to be standing outside your door, and if I happened to know exactly what I wanted . . . . " "Are you standing outside our door?" I asked. "Yes." "Of course I'll open," I said - and 5 minutes later, he was happily on his way with a Newton's Cradle for his elementary school class. One minute to open the door, one minute for me to find out what he wanted and go get it, one minute for him to buy it - and two minutes for us to talk about what a cool thing a Newton's Cradles is. Just want to say - I don't think he would have had the same luck at Target . . . . or Walmart . . . or a department store . . . or even the local mall. It's nice to be able to be flexible - and to say yes instead of no!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Way It Always Is

A few days after Easter, we look at our Easter stock section in the back of the store to see what is left over. There's always a few things that we think we'll sell a lot of and don't - and sometimes they are quite wonderful things. Of course wind up rabbits and chicks and a great deal of springy and chickeny related merchandise just goes right back into our year round stock, because we sell chicken bags and rabbit puppets all year long, same for egg shaped ice cube molds and pinwheels and butterfly bubbles. However, if something says "Happy Easter" or is too overtly Easter related, we pack it up and put it away until next year. (Sad thing about that Easter chocolate that won't last a year without going bad - we are forced to eat it!) Anyway, we packed it all up yesterday, including the 50 cent chenille chicks, and we put it as high up and out of the way as we could, knowing that we wouldn't be needing it for awhile. And this morning, a woman came in, and asked for - chenille chicks. It's just a law of the retail universe - pack it up and put it in a hard to access place - and someone will really really want one!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring is Busting Out All Over!

Happy Easter, Happy Spring Solstice, Happy Weekend from us to you !

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Terrors of Pleasure

The title of the late and much lamented Spaulding Gray's monologue really resonates with us at this time of year. We know that jelly beans are not what he was thinking of when he chose that particular title - but it works for us in the few weeks that lead up to Easter. We have always felt that it was a nice thing to offer our customers seasonal candy at certain times of the year - candy corns at Halloween, chocolate kisses for Valentine's Day, and, jelly beans for Easter. And we've discovered you can eat quite a lot of chocolate and be fine - after all, it is a not a seasonal, but an essential part of a good diet, so we are accustomed to it. Not so for jelly beans. Those beautiful little candies are pure sugar. And so easy to eat. And, one doesn't generally eat just one jelly bean, one must take one of each of one's favorite colors . . . and then perhaps another round and so forth. By the end of the week just a few jelly beans can bring on an instant headache. But - we're willing to suffer for you, our beloved customers . . . we just hope you'll come in and help us out a little. (Especially customers that like black and green jelly beans) And somehow, we know we'll manage to forget that sugar headache by the time the bowl of candy corns goes out in October!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sign of the Times

The stock market may be at an all time high - or it was, last time we checked - but we don't think that's a sure sign that our actual economy is getting better, and here is an example of why. Joie de Vivre has been in business for almost twenty nine years so we'd had a lot of experience with placing and receiving orders. Back in the old days, we would actually call our orders in or mail them to our various suppliers. This generally took a lot longer than faxing or emailing - mail, obviously took a couple days just to arrive, and a phone conversation could meander off in any one of many different directions. (Fear of pronouncing Joie de Vivre and an attempt at a phonetic lesson being high on that list!) But today, we don't pick up the phone that often; we email or we fax. And back in the booming economy days, we often waited several weeks for our order to arrive - companies were busy. But times have changed: we placed an order this morning and received the shipping confirmation a few hours later. Which means people are sitting around waiting for something to do. This is particularly true for suppliers with manufactured goods - our craft accounts - people who actually make their products themselves are not close to this fast. Anyway - this means if you don't want the order instantly, you'd better put a future ship date on it. Much of the time I'm glad to get what we need quickly - but on the other hand, I do wish people were busier - i.e. doing better with their businesses. It seems to me that would be a very positive economic sign.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Customer Rituals

Ever so often we become aware that we're seeing a lot of a particular customer. Actually, "customer" in this case may not be quite the right word as this type of customer is generally not known to buy anything. But someone will come in, head for an object - our fortune telling Q cards, the Magic 8 Ball or often the big xyllophone that's on our front counter. These people rarely look at us or respond when we say hello but suddenly we realize that we're seeing this person almost every day. And that they're doing the same thing every day. Right now, we have a gentleman who comes in every morning, plays the xyllophone just a bit, wanders to the back of the store, and puts on the hologram eyeglasses, then takes them off and leaves. It's been at least a month or more, and actually, he now occasionally responds to our hello. But I'm also sure that eventually he'll just stop this particular ritual, maybe find himself a new one, and we won't see him again. Just another funny and slightly odd little part of the retail biz . . . .

Monday, March 11, 2013


Do you know what our post title means? I didn't - until yesterday, when I read a piece about digital etiquette in the Times. It was interesting. The writer and his friends were complaining about things that are kind of vestigially polite - leftovers from the olden days if you will - like a final email saying "thank you" after a back and forth about something - or even worse - leaving a voice mail instead of texting. Another complaint was people emailing to ask questions about something they could easily find out themselves - hence lmgtfy. It means "let me google that for you" and someone has made it into a website. Although I find it hard to sympathize with people who complain about someone saying thank you - I think lmgtfy is very funny. And when I think about it I realize our store telephone rings much less frequently these last few years - because if people want to know our hours, locations, whatever - they just google. However. That said. We here at Joie de Vivre are happy to answer questions in person, by email or by telephone. We like talking to people and we like the sound of the human voice. And emails saying "thank you"? Guilty as charged. And phone messages? Maybe not as often anymore - we do admit that texting is pretty practical and easy - but if you leave a message for us - we will listen to it and answer it. Who says you can't be old fashioned and modern at the same time?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Our Own Product!

Our very own. Or as they say in the catalogues - "ours exclusively!" We have been selling spills for many years and they remain amazingly popular. Hardly a week goes by that a person or two does not approach our desk with a grave, concerned expression and pointing at some countertop, tell us that someone has spilled a cup of coffee. And these people are 99% adults - that's how convincing some of the spills are. Sometimes we ask them to pick it up - and they initially look at us like - are you crazy? You can't pick up a cup of spilled coffee . . . . and then they see us smiling and begin to suspect. Anyway, we recently ordered a couple of glasses of spilled milk, and then - this idea just came to us. It's perfect consolation for all of us who've ever made a mistake . . . . or broken something, or forgot an important date . . . at least those of us old enough to remember the original expression!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sister Store in Sister City Visit

A few years ago we became aware of another Joie de Vivre - I may have even blogged about it back in the early days of this blog. The odd thing about this other Joie was it's location - Cambridge, MD - just one letter away from Cambridge MA. Vendors occasionally mixed us up, and we also got the occasional call from a customer that confused both the caller and us - the "I saw this in your store and was wondering if you still have it" type of call that left us desperately trying to remember an item that we had actually never carried or seen. Anyway, I was visiting some friends in Easton, MD last week and realized that Cambridge MD was only ten miles away, so we decided to visit. They warned me that the town itself was pretty run down and deserted, and it was true - lots of empty storefronts and almost no people to be seen, though it was Presidents Day, so maybe they were all home baking Lincoln Logs. Anyway, we peered in the windows, (very different merchandise) and took some pictures, got back in the car and left. If I visit them again, I'll try to return.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kind of A Shock !

Joie de Blog is in Philadelphia attending the Buyers Market of American Craft - a well respected craft wholesale only event that has been running for over 20 years. And of course we've enjoyed it thoroughly- time spent talking with old friends, finding new work from new exhibitors for the store, meeting new people - even if that excruciating traffic jam on the New Jersey Turnpike was kind of soul numbing, it's been a very good trip so far. The Buyers Market has been run for years by a woman named Wendy Rosen. I never got to know her beyond a hello, but she's been a constant on site presence so I was well aware of who she was. Last year, she decided to hand the organization over to her daughter so that she could run for the House of Representatives in Maryland. But she was here at this show and people were talking about her in a kind of hush-hush way. I finally asked someone what was up - it turned out she had been arrested this fall for voting twice - in two national elections - in 2006 and 2008. In Florida and Maryland. And was forced to drop out of the race last fall at the last minute, allowing a Republican win in MD. Call me naive - but the news boggled my mind. For one, because there seemed no choice between just plain unbelievably stupid - or on the other hand, mind bogglingly sleazy and arrogant. Not a good choice - and to be honest, it's hard for me to believe that a woman who put together the Buyers Market and ran it succcessfully for twenty years, then put together a viable run for public office is . . . stupid. Looking up the story on line I saw no apologies only rationalizations and denials and I really wonder how she can bear to appear in public. We human beings are curious creatures indeed!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Back From Toy Fair

When reports of the big blizzard started dominating the airwaves, I began to wonder if I should, in fact, go to the Toy Fair. Visions of getting stuck en route, or stuck down there, and guilt at leaving everyone here to shovel out my house and Joie all played in my head, and I began to try to convince myself that I don't often find that much there, maybe I didn't need to go, etc, etc. But - just thinking back to last year I remembered several items that I wouldn't have seen if I hadn't attended, so I packed up my snowboots and left a day early. And it was well worthwhile! Besides getting to see things such as the dancing figures above, I got to play a giant Lego organ, pose with the world's largest plastic horse, listen to, and sing along with, an animatronic life size elk singing "New York, New York" and do lots of other fun things. And I found good things for Joie from the small - a wind up bunny with two new wind-up actions - to the large - a water wheel construction kit - to the techno/goofy - kitty ears you wear on your head that respond (evidently) to your brain waves! And, the train back only stopped three times and took two extra hours - once to replace the electric engine with a diesel, twice for no reason in particular that we passengers could tell . . . anyway, it was a good show, and I think our customers will be glad I went !

Friday, February 8, 2013

The more it snows...

If you were really reading this, you would be standing outside in the snow storm, longingly looking through our front door...
[*Full disclosure: the boss is away at the New York International Toy Fair looking for new toys!]

Monday, February 4, 2013

R.I.P. Mr. C.

Over 100 million Etch-a-Sketches have been sold since they first came to market in 1960, and we are proud to say that some of them were sold at Joie de Vivre. We'll also boast a little - one of our former employees is an amazing Etch-A-Sketch artist - she can draw recognizable portraits and scenes at the drop of a hat, while some of us . . . the less said about our abilities the better! But even if you weren't that great at it, the Etch-a-Sketch was fun and compelling. And kids still love it, along with the Magic 8 Ball, Slinkies and other classic toys. Anyway, if you want to blow your mind just a little, google "Etch-a-Sketch artwork" - people have made some truly amazing things with those two little knobs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just a Taste of Things to Come

And, by that we mean, things that will come to Joie de Vivre ! We are almost done with our Gift Show buying, looking at quite a hefty stack of orders, and thought it might be fun to publish a little teaser of "soon to arrive" items. So - here goes! Bags of dinosaurs. Bags of Firemen. Bags of Girl Stuff, all from Spitfire Girl. A unicorn hand mirror. Year of the Snake baby flatware set from Beehive Design. The ultimate snowglobe - all snow! A volume control pacifyer from Fred. Horse candleholders. Massage pens. (tried and quite relaxing!) A box of 100 postcards, all with a different Jane Austen quote, and a cookbook of modern art styled desserts. Plus - new items from the actual Museum of Modern Art. Jungle animals made out of - old flip flops! And really, that's just a bit of it. We always come home energized, excited and looking forward to showing you all the new things in person, and this show has been particularly fruitful. Plus, as always, it's wonderful to hang out and talk and exchange ideas with our fellow shop owners and vendors - a very nice community. One more half a day of buying, and we'll be home.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gift Show !

Joie de Blog is once again at the New York Gift Show - and living the truth of what I tell people in the store all the time: "You never know what you'll find." For instance, I might not be totally surprised to discover some nice new flower vases . . . or some horse candleholders . . .but I really was not expecting to find a necktie with a hidden flask . . . or an all glass unicorn hand mirror . . . . or mercury glass (faux mercury) vases in the shape of scientific lab beakers . . . and this was just part of day one ! Excited to return to the show tomorrow - and to eventually show the folks at home our finds. And will try to remember to take a photo or two to post as well . . .. .

Monday, January 21, 2013

Four Years Ago Today

We were watching a truly historic event - the inauguration of the first black President of the United States of America. I actually hauled my old television into the store, and set it up so that we could watch the event live. (pre Joie laptop!) It was also historic for another reason - it was the day we got to see our beloved Backwards Bush Countdown Calendar run down to zero - second by second by second. We set one up on top of the television and there was much cheering. The whole day felt like a party, actually. (And I thought I would post a picture of said decorated television, but I forgot that the computer I had then crashed a few months later and all pictures were lost) Today is a lot more sober - but it's still quite a moving thing to listen to the speakers and watch (on laptop) the photos of everyone down there in Washington. We have our faults, but - we're really not such a bad country!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Do You Remember Me?

These days the Joie blogger spends a lot of the day in the back of the store, sitting at her desk, wrestling with paperwork and orders and computers and things. It's more fun to be out front - but there's stuff to be done. However, she is called out from time to time - for lunch breaks, if it's busy, or a friend drops by, or if no one can find a price or answer a question about a card or item we sold twenty years ago. And sometimes she gets the message - "someone wants to say hello." Intriguing of course . . . but often when she emerges, the person standing there at the desk poses the dreaded question: "Do you remember me?" This question instantly throws the the Joie blogger into a panic. The person is beaming at me expectantly, waiting to be recognized - and sometimes, I just don't recognize them. Of course, sometimes there's a very good reason - like the young man who asked to say hello the other day. He mentioned how this was his very favorite store, and how much he had always loved it while I scrutinized him trying to place him. Then he told me that the last time he had been IN Joie de Vivre, he was - seven years old ! I felt much better after that and we had a lovely conversation. Yesterday, there was another "do you remember me?" - a case where, as it turned out, I hadn't seen the person - the former boyfriend of a former friend - for over twenty five years. On learning his identity, his voice did sound kind of familiar. Anyway, as I have now revealed an excellent way to put me into a panic, I plead with future drop ins - if I look blank - take pity on me - don't make me guess - tell me who you are!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You're Doing What?

An interesting aspect of being in business as long as we have is - your suppliers start retiring! Of course, some of them sell their businesses, or pass them down to family members, just like in the good old days. But some businesses are more dependent on their owners, and we just got a "that's it folks!" notice from one of them. It was from Robert Held Art Glass in Canada, and the letter said that at the age of 70, Mr. Held had decided to spend some time doing other things besides making beautiful glass. Happily, he was accepting orders through January so we will have his paperweights for Valentine's Day again. But, we've been selling his work for years, and his retirement will leave a hole in the Joie de Vivre glass department. We will be attending the Gift Show and Craft Shows in the next few months and will look for new glass - but we won't find anyone making anything exactly like he did - that's both the beauty of drawback of handcrafted work - it's one person. And that's similar to little stores like Joie de Vivre as well. Someone might buy this store if I ever decide to retire (which IS possible someday!) - but what they will do with it would inevitably be different from what I did, for better or worse. That's what makes your typical owner run store interesting - everyone has such different taste, and such a different eye. Anyway, we wish Robert Held well on his new adventures and have decided to forgive him for leaving us without a good source for heart paperweights! !

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Life's Little Mysteries

What does these things have in common? A magnetic dancing ballerina. An eyebod (strange little fellow that holds reading or other glasses.) An Eiffel Tower snowglobe. A set of poseable magnetic circus figures. Well . . . two are magnetic. And two are made in Austria. But - besides being 4 items that we sell at Joie de Vivre, what they have in common in they are top sellers on our website. We have many many items on our site - far from everything we have in the store, but lots and lots. And as I was going over the "sold out of state exempt from sales tax" slips from December this month, it struck me how in almost all of these cases, we sell more of them from the web than we do in the store. Of course it's because people are searching for them, and we have them and evidently few other websites do as we come up right at the top when you search. Still, it's curious - why those four items? We'll never really know - but it's just one of those fun, but somewhat random bits of knowledge that we thought we'd pass along to you !