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, 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!