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, December 8, 2020

Thank you and until we meet again!

Well, we didn’t think it would be five years until we wrote the next entry in this blog, but there you have it. (facebook won!) And this entry is likely our last here, though we will keep it up as an archive — there are in fact a lot of good stories to scroll though here — and they are about to achieve “poignant” status, as Joie de Vivre, the physical store, ceased to be on November 12, 2020. 2020. The year of the unexpected, (well, except to scientists and medical people) and world-wide pandemic. We had already been thinking about closing the store. Over the last five to eight years, it had gradually become much more of a labor of love than a business that made money — you know, like businesses are supposed to do. Expenses had gone up and up, and shoppers were shopping more online We know we had an unusually loyal bunch of customers — but still, we’re all only human and ease and convenience does have its pulls, especially when you’ve just spent an hour or more of your life looking for a parking space in Cambridge! So we’d been thinking about it for a while — struggling with the idea really, never quite able to say, this is it. When the pandemic came and we were not only forced to close for three months, but did only a fraction of normal business for the next three — and looked at what might (and did!) happen this fall — and also wondered how we could make Christmas/holiday business work when we could only allow four customers in the store at a time — we decided that it was finally time. We announced it on September 1st and had almost three months to say our goodbyes and share our stories, sadness and love with everyone who was able to come in. (And as everyone who shopped here was not on our mailing list, we know some people are just finding out and we’re very sorry we didn’t get to see you in person to say goodbye.)

Now is the time to switch from the royal “we.” When I started Joie de Vivre 36 years ago, it was definitely an experiment — I thought I would try it for a few years and see how it went, as well as how I liked doing it. It went well — and more importantly, I loved doing it. Almost everything about it made me happy in countless, countless, countless ways, and I loved being part of the wonderful community of people — shoppers, makers, sales reps, delivery people, employees — who appreciated the store and kept us going for these many years. Goodbye, and stay in touch. You’ll be able to reach us for at least the next year at — and we will keep our facebook page, and website (as an archive) up for the inter determinate future.
Thank you and until we meet again!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What's in a Name?

So, it's been quite a long time since we blogged!  We just posted a link on Facebook because we were featured as an independent retailer on the MOVA website.  Whoever wrote it up, added a bunch of information from an old story I wrote called "What's in a Name?" - about how I chose the name Joie de Vivre - and I decided it would be fun to post that story here - so...  here it is, beginning now:

What's in a name?

I had decided to take the plunge. I would start my own business, I had a location, a lease, and a vision. A gift shop selling everything from postcards to windup toys to American Crafts. Things that would give pleasure in some way and make my future customers smile or laugh or wonder. And no one would walk out feeling they couldn’t afford a thing - I didn’t want price to be an issue. I had been in too many stores, gazing at beautiful objects that were completely out of my price range. I didn’t like feeling shut out and I didn’t want my future customers to feel that way either. My plan was to open in June and while preparing for my first buying trip it occurred to me that I needed two more things: a name, and a business card to put that name on. My friends in the craft world would understand if I hadn’t picked a name but I didn’t want to look unprofessional in the big league New York Gift Show.
            A night spent at the kitchen table with a few friends and a bottle or two of wine and I had my name: Joie de Vivre. In the end it had come down to that or “The Graham Cracker Club.” The later was finally rejected as being just a shade too esoteric. It also would have been outright theft - it was the title of a New Yorker cartoon drawn by my cartooning idol, Roz Chast. “Joie de Vivre” seemed to sum up the feeling I wanted - a store where everything sold would be something that would bring a little joy to my customers, be it a 25 cent plastic goldfish, or a hundred dollar kaleidoscope.
            I also wanted to do something different. Though I would carry products that would fit into either, this wouldn’t be a children’s toy store, and it wouldn’t be a serious craft gallery either - Cambridge already had several of booth. If we sold a product that was technically for children, my criteria would be that it would have to be pleasing to adults in some way as well. Adults were my intended audience. My first business card featured a rubber stamp image of a man in a suit and tie riding a rocking horse. I didn’t think “Joie de Vivre” alone would convey exactly what the store was about, and decided to add a second descriptive line. The card read “Joie de Vivre - Toys for Adults.”
            In the immortal words of someone, “that was my first mistake.” I would be in a booth at the Gift Show, discussing the store, or placing an order, and the time would come to give my card to the salesperson writing me up. This was twenty five years ago and a number of those minding the booths were old school, older salesmen. As soon as they read the card their demeanor changed. I would get a wink, a nod, sometimes a leer. It may seem hard to believe, but it took more than once before I realized exactly what was going on. “Oh no,” I’d say, “not that kind of toys for adults. I’m going to be selling puzzles, and kaleidoscopes... things that would amuse an adult. There won’t be anything x-rated about it.” After the twentieth or thirtieth time, my patience wore a little thin and the explanation process started to feel somewhat tedious. I realized that I might have a problem, but once back from the show, I was engulfed in the practical details of opening, and didn’t think much more about it. A few weeks before the opening I was slaving away, sanding surfaces and painting walls. The front windows were papered so no one could look in, and I attached the classic “coming soon” sign to the door. It was June - I often left the door ajar to get fresh air and relief from the paint fumes. One day I heard a few people standing on the sidewalk. They were discussing the shocking fact that an “adult” store was moving into the neighborhood.
            A few months later I had changed the card to read “Joie de Vivre - Diversions and Delights.” That took care of problem number one, but there was another unanticipated and funny problem with the name. Lots of people had no idea how to pronounce it. New employees were afraid to answer the phone - they didn’t want to have to say it. Or someone would come to the door with a package and announce that they were looking for “Joey Di Veever.” “Yeah, I got something for a Joey D. Veever... where can I find him?” was one of the more memorable questions. Most of my Cambridge and Boston customers understood the name just fine, but calling to place orders with companies out of the area was another story.
            “Hello, I’d like to place an order please” I’d begin. “Please tell me your account number,” the salesperson would request. As I obliged one of two things would occur. Dead silence, as our name came up on their computer screen. Or the evasive “are you at 1792 Mass. Avenue?” In either case, when I said, yes, Joie de Vivre” there would be silence again, then “So that's how you say it,” or “I wasn’t even going to try to say that, usually followed by the question, “Is that French?” or more frequently “what does that mean?” I’ve spent a great deal of time explaining the concept in the last twenty years. At first I tried to translate it faithfully, explaining that it doesn’t literally mean ”the Joy of Life” as many would have it, but is more a quality that a person has - the quality of knowing how to enjoy life. I soon realized that my attempts to explain fell nicely into the category of “putting too fine a point on it” and settled for “it means Joy of Life.” “oh - that's beautiful” was the standard response. “I never took French in high school” was another common refrain. And sometimes as I spelled it out for the millionth time, “J” as in John, “O” as in orange, I thought of the Graham Cracker Club. Everyone knows how to spell that. Of course, it would have brought its own set of questions.
            We used to get a lot of calls for pizza. There was a Joey’s Pizza in the area and information would give callers our number. There was the account who for months thought our name was  “Spotted Zebra”. Lots of mail to Mr. and Mrs. Joie d. Vivre and countless botched spellings. I learned that names can only be protected in the state one does business in. After the first ten years other Joie de Vivres popped up. I had to bite my tongue when a salesperson would ask if we were in Florida. “But I was the first! I wanted to cry. “These other stores probably saw my badge and copied me!” I only know of one that's still in business, and incredibly oddly, its located in... Cambridge, MD.

For our twentieth anniversary a few years back, we made up a bunch of buttons. Some featured our name and logo but the most popular was the small blue one with the phonetic spelling: “zhwah duh VEEV-ruh.” It's fun to have something to give away to shoppers from out of town, or anyone who professes great affection for the store. Just a few months ago a man came in looking distracted. ”What exactly is this place called?” he asked. “Joie de Vivre!” I replied. “Really?” he said, looking quite amazed. “And... what does it mean?” I explained. It was a lazy afternoon so I gave him the long explanation. “That's crazy” he said. “I had no idea what it meant, or that it was here. I was walking by on my way to the Square. I just had an argument with my wife. She said I had absolutely no joie de vivre.” I gave him a few buttons. “Now you do” I said. There is a little something in a name sometimes.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Very Special Present - to Myself!

When I decided to open Joie de Vivre, I had no credit history.  My only potential bankrollers were my parents, and they were kind enough to make me a loan.  After I was able to pay them back, I wanted to get them a very very special thank you present, and as they were both dedicated bird watchers I chose the Reuge mechanical singing bird music box pictured above. We sold Reuge boxes here years ago, when they still produced a "lower end" line.  (and lower end did not mean cheap!)   One of my early Gift Show joys was visiting the booth of their sales representative, the charming Alice Sturzinger, and looking at all the amazing mechanical boxes that were truly way too expensive for the store.  The singing bird box was one of those, at the time it would have sold for $2000.  (Now the least expensive version of same is more like $7000) Anyway, I took a deep breath  and ordered one to give my parents.  Thirty years later - it sits on my piano - I couldn't bear to part with it, and convinced myself that my parents would never  love it as much as I did. A rationalization yes, but probably true.  I had discovered more than one special gift from the store "downstairs" in their rarely used basement office.  I don't remember what I gave them in its place, but they were happy. And so am I!  (For a video performance, visit our Facebook page.)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Browsers Welcome!

Sundays are kind of different at Joie de Vivre.  You get the feeling that people are just out for a stroll, amusing themselves, looking around.  Of course sometimes someone runs in with a specific item in mind that they need right then and there, (today it happened to be a ceramic giraffe tile)  but that kind of specificity happens less on Sundays.  Today, we had several serious browsers, couples who came in and spent an hour or more just looking around at things.  I always like it when we can hold someone's attention that long.  Some people walk in, take a look and are out in five minutes.  And to be fair, I know that our merchandise is not going to be of interest to everyone.  But it does make me happy when people really browse - or as the dictionary says "survey goods for sale in a leisurely and casual way."   I tell them, as I tell everyone, to let me know if they have any questions.  "Oh, we're just browsing," is a common response.  People often seem to feel that if they are not looking to buy something right at the moment, they shouldn't interact with us.  So I tell them that we like browsers - and do not discriminate against them.  We are just as happy to answer their questions as we are anyones!  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Bad" Language

The owner of Joie de Vivre is a WASP.  Not a particularly faithful one, but ingrained habits make it impossible for her to countenance the use of certain words at Joie de Vivre.   Unlike Harold Ross, who famously described his new new magazine, The New Yorker, as "not for the little old lady from Dubuque" Joie is designed not to make anyone uncomfortable, from children to - well, little old ladies and gentlemen from wherever.  And this has sometimes meant we've passed up things we thought were pretty funny and not offensive, just to avoid "certain words."  Bitch, if not matter of factly used to describe a female dog, would be one of the milder examples of a word we don't want on our products.  Anyway, we recently ordered 12 copies of a new book called "The Chef Says: Quotes, Quips and Words of Wisdom."  Reading through it we found two pages of rather profane wisdom.  What to do?  It's a great book and we really wanted to sell it, but didn't want someone picking it up and turning right to the offending page.  (which of course would inevitably happen!)  Anyway, we came up with a solution.  In store censoring!  We sacrificed one copy of the book, taped over the page, and wrote our own copy.  People of course buy the uncensored version - but, they will have been warned ! Problem solved !

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yes, We Still Have a Blog

Dear blog readers, I am writing to express how guilty I feel about neglecting this blog.  I have been enjoying the short form posting so much (code for Facebook) that I haven't taken the time to think about longer posts, the kind that are better for this.  But I do intend to get back to it, if not as regularly.
Facebook is very easy and thus seductive - and if you have a quick thought to share, or just a photo, it's so easy to do it that way - and then easy for others to share, etc.  But I know I have some faithful blog readers and so I feel torn.  It's been a month since I really posted here - maybe most of you have given up by now.  Anyway, bear with us while we struggle to figure out which of the myriad ways of being in touch works best for what.  And, if you haven't checked it out - you might look at our Facebook page.  The easiest way to find it is go here and then like it - it will then be findable forever after.  Simply looking for it on Facebook seems to have its problems - and believe me, it's not easy to solve that kind of thing, because basically, directly interacting with a human being about Facebook just does not seem to be an option.  As a matter of fact, don't even get us started on the annoying idiosyncrasies of Facebook - it's the kind of thing that inspires strong emotion!  And in closing, we hope you will keep up with us one way or another - and we do promise not to completely abandon this blog.  And we also promise that future blogs will NOT be about feeling guilty about not posting !!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Not Coming Soon to Joie de Vivre!

Someone stopped by the store yesterday and left me a brochure, in hopes that I would sign up for a new service.  I took a quick look and read their rather lofty mission statement:  "To advance engagement between businesses and consumers though social, local and mobile platforms in order to bridge their digital and social lives."  (And I take it that in this context, one's social life is whatever one does when not connected to a device.)  Reading further, I quickly figured out that what they want to do is broadcast targeted deals to consumers who happen to be walking by.  As they put it - we currently lack up to date data tracking methods - they will track and "touch" our customers.  This is a concept that manages to be both incredibly offensive and very amusing to us here.  As someone who lives in the "social" more than the "digital" world, I can think of nothing worse than to have my telephone start announcing deals every time I walk by a store.  And as a generalized retailer of Joie - it makes me wonder, what, exactly, would we be targeting here?  Enticing a customer with a sale on the plastic wind up mouse? Magic Eight Balls - 20% off for the next three minutes?   They also state that their company, Howler, "makes everyday life more convenient for both retailer and buyer."  (And they give their announcements the unfortunate name of "howls.")  Sorry - but we beg to differ.  More annoying, more intrusive, more expensive (for the retailer anyway), more big-brother is watching you like -yes to all those, but more convenient?  Do we really have to move toward a life where every device we own will be trying to get us to spend money all the time - life as one big non stop advertisement?   Count us out.  But, we'll just do a little mini targeting to you blog readers right now - come on in and see us anytime for a little joie de vivre!  

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Sometimes a product is so great in so many ways - and difficult in others. Maybe it's super difficult to put together, or is ridiculously over packaged - or requires some esoteric battery that costs more than the item itself.  Many times this kind of drawback keeps us from ordering a great thing,  or from reordering something that we otherwise loved.  The pigeon and squirrel masks above and below are a perfect case in point.  First and foremost, they look incredibly funny on.  It's really a little hard to put into words, but if you come into the store, we will be happy to show you just how funny.  They're also oddly great on young kids - so out of proportion, yet somehow perfect.  But, they do have a problem or two.  They're not the most comfortable thing in the world to wear for more than a few minutes - but hey, most of us have suffered before to look good in our lives so we can overlook that one.  The bigger problem is they have the oddest smell when they are released from their packaging.  Intensely industrially plastic-y - last time we got a batch, I took them all home and aired them out on my porch overnight - and the odor still lingered.  It does eventually go away - but our back room is a small space, and it's a bit of a challenge to share space with them until that happens.  They are just too good!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Singing Pickles, Cat Paws and Kaleidoscopes: Thirty Years of Joie de Vivre

Warning - this is a bit of a read !  It's something I wrote up for our 30th birthday - which was yesterday.  And thanks to all who stopped by say hey and eat cake and have some bubbly with us - it was a really nice celebration and great to see you all.  Without further ado - my piece:

Singing Pickles, Cat Paws, Kaleidoscopes:  
Reflections on Thirty Years of Joie de Vivre.

     When I initially conceived of opening a small shop, the idea that it might become a life's work of sorts never occurred to me.  Besides eating peanut butter sandwiches, attending public school and breathing, there was nothing I had done for even remotely close to that long.  And today, at age 62, it seems doubtful that any new venture I might dream up would last anywhere near thirty years - I'll count myself lucky if I do. Retail Herectic, or a Thousand Singing Hamsters, my planned book about the store, an idea conceived while taking my first memoir class and observing how the pieces I wrote about Joie engaged my fellow classmates, has yet to be finished.  In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back, and write a bit about being in business all these years.
     The passage of time inevitably brings change, and to be in business this long is to experience a lot of it.  The makeup of our neighborhood is one.  When we first opened, it was rent controlled, inhabited by a lively mix of students, artists, and old time Cantabrigians. It was a little dingier as landlords had little incentive to fix up their properties.  We had an actual beat cop who walked the street, and would stop in to chat.  It's much prettier, and much more quiet these days. Neighborhoods have lives - they constantly grow and change. 
     Thirty years is also a long time in any one person's life.  While I'm thrilled to report that people in their late twenties/early thirties have come in with small children and told me Joie was their favorite store as a child (!!) - I'm sad to note that there are customers who have eventually - disappeared. People who were 60 when I opened would be 90 now, and if they're still around, they generally aren't out and about shopping.  There was one couple who came in every Christmas to shop.  They lived out of town and always made a day of it, buying lots of presents, going to lunch next door.  I knew all about their families, and I watched as every year they became a little more creaky - and a little bit cranky.  Then, they never came again.  
     Of course we lose customers who move as well - though our (another change) website helps some of them keep in touch.  And it's funny - people will come in and say, "I haven't been here in such a long time - I moved."  When I ask where to the answer is just as likely to be Jamaica Plain or Central Square as it is London or California.  We have customers who now live far away that we see almost as often as some of our busy in-town gang.  Happily, one thing has definitely stayed the same - the wonderful mix of people walking in the door - from young kids to grandparents, lots of students, visitors from all over the world - the people who come in are and always have been and still what makes our working day interesting.  And speaking of customers - you can always count on the youngest ones to say the greatest things - just recently, a four year old girl described one of our toys as "it looks like a bubble and a jellyfish had a baby!"
      Another change:  the mix of stores in the neighborhood.  We sometimes play a game called  "list all the stores that have been on this block in the last thirty years."  Four of us have been here the entire time, while so many others have come and gone that it's hard to remember them all.  We had a frame shop, a flower store, a new age store, a gypsy clothing store, an Italian ceramic store, and a candy shop, just to name a few on this block, including that first Indian restaurant, where I learned to love shrimp biriyani and chicken tikka masala.  (Now there are many many more fine dining establishments and general restaurants than there were in the past - not good for the wallet or waistline - but - yum!)  A few blocks away there were antique stores (where I purchased the dining room table I'm typing this on), a real witch store, Irwin's old fashioned toy shop, a fabric store, a discount clothing store, a beautiful children's clothing store and there were two small drugstores in the neighborhood.  Back then, "drugstores" did not sell English muffins, toys and everything under the sun either, just candy bars, newspapers, bandaids, aspirin and the like. 
     So yet another change - the beginning of the end of the specialized store.  We do still have shoe stores, or a store that sells only jewelry, but the "impulse item" is now found everywhere; the hardware store, the drug store, the bookstore. They have all added gifts over the years in the struggle to survive the giant chains and  Joie de Vivre has not done the opposite though - no garbage bags or potato chips found here - or not yet, anyway. Our only bandaids look like bacon or have Shakespeare quotes.  But we've gotten some pretty odd requests over the years - pizza, harem pants, saxophones, etc. I think this all reflects the biggest change in retail - the arrival of the on line shopping world.  Our devices have made it incredibly easy to buy pretty much anything from the comfort of home - and many people have found that to be their preferred way to shop. Especially since somehow, we all seem to suffer from the “busy disease” today much more than was common years ago.
     I’ve thought about this a fair amount and I can honestly say that in my personal life, technology has had little to no effect on my own happiness, or really improved my life in any significant way. But it has brought both good and bad changes for the store. A good one?  Back in the "old days" we used to have to call Master Card or Visa to authorize every sale over $20; read the card number, get a code, enter it.  It was time consuming, especially on a busy day.  Now this happens quietly and instantly with a swipe of the card through our own little terminal. However, charge sales were a much smaller part of our business too - cash and checks were still in common use. But today we give many thousands of dollars a year to Master Card, Visa and American Express, and people pull out a credit card to buy a couple of postcards; the cashless society is close!  And who really profits?  No surprise there - big corporations. 
     Then there's email - which has certainly made communication with Europe easier.  It used to be so expensive to call  - (I will always remember my $85 phone call to Denmark to deal with some xylophone problem!)  Letters took a week or more. So email is a definite plus for that.  But then, email has made communication with everyone much easier - a mixed blessing at times.  Companies who used to mail the occasional informative update didn't do it too often when they had to pay for postage and printing - now they can send you ten email blasts a week - with nothing much to say.  And they do it.  My email in box at Joie is now often filled with emails I don't really need to see.  And that same problem affects our customers, some of whom have requested to be taken off the email list we use just once a month - because they simply get too many emails.  
     Email also hastened the demise of the ringing telephone.  Thirty years ago we didn't even have a fax machine, let alone a computer, and the telephone was our lifeline.  I often placed orders over the phone and it was nice, I got to know in some small way the person on the other end of the line. Who typically remembered me because of our unusual name, one they were often afraid to try to say out loud. In our early years, the phone rang constantly - sometimes too constantly.  But I kind of miss it now that on the increasingly rare occasion that it does ring - it's most frequently either a robot - or a robotic sounding call center human. Now everyone carries their telephones with them, and I think that effects us here more than any other thing.
     People often walk into the store now, looking down at their phones.  Sometimes I feel like I'm not really here, sitting at the desk. In the beginning of the cell phone era, we heard everything from mind-numbingly mundane conversations to excruciatingly inappropriate intense discussions. Today people are mostly texting, not talking, so for all we know they might be checking the price of a given item on Amazon.  (soon, with the help of the new Amazon phone, they will be able to do that in seconds). And I find that people find it much more difficult to make decisions when they have a phone.  They feel they should call someone, as opposed to taking a risk on something they think someone else would like.  Call it shopping by crowdsourcing.  But they are much less likely to want our input, which is kind of what we used to specialize in. We don't really enjoy competing with a hand held device!  But though we occasionally feel superfluous, we still do have customers who come in looking for something for a 60th birthday, a 12 year old boy, or their "awful brother-in-law."  Or they need a camel item, or a hedgehog, or even mermaid tears (yes, we came up with something!) - and ask us to help - that is what we are here for, and what we love to do - help!
     To conclude my technology discussion on an upbeat "note" - I will say that for listening to music it has improved life at Joie de Vivre 100%!  Pandora and internet radio allows us to have a hundred radio stations of our own devising, and to switch between them at the drop of a hat - well - to be more accurate, the click of an ipod.  We used to get so tired of our CDs - now we can have a hundred stations and when an inappropriate or disliked song comes on - one touch and it's gone. This has really made a huge difference to our daily in store happiness.  
     Anyway, these are just somewhat random thoughts that I've put on paper for our 30th.  I could write more, but I'm resolved to have mercy on the reading public, as well as to actually have something to put on the table, so to speak. And maybe entice you to read the whole story if I ever finish it.  So finally, to conclude this piece, I would like to say that the things I love most about this business are exactly the same as they were 30 years ago.  Actually, now that I think of it, so are some of the items we sell, for example the dancing ballerina, the magic garden or the penguin race. But I love discovering the new items too - going to gift shows without the slightest idea what I will find.  Who really expects the yodeling pickle or the rapping hamster - or the handblown glass jellyfish or the elegant rubber chicken handbag?  I love the relationships I've made with my vendors and have wound up calling some of them very good friends.  Unlike some buyers I know who complain about the time and trouble involved, I love going to shows.  And I love the other side of the business just as much. I love showing what I've found to our customers - and introducing them to things they didn't know existed.  It's a lot of fun, and incredibly rewarding and many customers and staff have become lifelong (I hope!) friends.
     I stumbled into this business in a sense, and feel I was lucky that I found something that really worked for me.  I’ve gotten to share my enthusiasms with a wide range of people, from my love of kaleidoscopes, to the slightly surreal cat paw, to the classic wind up jumping mouse.  I've won awards, and I've been on television  (in Japan as well as here!)  And my personal joie seems to have resonated with many others as well - you who have made it possible for this business to both thrive - and then in a difficult environment, survive. So, I will end these reflections with love and appreciation for all of you - staff, suppliers, and customers, friends, and family too, who have been an essential part of putting the Joie into Joie de Vivre.  

                               Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Joie de Vivre is now on . . .

Dear faithful blog readers,  We have finally capitulated and put Joie de Vivre up on Facebook.  I had a lot of resistance to doing this which has gradually been eroding as I thought of short little things to say that seemed - too short for this blog.  Or pictures I wanted to post, etc.  So, to mark our 30th birthday - tomorrow, June 28th - we now have a Facebook page.  What finally made me decide to do it was a conversation I had with my dear friend Stuart.  I was asking him if he thought Joie should be on Facebook, and he said absolutely!  He told me that he thought of a blog as a dinner party with good friends - thoughtful conversation on a range of subjects - and described Facebook as more of a cocktail party - where you're chatting with friends and aquaintances - or making new ones.  Suddenly I decided - I want to have a cocktail party and a dinner party!  So - Facebook will be for shorter announcements and thoughts - and the blog will be here for the long form - at least for now - we'll see how it goes. I will also to the blogposts through the FB page.  And my next post on this blog, tomorrow morning, will be a piece I wrote about being in business for 30 years - it's decidedly long form - hope you enjoy it - or, you can also pick up a paper copy at Joie de Vivre if you prefer.  Sincerely, your devoted blogger, Joie de Blog !

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Two Faces Of Joie - or Both Sides Now!

Last Sunday a youngish man wandered into the store.  If anyone else was there when he entered, they left soon after so he was alone with me.  When I eventually told him to let me know if he had any questions or needed my assistance, he said he had recently moved to the area and was just browsing; out and about on a beautiful afternoon.  I told him what I tell everyone, that we are happy to interact with browsers - we don't only want to talk to people who express an intention to buy something.  Then, I went back to whatever I was doing, and he kept looking around - for quite awhile, actually. We spoke occasionally. After he had been there for maybe an hour, he started to pick up some items and make a little pile at the desk.  Then other customers started coming in and within minutes, all the sound machines seemed to be going, the pickle was yodeling, perhaps the penguin race was on.  As he prepared to check out I told him he had really seen the store in each extreme - quiet and peaceful, and cheerfully, noisily chaotic!  It's really true - the atmosphere here can go from zero to 60 very quickly.  Luckily, he seemed to tolerate both - as do we all.  Okay - if not all - I have seen people quite unnerved by being the only customer - and I have seen people walk out when it gets too lively. (aka noisy).  Anyway, I thought he had received quite the perfect introduction to Joie!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blast From the Past Two!

My first business card . . .  the one that got me in trouble at the gift show with its tag line . . . and note the emergency stamped address - this was because the previous tenant - the infamous Frank Fox - refused to vacate the premises on May 1st so I couldn't get in.  My own calligraphy - and at the time - I thought the card sophisticated!