01 May 2007

Adventures in Columbus

Petit Fours galore

Need I remind you that we have petit fours aplenty this week at The Blissful? You'd better come in and have some so that my mom and I don't eat them all ourselves. Our Paris in the Springtime sale is in full swing and we're moving the merch at a nice clip today. One customer told me she's coming in every day this week to capitalize on the "one per customer per day" thing. 'Atta girl. We also just received a shipment of the most deliciously French tabletop (dessert plates, latte bowls, mini bowls, mugs), so we're lacing together display ideas in our heads as the hours whirl by.

The above photo actually has nothing to do with the subject of this blog, which is an account of our latest trip to Market in...[drum roll, please]...Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Market Place is a regional tradeshow that contains showrooms representing thousands of lines for retailers to buy. This Market, like most (if not all) such tradeshows, are wholesale only, which means not open to the public. Here, retailers get a preview of what's to come in home decor and gifts. Sometimes this outlook is tremendously fun and inspiring, and sometimes it's...not. We are pretty selective at the Columbus show. There is a lot to see (no comparison with a big show like Atlanta or Chicago, though), but only a fraction of it can work in with what we do at our shop. A lot of what's there is Primitive Americana, which, if you've been in my shop, you know we are anything but. But I feel an inexplicable draw into each and every Primitive showroom. "I just want to look!" I'll tell my mom as I make a beeline for the door. There is something about grubby candles, teastained American flags, and snowman dolls with long carrot noses that gets me every time! What is it? Maybe I'm a country girl at heart. The funny thing is, I would never buy Primitive for my own home or my shop. I just like to look at it. I will say that some of those showrooms have the best displays in Columbus.

But we made our usual rounds. Our mission this past Sunday was to tweak and finalize our Christmas order. Yes, Christmas. Usually your Christmas order goes in sometime in January/February and starts delivering in June. We put in a couple BIG Christmas orders at the start of the year, but it'd been so long since we'd seen the stuff, we needed a second look. So with our order printout in hand (and one of my fancy gel pens), we descended on the Market with the goal of adding to, deleting from, and adjusting quantities of ornaments, door swags, tabletoppers, you name it. We're so glad we went, as it helped to see that we actually wanted 48, not 16, of what I am predicting will be our best-selling ornament of Holiday 2007. You might snicker at these minutiae but I am telling you that it is just these kinds of tweaks, predictions, and adjustments that can put money in your pocket (or leave it sitting in the glitter glass dust) at the end of the season. Our second look also helped us to determine what we had ordered that, at a second glance, is just not us, and thus, needed to be cancelled. We hone our look with every day that goes by and every purchase order that is written.
One resounding truth I came away from this Market with is that there is a lot of cute stuff out there--but that doesn't mean it's right for us. As a retailer (and I wonder if those of you reading out there agree with me), it's tough sometimes not to give into pressure from certain customers who are particularly vocal about what they think would sell or would like to see us sell. Or in which direction they would like to see the store evolve. I know one shop owner who listened to a well-meaning but overly pushy customer of his, invested in a whole collection of something the lady convinced him he needed in his store, and bam--at the end of the season, he was left with the whole collection. He said the line was great but didn't 'feel' right to him even as he was ordering it. Yet he made the investment against his better judgment. He'll never make that mistake again. This is why I try so hard to stay true to my vision. It may not be for everybody, but for those who get it and appreciate it--they really get it. On the other hand, it's essential to listen to customers because, after all, they are the reason we're in business! It's a tricky dance, running a retail boutique.

So what did we find in Columbus? Three hours of scouting yielded up a new (for us) line of handmade holiday ornaments and decorations totally in keeping with the look we love. It's very Eclectic Farmhouse Chic, very funky French farmhouse. We're tentatively planning on an early November holiday open house. I have a beautiful new storybook in my mind filled with all of the great holiday finds we have on order and I can't wait to share it with you this fall. If my exuberance over the holiday season seems a little much for May 1st, it just might be! But I'm telling you as I told my friend Kelly on the phone this morning, I could shop for Christmas decorations all year long. I would be a great 4th quarter buyer for some big department store--nothing but Harvest and Holiday on the brain, all year long, and lots of it!

On a different note, because I never fail to recommend a good thing when I know it, I will tell you that if you are ever in the Short North Arts district of Columbus, do yourself a favor and have lunch or dinner at The Happy Greek. This restaurant on High Street is known as the hands-down best place to get Greek food in Columbus. My mom and I shared the Vegetarian Sample Platter. Whoh. Tasty stuff.

And so this blog ends as it began: with a commentary on food. It's a good thing I work out a lot.


Raised In Cotton said...


I "tagged" you on my blog~check it out!


The Blissful Home said...

Thanks for the "tag", Carol--you are so sweet! And thanks for bringing my attention to some other tasty blogs. Now I have reading fodder for days...

Walker Evans said...

Yeah, Happy Greek is awesome! I ate at the new one up at the campus gateway not too long ago and loved it! ;)


The Blissful Home said...

Hi, Walker--

Thanks for posting! I was not familiar with ColumbusUnderground.com. Heavenly food photos under the Dining link!