23 August 2007

A Plethora of Sid

Look carefully at the reflection in the mirror...they're baa-aack!
Our much-awaited large shipment of Sid Dickens Memory Blocks has arrrived! The newest collection for Fall/Holiday 2007 will arrive in the shop in October. We can't wait to see the new ones, either!
As our local customers know, we sell right off the wall, but often we will sell out of a particular Block and need to order it for you. In a few weeks, we will issue a "last call" for orders that need to be delivered in time for Christmas, in the likely event that we will sell out of certain styles. Order now to be sure you receive the ones you want to give as Christmas gifts! Your requests can be reserved with a 50% deposit.

20 August 2007

Make Way for Autumn

Yesterday we traveled down to Columbus for another visit to our regional tradeshow. As I have shared before on this blog, we don't shop this market frequently, nor do we buy deeply from its offerings. The predominant 'look' purveyed in most of the showrooms is not quite us. However, we do consistently buy from a couple of them, so we make our way down two or three times a year to take a peek at what's new.


And are we ever glad we went yesterday! We picked up a new tabletop collection for fall/winter, spied out a second one we may decide to bring in, put in our fall/winter VOTIVO order (yes, we will be carrying Christmas Sage and Joie de Noel in their ready-to-gift holiday packaging, as well as Gingerbread in a holiday-ish chocolate brown box). But our best score of the show was a fabulously well-made, perfectly on-trend, and ridiculously well-priced ladies' accessories line which I am keeping under wraps until it shows up in the store. I have to confess that I didn't think a line like this would ever turn up at the Columbus show...or maybe I underestimated the Columbus show! It's fun to find new things to offer, and nice and convenient when you can see them in person without having to get on a plane.


In addition, for all of you who have complimented the "5" necklace I wear very often, we are now offering two other styles from the same collection, both of them with 5's. Come in and see!


And one last thing: our big fall shipment of Sid Dickens Memory Blocks is due to arrive this week, while smaller shipments will arrive periodically throughout the fall. This is our grand attempt to stay well-stocked through the holidays. Please keep in mind that this is one of our most popular collections, and we tend to go from well-stocked to spotty rather quickly. If you have your heart set on some particular styles, I recommend you reserve them now with a 50% deposit rather than take a chance. The second Retiring list has been released, so stop in to see which Blocks will soon become collectors' items (read: once we are sold out of the Retiring blocks, we will not be getting more, as they will no longer be in production after December 1st).

15 August 2007

We've Finally Arrived

The day before yesterday, I received in the mail for the first time an invitation to the Maison et Objet show in Paris! Now mind you, they got my name from a list of retailers somewhere, undoubtedly because I am registered for some of the domestic tradeshows. But still. The thought of me being included on this list, period, was a little thrill, one that I wanted to share. I am still new enough at this shop owning thing to stand back and say to myself, "Wow. I'm a shop owner." Three years ago, doing anything retail-related was so far out of the realm of anything I ever expected to do with my life that it's funny. I mean, I never meant to do this. And here I am, loving (almost) every minute of it.


The almost part is the one exception I have to make for a couple months back when, moving a heavy box in our storage room, my shoulder accidentally nudged our fire extinguisher off of its wall mount, deploying the thing and sending pungent-tasting (yes, I forgot to close my mouth for the first five seconds or so) white powder flying all over our storage room, our boxes of merchandise, our window treatments, and...all over me. Of course. It was real fun cleaning that up.


And so, thanks to a glossy little leaflet that arrived in my mailbox straight from France, I feel, this week, that I've finally arrived.

06 August 2007

'Twas Four Months Before Christmas

I spent last Wednesday and Thursday evening sprawled out on the family room floor, watching So You Think You Can Dance (go, Sabra!) and zipping open box after box of holiday merchandise with my box cutter. Yep, holiday merchandise! Generally the goodies for "fourth quarter" (in retail lingo, that's October, November, and December) are delivered to the shop in mid-to-late summer. This year, we've been receiving all of our big holiday shipments at our warehouse, then taking them home so I can open and inspect everything, ooh and aah over it, check it against my purchase order, check it off my invoice, price it, empty the boxes of a superfluity of packing peanuts (we hate these static electricity-charged little buggers so much we sometimes call them "hell peanuts"), repack the boxes, seal them up with packing tape, load them back into my car (I see an SUV in my future), and take them back over to the warehouse. Were our warehouse comfy and well-lit, I could do this all over there, but what warehouse do you know that fits that bill?


I hope it's not too much of an abomination to be writing about the Holidays when it's only recently been ninety-plus degrees outside. Before I was a retailer, I would feel disgusted and even slightly offended when I'd walk into the mall in October and see snowflake garlands dangling from the ceiling and oversized red bows adorning every surface. Gimme a break, I'd think. Way to be mercenary. Now, though, I must admit that I eagerly anticipate the holiday season, and not just because sales go way up. Heck, to tell you the truth, I'm ready now! For me, the holidays are the best time of year to be a retailer because we get to participate in helping customers bring comfort and joy to their family and friends. This is the one of my primary motivations for having a shop. I absolutely love to entertain, but with my current lifestyle and the fact that many of my friends live out of town, I'm not able to do it half as much as I'd like. Through appointing my shop with all sorts of delectable finds, I like to think I can extend that same delicious feeling of being a hostess to you.


And let me tell you, do we ever have some pretty and fascinating things for the offering this holiday season. As my mom and I unpacked, we could already tell which items we probably hadn't ordered enough of. My caveat to you will be shop early, because as you know, we are a small, independently owned boutique and not a big box retailer or a franchise, so quantities are always limited. You'll have to wait a while longer for a sneak peak! It is still only August, after all.


I have a notebook in which I record all of my fantasy ideas for future vignettes, display stories, category themes, etc. I have recently begun jotting notes on our Holiday Open House! As soon as I have the date finalized, I will put the word out. Until then, I'll keep all of my glitter glass-adorned and mica snow-filled fantasies stuffed up my sleeves and I'll let you enjoy the rest of your summer!

01 August 2007

Paper Freak

Our Wine Cork Cardholders keep your pretty paper things in place.
With back to school just a few weeks away (sorry, teachers, to break into your summer reverie!), I thought it was high time for a post on paper.
I'll begin with a confession: I am a paper freak. Have been since childhood. From the age of three into early elementary school, I wrote and illustrated my own stories on the inside front and back covers of my Little Golden Books. My parents didn’t mind. They supplied me with plenty of scratch paper, but my crayons, and later on, pens, gravitated only to what paper was between two perfect bound covers. I guess I knew from an early age that whatever I had to say, whatever characters my mind could generate, whatever witty dialogue I could spin, it was supposed to live inside the two covers of a book. When my mind (and word count) outgrew Little Golden Books, I moved my writing life into spiral bound notebooks. Lots of them. Like, one for every story. Because for some reason, it brought me a great deal of discomfort to scrap an idea, turn the page, and begin anew with a fresh idea. With each new idea, I needed a new notebook. Rest assured, the idea of simply ripping out a page and throwing it away occurred to me. But I didn’t like how the pages would then bear the imprint of the words I’d just rejected as too “dumb,” too “babyish,” too “superficial” (yes, this was me at seven). The imprints of my discarded story still were legible, as if they had been written in invisible ink awaiting a milk decoder formula. I felt that my new ideas deserved an unadulterated landing place that had not been marred by what came before. For each new idea, a new notebook. A spanking clean little tome whose paper smelled of possibilities.

Winsome handmade card by calligraphy artist Helen Lewis of Illuminating Words.


As you might imagine, by the end of high school, what I had were lots of empty notebooks with the first few pages torn out. Back then, I wasn’t a finisher.

Handmade notebooks and sketchbooks from Illuminating Words.

Then came college, where finishing made the difference between completing a workshop course and not. So I had to learn to follow my characters until the end of the stories they wanted to tell...or at least until the end of the page requirement. Usually I was long winded (no kidding???). We usually had to write stories that were ten to twenty pages, though this was more of a suggestion than a rule. Mine generally ran more toward the forty page mark. Single spaced. They wanted to be novellas. For one workshop, I had to submit a five page story, double spaced. Not four, not ten, five. This particular assignment was an exercise in compression, elucidation, extracting only the essence of a moment, an idea, a character. We were to be like poets writing in the short story form. Only the choicest words and details would do.
I won a prize for that story. Go figure.

Reproduction vintage French "cahiers" (notebooks). Just enough pages for a stirring little epistle.

Triptych of Scrap Journals by Secret Leaves.

Today, as a boutique proprietor, I get to lavish (hi, Becki) in all of the notebooks, journals, and wonderful paper products I can find. Yes, I’ve finally gotten my fill of paper. Here are some wonderful finds at The Blissful to whet your own writerly whistle (Off-rhymes are purely unintentional, I promise.)

Sharon and Ann at Secret Leaves custom-designed these French-inspired Scrap Journals for us. For an inside look at the design and construction process of another type of journal (it's fascinating), go here to read their blog.

Send out all your correspondence and packages with our Tour Eiffel-embellished mailing labels.

Small enough to fit into your handbag or any roomy pocket and fat enough to fill your palm, our little travel notebooks will inspire you to record your dreams and observations when you're abroad...or right in your own backyard.

With a former English teacher at the helm, you can be sure The Blissful is full of interesting titles to help you while away the hours and learn something new.

In lieu of a beach read, take along "Entre Nous" by Debra Ollivier, a cheeky page turner about the qualities of mind, habit, and character that give French women that je ne sais quoi. A must-r ead for Francophiles and aspiring Francophiles alike.

In addition to what you see pictured here, we've got pretty file folders, beloved paperweights, decorative correspondence sets, stationery, labels, cute erasers, and much, much more. Going back to school this year? Sending someone off in just a few weeks? Ease the transition back into the paper-loving way of life with something from the shop. Or buy your favorite teacher a little something to start off her schoolyear on a sweet note.


And don't forget to pre-order your Sid Dickens Memory Blocks in time for holiday gift giving! I have been taking phone orders from people around the country (how cool is that?), so they truly are booking up fast. The artist just released the first half of the 2007 Retiring list, so stop in to see which Blocks will no longer be in production after December 1st. The second Retiring list will be released later this month. Oh, so much suspense! You've got to love a line with such mystique and cache surrounding it.


A bientot!