Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cool gifts/looming deadlines


One of our favorite gifts is our personalized stamps. Lots of designs to choose from, and you can put whatever wording you wish on them. Mostly, they're used for a nifty return address stamp, but you can do anything: any kind of announcement (new website, new baby, new address) or just a nice monogram to personalize stationery. Or, one of my favorites: stamps for kids that have their name in the middle and favorites words around the outside, e.g., thank you * love you * happy *

They're $45 (just an extra $3 if you want it drop shipped to a location other than our store), and ship in about 2-3 weeks. If you'd like to order for Christmas, the deadline is Tuesday, December 9 by 6pm. Come by our downtown store to see all the options and to order. But, if you miss the deadline, we will have in stock a very nice stamp gift certificate box that's great for holiday giving, and allows the recipient one-time access to the web site to choose her/his own design. You can pick those up all the way up to December 24, and we'll gift wrap it for you, too. For a preview, log onto threedesigningwomen.com and see all the variations available. You can't order online from there, but come into the shop and we'll guide you through the options.

Oh, just a little caveat: there are online companies selling these stamps, sometimes seemingly for less, but then there are all sorts of little hidden handling, shipping, whatever charges that actually add up to more than what you can get them for at Pomegranate. Plus, we're nice and we know what we're doing and can give you good advice in person. Make local habit!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bag a Baggallini at Pomegranate


Baggallini is a company that just continues to amaze us, season after season. Started in Portland some years ago by two former flight attendants, their handbags and travel pieces are so well designed, lightweight and chic. Each piece has lots of organization and logical places to stash your cell phone, camera, cards, etc. And now they've pushed the envelope even further with a whole new collection of stylish bags to use everyday (but still great for travel).

We just received a Baggallini shipment (oh yeah, I'll be struggling with it today at the downtown store, because it's still all over the counters, and spilling out of boxes -- the best way to get first pick, girlfriends). It's a mix of old favorites (urban backpack, etc.), new colors, and the best of their new designs. Shown here are a couple of new pieces: the Valencia in black, and the Monaco clutch in mushroom. Love the big chunky hardware... but not overdone.

And then there's the Shanghai Satchel. Extremely cute, and all ready for my trip to Spain. I'm obsessed with going to Spain now (only if we win the lottery); you'll understand if you've been watching Made in Spain with José Andrés or On the Road Again... in Spain (Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow). That's a whole separate blog entry, but I would totally take the Valencia or Shanghai bag with. And fill it with Sevilla oranges and that ham they keep tasting (if it spills I can just wipe it up because these are all made of durable water-resistant crinkle fabric).

On the other hand, sometimes for every day use, you don't want to be dragging a satchel all over town and just want a small, lightweight bag you can tuck the basics into. Baggallini has lots of those. Love this new little Midtown tote for just that purpose. Throw it over one shoulder, or extend the adjustable strap to sling it across you when you're zooming around on your Vespa. Ciao, baby baggallini!

By the way, as with all our products, we're trying really hard to keep prices as slim as we can, to give you, our dear customers, a break. On the Baggallinis, for example, we're way lower than the suggested retail price. And as always, we're happy to gift wrap at no charge.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Personal, personalized gift idea

I'm loving monograms again. Not just for your stuffy uncle anymore, monogramming is fun and funky and great to do for anyone (as long as you leave yourself a bit of turnaround time).

Shown here is a glass from a set of four tumblers that just arrived for a customer. I love the way they turned out. They have a nice weight and feel, and the engraving is beautifully done (hard to see in the photo, but the letters are deep engraved into the glass, not just etched on the surface -- big difference). It only took about two weeks (all done in the US); cost is $38 for the set of four tumblers delivered to our shop in a sturdy box (just $3 extra per set if you want them drop shipped elsewhere). And, there are 11 different shapes/sizes to choose from, including ice buckets, carafes, wine glasses, champagne flutes...

You can specify one, two or three initials as shown, or -- my own brilliant idea which the company is happy to do for us -- you could do two initials with an ampersand. Perfect for couples with different last names. Come by and see some of the options at both Pomegranates, or call me for a faxed copy of the order form (541.312.9232) or email for more details (jantiques@bendcable.com). Cin cin!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Votivo back in stock at Pomegranate - for a short time





For fans of Votivo candles, just want to let you know that they are back in stock at Pomegranate, and better than ever. Good news: they've reformulated waxes and wicks to be clean-burning. They used to smoke a little bit, and I never liked that part, even though their scents are wonderful (especially Red Currant, a perennial favorite). There are a few new scents, and some new glass and packaging options that are especially nice for holiday (coming up sooner than you think!) gift-giving. Oh, and we also have their new scent diffusion sets, for those of you who prefer that over a candle.

And Votivo made some behind-the-scenes changes too. Now they're using packaging material that is completely recyclable and easy to manage; another reason for our decision to bring their products back in. We stress out over this quite a bit, dealing with mountains of boxes and packaging materials. Poor Robert normally spends most of his day off (if he gets one) breaking down boxes and rebagging that hideous popcorn (aka ghost turds) that so many manufacturers use to pack the goods that go to stores (why we sometimes call him Popcorn Bob). Most of that stuff cannot be recycled except to pass it on and reuse it. I don't know what other stores do with it all, but we've found a couple of companies that take it off our hands and use it again to pack their own products. So we're happy when a vendor goes to the trouble and expense to use packing materials that the recycling centers will accept. It's something you don't even think about when buying an item, but it's a giant issue for us retailers.

Anyway, we like the new Votivo, and surprisingly, they've been able to maintain their pricing from the last few years. The bad news: what we have is all you get. It's unlikely that we'll reorder before the holidays, given the bazillion other things we have on order and somehow have to pay for. Soon.

P.S. and FYI: those fall platters and plates shown in one of the pictures? They're stinkin' cute, made of Melamine, and are amazingly inexpensive (platter @ $28; square plates are $4.95). The small plates I think are great for appetizers or presenting a gift of baked goods. But there aren't very many left (going fast already), and we can't get them again. On candles: the trick to keeping a candle burning evenly and long is thus: trim the wicks to 1/4" (otherwise they flame up and burn more vertically), and never burn a candle for more than a few hours (again, it will just start burning vertically around the wick, rather than evenly across the surface). And for god's sake, don't leave a candle burning in your powder room for a party. Just get one of those fakey, battery-operated candles. They look good and are safe.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"...the best soaps in the world" at Pomegranate


We met a new customer the other day: her friend told her to come to Pomegranate for the best soaps anywhere. Thank you!! She ended up buying a bunch for gifts, and we wrapped each one in our signature cello bag with ribbon (which we are happy to do, for free, anytime you wish).

All of our soaps are French, triple-milled, and all natural, with a base of either olive oil or palm oil, both of which are excellent for dry skin. Triple milled means that they go through a press three times to get all the tiny air bubbles out, making them very dense and rich (and long-lasting). This is one of those little luxuries that make you feel so good in the morning, for little more than the price of one double latté. It's the antidote to all the gloomy news...

New arrivals and old favorites in the french soap department: milk (very mild and good for sensitive skin), citrus (sooo yummy and fresh), and lemongrass – one of our perennial best sellers. A note for those of you addicted to the infamous Lettuce soap: there's some sort of distribution change for that company, and we haven't been able to get a shipment for months. It will all come back at some point, and we'll be sure to stock up. Meanwhile, I really recommend our cucumber soap as a replacement: the scent is very similar (fresh and light), and the soap is fabulous – creamy and hydrating. It's available in a tiny guest size, up to a 200 gram shower bar. Come by either store to check out all our fab soaps!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New arrivals at Pomegranate



We're getting in new products daily at both Pomegranates. Our downtown shop is still open and going strong (looking for a new tenant, so we're there until it all gets figured out), and we have lots of wonderful goodies rolling in. Hate to say it, but it's not too early to start thinking about the holidays, and we're ready with some great gifts at great prices. Here's a little sample of what's new or coming soon...

Filles des Iles perfumes from Paris: a new line for us -- absolutely adore it. Tiramani is back in stock (lotions, perfumes and talc) -- it's a can't go wrong scent that's so fresh and citrusy. Fall scarves from Zazou (really great prices -- an instant way to dress up an outfit or coat, and a great gift idea). Maruca's fall collection of textile handbags is in stock, and going quickly. Did you know that these are handmade in Boulder, CO? I love that they design their own fabrics, have them milled in the US, then retire them after each season. When it's done, it's done. They have a charming You Tube video about their process; just log onto Marucadesign.com and take the virtual tour. But if you see something you like, come shop with us first. You know, make local habit!

We have some fun mod pieces, like the silicone coasters and wine tags from Modern Twist. You can write on these with a ball point pen, then wash them off. The package of wine glass tags are designed to fit over the neck of a wine bottle, for a très cool hostess gift.

Ghost candelabra is back: one of my favorites that connects classic with modern, anywhere. Ditto the Fantome clock -- I want one on my own mantel. Hey hubby: are you reading this?

Check out the new organic cotton placemats, napkins and tablecloths (yummy). Halloween treats are in (love the sparkly hanging bats). Dog prints and new artwork. And, we have lots of candles and diffusers on order. Your favorites by Archipelago, Aquiesse, Voluspa and Votivo. Yes, Votivo is back (here in a few days) and here's the good news: they have totally reinvented their waxes and wicks and have made a great, clean burning candle, while keeping all those wonderful scents like red currant.


Stop by soon and see what's new!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Listen up: product idea for techies

I wrote a post about hard-to-deal-with vendors (aka Bad Kitties); I also have a list of Bad Phone Kitties. Remember how we all put our home phones on the national Do Not Call list? And don't you think the number of junky phone calls has lessened? Ahh, but there's no such protection for business phones. At our downtown store, I get about 8-10 junk calls every day, most of them recorded messages. That's one every hour. Or three in one hour, and then a bit of peace. They're as delightful as a fly that won't go away. Some are downright obnoxious (the guy who yells "Listen UP" scares me every time). Some are crafty, e.g., the woman who says, "Hello? Oh hi!" likes she's your old friend. And some are just stupid (yeah, I know you're not calling from Qwest headquarters if caller ID says "private number"). I don't get how this spam dialing could possibly be profitable: I mean, who actually listens to the dumb message and then signs up for a vacation getaway??

All I know is it's turning me into a screaming mimi. I'm busy at the other end of the store, the phone rings, and I run to get it, only to find it's one of the Bad Kitties. Or I'm on the phone and call waiting interrupts with the "Listen Up" dude. It's usually when I'm writing down someone's phone number and the 'boop boop' of the call waiting knocks out some of the info. Or customers are standing there, and they say, oh go ahead and get your phone, because it bothers all of us to hear a phone ringing and ringing. You hate to miss a customer calling, so I get suckered in every time. Except that I've started to consult my bad kitty phone list before I answer. If it's one of "them," I hit the answer key and then the off key to disconnect.

But here's my grand idea for a money-making invention, free for the taking: how about a little device that would call those numbers back and jam their phone lines? Or something that would send a shrieking whistle sound to their phone number? An automated voice that would say, yes, I'm interested in your stupid offer... and then transfers them to phone hell somewhere. Or maybe just a call blocker that would circumvent the calls in the first place. I'd pay for it!

I don't know. Email spam I can handle: the delete button is swift. Phone spam is intrusive, a time waster, and utterly obnoxious. I wonder if big companies are having the same problems, or if they already have magic blockers on their phone lines...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mean queen of props

How attached am I to our display pieces? Very. How often do people get irritated with me because I won't sell them? Daily.

But here's the thing. Some stores go out and buy shelving units, tables, racks, etc. from retail specialty supply companies. They're surprisingly expensive and often ugly. At best, they're utilitarian, but nothing else. Some shop owners have the budget to invest in custom cabinetry and tables. It's hugely expensive, as you might imagine. Think remodeling a kitchen, then double it, or more. If you don't go broke in the process, the end result gives you continuity and elegant display surfaces that enhance but don't compete with the products. It's all about getting things up at eye level and making it all look luscious and easy to figure out.

We're more "seat of the pants" people, so building custom shelving was never an option (oh, except for the wonderful pieces Robert built for our River Mall Avenue location, but that was all before some workshop disasters...). Besides, if there's ever extra money, we'd rather buy more inventory rather than better shelves to put it on.

So, as Robert will attest, I am always on the hunt for more unusual display pieces, to the point of being a first-class pest. Funny, though, now when we walk into an antiques store and he spies some funky table, he's the first one to say, "Ohhh, that would be great for display."

I think he mocks me.

Anyway, a good display piece can turn lots and lots of inventory. It helps pull things up closer to eye level; makes everything more noticeable; and provides a home with the right background to make items "pop." It sets the tone and the mood of the shop, and tells you you're not in some generic chain store.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kitty poo happens

One of the frustrating parts of our business are the vendors I call Bad Kitties. Usually they're small companies whose products we love enough to order, but stuff gets screwed up so badly somewhere along the way that we have to stop ordering from them. Or we bite the bullet and keep buying, but keep an eagle eye on every transaction.

This is not the glamorous part of being a retailer. During the busiest parts of the year, when we're ordering a lot and selling a lot, I can easily spend an entire day of each week tracing shipments, tracking down mysterious charges, unraveling things like why we got 6 gigantic boxes of bath salts when we only ordered six small bags, or lotion testers but no product. Or 40 pound marble table tops sent with the wrong bases. On and on and on... But I digress.

Yesterday's meltdown involved our flatware vendor. I placed an order three weeks ago. They charged our card the following day, which usually means the product shipped. Ah, but they charged hundreds more than it should have been: a regular occurrence. There are two prices: one if you buy one little piece at a time (very high), and one if you buy in bulk (very reasonable). Someone always keys in the wrong number. And I always have to call back and straighten it out. [After tracking the charge and comparing it to the order that's in a stack of paperwork and adding it all up and...] HelLO! Not again! That got fixed, but where's our shipment? Should have been here two weeks ago, and now two customers got mad at me because I thought for sure it would arrive last week. I hate that. So it's another 20+ minutes on the phone, another 20+ minutes finding all the paperwork and writing a fax with a recap of the situation (because we're just about starting from scratch here), and I'm about to go curl up on our bed in the store and put our scented pillow on my face because I need to relax and breathe and not have a heart attack over this. Maybe asphyxiation by lavender isn't so bad.

So this is what happened: our order went to another Pomegranate. In Texas. This happens all the time, too. When we picked the name "Pomegranate" we never imagined that ten other unrelated Pomegranates would later spring up all over the U.S., and that they would someday be receiving our shipments, and we, theirs. Grrr. Just another afternoon in the litter box with the Bad Kitties.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Credit card crazies

Guess who is still making a lot (I mean a LOT) of money? Credit card companies. And anyone connected to them: suppliers, processors, etc. etc. Whooo boy, don't get me started. That whole part of it is fodder for another post. Maybe an exposé. Maybe a book.

What got me steamed last week is the flatlining and death of our "new" credit card processing machine at our downtown store. Years ago, we purchased our first credit card processor for about $500, a major investment for us. It blew up about a year and a half later, past any warranty period, and we were faced with either purchasing or leasing a new one. We went for the lease. More expensive in the end, but if something happens, you don't have to start over and buy another. And because the technology is changing all the time, you can upgrade and get rid of the one that runs on hamster power.

At our farmhouse store, we have this workhorse credit card machine that keeps chugging along. A different story downtown. Our first machine there lasted about two years, and decided to stop working just a few days before last Christmas, our busiest, craziest three days of the year. It was a nightmare, and replacement didn't come until after the new year, thank you very much. And by the way, manually keying in all the hand-swiped card purchases from earlier gets charged at a much higher percentage rate. Oh well. This time our 'new' machine pooped out Tuesday morning (just eight months later), and I didn't get a replacement until Friday. I was on the phone for what seemed like hours.

I think what really frosted me was the greasy salesmanship at the other end of the line. They know you're desperate to get a replacement machine, and use all kinds of tactics to get you to spend more (nevermind that it should be on warranty with a seamless replacement policy). Oh, you want a quick replacement? That will be $40 extra for overnight (actually two-day shipping) plus regular shipping costs. Then I got that "you get what you pay for" line, which really made me mad (don't try to sell me anything through guilt or fear). It's not like we were being cheapskates eight months ago. We relied on them to send whatever they sent. Did I want them to send another of the same? Of course not. So that required a new lease – a way more expensive lease – and signing of new papers, and further delays.

That was last week. Got my new machine, which just looks like a bloated version of the old one. Got it set up (only another hour on the line with the tech people), and I've calmed down since then. The nice thing was how understanding and patient customers were. That first day, I didn't even have a manual swiper thing to use, and had to write down all the cc info to run them through later. Everyone had to stand there and wait... You know those commercials where the guy runs into a donut shop and swipes his card for a donut and doesn't have to sign? And the donut shop owner is smiling from ear to ear? That's just a MasterCard fantasy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dog Café Society

Last night after hours we started work on our downtown Halloween windows (I know many stores have already put out Halloween stuff, but after all these years, I still cannot start on the seasons or holidays too early). It's kind of a time-consuming process, so we got the basics done on it, and managed to turned the entire store upside down. It's chaos in there, but I love playing around with new windows.

Anyhow, about halfway through, I started whining about how nice it would be to have a glass of wine while we worked. We considered the options: try to get a glass to go from one of the restaurants nearby. Nope. Illegal and they probably won't do it. Buy a bottle and open it in the store while we work. With no dinner, we might end up passing out in the window and becoming sleeping mannequins. Third option: close up shop, leave the mess for the next day, and hop down to Merenda to that nice little table outside, with Mollie the shop dog in tow. It took us about two seconds to drop our hammers, fashion a leash out of ribbon, and close up shop.

What a grand idea it was, too. Robert ordered a glass of very nice white wine from the Piemonte region of Italy; I got a lovely, pearish sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. Mollie got her very own bowl of fresh water from Oregon, and lots of attention. It was her first outing to a restaurant, and she loved it. Until last night, I had forgotten that you can bring your dog with you to some of the restaurants in town, as long as you're outside. The weather was absolutely perfect, and we were soooo happy and relaxed. After the requisite risotto fritters and sharing a salad, Roberto ordered a smoked bacon pizza (I have one word for it: OMG!) and I had a fabulous pasta (can't remember the name) that was like a tiny ravioli, stuffed with ground pork – very tender, in this wonderful sauce and covered with farmer's market mushrooms (I love all the chanterelles, maitakes, shitakes available now). I was in heaven. Didn't even have room for dessert. Mollie put on her best begging face (wish I had had the camera with me) and had a great time watching everybody walk by. She was almost as good as those quintessential French dogs who sit at cafés with their owners every day. By the way, kudos to the wait staff at Merenda; the two that were assigned to our little outside area really knew the menu and really knew their wines (the guy serving the couple behind us was like a total wine geek; fun to listen to him).

Earlier in the day, I met a woman in the shop who was in Bend for a job interview, visiting from a central California town. "You are SO lucky to live in this beautiful place!" she said, and indeed we are.

It's going to be lovely and warm for the next week or so, so treat yourself to some outside dining, bring Fifi if you're headed for a sidewalk table, and forget all your cares for an evening. It's one of the rewards of living here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Art of le dog



Just received some fun new art at our shops yesterday: all about the dog. I ordered these so long ago I had almost forgotten what they were like, so it was a bit like christmas yesterday opening up all the boxes. They're really, really adorable, and I love the simple frames.

It doesn't matter what breed you have (because y'all do have a dog or two, right?); any of these would look great on the wall. The kind of sepia/black & white ones above have a modern feel to them; interesting angles (love the dachshund staring at you from around the corner!) and bold, simple frames.

The others are collage style pieces with some great little hits of color. If we didn't already have lots of art, I would totally put the chihuahua on a wall at home. Just to irritate Robert. No, he thinks it's cute, too.

By the way, these are all we have (not all of them shown, however). Not every breed is represented or even available. I just picked the ones I thought were most charming, and when they're gone, they're gone. We probably won't reorder, given the amount of time it took to get them, and given how much other stuff we need, too.


And then there's my girl, Mollie, who got to visit the downtown store for a little bit yesterday. She was the perfect shop dog, as always, but prefers to be at our River Mall Ave. store, where she can loll on the grass and wade in the canal. She looooves babies and is so gentle and sweet around them. And she loves kids. But as she advances into older age, she isn't so fond of other dogs. That makes it a little tough downtown, because she likes to bark at the passing dogs. Yesterday a couple of kids with a pitbull passed by our open door while she was there. It could have gotten loud, but she didn't see the dog, thankfully.

We're so lucky to have her; we couldn't wish for a better dog in the world. So give her a little kiss and a pet for me if you see her at our other store. And please don't laugh at her furry little mukluk paws.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A good gift story


Yesterday one of our customers told me her idea for giving a Bella Notte throw (and how much it was appreciated)...a great thought to pass along.

A friend was practically living at the hospital while taking care of her husband, who was there for some long-term treatments (from which he has benefited and recovered). The perfect gift for the care-giver? A cozy and generously sized Bella Notte throw. If you're a fixture in a family member's hospital room, you end up sleeping, reading, knitting, etc. in whatever chair you can find, and it gets chilly. Having a wonderful throw to pull over yourself would be a very welcome gift, I think.

Of course, I have to put a plug in for Bella Notte bedding, which we carry at our downtown store. I wouldn't have it in the store if I didn't just love it, and these are the best throws out there. They come in several different fabric combinations, from the Tennyson (shown above), which is a very soft, cozy, velvety fabric, to a totally luxurious silk velvet backed in satin. And they all come in 22 colors. 22! You can go from a deep, rich chocolate or graphite to neutral champagne or white. They're oversized, so you can really cover yourself up with one if you're lounging on the sofa reading (oh! that sounds like a vacation!). They're trimmed in satin or velvet edging, which I far prefer over messy, tangly fringe. It's all made in the US, and perhaps best of all, everything is machine washable. We have two Tennyson throws at home (one at the foot of the bed and one for the sofa), and I adore them. Throws in any of the 22 Tennyson colors run about $150.

Here's the catch. It's all made to order and takes about eight weeks to ship, so I've tried to anticipate what will sell and have already placed several orders to have some in stock. I'm afraid our in-stock items might go fast. If you think you might want to special order for the holidays (coming up soon, believe it or not!), come see us soon to get your order in. The throws are a great gift idea for parents, grandparents, housewarming, wedding, new moms, anyone... The throws are just part of the Bella Notte line of bedding and linens -- for instance, the same Tennyson fabric (just one of many) also makes a fabulous coverlet or duvet cover. Yummy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back in stock


Ah yes, it's the long-awaited arrival of some of our favorite products. Caldrea arrived yesterday, and we're busy getting the shelves full again. At our River Mall Ave. location we have both the classic Lavender Pine and newest Ginger Pomelo scents in all the Caldrea natural cleaning products, as well as liquid soap and lotions. Downtown, we're carrying only the Ginger Pomelo and will have it all ready for you by Friday. Cleaning your house with this good stuff is like an aromatherapy session... and you can feel good that you haven't used some mysterious caustic chemical compounds.

And arriving downtown today (most likely) are our favorite Archipelago collections. The Pomegranate body care line is absolutely lovely, very hydrating and smells wonderful. We just got lucky that they choose our favorite edible object to base their line on.

Also arriving: Archipelago's fabulous soy candles and diffusers in "Luna" and "Positano" – both citrusy and fresh. The small diffusers are great for a bathroom, laundry room or mudroom; larger sizes will cover a greater area.

Diffuser tips: good ones have the right blend of essential oils and alcohol. If there's too much alcohol, it will dissipate too quickly; if not enough, the mix will be too heavy to wick up. Also important are the type of reeds used. They can't just be sticks; they need to be porous and a bit 'holey' so the product can diffuse properly. And, there are a lot of cheapo products out there that are not using good essential oils. If you're getting that chemical whiff from one, throw it out before you give everyone a headache.

Don't expect just one to scent your whole house or even a large greatroom – they work better set up in zones. Suggest one in the entry; one in the kitchen and small ones in bathrooms. Wind and too much sunlight can decrease their effectiveness, so keep them away from open windows or super sunny spots. Flip the sticks every once in a while to get the wicking action going, but do be careful when you do that: the oils can do some damage to painted or unfinished wood surfaces if you let it drip down. Lastly, it's really not a good idea to fill a diffuser container with another scent. If you do that, make sure the container is super clean, and start with fresh sticks. Mixing it all up like that is just asking for some weird science concoction.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Parking and pigs flying

Our little downtown parking scuffles are nothing new: every small, historic downtown corridor has the same issues with employee parking vs. customer parking. The maximum time allowed is always on the short side, simply to prevent owners and employees from taking up all the parking meant for customers. The guy in my last post (from the 8/30 article in The Bulletin about downtown parking) who spends so much time moving and reparking his car every two hours is a perfect example of staff parking abuse. Instead of spending $20-$48 on a parking pass, he prefers to spend 15% of his work day driving around looking for a new parking space meant for customers. On the other side of the coin, I understand completely how customers feel when they get a parking ticket. As a friend said recently, why should I be punished for parking a little too long when I just spent $200 downtown, shopping and having lunch? As a business owner, I do not want my customers to feel that way. If you're having fun downtown, you shouldn't have to watch the clock.

So, as I've said ad nauseum, there's always the garage with free parking for three hours, or $5 for all day. That works for now, but we need to make some changes, too. I totally agree with the idea of slapping on bigger fines for frequent offenders. That may be the only cure for them. How about also selling reduced fee parking passes for the top floor of the garage, where no one ever parks anyway? Cut the price in half or so for those willing to drive a bit more.

Or this, my favorite little idea: Diamond Parking could sell rolls of single day garage passes for parking. Businesses could buy them for say, $2 per ticket (on a roll of 50 or so). If you had one of these tickets, you then park in the garage and put your ticket in one of the little envelope kiosks with your license number, just like you do now with the $5 cash all-day parking option. It would be up to each business to deal with them however they wish. If you have part-time or independent contractor employees, you could either give the tickets away or charge for them, however you see fit. Or, you could give them to good customers for their next trip downtown.

How about this idea? Not going to happen, even when pigs do learn to fly. We turn one of those ghost town motels or empty lots surrounding the downtown area and turn it into a parking lot (I'm thinking specifically of the east end of Wall Street, where the old Bulletin lot is). We close off Wall Street to vehicles and make it a lovely pedestrian street (deliveries can be made from Brooks Alley), and then (ha ha, this is the never-ever-gonna-happen part), we run a little trolley line from the new parking lot right down Wall Street (and maybe further) and back again. You put in sweet little covered waiting areas (with trees and big pots of flowers) and transport shoppers and employees back and forth. For free.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Snarky parking

Interesting article in The Bulletin this morning about the state of parking in downtown Bend. This is the first piece I've seen that addressed the issues in such detail. It's all kind of mind-boggling; two examples in particular. First, the woman (business owner) who has received 53 citations and nearly $5,000 in fees since January. Say whaaaaat? She can't be in retail, because I can't imagine having that kind of extra cash sitting around to squander. $5K? I can think of a bunch of products I'm dying to bring in to our shops... if I had an extra $5k you bet I'd make really good use of it. Had she bought a garage parking pass, she would have paid $384 over the last eight months, and had an extra $4,616 to spend on merchandise, or advertising, or a website, or heck, a spa day once a week or so. Or a business consultant who would help her make better use of her deep pockets.

And then the guy who moves his Pathfinder four times a day? Dude! That's some serious break time, plus zooming around in the car looking for spaces beyond the 500 foot zone, plus hiking back and forth to wherever you work, from Wall and Greenwood, to Minnesota, back again, and I guess back somewhere else for the fourth time in the same day. It's got to take 20 minutes each time, which means he spends more than an hour every day just dealing with parking. Huh? Does he spend his lunch break driving around and around our little downtown corridor, munching half a sandwich from one hand? I wouldn't call that quality of life time.

Here's the funny part: the parking garage is no more than 2 or 3 blocks away from anything downtown. And those are Bend blocks, not Manhattan blocks. It's dinky! It's not far away. Yes, I think that the $48 monthly fee for parking is kind of high, especially for those who work part-time. And the cheaper street parking areas can be a bit of a hike (still, not bad at all).

I do often have to park my car close to my shop in the a.m., but we have kind of an unusual situation with the two stores and endless stuff to schlep back and forth from store to store. I can't always carry all the boxes of stuff that may have arrived at the other store the day before, so I park, bring it all in, and then move my car as soon as I can. Into the garage. With my parking pass.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Furniture ads: from the ridiculous to the sublime

My advertising radar was spinning this morning. I love to see what other businesses are doing; how they present themselves, what their messages are, and how people respond. Almost back to back this morning on TV were ads for two different furniture stores. Kind of tuned into these, because they're distantly related to what we're doing, and somewhere in the recesses of my brain is a trend-watching space (for instance, did you know that fuzzy mauve recliners are still popular enough to be shown in ads?).

First one was a local production featuring a fortune cookie promotion where you pick a cookie and get a surprise discount on your furniture purchase. Featuring a very fake, asianesque accent... the sort of bad joke Charlie Chan voice your brother might pull on you. It's bound to offend. I had to run it back and see it again to believe it. Whoa. I can only imagine the "creative" strategizing, and the knee-slappin' "this is gonna be great" discussions.

Second ad was from Ethan Allen, which if you remember back into the 1970s and 80s, was a staid, blue plaid, traditional kind of furniture store. They have really worked hard, I think, in the last decade to be more leading edge. Their ad was fabulous. Very tight, well-choreographed quick clips of graphics and room vignettes, completely married to the music and beat. The production values were really good, yet it probably didn't cost a fortune to produce, since it was all still photos and graphics. Brilliant.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bobs a'plenty

Now that the Olympics are almost over, can someone explain the plethora of Bobs? As in, what's with all the cameramen with "Bob 45" or "Bob 23" emblazoned on their backs? Are they Stepford Camera Guys? Didn't have time to name them, so just assigned "Bob" and a number?

Another unrelated, but just as important question: what kind of day-glo, never-fade makeup do the synchro swimmers use in the pool? Aren't they kinda scary? I appreciate the athleticism, but what's with the clown makeup and Las Vegas outfits and absurdly dramatic pre-routine movements?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tiramani is back


Bunches of you have been waiting patiently for us to get our Tiramani (the most heavenly, fresh scent) back in stock, and it just arrived yesterday at our downtown store. We have both sizes of perfume, hand/body lotion, soap and something new: a lovely talcum powder. If you haven't smelled Tiramani yet, come by for a little whiff. It's so fresh and citrusy, but not overpowering. It makes a great gift: normally I wouldn't recommend anything fragranced for gift-giving, but this is so fabulous... it's really a can't-miss special treat. Made in Atlanta, Georgia by Shelley Kyle, a very talented perfumer. Check it out at Pomegranate, 150 Minnesota near Wall Street.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Flea market mania



Flea market enthusiasts, get ready for shopping craziness next Saturday, August 23, for our biggest and best (and last of the season) flea market at Pomegranate. It seems we've finally hit critical mass for these things, because we have more vendors than we've ever dreamed of, and people are still calling us every day to try and get a space. At this point we've got folks setting up in the back gardens, along the canal, and filling the little parking lot (which we usually leave kind of open in the middle). They're coming from Bend and all over the state, and each one has been vetted by us to make sure they bring great merchandise. It's kind of like little Paris flea market meets Etsy artistes (there are no wrenches or icky plastic baby things at our markets). You're going to find beautiful hand crafted items (wait till you see the parisian magnet boards and vintage flatware made into tiny bud vases), plus fabulous vintage pieces, antiques, linens, chic fashion treats, treasures and furniture repurposed. All those cute display pieces we have in the shops? This is where I find them! And prices are great!

So don't be snoozing on Saturday. Get out your vintage market basket and make a mad dash for Pomegranate. It starts at 10, but I would get there just a teeny bit early for best pick (not too early or it won't all be set up). We're at 120 NE River Mall Ave., across from the north end of Macy's (good parking there).

Oh, and a bit of flea market wisdom: if you like something, put your hand on it, and don't let go until you've bought it. Do not walk away and "think about it" because it won't be there when you return. If you have a certain corner or space you're looking to fill, bring the measurements and bring a little tape measure. It helps make those snap decisions easier. Another flea market tip: return in the middle of the day or at the end and see what else some of the vendors have put out (as they sell down, many will unload more goodies). And you may see things that you didn't see before, or that were buried under some other stuff. See you on Saturday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On signage, and real estate


Gotta hand it to this woman for promoting her house for sale in an unusual way. The sign may not be the greatest and the outfit is, well, unusual... but it got her a photo in the biz section of today's Bulletin and apparently some leads on her property. Lately, I've been zooming the Bend MLS a little bit, just to see what's out there. Like so many others right now, we're sort of flirting with the idea of downsizing, but hate the idea of even thinking about selling our house, which we truly love. But, it's probably a moot point, because not much seems to be selling anyway. Plus we have one little problem: a dog named Weasel who is so sweet and dear, but in her old age hacks and barfs and does things on our carpet. It keeps our carpet cleaning machine in constant use: potential buyers are not likely to be amused.

All that aside, this is what I've noticed in my paltry research. Some brokers have really stepped up their promotional efforts, and give you lots of good photos of houses, with slideshows and sometimes a whole little music/video presentation. Others -- and I can't quite comprehend this -- are still showing photos of houses surrounded by snow, or with date stamps from months ago. How much effort does it take to update a few photos? Because guess what? It's August and if I were actually looking for a house in Bend, I would not want to be reminded of last winter, and what our houses and landscaping looked like then. I want to bask in the light we have right now. And where's the urgency, the specialness, the 'hot property' aspect of a house that has obviously been on the market for a long time?

In our shops, if there's one lone little neglected last bit of a collection we're no longer ordering, no one will buy it. Not even on sale. I had some leftover Votivo candles that we were closing out and put them out on our sidewalk sale at half off. They clearly lost their "buy me!" juju, because nobody wanted them even at half price. Then they got all melty in the sun and now they're hardly even worthy of the donation pile...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thanks for the votes!


A very happy surprise last week to find that Pomegranate was voted No. 1 in the Home Decor category by Source readers (their "Best of" issue is on stands now). Hip hip hurrah! This is the first time there's been a category we fit into, so we were pretty excited about that. Thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to vote, and putting us in the top spot! Do come visit; both shops are open daily. At Pome 1 (River Mall Ave. location), every Sunday is Mimosa Sunday... but tomorrow we'll be serving it up at both shops, just to celebrate a little. Come see us, 11-4, both locations. Merci beaucoup!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Musique at Pomegranate

A couple of fab new music choices, just in or coming soon: first, there's Putumayo. It seems every time we start getting bored with them, they come up with another doozy, and faith is restored. "Acoustic France" just started shipping, and we've got it in stock. I love it! Sort of a mix of sultry french singers and some Django Reinhard-esque throwbacks. Since we got the advance play copy last week, we've been playing it every night during dinner on the deck. Perfect. Their other new one that I'm totally enamored with is "Euro Groove," sort of a stupid name, but really, really fun. It's sort of loungey, but upbeat. Another good one for a dinner party; nice beat all the way through (without getting goofy). Si, even the Italian hip hoppish one with a bit of bagpipe is darn good. [Oops. Shouldn't have mentioned the bagpipes. Now I have to admit that sometimes I like accordion music, too. And ukuleles.]

Then there's the fascinating Mrs. France, Carla Bruni, and her new album (arriving tomorrow!). We latched onto her music about three years ago, when she toiled in relative musical obscurity, save for the fact that she's a supermodel and Mick Jagger's ex-girlfriend. That first album, "Quelqu'un M'a Dit" has been a favorite of ours for a long time, and we've sold a lot of them. Her second album we won't even talk about. Tried to get a friend to take it for skeet practice. Now her new album is just out, and I'm so happy to have some fresh tunes from my favorite chanteuse française. Actually, she's Italian, but spent part of her childhood in Paris, so flips between the two with enviable ease. And now she's married to the president of France. If you kept up with People magazine, you'd know that.

Back to the ukulele. First of all, we learned in Hawaii that it's pronounced something like ookoolaylay, not You-ka lay lee. We loved that so many kids brought them to school; at our nieces' high school, the kids gather in the stairwells during breaks and play them together. Sweet! We even broke down and bought one (the best souvenir!) at Costco, of all places. They had stacks of them at the Honolulu store, like we have huge displays of snow shovels here. And, of course, we have a good cd for you at the stores, called "Hawaiian Style Ukulele" by Troy Fernandez. It's kind of hard to get, but we snagged half a dozen copies for sale before they go into total obscurity. It's my new happy music (and it's not cornball).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Keine Quarken Vergnügen

It's against my nature to use expletives in a blog, so substituted (very possibly incorrect) German to express my frustration at installing a new version of Quark. It sounds angry enough. I do almost all our graphics for our shops, and for years I used an old version of PageMaker. It's all pretty primitive, if you're a more serious designer, but you know, that old PM was a workhorse that never let me down. Then we got our new Mac several years ago (only macintosh in this household: there can be no others). Bought Quark for it, because it was supposed to be a better page layout program. Turned out to be quirky and a bit buggy. But, you know, once you invest in it, you have to upgrade sooner or later; it's cheaper than starting over. So I bit the bullet yesterday and bought the upgrade online (buy Quark 7 and get version 8 for free! Yeah!). Hours later, with smoke coming out of my ears, I finally had it installed (but still not sure I got all the bits and pieces).

I had to fill out multiple forms with two different 13-character serial numbers. Had to sign in again and again, because it kept kicking me out. The clincher was having to enter a 47-digit 'validation code' that I had to write down on a piece of paper and then painstakingly reenter. 47 characters! My eyesight is not good enough to follow a string that long. Had to do it multiple times because if you get one little number or letter wrong, it won't go through. Du böse bube! I bin zehr gestrecht! I have no idea what that last bit means. I may have made it up, or it came up out of the memory ooze that remained after this exercise.

Oh yes. The Quark 8 for free? You get that by registering version 7 (just try to do it! ha ha ha), then clicking on a buried link to version 8. The 4pt. fine print (again, I need reading glasses on top of my tri-focals) tells you that after you pay $19.95 for shipping (huh?), you will receive version 8 sometime after October 15. Not even sure that went through, because it all went in circles for 15 minutes before I gave up. It's scheiße.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Way too much fun at the flea market







It was flea market junkie heaven at Pomegranate last Saturday. The quality and quantity of vendors and their finds were amazing, and we had a great turnout (gobs of people all day long, coming and going, traffic jams and cars parked all up and down our little side street). It's taken some years to get this event to the place it is now. At first we had to run around and pass out flyers and beg people to be a part of it, and now we've got vendors practically fighting for spaces and new ones signing up during markets for the next date. Pretty soon we'll have to start putting tents out by the canal and moving people out there...

Loved the mix of vintage, antique, repurposed, hand crafted, and original pieces. A big thank you to all our vendors and artistes who really notched it up this time. Oh yes, and can't forget our Lavender Festival, which was side by side to the flea market. Robert made the most wonderful lavender lemonade (recipe below -- unfortunately we ran out of it at about 1pm), and we served lovely Provence tea cakes with just a touch of lavender (from Le Cakery)... and sold a lot of gorgeous lavender plants. I'm especially enamored of the Tuscan variety, big and showy, in a large 3-gallon pot. There are still a few left... Okay, so right now, put this date on your calender for our next flea market (and last of the season!): Saturday, August 23, from 10-4 (you can get there a bit early, as did some of the serious, I mean serious, buyers).

Lavender lemonade: make a simple syrup using culinary lavender (we have it at Pomegranate). The culinary part is important, because a) it's organic and you don't want lavender sprayed with some gunk in your food, and b) only certain varieties taste good; some have a sort of camphor aftertaste. Make simple syrup with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Add about 2 TBL culinary lavender buds and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir, strain and refrigerate. Make fresh lemonade (sometimes we use a combination of frozen and fresh squeezed lemons), and add a bit of your simple syrup to taste (not too much or it will be overpowering).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

French Flea Market and Lavender Festival Saturday



Oui, mes amis. The French Flea Market is back at Pomegranate Home & Garden this Saturday the 19th, and it's going to be a great one. We've combined it with our Lavender Festival; our two most popular summer events in the garden. Our vendors are all hand-picked for their fabulous items, whether antique, vintage funky, or hip handmade. And they're coming from all over this time to fill up our lawn and gardens with all their great finds (great prices, too). It goes from 10-4, so you have time to fuel up with a good breakfast, then dash over to Pomegranate and shop shop shop.

For our lavender festival, we've brought in lots of gorgeous lavender plants (they came in really late this year, but it was worth the wait), new lavender products (including some great culinary lavender) and of course there will be treats to enjoy. The shop is full of new arrivals, too. We'll be open until 5:30 on Saturday, so grab your vintage market basket, stop by and have some fun. We're on River Mall Avenue in the historic farmhouse buildings across from the north end of Macy's. Street parking is going to be crazy, so suggest you park in the back lot at Macy's. See you on Saturday!

Not so happy news, but there is an upside

So, we've made the very difficult decision to close our downtown Bend shop (Pomegranate Downtown). The good news: we're keeping our original store and plan to make it even better. In fact, we're really looking forward to going back to our roots and doing what we do well. With just one location.

Truth is, it's harder than we thought to maintain two stores, and before our heads implode (or one of us gets an ulcer), we're going to close operations downtown and move it all over to Pomegranate Home & Garden (our River Mall Avenue location). We just celebrated our tenth anniversary in business there, and plan to keep going for many more years.

I hate doing this, because I love both our stores. And I think downtown Bend is about as charming as it gets. I love that it's cozy and walkable, has great views, has kept its vintage appeal (although a few of those flat concrete bank buildings could use a remodel, pronto), and has top-notch independent restaurants and shops. I love being a part of it.

The good news is, we're looking forward to putting all our energy and passion into our original shop, and concentrating on making it better. It is a darling little spot, afterall, even if it is a little hidden (and sometimes that's a good thing). I have lots of ideas for it -- things I couldn't get to with two stores to maintain (really looking forward to less time spent doing administrative junk). Like, I'm envisioning the front porch with this kind of "french laundry" feel, with linens and aprons and great laundry products and French linen waters. We'll have all our best lines at our new, improved River Mall Avenue Pomegranate, and will add some new ones. I'd like to increase our offerings of great letterpress cards and paper products, ribbons, books, gourmet foods, music, soaps and lotions... wind it up, baby!

Meanwhile, we're looking for a new tenant for our downtown space, and someone is going to step into what I think is the dreamiest space available. When we first walked in there and saw all that great old brick, the wood floors, the skylight, and cool tin ceilings, every fiber in my body was alive with happiness. Bingo! It's perfect. If you have questions about it, you can email me, and I'll put you in touch with the appropriate personage. Meanwhile, we're staying put until the new tenant is found, and are going forward with everything as before. More new merchandise is coming in every day, and life is as normal as it can be...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Greetings, goodies & giveaways for the Fourth of July

Here's to a happy, fire-free Fourth of July! Both Pomegranate shops will be open on Friday the 4th; if you get tired of rafting, golfing, or your odious cousin Newton who cheats at croquet, you can dash in for a little shopping therapy. Our River Mall Avenue store will be open from 10:30 to about 3pm... if you need a last-minute hostess gift or something fun for your summer table.

Downtown, we're open all day and into the evening, because ta-dah, it's also First Friday ArtWalk, and all of downtown will be open and serving goodies. Here's what we've got lined up for you at our downtown shop: we're open at 10:30 (after catching a few minutes of the beloved Pet Parade), and will be giving away free 4th of July fans and tattoos (don't worry, it won't hurt), plus doggie treats for your pet stars. By the way, your dog is always welcome in our downtown shop as long as he/she doesn't piddle on anything or take out a whole display with a tail swipe.

Later, somewhere around 5ish, we'll start serving up First Friday libations. This time, Robert's going to make Pometinis for y'all, and it should be very festive and fun. We'll close when it's all gone, or around 8pm, or maybe a little sooner... because we want to get home and enjoy a little bbq on the deck, too (and see the fireworks, if the haze clears). The point is, get there early.

In case you're still thinking about your menu for Friday, just want to pass along our all-time favorite dish for the 4th. It's Chef Jody Denton's delicious Tuscan Babyback Spareribs that he serves at Merenda; a few years ago he generously shared his recipe in a newspaper article, and we cut it out, used it and loved it. Our copy is in tatters by now, but I found this link to Food & Wine where it was reprinted. Highly recommended.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Elizabeth Allen is in the house!


I just love Elizabeth Allen, fabric and bedding designer extraordinaire. Well, I've only met her once and she is delightful, but what I love is her design aesthetic and the way she's passionately put her collection together. We just got our first shipment of her wonderful bedding at Pomegranate Downtown, and we're all just ga-ga over it (Robert will not admit to being ga-ga over anything -- except maybe a trout, but he'll come around, just see).

Her cottons have the softest hand, and are light and luxurious, perfect for summer evenings. The finishing touches are exquisite and little details are a surprise on their own. We've paired some of her shams here with an all-white Bella Notte bed for a clean, fresh summer look. The new Bella Notte pieces are fabulous, too: in this photo we're showing a Diamond Jacquard coverlet (hemp and organic cotton), the embroidered linen neckroll, and their newest pillow, which I love love love: pure linen with crochet edge trim. Okay, I can already hear some of you going: uh oh, all white? Are you kidding? The dog lands on this just once, and it's all over. Here's the beauty: Bella Notte comes in 21 color palettes, from soothing white, to chocolate, to charcoal (gray is the new black, people) and the best colors in between (all washable). The hundred plus Elizabeth Allen patterned fabrics go so well with it all, from soft and feminine, to simple and modern. If you're not so into the shabby chic look we put together here, you'll be surprised at how many ways all these fabrics can come together. You might want to check out the Elizabeth Allen website; she tells her story better than I. Download the beautiful catalog and take a look at how brilliantly she combines funky and Parisian and modern and cottage in her different looks. Love the baby line, too!

P.S. Could someone please come up with a phrase other than "shabby chic"? I hesitate to even write those words here because it's all so overused and inaccurate. Shabby? Shabby was that peeling naugahyde sofa our neighbors had when I was growing up.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mini Me has a bad day


About a month ago, someone left a little stuffed animal behind in our shop. We have no idea where it came from, but our dog Mollie discovered it, and it's now her little buddy. Funny thing is, it looks a lot like her. If she's not sleeping and comes out to greet you, chances are Mini Me will be hanging from the side of her mouth. The only time she drops it is if you have a sandwich in your hand, because she wants to be completely ready in case something falls fortuitously in her direction.

Mini Me hit the floor today, and is listed in serious condition; leg up, stuffing exposed in a mound on her back, front legs contracted into a fetal position. Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another reason (or three) to love Oregon

1) $52 to renew the license plates for our Toyota... the first time we've had to renew since buying it in 2002. Ex-pat Californians: do you remember coughing up hundreds of dollars every year for license renewal? That was just for a dinky car. New SUVs might be close to $1,000 a year. More?

2) You gotta love no sale tax. It's just so easy. Tourists love it too: it makes them happy. And just imagine how simple it is for us small business owners not to have to collect and report sales tax (the rest of it is hard enough). Years ago (back in California) I had this idea for a little publication and went to the Board of Equalization (weird name for a tax board) to see what was required for them. Ach! The hoops to jump through. The forms to fill out. You'd think I was applying for a Secret Service job. The administration and policing of that tax monster must cost at least a third of what the state brings in. Please don't ever vote for a sales tax (but I wouldn't mind paying a little more for car registration if it helps with our roads).

3) I love that we're not allowed to pump our own gas, and really appreciate all those nice guys out there who do it for me. Whoooeee -- have I turned into some kind of princess, or what?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Savvy Shopper gets Sourced

The Source just went off on The Bulletin for its new section called "The Savvy Shopper." Issues with the brazen commercial aspect of it all, I guess. Dude! Stay calm. Newspapers are getting skimpier every day. What's wrong with adding a section that most other dailies have had for a long time?

When I left San Francisco 11 years ago, I kind of missed the Chronicle's weekly home/fashion shopping section. There was Sally Sokolich's "Bargain Hunter," plus features on new shops, shows, products... It created a buzz, it supported the local independent retailer community, and how else would you find out about some off-the-wall warehouse sale in Richmond? No, it's not news. It's fluff. But it's not in the front of the newspaper, either.

A few weeks ago when the Bulletin's first Wednesday "Savvy Shopper" section appeared, they printed a small blurb about Pomegranate's French Flea Market. There's my disclaimer: I was happy because it's the first time in ten years we've ever had a press release printed, anywhere. We've been operating off the radar for so long -- it was a very pleasant surprise to finally see a mention.

Here's the real tragedy: in the back of the paper, an article (no bigger than a baby's foot) on the turning back from Myanmar of US ships filled with relief supplies. How about a little more information on that?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ten years in business... and dredging up a few memories

Next week we celebrate Pomegranate's tenth year in business at our farmhouse location in Bend (and for the last 4+ years we've had a second shop, too, just because we're a little tetched, but that's another story). It certainly sneaked up (snuck?) on us, and I haven't wallowed in the realization of all of it until recently. There are a lot of stories. In fact, I have a journal that is, oh I don't know, something like 900+ pages. It's weirdly relaxing for me to record our tribulations, trivial observations and day-to-day education in the world of retail. I can type faster than I can talk, so it's like a little therapy session to unload all the details -- happy and not so happy. No editing, just blabbing. Somewhere in there I have the top ten (plus some) sweetest moments and top ten (okay, way more than that) funniest and/or most horrible moments.

Today I had a couple of sweet moments. First, the son and daughter of a long-time customer came in, looking for a birthday gift for their mom. I did a double take, because I remember these two (and another sister) when they were so young, and now they're (gulp!) so grown up. Of course, I see them from time to time, and I always notice how mature and wonderful and well-balanced they seem... but today it was kind of a revelation. Of course, I didn't want to be one of those obnoxious people who screech out something about how MUCH you've all grown, but I felt like it! I have to remember that some of the kids who came to our shop with their moms when they were eight years old are now eighteen. Say it ain't so!

The other little moment today was a keeper. A darling three-year-old came in with her mom, dad, and brother. Apparently she loves to come to our shop, and has a thing for our egg-shaped soaps. Cute. This time, after examining different items, she latched onto the heart-shaped soaps and was trying to talk her mom into buying one. There was some negotiation (always interesting with a three-year-old), in which mom deferred the purchase until the next birthday. So the little girl turns to me (holding the soap like a precious fabergé egg), looks me right in the eye and asks "Wiwl you keep one of deese foh my next burfday?" And I just melted. I would have given her the bowl of them, but didn't want to usurp mom's decision. It's like when one of my nieces would say something cute to my dad when they were little and he'd be all: here, take my checkbook, I love you so much.

So we're going to have this big celebration at the shop on June 21 and we've been brainstorming on various drawings and prizes to offer. We sometimes have a door prize drawing just for kids, which we're definitely going to do this time. The minute we came up with it, we both said "Phoebe!" It's kind of a code with us. It's something to do with sweet, fleeting moments. It's our little existential thing. Nevermind.

Anyway, one time we had a drawing for kids, and we mixed up all the entries and picked three winners. One of them was Phoebe, who wrote her name so well (in that giant, careful, but somewhat backwards way kids do when they're first learning), but only gave us a couple of digits of her phone number. First of all, isn't that name so wonderful, so classic? We felt so bad for Phoebe. Poor Phoeeeebe! She won and we didn't know who she was, so we couldn't contact her and tell her about her prize (which I think was this cool bubble maker thing). Phoebe is probably 13 now and wouldn't be caught dead shopping with her mom.

And then there's Mollie, our fabulous and one-and-only incredible shop dog. We think she's about 11: she was rescued, starving and raw with flea bites, by former co-workers of Robert's. They had given up on trying to find her family, when they thought we might want to give her a home. I remember him calling me from work, saying, "Uh, I have this cute little black and white dog sitting on my feet right now and I think she wants to come home with me. She won't leave my side. How would you like to have another dog? Nevermind, there's no voting on this one."

And so began our love affair with the sweetest dog ever. The first day we had her I took her to the vet for a checkup, and on the way home, she sat in the seat next to me and put her paw on my shoulder and looked at me with those intelligent brown eyes. Oh boy. I was a goner. The next day I took her to the shop with me. It seemed the only thing to do. There was never any traffic on the road back then (this was maybe our fourth month in business, and we were trying to figure out how to get more people to find us -- you could actually hear the crickets chirping and tumbleweeds rolling), so I took a chance and took Mollie off her lead. Dang if she didn't just follow me around, go out and sleep under the tree now and then and generally stick close by. She never did run off or get in trouble, and we never really had to train her to stay.

The other day, she gave two young boys a tour of the property. Really. She trotted along just in front of them, looking back every once in a while, and took them to the canal, then around the back and here and there in the garden, ending up in front. Maybe she was showing them where she likes to cool off (on a rock in the water), and where to find the best pinecones.

Anyway, she's been a fixture at Pomegranate all these years, and is still healthy and catching pinecones, albeit rather slowly. She doesn't do her elegant back flips anymore, and she gets tired fast. But she still loves babies! She entertains husbands and kids! She's our V.P. of PR!

There is another dog in our family. Her name is Weasel (disclaimer: I had nothing to do with that name). She's a bit older than Mollie, and has only been to Pomegranate once. She's a lab/border collie mix (Mollie is springer/border collie), and her herding instinct is strong. We brought both dogs along one Sunday afternoon when we were mowing the lawn and doing some repairs at the shop. Weasel was very upset at being stuck in the truck while Mollie cavorted on the lawn, so we thought we'd let her out for bit. Yeah right. At that moment, three little boys came walking down the street from the Fun Center, and Weasie thought they needed herding, including a little heel nipping. There was no blood involved in this episode, but she did scare the boys. There was an angry parent visit later (with many apologies), and to my great chagrin, a police visit the next day. "There's been a report that there is a dangerous dog at this location," said the policewoman, as Mollie licked her hand and sat on her feet. Yep, not that dog. The "mean one" isn't allowed at the shop anymore, no matter how much she begs. But we love her madly anyway. There's a picture of Mollie and Weasel at home, enjoying a game of "I Only Want What You Have."

Next time: some of the top worst retailing moments. Or maybe more of the good times...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Marc Lavoine Christina Marocco J'ai tout oublié

French Flea Market assemblage

So much fun was had by all this last Saturday, at Pomegranate's first French Flea Market of the season. This was one of my favorites: we had some great vintage items and adorable, fabulous hand made pieces. Stinkin' cute! Like a little vintage market and Etsy shop combined, out in the sunshine. I took these pictures just before 10am, then was busy busy inside the shop all day. When I emerged again at around 3:30, an unbelievable amount of stuff had sold. But if you missed it, don't (as I always say) cry in your champagne, because we have two more of these scheduled for the summer: Saturday, July 19, and Saturday, August 23. There might still be a little room left for any of you intrepid collectors or crafters who might want to join us. Call, email, or leave reponse.

We also listened a lot to Marc Lavoine, whose you tube video is shown on another post. Wanted to incorporate it into this one, but because I'm a techno-dope, I did it wrong. Love his cd we're carrying: only have a few left and then it could be months before we get more (on the slow boat from France, apparently). I can only say oh la la la la la la. This last shot, in case you're wondering, is the most adorable little child's pony cart from Germany (probably about 100 years old, maybe older). You hook up the pony in front, the cart rises up on its wheels (tiny ones in the back, too), and wheee, little Helmut gets the ride of his life. In case you don't have a pony, the cart would be a wonderful decorative piece. No, I didn't buy it. Yes, I really, really wanted to. I think it's still available and I could contact the vendor if you're interested.