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 fran├žaise. 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).