Monday, November 30, 2009

More music picks

I've been on the search for new music offerings for Pomegranate, and have found some great new CDs, arriving in a few days. Meanwhile, in an October post about the poor music industry (not talkin' about Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga here), I promised to share some unusual finds that you can only get via iTunes. It's just my weird taste: you might take a listen and think I'm Lady Caca!

So, my latest love is Plus de sucre by JP Nataf. I don't who this guy is, but he's really good. It doesn't even matter if you don't understand the lyrics (all in French). The last song on the album is a little bit stoned-rocker for my taste, but what the hey: it only costs $9.99 to download the whole CD. He has one delicious song that was chosen for the Acoustic France album by Putumayo, which we carry and sell a lot of (hey guess what? someone at Putumayo thinks we might be the top-selling store nationwide for their Paris album -- hard to believe, but we do love it and sell plenty). Anyway, it's worth checking out the whole album. I've been playing it a lot while working on the computer. Then I switch to the all-baroque radio channel in iTunes. See? A bit odd.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hey baby: this sale is yours

Yesterday I did a little flipperoo* in our tiny, but sweet baby department upstairs at Pomegranate. Realized that we needed to kind of rethink that whole area and start fresh... so, I went around and marked down almost everything in the baby department -- by half or more. Yep, it's almost all on sale, except for our adorable Jelly Cat dogs that just arrived a week ago. Good time to shop for baby gifts (love the little organic cotton knit pants and tops, soft soft baby blankets...). Stop by and see!

* professional retail term: to move everything and redo

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shop locally, shop small: the antidote to Black Friday

Wild horses couldn't drag us to a pre-dawn mob scene at one of the big boxes. I don't care how popular Malibu Barbie is!

But we are opening at 9am today at Pomegranate, with mimosas, hot spiced cider, donuts and treats. It can be your little respite in a sea of madness. A place to come and enjoy shopping, listen to music, take your time. We have lots of new things on our shelves (vintage and new goodies), plenty on sale, and, we are happy to gift bag or wrap your purchases in our wonderful holiday papers and ribbons. For free. Doesn't get better than that.

If you're out shopping this weekend, shop locally.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday decorating: article in the "Bulletin" today

So excited! Article in today's Bulletin ("At Home" section) about creative holiday decorating, featuring three local shops/designers, including Pomegranate. Happy happy happy. Get a copy or (hopefully) click here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lovely and inexpensive holiday linens

These are flying out the door: linens for your holiday table. Runners, toppers, tea towels, tablecloths... all are really well-priced. It's a quick way to add a little spark to your settings. The snowflake design is sheer enough to layer over another tablecloth (or just leave it as is -- love it!). The woodland/swedish christmas design (with stitched reindeer) is one of those amazing pieces that can go rustic or modern (only a few left, however), and the bold graphics on our brand new damask cottons add a pop of color and pattern wherever they go (the aprons are fab, too). Try a runner on your entry table or sideboard to change it up a bit. If you do put a runner down the middle of your dining table, remember that it doesn't have to go over the ends; in fact, I love the European style of using runners across the width (rather than length) of the table and treating them as placemats for two (there's even a name for that: "tête à tête"). A smallish square topper (say, 36") looks great placed as a diamond shape over a larger table. Stop by Pomegranate for some ideas!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hanging in the balance

We're lucky to have a shop dog (our wonderful Mollie) and a shop squirrel (or two). This is the view from Pomegranate's picture window behind the wrap desk. This guy (along with hundreds of birds, a few deer, and a sparrow hawk with a broken wing (but no loss of accuracy in obtaining his dinner) entertain us all day. Add to that Mollie's noisefest when she spots the squirrels, and you have quite the cacaphony. Needless to say, we buy tons of bird seed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shopowners' design disasters: floor coverings

So you'd think two people who own a home accessories shop would be able to ace their own choices in things like paint and floor coverings. I'm here to confess that it doesn't always happen that way. When it comes to your own choices, it's different. You're too close to it, maybe. We've learned the hard way on several issues.

First, carpet. When we moved into our house, the carpet was more than ready to be replaced. It was icky beige, standard-issue builder's carpet. It's cheap. It's non-committal, it's one-size-fits-none.

After we moved in, the carpet was further sullied by an unfortunate series of dog-related accidents. Dog went on medication and we thought it was safe to shop for new carpet. Our preference would have been to put in hardwood floors, but we just couldn't afford it. Mistake Numero Uno! It's never good to settle for a cheap substitute for what you really want. This is not to recommend that you overextend yourself, or overdo it for what's appropriate in the space, or not make some compromises towards a good solution.

Let's compare this to, say, buying a coat. You see one at a discount center, marked down to $50 from $150 (supposedly). You try it on, no one helps you because they don't do that, you buy it because it's 'okay' and wow, it's cheap. You wear it for a few weeks and decide that it doesn't really go with anything... and then your husband tells you how nicely it accentuates your butt. I'm just makin' this stuff up (but it happens!). You repeat the process, buying another coat at some impersonal discount box where you have to dig through racks of random stuff (and my god, they light the place with cheap fluorescent tubes): another compromise because you think you'll just make it work. Then you go downtown to one of our great little boutiques and see "It" – the cutest coat you've found, in just the color you want. The staff there helps you find the perfect size and fit and you feel like a million bucks. But you've already spent $130 on coats, and now, since you've found what you really want, should you spend another $100+ or so? Can't answer that, but I can say: you should have waited, and just spent that money once. Sigh.

So it goes with floor coverings, too. We felt we couldn't stretch for the hardwood floors, so we bought more carpet. We didn't want it too dark. Didn't want beige. Didn't want it too 'flecky' or shaggy. Took home a bunch of little samples and looked at them against the paint color and furniture; studied them during different times of the day for the effect of light and color. Remember, we know what we're doing with this stuff. We've done it before. We ended up with kind of a pale stoney mushroom {not beige}. None of that weird pinky/peach overcast. But when the guys came to install it, they kind of tsk tsked and raised their eyebrows when they rolled it out. It was white. A white (okay, maybe just off-white) carpet in a household with two black and white dogs. "Do you have little kids, too?" they asked. No? Well, that's good, anyway. Maybe there was some hope for the carpet.

Things always look different when seen in great quantity. We know that! Carpet often looks lighter than you imagined, and paint color usually ends up looking darker than you thought. A little piece of busy fabric gets much busier when you cover an eight-foot sofa with it (not that ever I've done that!). This is Design School 101 stuff, and we ignored it in our own house.

It was gorgeous, however. It was the perfect contrast to furnishing and walls, and we reveled in its luxurious comfort on our bare feet, and in the way it lightened and brightened up the whole downstairs. We reveled for a few days, maybe a few weeks. Then Weasel the dog (true, it's her name: I had nothing to do with it) began having urinary issues again. More meds, more pee, off and on for months, until it was determined that she needed a $2,000 operation. Right now. Okie dokie!

Weasie was cured (well, the bladder stone problem is gone, but she's old and creaky and half-blind and slightly psychotic -- nothing to be done for all that). We cleaned the carpet, again and again, but it just wasn't going to work. So we started shopping for hardwood floors, aided by offers of 12-month financing with zero interest.

There are a lot of options out there, as you know if you've done any looking. Of course, what we love is vintage, reclaimed flooring... but that can be an expensive proposition. There was a bit of oak flooring in our kitchen, which clashed with the alder cabinetry. What were they thinking? The oak goes kind of yellow; against it, the alder casts a peachy tinge. So the oak had to go (plus we wanted more continuity in our smallish footprint – it was odd how the flooring was all dissected). We wanted something more environmentally friendly, and ended up with bamboo. I like the long grain bamboo, where you get some of the character of the wood, but not the roundish bits you get when it's cut in cross-section. This flooring is stained a deep espresso, with striations of nearly black. It's lovely and dramatic. And very dark. I really love it, but those two dogs we have? Shedding all over the place. And you know how the dust in Central Oregon is ferocious and ever-present? We forgot about that. The dust settles on the floor (even half an hour after we vacuum!) and you can see every fleck of it.

What's the answer? Get dust-colored, dog-colored flooring unless you're the kind who likes to vacuum every day.

Designers, shop owners: what kinds of boo boos have you made in your own homes? I know it's hard to fess up to any of this, but it's fun to hear about it. Besides, hardly anybody will actually see it...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Anniversaries, slightly random

Just found this postcard: San Francisco, 20 years ago last month (photo: Fred Larson). Can't find any of my own photos that I snapped wandering around the city during those days following the quake. Doesn't seem that long ago that the walls were coming down...

Yesterday I was listening to the Brandenburg Concertos: maybe one of the most glorious pieces of music ever written. Then it hit me: Brandenburg... concertos... gate, and the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. What an amazing piece of history.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Design tips and disasters, part one (the shopowner's home)

Pomegranate customers often ask us what our own house looks like, assuming, maybe, that we get to take home whatever we want (and that our house looks like a showplace). Theoretically, that could be true. But it doesn't always work that way. In fact, sometimes it looks like a warehouse. Thought I'd share some of the good and the bad here. Maybe a little series!

First, let me say that I love our house. Except for the #]&^! teeny closet of a laundry room, our house is lovely, and perfectly suited for us. Oh, there are things that really bug me that we'll deal with someday, like the vestiges of Builder's Delight Brass Fixtures. When were these things ever in style, and how did they worm their insidious way back into our homes (weren't they banned as eye pollution in the 70s)?

We have a brass and glass hanging pendant light in our entryway that is so flippin' ugly that I'd like to shoot it. If I had a weapon. Fortunately, it's way high up in the air, we never turn it on, and no one ever sees it, so it's on the bottom of the "to do" list. Plus getting up there requires a very, very tall ladder. It's not going to be easy. Meanwhile, here's a picture of a shiny brass towel rack in our master bath that has no business being on earth. Not only is it brass, but totally useless. It's located in this trapped space behind the giant tub (which I don't like either), and no human could ever reach a towel hanging there, unless you catapulted yourself into that deep space behind the useless tub. Why don't I take it off the wall? Because it will leave holes and unpainted spots, necessitating a paint job, also somewhere down near the bottom of the list. Why don't I just put a towel on it and pretend like it's useful? I don't know. The towel will just get dusty and I can't reach it unless I fling myself across the back of the tub.

For the record, I also detest the tile border, sort of a quasi-southwest desert sand abomination. I bet there's a lot of that here in Bend: somebody had a trainload of it and sold it to every builder in town. Fortunately, it's limited to just a few small spots in the house, and I will someday take great pleasure in ripping it out. Hopefully not just before we start thinking about selling the house. That's a mistake so many people make: you live with something for years, decide to sell, then make those upgrades you know you should have done years earlier. Why not do it now and enjoy the changes? This falls into the "do as I say, not do as I do" category.

My only other lament (the last one I'll share anyway so this doesn't seem too whiny) is white tile countertops in the kitchen. Granted, it's better than the cheapy blue laminate in our last kitchen, but white tile with white grout in a kitchen is just bad news. Unless you don't cook.

Back to the idea of taking home what we want. I cannot, in good conscience, complain one little bit about comfort and decorative objects and nice surroundings: we have all that. But there is sometimes a small case of the cobbler's children having no shoes. Or Family Hold Back. We often take home the poor waifs that get broken, that no one wants, because they're scratched or damaged or otherwise unsellable. If I want a new candle at home, I'll take the one that someone took out of the box and dropped. Or a tester. Dishes? A mishmash of colors that didn't sell so well, so we took home the leftovers. It's a nice mishmash – I do like them – but not my heart's desire. I think this is true of many retailers: it's really not about denying things for yourself, but more about wanting every bit of merchandise on the shelves for customers. I figure if something sells well and we place reorders for it, then eventually I will have earned the right to take one home. Why, yes, I DO want several new Maruca handbags, one in every new color, but that would just be so wrong. Somebody slap me before I do it!

My true, awful nature is that I would love to flip and change and move things and bring in new things all the time. I am the shopping monkey, afterall. But like everybody else, we've got a slim budget to stick to, and really, our shop is the priority. If there's any money available, we need to sink it into more inventory, not a linen slipcovered sofa (sigh).

Well, I didn't give you any tips this time (except for the notion that you should fix up what you can early in the game, and not a month before you sell your house). But stay tuned. There's so much more to talk about...

Monday, November 2, 2009

The anxiety dreams of retailers

Our life is rather predictable right now (work, work work); even our dreams relate directly to the shop. Robert was tortured last night by a two-part Pomegranate dream. First, he went upstairs to our little kid's area, and found himself knee-deep in thousands of large puzzle pieces. Someone had unwrapped every single puzzle (strangely, we don't have any right now, but I've got a shipment coming that he doesn't even know about!) and thrown all the pieces everywhere. Little Mermaid mixed with Peter Pan mixed with geography pieces. It would takes hours and hours (maybe days) to put it all together again. Anyone who's ever worked at a clothing store has dreams about piles of mixed-up T-shirts that must be folded before closing time -- it's all part of the same anxiety/dread retailers have.

In the next dream sequence he had to deal with an irate customer who had picked up our sewing machine cover and wanted to buy it as a cat cover. She had her cat with her, and kept showing him how nicely the cat fit inside the cover, and demanded to buy it. "But I can't sell that!" he said. "My wife would kill me; it's the cover for the sewing machine!"

"But I WANT it," she insisted. I think it ended badly, with her slamming the cover down on the counter and storming out with Fluffy in her arms.

Heh: maybe that's a good idea for a new product. Cat Covers. What do you think?