Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holding a good garage sale - Part un

As it gets warmer, a lot of us look forward to one thing: garage sales. There are good garage sales, and ones so bad that people won't even get out of their cars to look. Here are a few of my tips and tricks to holding an excellent garage sale, culled from years of experience on both sides of the garage door. I'm separating this into two posts; it's long-winded.
  • Pick a date far enough out so you can really prepare. Comb through the house and pull everything, then go around for a second loop. Get it all in one place so you can stage it quickly when the time comes.
  • Give it a name (but not too corny). The Huge Westside Sale, or The 10-family Everything Sale, or All Good Stuff Moving Sale. Use this name on everything you do (ads, signs, flyers...). You could also change it up a bit by calling it a tag sale, yard sale, or estate sale (but use the latter only if it really is).
  • Get out your folding tables, or borrow some. It's great to have a work space while you're pricing things; more importantly, on garage sale day you want to have things up as close to eye level as possible. To dress them up, throw canvas painter's cloths or sheets over them.
  • Price things to sell, or you'll waste a precious day (plus!) and have to drag it all somewhere afterwards (back inside or to donation). Just because you think you saw Grandma's chair on Antiques Roadshow doesn't mean you're going to get top dollar for it.
  • Blue painter's tape (like masking tape; available at paint stores) is great for marking prices (use a sharpie on it). It sticks, but doesn't ruin things. You can also use color-coded stickers for price groups, but you have to have multiple signs explaining the price codes. You can also get shipping tags at office supply stores; more time-consuming, but cute. For multiples like books, you could make up a sign with one price each, with a discount for "bulk" purchases (paperbacks $1 each, or 12 for $10). Puleeese don't use an ink pen to write directly on the items, or stick permanent labels on things.
  • Have lots of change available for the day, and carry it with you. Remember, everybody who goes to the ATM before setting out for a day of garaging is going to have lots of $20 bills on them.
  • Before your sale, scope out and count the spots where you'll need to place signs in the neighborhood. Note how many need a left or right arrow -- you don't want to be putting the finishing touches on your signs the morning of your sale. Keep in mind that it can be illegal or against neighborhood policies to post signs in certain places (e.g., utility poles). If you do make signs, be sure they're all the same color. As shoppers drive around, they may not read the details, but they'll figure out to follow the neon green (or whatever) signage. If you've named your sale, put this on the sign. Use a big, dark marker and write clearly: block letters if needed. You can get heavy poster board at art supply stores; make sure background color and ink color are very contrasty. Black marker on a dark cardboard box section doesn't show up well. Use the same poster board for a sign at your house; attach it to sawhorses and stick it on your driveway or front lawn. You might want to tie on some helium balloons. A dire note on signage: be sure to remember where you put your signs, and remove them right after your sale. If you don't, A) your neighbors will not appreciate your lack of environmental sensitivity, and B) you'll get stray shoppers banging on your door at 9pm. Scary!
  • Consider serving donuts & coffee (recommend donut holes from Delish Donuts in Bend River Promenade!) or lemonade & cookies. Put it in your ad/posts to entice customers. You could charge a nomimal amount, or put the kids in charge of it as a fundraiser. Better if free...
Next: advertising, promoting, and survival tips for the day of your sale.

Maruca totes for spring

Just in at Pomegranate: Maruca's spring tote collection. I just love this company. They design their own fabrics for each season, not just pick them up from some other source (who does that anymore?). When the season is over, the fabrics are retired; you never see them again. They mill the fabrics in the US (who does that anymore?). And then they sew each one in their atelier in Boulder, CO. Right: don't most companies send everything off to China for production? Not Maruca. I love their designs, too. Smaller than your regular slouchy suitcase size handbag, and very convenient for running around town or traveling. Our smallest is the new "Cupcake" bag; if you need something larger, go for the "Café" bag (shown in black), which is very roomy, but still slim and trim. Sometimes I like to carry around no more than my wallet, keys, lip balm, pen and notebook. It's easier on the shoulders, no?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Save a magazine (or two)

My name is Jan, and I'm a magazineaholic. I just love them. They're an easy escape, and cheap (especially if you subscribe, rather than buying them one-off at the grocery store). Just started a National Geographic article about the 500+ species of carnivorous plants – fascinating! The Smithsonian is another favorite... some of the best writing and subjects. But what I really love to find in the mailbox (aside from handwritten notes!) are my design magazines. Although their numbers have diminished greatly in the last year or two, there are still some great magazines left. House Beautiful has truly stepped up their offerings -- I'm gaga over some of the Swedish style rooms they're showing in the current issue. Elle Decor has a fabulous international issue out now. Still love Sunset after all these years. Dwell is great for the modernist take. Country Living for some funkier styles (30 issues for $24!). What else? What do you read? What do you tear out and keep?

I know there's a lot available online*, and some of you are thinking, why would I opt for a tree killer magazine filled with ads, when I can just zoom around online? Because with a magazine, you can sit in your favorite reading chair and relax with it. Tear out a recipe or an article on paint colors, or a dream kitchen. Drink your tea and listen to music and have a moment. It's just not the same sitting at the computer (and by the way, don't those pop-up ads just drive you nuts?). So pick one or two you like, and subscribe today. Keep them alive and well, while we can.

* one of the really good online-only magazines is Lonny. Have you found it yet? It's put together by a group of staffers from the late, great Domino magazine. I quite like it, but it's a different experience turning pages with your mouse, sitting at your office desk, or slumped over your laptop, squinting.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More good tunes you can't buy at Pomegranate (and some you can)

Part of my life involves an endless search for good music. Mostly music we can bring into the shop and sell in CD form. So that means it has to be melodic and not too crazy busy*, or have a pounding rock & roll bass line, or be too whispery/ethereal. We like all kinds of music, but not all of it works in a shop. Turn on an opera and customers will look at you like their heads are going to explode. Same with old Rolling Stones albums. And not everything is available on CD these days. The downloadable options are just too enticing and easy. And for imports, wow, the price can hardly be beat on iTunes. But we still will endeavor to bring in good cds you can hold in your hands and buy.

Thought I'd pass along, from time to time, some recommendations for interesting finds that we don't necessarily carry at Pomegranate (and some we do). I'm in this whole Francophile mode right now, so that's mostly what I've got for you. Good news is, you can tap into iTunes and listen to a bit of each track to see if you like it or not.

I already posted in the past about Gretchen Parlato (Brazilian, get her very good self-titled album), Vinx (don't know why he's not a big star), and JP Nataf (Plus de Sucre), acoustic, lovely, haunting songs.

Today I have for you Pauline Croze (self-titled album with red background). She's sort of an acoustic, folksy, French version of Gwen Stefani. Love it. Also Bertrand Belin (La Perdue). Hate to keep making comparisons to American artists, but to me, he's a French Leonard Cohen. [Ah, Cohen is Canadian, right?] Maybe check out Annie Blanchard (Sur l'autre Rive), a French Canadienne with a great voice who has a definite country vibe, but sung in French, it all takes on a new tone. I'm not a big country music fan, but this I like. I think she won the Canadian equivalent of American Idol.

And now for some music that we do have in stock for you! Corrine Bailey Rae's new album, The Sea, is not as upbeat and pop as her first album (sadly, she became a widow while recording this one), but I'm loving the soft, thoughtful texture and beautiful songs. A Good Day, by Priscilla Ahn. Sweet and lovely acoustic album. Maria Rita (Samba Meu) for dancing around the house. And two albums by Erin Bode: The Little Garden and Over & Over. She has a great acoustic, folk style mixed with jazz.

*Saying that reminded me of a great radio moment from years ago. I was listening to a classical station, and they had put on some sort of frenetic sturm und drang music. Suddenly it stopped mid-stream, the announcer/DJ (who was this character about town) came on and said, "Well, that is just too diddly-diddly for me. Let's hear something else."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pomegranate in the news tonight...

KOHD news came by the shop today to do a little interview and take a few shots of our historic homestead... they're doing a story tonight on historic sites in Bend (at 5:15 and 6:45pm), and our farmhouse location is certainly one of the charming old places still standing. When people first find us, they're always surprised: you just don't expect something so old and funky and sweet tucked in behind big box stores and two malls. At one point, the homestead property included all the land from about where Izzy's Pizza is, to north of the Cascades Village mall, and went east to about Boyd Acres Road. All that's left is the little postage stamp piece of land (less than 1/2 acre) we're on. We still have the gorgeous old growth pines surrounding us, a garden, and a regular wildlife habitat, from ducks to deer. You just wouldn't expect to see all that across the street from a Macy's (and now, Kohls).

Here's a shot of Pomegranate in December, covered with snow. Right now, our garden is just brown sticks, and I can't wait for some greenery to appear. Too bad, if the film crew had just waited a month or so, we'd have some glorious blooming bits. I especially love the wild rambling rose bushes that just explode in yellow blooms, year after year, without us doing anything to them. Plus lilacs, crab apples, snowball bushes, lavender... c'mon spring!