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October 2010

catching up

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Maybe, just maybe there's some catching up, or is it all a bad calculation?  I think all of the boxes from Minnesota have been unpacked now, although there are still boxes from before the trip that need to be processed.  A computer is a lovely thing to have but creating separate computer codes for every item in the store is not the most thrilling task, even when it involves gorgeous ties.

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I rearranged the store so that most things fit, for the moment.  The backstock is rather disorganized so that is nagging at me just a bit, but there are more pressing matters to attend to.  The store is definitely starting to reach that full pre-holiday stage.  Not a lot of room to spare in the drawers.  Hmm. Maybe I'll just shut my eyes for a little bit.

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Still, there are many new lovelies to be excited about: new art boards from Anahata Katkin, new collage/assemblage-inspired notecards, more of the mini postcards of London and Paris,

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 We have added to our collection of children's items, including the sweet nest kit from Moomah in New York, rubber stamp sets, and art kits from a local Madison business.
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While in Minnesota, we got goodies from Deandra.  And we have received some goodies from fellow vendors at The Creative Connection Event, including felt flower pins and key necklaces.

 
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I'm thinking maybe I'll just save all mention of Christmas for the end of the post. That way, if you aren't ready to think about it, you can stop reading now.

Just like I'm saving mention of the President's visit for later in the post.  Some of my best friends are Republicans and I really try to keep my politics separate from store life, but I'm still a little infatuated with our President so it was exciting that he came to Madison.  Sachi's collection of Obama buttons continues to sell well, which makes up for low popularity reports.  I especially like selling the buttons to foreign tourists; I'm feeling much more proud of the President than I was in the W years. I just like it when a President is smarter than me.  Oh, and:

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And as for Christmas, we did get some fun boxed notes, lovely ceramic botanicals, and amazing origami star ornaments.

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where do I begin?

I have NO idea.  We left for Minnesota last Wednesday, at which point, there were boxes in the office of newly received items that had to be priced and go out on the sales floor.  After returning from Minnesota, I turned around and went to Michigan to visit relatives for three days.  Sachi has been mostly by herself in the shop and I told her not to stress out about unpacking and receiving everything.  Last time I went away, she was so crabby with me because she worked so hard.  Sounds like this time she actually followed my big sister directions and took it easy.  And now it has really been a full 7 days since I've been in the shop.  Phew!  It's been ages since I've been away for such a long time.

Looking around, I can see new items that arrived while I was away, all the boxes of merchandise that arrived before and while we were away, not to mention all the suitcases to unpack from Minnesota.  I can sense some major rearranging of the store in order to make room for everything!  But before I get too carried away with that, here's a little preview for you.  Just a warning, it's not all unpacked yet but at least here is a taste of things to come.

First of all, hooray hooray!  New Kelli Hoppman prints.  I can't tell you how long we've been hounding her to bring us more! Thursday 018 Also, an assortment of calendars with illustrations by French artists. I had to get them despite the fact that the week starts on a Monday.  I had a calendar like that once and it totally threw me off.
 
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Oh, and we received more journals and notecards from my favorite French illustrator as well.
   
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We have an assortment of textile creations newly arrived and on their way: new wallets, sweater scarves and pins, felted flower pins, t-shirt skirts, yo-yo headbands and embellished shirts.

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And then there are the lovely ceramic necklaces from Sofia Masri that we got to pick out in Chicago.

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Also, new travel posters, new crafty books, more map wrapping paper, yo-yo necklaces.  Oh, and I've been slowly winding the lovely hand-dyed yarn onto spools that will make it easier for you to see the lovely array, and make it easier for us to cut yardage.

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Also, mailing tubes.  I know, it's kind of a silly thing, but we are asked so many times each week if we have mailing tubes.  I guess that's the next step after purchasing so much wrapping paper.

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And then.... don't be upset, I know it is early to think about it, but I am getting really excited about the assortment of Christmas ornaments that we have coming in.  I've been corresponding with a ceramic artist who is making us some great botanical forms.  And these great origami paper stars arrived last week.  Now I just have to find room for everything.


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i like YOU!

 

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First of all, how great is it that when you call, you are answered with "i like you"?  We finally made it to this inspiring store in Minneapolis last week.  It is a small world - one of the owners of i like you has charming parents who live in Madison and stop into our store periodically.  So we've heard about this store for a while now, with information added by some of our artists who are also some of their artists. And, yes, that's right, that's a swing and astroturf you see there.

But now it was finally our turn.  And, can I just say how jealous I am?!  Their space is so totally amazing and huge - I sure woulnd't mind having that much space at 218 State Street, but I know our neighbors would object because it would mean knocking out a wall and taking some of their space.  Sigh.  Someday...

In the meantime, I'll just pout a little bit.  First of all, how fun is this little kids' area? 

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And then there is the decor which fills the large space so well.  My former boss used to always say that was the trick with larger spaces, being able to fill them.  But the girls at i like you have done it so well.  There's that wall of keys, the wall of book covers, the fun fabric garland that's draped around the edges.  And let's not even get me started on the shelves of art supplies in the back of the store!

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And then there's all the fun product that they've filled the space with.  I got myself a great print of an old typewriter (and I could tell that Sachi was really jealous that she didn't see it first), a present for Sachi... and then there are all their great t-shirts.  I happen to know that my ferris wheel/karma shirt is already on its way (thanks Mary Jo), and the Grain Belt print was tempting for grad school friends of mine.

 
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And then, the grand finale.... a card catalog file.  I know, I know, maybe it wasn't what you were expecting, but I have ALWAYS wanted a card catalog file, even come close once to scoring one for free, but there's never been enough space in my house, and now there's not enough space in the shop, let alone in the car.  Next time I have the opportunity though, I won't pass it up, even if it has to live in the basement for a while.  Aren't they clever?  Using it to store cards by subject?  It's a great way to hold an assortment of cards.  And now I think my skin is getting a little green tinge to it from all this envy.  Thanks, thanks a lot, i like you.  See, even when you are feeling jealous you can't help giving them a compliment.
 
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a successful trip

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Well, we did it!  Our very first, out of town, non-Craftacular show!  Here's our booth at The Creative Connection Event in Minneapolis, MN, just after we set up.  Judging by the comments about how there was so much to look at and some of the puzzled looks of people who couldn't figure us out, we managed to successfully convey the idea of Anthology in an 8' x 2' space. 

Where to begin?  The packing of the car, the long drive up, the speedy unloading to get the car out of the way of fellow vendors... all that isn't particularly interesting, though it did make for a long day.  After driving and setting up, grabbing a quick bite to eat, we settled in for the preview night on Wednesday night - from 5 to 9 pm. 

I won't describe every single customer, but one of our early customers kind of sets the tone for the whole experience.  She came up to our table early on during preview night and she looked kind of familiar to me.  Turns out that she and her friend had been through Madison in the summer and they absolutely loved our shop (she repeatedly told me that she thought she dropped a LOT of money there...).  She was super excited to see that we were vendors when she got the brochure for the event, and she had made it a point to come straight to our booth to tell us again how much she loved our shop.  Wasn't that sweet?!

As our first out-of-town event, we didn't really know what to expect in terms of sales.  Keeping our expenditures low (pretty much just the booth fee and gas, since we stayed with friends in the area) definitely helped.  During preview night we recouped those costs so that eased the pressure.

On the whole, we consider it a successful event.  It was quite a thrill to be among the presence of so many crafty superstars like the Crafty Chica, Amy Butler, Amy Barickman (and, by the way, the women at the Indygo Junction booth made me so jealous with their awesome ensembles of leggings paired with barkcloth jackets and tunics - so stylish!)... oh, I could go on dropping names forever.  Not to mention the overal warm and creative and sharing and encouraging atmosphere.  It kind of reminds me of a summer geology program I had in college - 8 of us young women studying geology and sharing dinners.  I remember feeling such a thrill to be among people who spoke the same language, thought the same way.  Well, that was another lifetime ago, but there was a similar feeling about The Creative Connection Event.

Part of my rationale for vending at this event (as opposed to something like Renegade Handmade or Art Vs. Craft) is that our store is a combination of handmade and readymade, art supplies and art works.  It is actually a little difficult for us to fill an entire table with items that only Sachi and I have made; but this show gave us the flexibility to pack the wide assortment of Anthology goodies: journals, glitter, jewelry, books, pendants, collage packs, etc.  And thus our booth functioned really well as advertisement for the store.  Even in the months prior to the event, I had noticed a lot more blog traffic as a result of the links on their website, and have already noticed some new links since the event.  Furthermore, since many of the participants were from the Minnesota area (and thus not out of the question for them to pass through Madison), this was a good way to spread the word about our shop to other crafty people.  In fact, we distributed a lot of business cards and were told by several people that they'd look us up when they came throught town. 

In addition to selling items and advertising the store, we were able to connect with many vendors, to do a little personal shopping, be inspired by all the creativity, do a little networking (Jo Packham of Where Women Create, one of the co-organizers, even took a look through my blurb book).  We also found a few new items for the shop: some great key necklaces with initials, some fun felted flower pins, sweet owl ornaments... and other items too.  It's still all a little fuzzy.


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Oh, and we got to eat delicious pastries.  These were our late night treat on our first night, scrumptious lovelies from Patisserie 46.  I have a number of friends in the area and it was really nice to have the opportunity to reconnect with them (also over delicious dinners).  To be honest, I'm still a little full from everything that we ate.  Unfortunately, we were not up in the Cities long enough to see all the people we know.  Clearly, next time, I will need to spend more time there.  At least Sachi got out to do some shopping - there were several stores that we've been wanting to check out, including Hunt & Gather and i like you (which gets its own blog post).


The lovely Deandra came to help us out with set up and pack up, as well as with chauffering Sachi around to all the shops.  Seriously, isn't she lovely?  With her help, we packed up in record time - the show was over at 5 pm on Saturday night and we were in the car by 6 pm.  It definitely helps to use suitcases for both displaying and packing.
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On Saturday night we went to Paper Source and then ate Uptown.  I know, I know, there were many more charming places to eat but after shopping at Paper Source, I was struck by hunger that meant I couldn't go even a few more blocks before getting dinner.

And then Sunday morning we stopped once again at Patisserie 46 for pain au chocolat and pastries to take home for Dad.  The drive home is long, but the fall colors are starting to make their appearance so there were little vignettes of fall lovelieness that we passed by.  Now all that remains is the unpacking and the laundry and the catching up... oh, and a little jaunt across the lake to visit relatives.  I'll be back on Thursday; Sachi and Pamela are tending the shop in the meantime.

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Sept 15th - 19th

Laura and Sachi are away in Minnesota, but Pamela and Mom are tending the shop.  Store hours are: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 11 am to 7 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm. 

WE ARE CLOSED on SUNDAY September 19th.

Regular hours resume Monday, September 20th.


here.....we......gooooooooooooo

The laundry is done, the car is packed, whatever isn't made now, isn't going to be...  Tomorrow morning, Sachi and I hit the road early, heading up to Minneapolis.  It reminds me a bit of the annual pilgrimage back to college (Gustavus Adolphus, just south of the Cities), with the car stuffed full, hoping you had everything you needed to carry you through the year.  I feel a little bit like we are heading off into the wilderness - it's not at all true, I just feel that way - do we have enough pens?  price tags? receipts? earrings? necklaces?  Yeah, that's no wilderness trip that I've ever heard of.

Early this morning, I pulled the car up in front of the store and loaded boxes.  I had some delusion that there would be so much extra room that I'd be spending the rest of the day packing more boxes.  Ha ha.  There is just enough room for the few boxes that I forgot (must have the biz cards and jewelry-making supplies!), and a suitcase for each of us.  Good thing we are both short so we can have a little room at our feet.  Tonight I'll pack my suitcase, find some CDs for the long drive, do all that last minute-scrambling that makes you glad when you are able to leave it behind and actually get into the car.

And then, off we go, with a mix of excitement and trepidation.  Our very first show on the road....  I have no idea what it is going to be like.  But I know some of the vendors we will be keeping company with so there will be good shopping.  And it will be very nice to just get away from it all...

And get away we really will.  We aren't bringing the laptop so it might be a while before you hear from me again.  I'm pretty sure we won't have trouble filling the time - besides the show, there are several friends to visit, stores to shop, and cupcakes to eat. One day after we return from Minnesota, I am heading out to Michigan to visit relatives, see the Chihuly exhibit, learn to crochet, walk on the boardwalk.  I'll be back late next week.


shopping for clothes

Truthfully, I'm amazed that I lasted as long as I did.  I have kept myself on a very very strict clothes-shopping budget ever since we opened this store.  Being a new small businses owner doesn't exactly lend itself to an extensive wardrobe.  Then again, my closet was pretty full.  So it was ok that last summer's new pieces came from Goodwill, and it was just fine that this summer's new skirts were made from the fabric in my stash.  Still, a girl can only last so long.  It started on my birthday with a rare successful trip to the sale section at Anthropologie where I got myself a perfect skirt for eating cupcakes in.

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I think I just need to raise the hem about an inch so you can see the fun ruffles underneath.  That day I also got myself a new fall dress at Rupert Cornelius.  I rationalized the purchase as supporting the local economy.  I've decided to really practice what I preach - I hope that people mindfully choose to shop at Anthology and support our store so I am making a concerted effort to do the same thing, supporting local businesses and supporting artists whose work I love, trying to minimize the amount of money that goes to random huge and anonymous corporate ventures who take their work and profit overseas.  I'm still a little dismayed over the whole Target matter, but it has made me think about corporate culture in general.  I really think that once you get to that level of business (when you have to answer to stockholders), profit takes precedence over social justice and other matters that I consider important.

SO.... I'm trying to shop at a smaller scale, paying more attention to what is on offer directly from the hands of artists or from small businesses.  At Renegade I saw a dress that I really really loved.  I couldn't quite make up mind on the spot but have since made arrangements to purchase it. 

And then at the Holiday Craftacular I made up my mind about the sweater coat that I wanted from The Painted Daisy.  My custom coat just arrived today, hooray! hooray! I think it has been about 5 years since I got a new coat so it's really not an extravagance or anything. Sweater 008
It really makes it much more pleasant to think about the onset of cold weather.


our bags are packed

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Well, a few of them.  There's still a little ways to go.  In a few days, we will be departing for Minnesota for The Creative Connection Event.  It's our first ever non-Craftacular, out of town, vending occasion so there's a steep learning curve.  It's a little nerve-wracking - did we pack enough? should I make more necklaces?  where are the bags and tissue?  Still, it will be nice to get away.  I have lots of friends in the Twin Cities area so I'm looking forward to some visiting, some shopping.  The reason we opened Anthology was because a life on the road traveling to shows didn't hold much appeal, but it will still be nice to explore this avenue, make some new connections.

I should have known better though...  Since the last two Septembers have been quiet - students going back to school, summer tourists going back to work, I went ahead and overbooked us for this September.  Naturally, the month started busier than ever: tourists are still coming, many students managed to find us and incorporate Anthology papers into their dorm & apartment decor.  This weekend is Ironman in Wisconsin and Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago.  The store has been busy with out of towners who should be making me feel like taking up some strenuous exercise but instead all that I can think about is carbo loading.  I just like the phrase. 

Yesterday, two generations of Komai girls went to Chicago to check out Renegade.  Walking the crowded street with a three-year old perhaps wasn't the best decision... I was feeling a little hot and crabby by the end of the day.  We were happy to pick up goodies for the store from Emily Kircher and Sofia Masri, as well as do some personal shopping.  Well, looking, anyway.  As always, I was inspired but all the clever work going on, great reusing and recylcing including some clever pleated tie "scarves."  We are all battling colds so we are dragging just a little bit, or a lot, and feeling tired from the packing, making and selling of the start of this month.

It's not a vacation, exactly, but it will be nice to have a change of pace.  Tomorrow I will pack the car and then, if there is any more room to spare, pack some more.  Wish us luck!


arrivals, more or less new

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Oh dear, how did I get so far behind?  Things have been unexpectedly busy around the store of late.  Why they should be unexpected, I have no idea, you'd think I'd be used to it by now.  And even though we are packing some things to take up to Minnesota in a few days, the store is chock full of goodies.

Is it too early to think about the new year?  I think so, but the fact remains that I already had to purchase my calendar.  And if you are in the mood, we have a small assortment of calendars.  We are still waiting for the French calendars to arrive but we have some great decorative wall calendars, as well as the popular Nikki McClure calendar.

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Our bookshelves were getting a little bare (can't have that!) so we were happy to get a new shipment of crafty books, as well as a great assortment of repurposed book journals made from Golden Books.

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And we continue to indulge our love for paper products with new postcards.


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The window, with the assortment of travel posters and Nikki McClure images, has been getting lots of attention from people decorating dorms and new apartments.  And the vintage Madison images in postcards and magnets are a nice compliment to the red/green/orange color palette of the window.

Meanwhile, we have continued to build up our selection of t-shirts (and also keep in stock the popular "this is how I roll" apron, though the artist has been very slow to print certain sizes of t-shirt that we've been waiting for).  We love our bicycle skirts from a Madison artist, as well as the new assortment of Wisconsin onesies and t-shirts.

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We've also received many deliveries from our consignment artists.  Rumor has it that mroe octopus ties and t-shirts are on their way soon from New York, as well as a new batch of hair accessories from Oshkosh.  And we've enjoyed hearing all the memories conjured up by the fun Fisher Price people necklaces.  Those were always a special treat to play with at other people's houses, since we didn't have them ourselves.  I particularly liked the A-Frame and the parking garage with its elevator and fueling pump...  They just aren't the same anymore now that they aren't choking hazards. Sigh... is it a miracle that we all made it through our childhoods?

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Finally, we are excited to get the UPS email notification that a new shipment of art boards are on their way from Anahata Katkin.  Her artwork remains one of my favorites - I collected the cards long before we had this shop and they really speak to me about the path that I am on. 
 
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dee-lovely, dee-licious, dee-GORGEOUS!

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These lovelies just arrived from New York today.  I've been eyeing them for ages - I love the combination of colors and vintage pieces.  The earrings are very sweet but the pins and rings are something else.

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The color combinations are very inspiring and somehow fresh and fun -- combinations that make me think twice (and think, why didn't I think of that?!).

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For now, I am vicariously enjoying the cherry earrings.  I have a big collection of cherry-themed jewelry and I think there is a limit to how much one "needs" in their collection.  We'll see how long I last.


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...and Voila!  I cleared out the entire glass cabinet, DUSTED it (so overdue!) and the rearranged.  It's not the most fun task, but it is always good to refresh things a bit.  I'm particularly pleased with the top shelf which has a fair amount of white space in the background but is chock full.  I think Manitowoc Kim's jewelry works really well with the new arrivals.

 
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