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October 2013
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December 2013

a few of our favorite things

Every once in a while, someone asks me what is my favorite item in the store. Of course, I have some that I am especially fond of - either because I have nostalgia about buying them when we first opened (or collecting them before we even knew we'd have a shop), or because I particularly like their story or their artist, or because I happen to be in the mood that is exactly met by their qualities. But, of course, I like ALL my children. We've spent the year (and more) gathering an assortment of items - some are relatively new to us, some are approaching the status of classic in my mind. And in the interest of helping you with your holiday shopping, I thought I'd finish out this year with some of my favorites and also help with the brainstorming for some of those particularly challenging categories of recipients. I hope you enjoy the sneak peek, but we really hope you find time in the month of December to come downtown and check out all that we've gathered for you this year. As always, we are overwhelmed with all the clever and lovely things that people are making.


making up for lost time

Well, that was helpful. After blogging about being lazy, I spent the rest of the week being productive.

I finished the merchandising that I started on Sunday: Christmas ornaments back by the boxed notes, boexd thank-yous up front, scarves towards the back. And rearranging the front table just in case it was the pile of recycled book journals which elicited my bad email review.

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I restocked boxed notes and ornaments.

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I hung more prints in the window.

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Sachi started wrapping her presents and preparing for her wrapping paper & gift tags workshops at the public libraries (12/10 at Lakeview and 12/11 at Monroe Street).

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I keep thinking that everything has arrived, but we had an emergency restock of the Holstee notecard and a little backorder of felt ornaments including this cute fox.

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I even set up the sewing machine at the shop and managed to grab five minutes here and there to sew fabric triangles for more garlands.

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And I continued work on some more painted pages. I'm going to learn the coptic stitch first on a 2" x 2" book for next year's holiday trade before tackling my big painted pages book. I'm really liking the look of the gesso with colored pencils and sparkling watercolors on black paper. The cats were not too happy that they couldn't sit on my lap while I was working - what is it about cats wanting to sit right where you are working? This is why I can't have pets at my own home.

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Oh, and I did a thorough restock of the twinkling watercolors since we received more. They are finally selling them individually by color so I could get more of the best-selling colors.

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Finally, I browsed through the latest issue of Madison Magazine on a scavenger hunt for Anthology goodies. They featured a number of our products in their gift pages so that was fun.

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And now it is Thanksgiving eve.  My niece is joining me for a sleepover with the cats and we'll see what we find on Netflix streaming (boy, is that fun.. .but I can see I could waste a lot of time trying to make up my mind). Then tomorrow it's pancakes at Mom & Dad's, watching the Macy's parade, jigsaw puzzles and mix tapes, and then dinner hosted by my sister and brother-in-law. The shop is closed on Thursday but we'll be back on Friday morning at 10 am.

We hope you enjoy a very happy Thanksgiving!

 

 


being lazy

This time of year is a strange combination of turbo-preparation and waiting, waiting. Even though our fourth quarter is just slightly ahead of our summer tourist sales, it's really difficult not to get wrapped up in it all. I have always had a similar experience in my personal holiday shopping. I spend much of the year shopping, buying gifts when I see them and then hiding them in the closet. So usually by November, I am feeling like I am pretty much done, ready for all the busyness and not going to get stressed out. And then December hits, and some combination of being met at every angle with commercials and decorations and music hits me on a different level and I start to think, oh no! I'm not ready! I forget someone! I haven't done enough! Never mind that I was feeling perfectly calm up until that point, and that whatever I end up doing often ends up being too much (like my tendency to worry that people at my parties are going to run out of food and then overbuy food and have leftovers as a result). Part of it is just hype - like that feeling of being totally prepared for a test and then the feeling you get when you get to the classroom and someone says something and you think, "wait, I don't know that, I didn't study that, oh no, I'm going to do terribly, I don't know anything!" Even though you will do perfectly fine on the test - not because of the last-minute panic but because you've been paying attention all year long, just going to class and doing your usual thing. But there's no denying that the fourth quarter of our year is big, and is something that we've been thinking about almost since the end of the last fourth quarter. Plus I do just like the holidays. I love the excitement and the anticipation of finding gifts for people; I particularly love it when two people are shopping in the store and one person says: "oh, I love that!" and then the other person sneakily brings it to me and makes the purchase. Perhaps I love that so much because it is so much more pleasant than the frequent alternative of someone coming in a month later and saying to me: "I was here a while ago and my boy/girl-friend saw something he/she liked but I don't remember what it was. Can you help me?" And, of course, it is tremendously satisfying that the things we have spent all year finding for the shop are met with happiness and "this will be a great gift!"; I love the idea of people opening Anthology goodies.

Even though the day after Thanksgiving is typically billed as The Biggest Shopping Day of the Year, the reality is that the last 10 days just before Christmas are usually busier than that. The combination of unusually cold weather and late Thanksgiving have further added to the slow start. That said, people have certainly started their holiday shopping - the days have been quiet punctuated by large sales. The slow start has me a little on edge - hoping that I didn't overbuy - combined with being on edge about the things that I didn't buy enough of. And since the days simply are busier than an average day at any other time of the year, I am finding that I am, simply, all worn out (I have a rubber stamp that says this, with a picture of a woman reclining on a couch - I am tempted to use that on my holiday envelopes). Speaking of holiday envelopes, that's another thing that's still on my to-do list.

So, even though there are moments when I am in a bit of a tizzy about restocking that needs to be done, specifically things that I need to make, I am also approaching that point where I feel like everything that I can do has been done. That's not really true, but in terms of what I can do in my evenings.... well, I think I might be done. I am definitely more tired at the end of the day, and I think it is fine to take a break. And just in time for me to housesit on the charming East side, where there are plenty of places to provide good food, and Netflix streaming. Now, in my house, I do not have a computer, I do not have cable, there are no bells and whistles. And frankly, I am concerned that I would get nothing done if I did have such things so I have been very deliberate about keeping them out of my house (not to mention that I would rather have a nice dinner our or take a trip than pay a cable/internet/whatnot bill). So, since I am not accustomed to such things, when I do have access, I tend to be a glutton. I.E. for the last three nights I have been doing nothing except eating leftover Laotian and watching Orange is the New Black streaming on Netflix.  It's rather addicting, but not for everyone so consider yourself warned.

As far as the store is concerned, shipments are winding down. I am working on moving merchandise around in the shop, making sure that every square foot is maximizing sales, making sure that items I have a lot of are well-placed, filling in gaps, restocking, rejoicing over little openings of space that mean things are selling and I can reorganize a bit. But the main focus really is customer service - unfortunately that is still not my strongest point. It is something that I work on, honest, I do - and most of the time I feel like it is amazing that I manage to be as pleasant as I can be; if people had any idea what I was thinking...  Sigh. But we all have days that are better than others - unfortunately Sunday at the tail end of my six day work week is typically not mine. Just this morning I received an email from someone who was in (I believe on Sunday) who was not happy with the customer service. However, the bulk of the email was about our product selection and merchandising, which struck me particularly harshly as I consider those my strong points. (As an introvert and generally shy person, I actually expect criticism for my customer service, I'm sure that some will find me aloof and standoffish, even though lack of conversation on my part doesn't necessarily mean that I dislike a person, just that I find most conversation superfluous. But sometimes I dislike the person). The customer was particularly unhappy with the changes in the past year, which you might imagine was frustrating given how much work we put into making changes in the store to improve the space of late. I believe "lacking focus" was one criticism, as well as "too many craft supplies." Well, for one thing, in my defense, the store is probably the fullest it will be in the entire year - things have not yet sold out, and we have a lot of merchandise on hand to meet our sales goals. Of course, I am often told (or overhear) that people are overwhelmed in the store - I don't really keep track but the majority of those statements are expressed positively or are accompanied by a sale so I am left with the general feeling that the fullness of the store is not detracting from the sales. But, also, that's just my aesthetic. I understand that not everyone feels that way, but I am really not that into white space. I am definitely not a boutique girl, and I find it somewhat irritating that a level of fullness that is tolerable in a big box store is somehow not tolerable in our shop. I have seen much worse, believe me. But I recognize that sometimes there is a persistent feeling that we are totally bombarded everywhere we go - for me, personally, it is the presence of televisions in the airports and all restaurants and I am particularly sensitive to the way there seems to be no quiet spaces, ever. So, in one respect, my personal aesthetic and learning style was bumping up against hers. Additionally, one of the features of having a business on State Street means that you get a wide range of customers, if my approach is too much like throwing stuff to wall to see what sticks only to find out that pretty much everything sticks, and if I am overwhelmed by the number of amazing and clever people who are making things in this country... well, honestly, I'm not sure that's a fault. The complaints were followed by intention to shop instead at Hobby Lobby or Michael's and a declaration that I had lost a customer. Luckily, my Facebook friends rallied to cheer me up and I was reminded that I often tell myself: "you can't please everyone." I know very well that not everyone's aesthetic is as...full? cluttered? completely lacking in white space? as mine, but it was somewhat hurtful that the store was perceived as so lacking. Obviously, I took a few deep breaths and rewrote my response several times before I sent it. Why am I sharing this with you? Not so much to invite you to a pity party but because of all the thoughts that have been milling around  in my head since that time. First, it helps to have supportive friends who will prop you up. Second, I must highly recommend a warm fuzzy file - mine is a little notebook at the cash register that I use to record compliments from customers. It is perfect for times like these because it reminds me that even though I (clearly) piss some people off, I have also been able to have a profound creative effect on the world around me - an effect that I would not have if I just sat at home in my cozy cluttered little cave as I sometimes feel like doing at the slightest criticism. But then, if  I didn't risk talking to anyone or antagonizing them with my lack of cheerfulness or visual focus, I feel sure that some people would be disappointed. It occurred to me today that there should totally be an ap for that! I don't have a smart phone or the smarts to do such a thing so I'll just send that thought out into the universe - but what if you had an ap that you could use to store compliments, maybe sort them by topic. And then you could type in whatever complaint or insult you had just heard and the key words would pull up some counter-evidence. It's brilliant, I tell ya. Third, lucky for me, I had to stop at the shop today (usually my day off), and as I let myself in, I felt again, as I always do, that intense happiness that it elicits in me. I love what we have created. I love the space. I love the clutter, the overwhelmed feeling. I don't know if the customer thought that I do it accidentally, or maliciously, or what exactly, but that's not really the case.  I give a lot of thought to what we buy and where I will put it. I will admit that sometimes I get carried away - but, honestly, if you saw all the things that I see, if you saw all the artists and small presses, you would have as hard of a time resisting it. And you have NO idea how much junk I pass up. Anyway, as I walked into the shop, I walked past our basket of text printed on book pages and the front quote was: "Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known." -Carl Sagan. I am not going so far as to demand that you agree our shop is something incredible, but what I love so much about overhearing customers in the store are the times that people do discover something incredible, or something inspiring and creative - times when they are left in awe of other people's cleverness, times when they can't wait to go home and try something themselves. I have such a passion for my job, for what we've created; it is somewhat hurtful that it wasn't recognized, but that also gives me pause - are there times when I miss out on the incredible that is waiting to be known? when whatever preoccupation in my own life distracts me from seeing through the clutter to the heart of what is there? Particularly this time of year when there is so much to do and see, I hope that I don't get so overwhelmed with what I don't like about a situation, that I stop seeing the wonder and beauty that is everywhere. I can only wish the same for you.

 


for the hostess with the mostest

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It's not just me and my overactive retail mind. It IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I was interviewed on Sunday for Channel 3 (story here) and the reporter mentioned that she was out shopping and the cashier said something like: 'everyone's anxious because it's earlier this year.' We laughed because, obviously, Christmas is always the same, but apparently the late Thanksgiving and early Hanukkah is throwing people off. There IS one less week of shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which, at this time of year, does make a difference and probably explains why the whole holiday thing seems to have started earlier than ever this year. I walked through Macy's last week and was quite surprised to see it all decked out for Christmas - somehow it seems early, despite the fact that I've already been talking about Christmas and thinking about it since May. I will admit that sometimes all the parts of my brain aren't exactly connected - I can be thinking about Christmas at the shop for months, and then my need to wrap presents suddenly sneaks up on me.

On my bus ride in today, the person next to me was commenting that she had just looked at the calendar and realized that since her family is celebrating Christmas on Thanksgiving, she really need to squeeze some gift-shopping time into her week. All the more reason for me to get to work.

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I will certainly be posting some of our favorite suggestions and popular gifts,  but I thought I would start with the category of hostess gifts since perhaps that is the most pressing need at this particular moment. Since we first opened the categories of paper products, craft supplies and jewelry seem to have come most easily to us, but we've worked on building up what my old boss used to call the miscellaneous category - often things which work well as little gifts for people you know but don't know so well that you want to give something really personal.

Here are just a few of our favorites:

1. magnets. My old landlord once told me that he had never seen a fridge as covered with magnets as mine. But I like the way they are functional (though not as much in these days of stainless steel 0 whoever thought that was a good idea not to have a magnetic fridge?!) and small and affordable. Our sarcastic bird magnets are always good for a laugh, for a particular audience. Probably not grandma. The magnet clothespins are pretty and seem like they would be a good general gift.

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2. Story pictures. I love these sweet little stories. I realize they are good as gifts for only a particular sort of person - someone who has more contemporary taste might not care for them, but the text is sweet and sentimental.Shop31 011
3. picture frames. My magnet picture frames remain popular gifts but we also have an assortment of button frames, repurposed wood frames, larger magnet memo boards and mosaic picture frames from an Illinois recycling artist.Shop31 012

4. candles and coasters. Cliche, I know, but still a useful and welcome gift. We have an assortment of Madison coasters as well as some sweet screenprinted florals, and new this year are candles made in Madison that include a little touch of sand from Mendota.

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 5. tea towels and other kitchen linens.

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6. dishware. I like to bring nice plates with dessert on them, and make the plate a part of the gift. I couldn't resist these lovely lace-impressed dishes. We also stocked up on the colorful stamped pottery from Milwaukee.

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7. I can't be the only one who likes receiving paper products, can I? I realize that boxed thank-you notes come with some implication of work to come, but I still feel like that's a nice gift for the season.

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8. Pint glasses... maybe with some nice local craft beer?

 

 

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inspiration/work

I've been feeling a little tired and preoccupied lately, not exactly ideal considering we are going into the busiest 3 weeks of the year... though perhaps understandable given that situation. Dad's recovery from surgery is going smoothly enough, but there is a part of my brain preoccupied with whether he's getting enough walks, should I hide the car so he doesn't try to drive it, is it my turn to bring him breakfast, did I put enough things around the house for him to do but not bend/twist/lift, and so on. Add to that the usual pre-holiday preparations - finding room for all the merchandise arriving, making room for the holiday section in the store, trying to make sense of the chaos in the office, writing the draft of my holiday letter, thinking about postcards and gift bags, finalizing my list of presents to give and make...  Not to mention the general pressure of wondering if I over/under bought and whether we will have too much or too little for customers. I am also housesitting in a week so I am trying to come up with my list of projects to work on and things to pack. Then again, I am reminded of one of my new favorite postcards:

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Anyway, all this preoccupation means I've been a little lazy on the making end of things. Though my consignment check in October sent me into a little tizzy, I've had my share of evenings spent working on jigsaw puzzles or mix tapes - neither of which have any effect on my November consignment check.  But this week was rather tiring, given the amount of work that I did to rearrange the store and set up phase I of the holiday window. Then again, I posted various things on our Facebook page - generally to the effect of Jack London's words that I love so much:

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

So as I sat at home feeling tired and deserving of rest, I gave myself a little "snap out of it" speech and went to the sewing room for a few hours over the last few days. Walking in there, I was bombarded with a number of projects that have been started which could use my attention - headbands and garlands, an altered skirt, aprons...  Just a wee bit overwhelming. But I stayed on task, working on a batch of batik scarves that I started a long long time ago. In fact, the strips of batik fabric leftover from quilting had been sewn together for a completely different project - that's how long ago I started: I was doing something else. But I thought it might be lovely to have such colors wrapped around one's neck so I had a little more stitching to do and then I was able to back them with flannel and make them into scarves. I managed to finish a prototype last week and then had 6 more to make, which I finished up last night. Here they all are, laid out on the table...and yes, making me feel like they would have been cool all together as a quilt. Though I made myself a bed quilt last year, I haven't had time for quilting the way I used to. It is starting to feel like a past life. But I sure do love working with batiks. The batik fabric isn't very drapey but the flannel on the back is nice and I made them extra long so you can double them around your neck. I'm quite pleased. Now to figure out the next project. Though I'm starting to think that perhaps it will be a non-store project and I will finally learn to bind a book and will finish up my book of quotations on painted pages. I haven't worked on that for a few weeks - but I sure do love those pages.

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In other vaguely store news, Sachi is working with Lakeview and Monroe Street public libraries to have a gift tag/wrap workshop at each branch in December. Unfortunately, we really do run into space and time limitations during the holidays here at the shop. So, for December, the craft table becomes a product table: right now it is hosting our boxed notecards early bird sale (25% off holiday boxed notes from now through December 1) and then it will become the Christmas table after December 1.  Luckily, there is space at the libraries...  In other library news, I am exploring the possibilities of the resident artist program at the Bubbler which would be super cool and is leading me to dream of all the projects I could work on and share with other people. It reminds me much of the feeling I had before we opened the store - I brought all sorts of projects into the shop because I thought I would get so much work done, only to realize that doesn't really work out along with delivering customer service. Still, the idea of library studio space is very tempting....

Shop31 083Other arrivals this week include "I'm with Bucky" t-shirts, messenger bags with colorful/pretty/fun fabric prints on their front flap, wrapping paper, and letterpress notecards. There are a few items that are not yet running out but which are running low so I have some anxiety about the people who are in the "just looking" phase - worrying that they will come back the week before Christmas and be disappointed. My list so far is : Wisconsin pint glasses, Madison neighborhood print, specific sizes of specific t-shirts, cut-out letter books.  Oh, well, now that I see it written out, it's not so bad. The reality is that we will hopefully have something else that is just as suitable and if they are really really attached to giving a particular thing to a particular person, they would have bought it already, right? Being someone who buys things when I see them and think they would be perfect for someone, it is always a challenge for me to understand the people who see something they like and then wait to purchase it  (I'm not really talking about financial constraints; I am talking about the people who seem to consistently say to me: oh darn, if only I had bought that when I saw it). But perhaps I can't take full responsibility for someone's disappointment. That would alleviate some of the preoccupations of my brain.

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It is also the season for our holiday ads so we've enjoyed seeing those in print. We were particularly happy with the work of local artist Stefanie Lin who is the Crafty Helper who both loaned us her child and her photography skills to provide the photo for the ad featuring the Wi/Mn onesie. It was really wonderful to have an idea for an ad and then be able to delegate some of the work. I need to work on my delegating skills some more - that is always a challenge for me.

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But I also feel the need to sit down and make a list for the next 6 weeks and maybe do some prioritizing. I am terrible at getting distracted with tasks that aren't at all urgent, which only makes the urgent tasks even more urgent and stressful. Yet another thing that needs improvement. But now I'm going to go think about what I would pack to be an artist in residence... never mind that would happen in 2014....  But, really, wouldn't YOU like to see what the two Komai sisters would come up with for such a thing?!



done and done

Anthology window

Well, sort of. I spent the last two days installing the first phase of the holiday window. I was getting stressed out about all the stuff I had to cram into the window and decided to ease the pressure somewhat by installing the window in phases. We just have so much good stuff! I hardly know where to begin. But I am quite happy with the way the cubbies are functioning so that makes the installation somewhat easier. This week was the biggest task as I had to completely clear the window in order to install the lights. From now on, I can just make changes one cubby at a time. Yesterday was quite a mess in the store, with stacks of cubbies all over the place. But some semblance of order has been returned to.

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The holiday cards are mostly on the back table. We really went all out this year and got a big assortment. Our early bird special on Thanksgiving weekend (and before) is 25% off boxed holiday notes so we made sure to get plenty for people to choose from. However, the result is that I kind of need to keep the boxed notes separate from the ornaments until after Thanksgiving weekend. I was thinking about putting ornaments on the back side of the cubbies but I wasn't sure how well that would work. Then I decided to put the ornaments on the front tables. Then I went to Target to get an extension cord and walked through Macy's and I realized how totally annoying it was that the stores have converted so completely to Christmas. Those huge cardboard decorations are too much! So then I started thinking that maybe people wouldn't appreciate being met at the door with Christmas ornaments (particularly those who are waiting until the actual month of December). SO, I ended up displaying the ornaments on our new mint shelf up towards the front of the store. I managed to get one or two of everything out ... oh, except I just remembered another box that I have to unpack. At least there will be a complete sampling for the early shoppers.  Once our boxed note sale is over, I will have the craft table filled with all sorts of holiday goodies.

We've had a busy week with more arrivals. I keep thinking we're at the end but then another box arrives. But pretty soon we will have everything we are going to have for your gift-giving needs. The shop is very full right now!

Most of my brain has been preoccupied with the holiday window, but I did spend some time on my Blurb books. I am way behind schedule but managed to finish up the 2012 book of my pictures and projects and the book of my niece's pictures. Hopefully I won't be so far behind schedule next year. ha ha ha.  I did also make myself a planner for 2014. Even though this sounds goofy, I'm just going to hand-draw a two-page spread for each month. Last year I collaged a page for each month and then had to scan them and include them in my journal. It was a one-page spread and it just isn't big enough for me to write on - as a result, I haven't really been using this year's planner. We'll see if this is enough of an improvement. It was nice to pull together an assortment of photos. I added more photos of my own artwork, not just scenery, and it should be fun to revisit some of my creations over the course of a year.

Other than that, I'm sewing some batik fabric scraps into scarves and trying to figure out what else I can make to sell here at the shop. I need to make a batch of cyanotype scarves but the weather has not been conducive (I need a free day that is sunny and not too windy - the temperature doesn't seem to matter, which is a good thing because it got cold). My October consignment check was kind of low so I feel the need to come up with something new... whatever that will be....

 I have been enjoying the gradual changing of the seasons. Seems like we had several weeks without rain or too much wind so the colors on the trees were particularly lovely. And whatever its other faults, I love the beauty of snow falling, bare branches and assorted other aspects of winter.

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phase 1 complete

Anthology window
I know I was going to save the big reveal for the installation of the Christmas window but I started thinking about all the things that had to be done, on top of feeling rather overcrowded, space-wise. I've been sitting on the cubbies that I had built for the store window since late August, which was generally fine at first but was starting to be more and more problematic. I am generally happy that we decided to stay in our space... but sometimes I could use just a wee bit more. The office and back hallway were filling up with Christmas shipments; I've even started stashing stuff under the craft table. Additionally, my mind was on an endless loop of that little game with one empty square that you have to move the plastic number squares around to get into order: clear cubby a and b, move them, put box z where cubby c was, store the items from cubby d on the desk, but maybe back to cubby d once I put it in place...?  Yeah, that was getting to be too much. Also, I decided that I wanted to set up the cubbies, arrange product in rainbow order, take some pictures for future ads and postcards, and then empty that display and set up Christmas. A little bit too much work to be done all in a single week.

So, I started putting my plan in place, only to deviate further and start even earlier. The first plan was after Halloween and thus early next week. The next plan was late this week (still keeping Halloween things in), starting Thursday morning. On Wednesday night, I joined a friend for Michael's Frozen Custard. Usually at that time of night, I would not have my favorite coffee chocolate chip shake because it would mean I wouldn't go to sleep, but I decided to indulge... and then apply the caffeinated energy to the window. Realistically, installing a big window during store hours is not that practical seeing as it impedes others' shopping for me to be climbing up and down ladders and toting stuff back and forth. And honestly, nighttime with the doors locked is one of my favorite times to be in the shop. So, I came downtown after 7 pm and began the installation. This meant clearing out cubbies that had been used for storage in the office, carrying them to the front window, and arranging them - all the while crossing my fingers that my idea was actually going to work out.  It did! 

There's still some tweaking to be done - namely, the back side of the display (on the inside of the store) is a little crowded. I think I have to move the card spinner out from that little nook. But it is quite nice that it doubles as storage and display space on the inside as well as the outside - that solved some of my problems about where I was going to store the items that were stored in the cubbies when they were in the office. Everything just kind of got bumped forward.

Anthology cubbies

I'm quite happy with the whole thing. I've been thinking and planning for a long time - spent hours looking through vintage and home decor books in my collection, thinking about what would be useful for the window. Basically I wanted something that had some flexibility, that would allow me to change arrangements as product warranted (as opposed to buying a single awesome piece of furniture). In one book, I found a stack of vintage crates and suitcases on wheels which was the starting point, though I eventually realized that I didn't really need the wheels as long as I made each individual cubby moveable. Even though the basic format - stacked wooden cubbies - won't change, I can still reconfigure it a bit to change things up. And if I get really ambitious someday, I can paint or stain them. I'm thinking a red interior would be really sharp. The sides are solid so I can also turn them to have a solid side facing out - to hang a clotheslin with cards? or a clipboard with a print? or maybe paint with chalk paint?  Yeah, my mind is still spinning, but at least I've gotten one big task out of it.

Meanwhile the rest of the store continues to fill up.  We received some lovely indigo-dyed tea towels from a duo of local artists. I have been eyeying their dyeing workshops - hopefully I will pay attention next year and not miss out. These would be so much nicer to have hanging off the fridge or oven handle than those plain white ones!

shibori tea towels
And while I am not quite ready to install Christmas, we will be unpacking our ornaments and cards shortly - for sure before Nov 15th. And we do have Thanksgiving and Hanukkah cards in case you are annoyed that I seem to be skipping over holidays. Our big "Black Friday"/Thanksgiving weekend sale is 25% off boxed holiday notes and we do have boxed Hanukkah cards (if you want to send those in a timely fashion, just let us know and we will apply the sale price in advance of the holiday weekend).

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Other new arrivals include this golden addition to our collection of state prints, inspiring messages printed on recycled tobacco barn lath from Wisconsin barns, charming woodland animal posts (the fox has been super popular! dare I hope this is finally the replacement for the owl imagery? that seems to have lingered much longer than any other animal) (and, no, I haven't seen that video - but I sure have overheard plenty of people in the shop every time they see something with a fox design),

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colorful ceramic vases, the Mendota Red candle, and these great postcards (I have long collected these for myself and out of the blue, the artist sent me her catalog - I do love it when that happens). I am particularly fond of the woman: "understand that nobody but you can make yourself less busy."

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