Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Every year on New Year's Eve I take a few moments to "take stock", as so many of us do.  And then, inevitably, I start thinking about resolutions.  It's impossible not to - it's part of human nature to want to start afresh with the best intentions to do...well, our best.  To want to improve upon what came before and step into what will come with wide, open eyes.

This year, in 2013, I want all of my resolutions to be about hope, because, despite all the hard things that have happened or will happen, I know that goodness, ultimately, prevails.  I see it every day in the people who walk into my store.

So, for 2013, I resolve to:
  • look on the bright side of life, make lemonade out of lemons, see the glass half full, and, as my wonderful mother always said, "expect a miracle!";
  • seek the good in all situations and people, even when it's not readily visible; and,
  • HOPE for the best, because even the tiniest light can pierce the darkest blackness.
What about you?  What are you resolving for 2013?  I'd love to know!  Don't leave without sharing your thoughts below....

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

The last four days were wonderful and LONG!!!  Sorry about not blogging, but I literally fell into bed every night and went fast asleep.  Almost every night, I was too tired to eat!!!!!

BUT, I would fall into bed happy because every day my vendors, UPS, and FedEx did their part.  Every package arrived and was delivered.  Two of my staff worked all day Sunday - when the store was closed - checking orders and calling customers to give updates.  I've said it once, but it must be said again, it takes a village.

Thank you for a wonderful season.  And now, I'm off to the Bahamas to visit my oldest daughter and her family.

I know I'll come back refreshed and ready to be off to Gift Market on January 6th for new, spring product (because, being in retail is like riding a bike: you have to keep pedaling or you'll fall off!).

See you in 2013!

All my best, Vickie

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day 16

I've been thinking a lot about family.  That tends to happen around the holidays, doesn't it?  I had amazing, loving parents who have been gone now for twenty-one years, and I miss them so!

I've gone to lots of parties this year.  Tonight I went to one, and I got there at the very end of the party (I had to go meet the last FedEx truck; today was the last day to get shipping out so that it will make it by Christmas!).  Anyway, it was actually great to arrive late because there were fewer people there.  I truly got to visit with the folks who were still at the party.  I made an effort to introduce myself to almost everyone.

Now, what does this have to do with my parents?  Well, my mama used to say as she was getting ready for guests to arrive, "the hostess does all the work before the party; and, once the guests arrive, it's up to each one of them to MAKE the party!"

I hope I made my mama proud tonight!  She had such common-sense wisdom.  Lately, I find myself thinking and acting like her a lot.  She had such big shoes to fill; I hope I'm measuring up!

And about that retail stuff...we had a great day today; I expect another one tomorrow!  Starting at 10 a.m., we're having a sale.  That definitely means there's a party at The Menagerie!  We're serving Poinsettias (Champagne and Cranberry Juice - YUM!), so come join us.  You'll be the one who will MAKE this party!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day 15

My lists are longer as Christmas becomes closer!!!  It's a BIG responsibility being Santa's helper!  So many share such intimate details about how much they care about their gift recipients - I take their trust in me so very seriously.

Here's a small sampling of what my lists look like:

This week we've wrapped and shipped out gifts that MUST arrive by Christmas Eve, wrapped over 150 gifts and hand-delivered over 50 (and it's only Wednesday morning!).

We've taken care of husbands, boyfriends, and one young man who decided right here in the store today, while he was shopping for a gift, that he wanted to be a groom, not a boyfriend!  He announced it to the whole entire store in a loud, joyful voice: "I'm going to buy an engagement ring!"  And he did!

Yesterday we mailed a $100,000 diamond for a 50th anniversary gift - I've been restless all night worrying that it will arrive today.  You can be sure that I'll double-check that first thing this morning (if only I had a sleigh!).

We've helped a former First Lady, two former U.S. Ambassadors, the daughter of a former President, and even a Princess of India with their gift lists this holiday season!

And, yesterday alone, we talked with no less than one dozen vendors checking to make sure ALL orders have shipped and will arrive by tomorrow!!!!

We ended yesterday by opening a bottle of wine, which the staff enjoyed while putting away the jewelry and going over their to-do lists.  It truly takes a village to get it all done, and The Menagerie is made up of villagers who understand the importance of each and every gift.  We work very hard to make sure nothing slips through the cracks!

I love my village and my job!  I am blessed indeed!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day 14

It's a week before we celebrate Christmas, and we are busy, busy taking care of everyone's gift lists.  AND sharing with each other the horrific tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I am blessed that, in the store, our customers visit and share what's going on in their world.  Since Friday, we have been hugging and crying, trying to make sense of what happened.  I, too, have been processing what happened in Newton, Connecticut.  Thoughts of family are ever-present.  We're all holding our little ones a little closer now, aren't we?

I'm so fortunate that two of my six grandchildren live in town, and they often come to visit me in the store.  Today, they came for a short visit.  I always stop what I'm doing to visit with my little ones (Gunnar is four and Lily is three), and to give them a hug and kiss.  Gunnar calls it "filling up his bucket"!  I tell everyone that being a grandparent is the ONLY thing I've found that is not overrated!  In light of the tragedy, I am reminded, deeply reminded, how precious my six grandchildren are.

And how time is the greatest gift of all.  I remind my staff: we work in retail, but we don't sell things; we sell gifts.  And a gift always comes from a person - more specifically, a person's heart.  I have the privilege of helping people say 'I love you' every day when I walk into my store.  So, despite the tragedy, I go to work, and I sell, and I remember, and I'm grateful for those I can still hold close.

Praying God's comfort and peace for all of us....

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day 13

Only 11 days until Christmas & then, a whole week off!  I started that tradition when the girls were young, both to give me time for r&r after the busy holidays and to make space to be with the kids when they were off from school.

Speaking of's time for my favorite gift-giving memory.  It involves my youngest daughter, Jenny, and it's a story I love to tell.  She was five, and my 'store' was still on my dining room table.  Jenny would come home from kindergarten to find strangers in her home, looking at shiny jewelry with her mommy.  But Jenny's never met a stranger, and this day would prove no different.

A new customer, someone I had just met, had brought her brother to buy his engagement ring.  As the brother and sister looked at their options, Jenny quietly observed until she sized up the situation.  Without missing a beat, she picked up a gorgeous ring (with a bigger diamond) and shoved it into the stranger's hand. "This is the one you should buy," she declared.  He smiled politely and agreed to consider her suggestion.

We were at his wedding months later and became intimate friends with his whole clan.

Why do I love this story?  Because it illustrates some of the best things about retail done right:

  • It's about team work.  One of my mantras is: "it takes a village."  And, that day, the village was me and my five-year-old!
  • It's about listening.  Jenny listened first, and then offered help.
  • It's about trust.  I trusted these people enough to have them in my home, and they, in turn, trusted me enough to share this amazing moment in their lives.
  • It's about relationship.  That interaction wasn't about a transaction for me or Jenny.  It was about helping a young man show his love tangibly.  From that very personal interaction, we built a friendship that lasted decades.
When was the last time you felt known in a retail store?  I hope recently!  And if you happen to come in my store and I don't know you, introduce yourself.  I promise: I'll do my best to earn your trust and, hopefully, to become your friend.

Until tomorrow....

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Twelve

I feel a difference this Christmas...not so much hustle bustle.  Could it be that we all feel we're falling off a fiscal cliff??  Is it the unrest in the Middle East that is making us anxious and uncertain?  My hope is we are remembering the miracle of the birth of Jesus which came with a promise of peace and joy for us all!

Crawling into bed after a fifteen hour work day, but I promise to give you my gift-giving story soon!  Night!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Eleven

Don't ever let anyone tell you retail is boring.
Yesterday, I promised you a story about our "little friend".  Today, I'm going to deliver.  Do you remember how I told you that the weather shifted?  On Monday the temperature dropped something like forty degrees in a matter of hours.  All of us here in Austin were bustling around, trying to get warm ("where did I put those gloves anyway?"), and we all began to get a little more into the Christmas spirit. 
When I say all I do mean all
Our phones went down on Monday.  Inexplicably.  And not just our phones - which are certainly crucial to any retail store, especially during Christmas.  Our internet was out as well.  The saga continued into Tuesday because no one could figure out what in the world was causing the problem.  Until, finally, someone figured it out.
A mouse had crawled into the cable box in order to keep warm.
I can hardly blame the little guy.  It was cold outside and those electric cables are warm.  But still...did it have to be my cable box?  During the holiday season????
This is where you learn to sigh, make sure you smile, and say to yourself NEXT.  Thankfully, I work with a great group of people.  They rolled with it, kept up a positive attitude, and adjusted to keep our little version of Santa's workshop on track for the big day.
Yes, the phone and internet are now working - praise God - and all is well.  Today was another wonderful day in retail land.  Tomorrow I'll tell you about my all-time favorite gift-giving story.  Trust me, it's a doozie.

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Ten

(Can ya'll tell my blogging is becoming a little less consistent?  The days are getting longer as we get closer to Christmas.  I wrote this last night at 11:30 p.m., but I forgot to hit "publish"!  Sorry!)

The cool air brought a sense of urgency with it!!!  (Monday, the high was 74 degrees; Tuesday, the high was 49 degrees!)

Every person that walked in the store yesterday seemed to realize...all of a sudden...Christmas is just two weeks away!  So far in November and the first two weeks of December, we've rung up 700 tickets.  And historically, during the last two weeks leading up to Christmas, we'll double that number of tickets.

When I think about the amount of volume - the amount of people we will help - in the coming weeks, I can get overwhelmed.  But then I remind myself: just take care of one customer at a time.  Remembering that always calms my anxious heart.

We wrap every gift from the day's sales and place every order before we leave each night.  That way, every morning, we start anew, which reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures from Lamentations:

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning."  Lamentations 3:22

Thanks be to God for energy and joy to start anew tomorrow!

Tomorrow I'll tell you about a little visitor!
Night, night....

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Nine

It's been two days since I blogged...Saturday was busy, busy.  We had a store full of customers all day (literally!)!  Even though I never sat down, I loved it!  What I loved about the day is simple: there's an incredible sense of community in my store, and it was very evident last weekend. 

Folks who live in the neighborhood ran into each other and immediately started visiting about holiday plans, family trips, and advice on gift-giving.  The chatter was fast and furious and oh-so-neighborly!

At the end of the day I rushed out to take a dear friend for a birthday dinner.  By the time we finished celebrating, it was 10:30, and I literally collapsed into bed.  I was asleep in five minutes flat (thus, no blog).  Sorry!  If it's any consolation, I missed ya'll!  :)

Sunday was my day of rest, and today was just as wild, though for different reasons.  Our phones were out!  Yes, you read that correctly, our phones didn't work all day long.  During the Christmas season!  Can I just say stressful

But, we made the best of it, getting the phones fixed as quickly as possible, and continuing to help the customers who walked through the door.  The show must go on!  No matter what roadbumps you encounter along the way.  In retail, learning how to stay calm when there's a bump in the road is a very useful skill.

I'm off to another holiday party tonight.  I honestly feel so blessed to have so many friends with whom to celebrate!

See you here tomorrow.  XOXO, Vickie

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Eight

Today, I was a little sluggish.  I didn't get my five hours of sleep last night, which is an absolute necessity this time of year.  I went to two really great social gatherings last night.
One was a wine tasting given by a friend/customer who's an investor in a soon-to-be French restaurant in East Austin, LaV.  The chef and sommerlier educated a small group of ladies in the art of tasting wines and champagnes.  It was fun and informative!  They served truffle popcorn (popcorn toasted with truffle butter)...YUM!!!!!  Try it!  Your friends will be impressed.
And the other gathering was an annual Christmas party.  Everyone was asked to bring a toy for a less fortunate child.  The hosts had placed a life-sized Santa's sleigh in the front yard.  When I arrived, it was overflowing with toys.  I live in such a generous community!
What does all this have to do with retail?  EVERYTHING!  The most important part of my business is the relationships I have, and relationships require time and effort.  So, after working ten hours, I threw on my heels and off I went!
I try to support my customers in any way I can because I appreciate so very much their loyalty in choosing The Menagerie for their gift-giving needs.  In the end, isn't good business simply about caring for one another?  I think so. 
Until tomorrow, Vickie

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Seven

The days are getting longer now. 

We arrive at 9 in the morning and immediately begin putting the jewelry out, checking emails and voice messages, meeting with our jewelry repair person, answering the phones, checking for bridal registry orders from the web, confirming the gift delivery schedule for the day, checking more emails, answering more phone calls (the phone never stops ringing during the holidays), processing all online orders, double-checking the engraving orders for accuracy, wrapping the engraving orders, setting them out for delivery or putting them on the hold shelf after we call customers to let them know their gifts are ready for pick up, calling customers about their completed jewelry repairs…

…and, before you know it, it’s 10 a.m. and time to open the doors!

I know, you’re probably thinking, it’s only 10 a.m.?  There is a LOT to do in the hour before we open our doors.  I didn’t even mention dusting, vacuuming, opening all the drawers (registers), double-checking displays, restocking any inventory that was sold from the floor with back-stock…the list goes on.

Nor did I mention everything that happens upstairs in our accounting and receiving offices.
This is one of the things I love about retail: you're never bored!  Every day is different and filled with surprises! 
Which brings me to this thought: this is the season of surprise about wonder at the birth of Jesus.  In my daily busy-ness, I do my best to remember the reason for the season.
That seems like a nice place to end for the night, so...goodnight and God bless! 


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Six

Yesterday I promised more on my wonderful, amazing, I’m-so-thankful-for-them staff.  So, here we go; get ready to get gushed.


Over thirty-four years, I have definitely had people come and go, but, even after they’ve left, my staff members and I stay close.  I get to hold their first babies and attend their parents’ funerals.

This is one of the things I love about being a boss and owning a retail store: you share in life’s ebbs and flows.  For one season in their lives, my employees and I walk together at The Menagerie, and then, later, it might be time for them to move on to another season.

While they’re with me, I try to teach them these principles:


Don’t get hung up on anything one thing for too long.  Make a mistake?  No problem; just move on.  Say to yourself: NEXT.  Is a customer less-than-kind to you in any one moment?  No problem; just say NEXT and move on.  Did a vendor promise you something only to fail to deliver?  Don’t let it derail your day; remember: NEXT.

We always try to respond to and handle any issues that come up, of course.  The “NEXT” principle isn’t a “bury your head in the sand” tenet.  It’s simply a way to extend yourself grace.  If you’ve done the best you can, and you can’t do any more, then let yourself move to the NEXT thing.


Life is way too short not to have fun.  We spend fifty, sixty, seventy hours a week together; we want to enjoy one another.  So I make sure that I hand-pick people who, not only will be the best at helping my customers, but will also be a good fit with the whole team.  We’re a tight-knit group with a very small working space (have you seen our back room?) – we need to be able to get along.  Picking well in the first place and laughing a lot in the second place help keep our ship on an even keel.


“How can I help someone today?”  That’s what we try to focus on.  We work on other things as well, of course – excellent product knowledge; an awareness of our customers’ lifestyles (we read lots of magazines!); our own personal growth (you have to have a life outside of work).  But, when it comes down to it, I always, always, always tell my staff that the customer comes first.  We put ourselves last and do our level best to serve each person who walks through our door, no matter what kind of day we’re having or what amount of work we have piled up on our desk in the back.

My hope is that we succeed in making each customer feel like he or she is the only customer, the most important person in the world.  And, that we have fun along the way!

See you tomorrow for more about what it’s like to own and operate a retail store.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Five

Today was a long but great day at the store.  Each member of my staff was non-stop busy all day.  We left at 9 tonight, which means we worked a 12-hour day!  I can't tell you how proud of my staff I am: they are dedicated, and hard-working.  They love what they do, and they get the job done.  I couldn't wait to get home so that I could sing their praises on my new blog!  (I still can't believe I have a blog!)

At the end of our work day, we locked the door and opened a bottle of wine while we all sat down at our computers (hunkered down is more like it) and got to work.  We checked our to-do lists, returned emails, and sent hand-written notes to new customers thanking them for shopping locally!  You can never say thank you enough!!!  Because of our loyal customer base, The Menagerie has been able to give over $25,000 to local nonprofits this year alone!

So, thank you for being wonderful followers, fans, customers, and supporters.  And thank you, my amazing staff, for all of your hard work.  Only 20 more days until you get a much-deserved vacation!

I'll be back tomorrow to gush on my staff some more.  See you then!

(P.S.  In case you missed it, be sure to check out our new website.  You can now create and email wish lists online, just in time for the holidays!)

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Four

It's the fourth of December, and, I've been on a shopping spree.....yes, i shop, too!   I had to ship Christmas for my grandkids out of the country yesterday!  And I went to no less than seven toy stores and had this thought: customer service is EVERYTHING!!!
It truly is amazing the difference in being helped by someone who is enjoying their job AND
understands that shopping at this time of year is stressful.   I tell my staff weekly: EVERYONE is time starved!   And what that means is you've got to bring your A game to work!  Know the product, have positive energy...I can't tell you how many people who helped me didn't have that...and, keep smiling, remembering it is that customer who truly makes it possible to have a paycheck!  

I've been working for 12 hours now, and I have 3 more emails to, until tomorrow!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Three

If I had a dime for every time someone said, "going to Market must be so much fun!", I'd be richer than Donald Trump.

Going to wholesale buyers' market is fun - it's a blast, actually, but not for the reasons you might think.

Imagine going shopping.  Then multiply that experience times 50,000.  Hold that feeling - of excitement and fun and overstimulation and fatigue.  Got it?  Now you're starting to understand how it feels about four hours in to a four day trip.  :)

So why do I call it fun?  First and foremost, because I get to see old friends at Market.  Whether I'm at Jewelry Market in Vegas or Gift Market in Atlanta or Tabletop Market in New York, I have a chance to catch up with people I've worked with for decades...34 years to be exact!  We trade pictures of our kids and grandkids, talk about the state of the industry, and check out the new trends together.

Market is by far the best place to spot trends.  Walking through aisles and aisles (we're talking acres of product) you'll quickly begin to notice patterns: colors (is green the new black?); product types ("green", modern, minimalist, vintage); themes.

So one of the tricks to Market is being able to simultaneously have a wide-angle view while searching for the close-up.  I walk the aisles looking for that perfect product - something I know my customers will fall in love with, something unique and special - while also noticing the big picture, building a story in my mind for the products we will buy.

For the holiday season, our buying begins in January for gifts and in June for jewelry.  It continues in July at Atlanta Gift Mart, and sometimes continues again in August at New York Mart.  

Before I leave I run reports on our current inventory, as well as a history of what has sold when and how quickly.  Even though the reports are handy, most of it is in my head.  I know what my customers love - that's what makes The Menagerie unique.  I have the privilege of knowing almost all of my customers personally (and there are thousands of you!).  I've been in many of your homes; I've gone to your parties and childrens' weddings.  I know how you live; therefore, I know what you look for.  And that's what I look for - those things that you would want.

Other retailers rely heavily on numbers and reports.  While those are important, I can't work that way primarily.  I rely on relationships.  That's what gives me energy and keeps me going even when I am dog tired walking those aisles. 

I think to myself: "Julie is bringing in her shopping list in October - I have to make sure I find items for all twenty-five family members, in a variety of price ranges, and all unique."  Or, I think, "Don has a fiftieth wedding anniversary two weeks before Christmas this year, and his wife, Amy, wants a statement ring.  Let's find the perfect ring, just for her."

So, ultimately, picking out holiday gift items and working the markets is one part math and two parts gut.  I understand the statistics - what has sold, what price points we need, where our inventory is thin, what our turn rates are - but I focus on the relationships - what would Mary love or how does William want to celebrate that new baby?

In the end, my hope is that the method in our madness makes for a unique, beautiful collection of gifts from which to choose.  I hope you agree! 

There is no feeling greater than having a customer say "thank you" for having the perfect gift!  A satisfied customer is the impetus for having packed my bags for the last thirty-four years to search for the next, "hot", must-have item.

See you tomorrow for more in a Day in the Life of a Retailer During the Holidays: Day Four.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Note on Sunday

Hi friends!

For those of you who have been wondering where I've been today, I forgot to tell you...I always observe a strict Sabbath on Sundays, even during the busy holiday season.  I'd never make it otherwise!  (In fact, most Sundays, I'm in my pajamas all day except for church!)

I'll be back tomorrow with more posts.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Retailer during the Holidays: Day Two

Woke up thinking about balance on this first day of December!

Keeping myself balanced is a struggle for me....even when it's not the busy holiday season. I'll forget to eat lunch, or stay up way too late searching the Internet for that perfect gift item I missed at market, or read one of the many magazines I subscribe to so I can keep up with trends. Today the holiday rush begins and all sense of balance flies out the window.

Here are my must do's to feel balanced:
Daily Reading
I read the Bible, but it doesn't have to be the Bible. I just think it helps tremendously to start and end your day with thoughts that lift you outside of yourself, whether it be Scripture or inspirational quotes or even a good biography. This helps me stay centered when I know my to-do list is much longer than my day.
I always make sure I touch base with those people that keep me grounded; whether it's a quick chat on the way into my shop or a rare happy hour with girlfriends, I try my best to stay connected to community.
Making Someone Else Smile
I get to do this more than most, simply by the nature of my business, but I think it's so important for all of us to proactively try to make someone else smile, at least once a day. I tell my staff I want every telephone customer to "hear" a smile when the phone is answered!
Not only is the smile for someone else, but I just had this thought ...smiling makes YOU feel better!!
Hard to smile and be in a bad mood!

And finally, one of my friends is 93 and seems like she's 65! I asked her a few months ago to share her secret to her good health.  Her reply was, "you gotta have balance!" She then quickly said every day she begins her day standing on 1 leg as long as she can and then switches to the other leg staying balanced as long as she can!! I loved that and now have added it to my must do's for balance! Try it!! 

Tomorrow I'll talk about how I choose the annual holiday gifts I bring into the store each year. See you then!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day in the Life of a Retailer at the Holidays: Day One

Hello friends!

Over the years, many, many people have asked what it's like to run a retail store.  As such, since I'm now blogging (can you believe it!?!), I thought I'd give you a snapshot view!  This will be a twenty-five day series, with one post per day between now and Christmas...hopefully! 

I'd be honored if you share it with your friends and spread the word about The Menagerie.  This is my 34th Christmas as a retailer, and, I must say, the past four years have been the hardest.  For those of you who have been with me all this time, thank you for your loyalty!  And for those of you who are newcomers, thank you!  You are what make us great!

XOXO, Vickie

A Day in the Life of a Retailer during the Holidays: Day One

My days begin at the crack of dawn - literally.  Before I'm even out of bed, I'm on my phone checking emails and text messages.  There are always messages from employees and vendors, but my favorite messages - of course - are the personal ones from customers/friends.  They are one and the same for me, and, my hope is, they all consider me their friend!

I often tell people I have the luckiest job in the world, and I do.  I get to help people find the perfect gift, hopefully for everyone on their lists!  During December, you can almost always find me at the store, though sometimes I'm at Hobby Lobby trying to find more ribbon for our store decorations (I confess).  I NEVER buy enough ribbon!  (Did you know that last November and December we wrapped over 3,500 gifts!?!  All with our complimentary gift wrap service, of course!)

The trick during December is making sure our inventory levels hold.  Manufacturers have started carrying less stock, so it's a constant balance to make sure we order enough.  This year alone, we've sold through three orders of some of our most popular stock!  That's why I always tell people: if you love it, buy it.  Don't put it off. 

Therefore, much of my day is spent monitoring my head!  The trick is, at the end of the day, remembering what is selling and what needs to be reordered a.s.a.p.  (That's the 7 a.m. phone call to my East Coast vendors the next morning!)

Check back tomorrow for more about maintaining balance during the holiday season, and, on day three, how we find the unique gifts we carry during the holidays. 

Hope I'll hear from you about any of these thoughts.  Leave a comment or shoot me an email (  Along the way it is you who have taught me valuable lessons about gracious living.  Thank you!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Tis the Season

I think it's fitting that my first-ever blog post would be about Christmas, my favorite time of year.  Why do I love it?  Because of what the holiday season is all about: faith, family, friends, and, yes, gift-giving.

We at The Menagerie have become experts on gift-giving over our more than thirty-four years in business.  As such, I thought I'd share a few of the bits of wisdom we've gathered, to keep in mind as you're making your lists and checking them twice!

Your gift doesn't have to be big; it just has to be heartfelt.
One of my all-time favorite gifts is our $12 bird vase that sits small at less than two inches tall.  Perfect for a desk or bedside table, we tell our customers to give it with a personalized note that reads: "a little birdie told me it was your birthday;" or "a little birdie told me you're having a bad day."  Gift it with a single rose bud in it, and you've made someone's day!

When in doubt, choose something you love.
We have many customers who pick a favorite gift - something they've received before, perhaps, or given with great results - and then simply call us to have it wrapped and delivered* whenever they need a present sent to a friend or loved one.  We keep personalized enclosure cards on file, so they don't even have to come into the store if they don't want to!  Here's one example of a go-to baby gift: our hand-calligraphed Prayers for Children book by local Austin artist Fran Chibib.
Keep it simple.
If you're having a hard time deciding what to get, go back to the tried-and-true basics that every woman loves: presents like diamond studs or roses in a crystal vase (we'll even arrange the flowers for you!). 

Whether you're looking for a baby gift, a sweet sixteen present, a twenty-fifth anniversary present, or a Christmas present, I know our team of dedicated gift specialists can help you find the perfect gift.

I hope to see you in the store or on the web soon!

*And don't forget, we offer complimentary gift wrap in our signature peach box, and complimentary delivery within the Austin area.