Archive for the 'life in a store' Category


I am pretty conservative

Yes, I AM… in certain areas.

Take for instance my love for old cars; I go gaga over these old beauties.  I love the design, the lines, the colors.

… such as this red MG parked in front of the store!

As I was tinkering around the shop this morning, I also noticed that for all these years, I have stuck with the same designers. The same FEW designers. I like my people. I like knowing what I can expect from their deliveries. Even their flaws are predictable. (such as buttons falling off …) The other day, I altered a jacket from one of my favorite peeps, Anni Kuan. As I was opening the jacket, exposing its inner side, I was so happy to have reaffirmed what I’ve come to appreciate for the last 6 years – her tailoring is impeccable!

Anni Kuan, great fabric and style

SkunkFunk – design with an edge

Hazel, predictably fun.












another Anni on my friend L.

Whitewash skirt, Hazel vest, Sofada top

fall beauty by Hazel













Even my clothing reps know that I won’t just ‘try out’ a new line… easily.  I ponder and think before I add somebody unknown. That’s why I liked Neesha; they only had a few basics at first, which was easier to risk.

and now Neesha is one of my best sellers!

My perfume is conservative – I have been using the same scent for at least 12 years.

I adore some of the old classic movies, and can get chills listening to great artists like Nina Simone or David Byrne.

I am also incredibly loyal to my friends. It is very difficult to get on my bad side. Once I have a friend, I stick with them. (… for the most part; there maybe be the odd one from which I moved apart – literally and spiritually) I like the history we have together, the honesty we share, the things we do together. There are certain things I do with certain people. And have over many, many years.

I am a Taurus. I dig my heels in. I am pretty grounded, too. (this state only ends when I board a plane to go places)

I hang onto my clothes. I darn socks. I keep shoes forever.

All that makes me pretty conservative, right? At least in those departments….

Now, don’t get me started on politics.








in with a sigh, out with a …. mirror!

There is that horrible moment when you realize that you have been shoplifted. It is met with utter puzzlement, followed by mentally going through the day, trying to figure out WHEN and especially HOW it could have happened.

We’ve been pretty confident and calm for the first half of the year as there were no incidents after Christmas.  During that time, we had a few pilferings, which was aggravating but lest, we understood the need – somewhat.

So imagine my surprise when early this week, I discovered a dress gone (doubled up hanger), a skirt (gone with the hanger), an empty hanger. It did not stop there, which made us think that it must have been a group of people or a pair, well trained in the art of shoplifting as we could not figure out HOW they would have accomplished all of this.

To me, there are two aspects to STEALING:

Trying to understand shoplifters and how they work so we can spot them easier.

Setting up the store so that shoplifting is minimized.

Shoplifters come in many forms, some just do it once for the thrill while others have made it a profession and are VERY good at it. The ones that double up hangers may have tried an item on IN the dressing room, may have gotten two sizes of the same item, slip one in their purse or bag, double up the hanger and then return the other item to the rack. Very clever. We tried to do it on the floor but it seems too cumbersome not to look awkward.

Then there are the pairs or groups. They might not even come in together, pretend that they are complete innocent, non-connected shoppers.  While one is at one end of the store, the other gets busy at the other.  Or one is asking you some questions to distract you while the other pockets some stuff.

The paralyzing aspect of all of this is that if they WANT to shoplift, they can get away with it even IF you spot them.  They may run out, or threaten you or raise a stink. Unless you’d be like me and would be MORTIFIED if someone saw me doing it.

As for setting up the store, we decided to make the store more ‘visible’ to our eyes and bought a mirror right away.

no more secret handling…

Now we are looking into video surveillance (fake or real).  We’ll put up signs that make shoppers aware that we are WATCHING them. Such unnerving events also serve as a good reminder not to become too comfortable  – we need to be vigilant and assertive.

As for the stolen merchandise – you have to let it go. It IS painful, especially for us small business owners. But it will hurt even more if we dwell on it.

The shoplifters WILL pay for it either way. Karma is fast at work.


I’ve got the blues

This morning I woke to the slow pit-pat of rain falling on the leaves. It was actually a very PRETTY sound, even prettier if I lived in the tropics and sat on my lanai enjoying a cool, tall drink and soaked in the evening rain after a hot day. But not so. This is June, guys, right? Even a few days AFTER we had the longest day and the shortest night.

I am seriously thinking about moving.

… but then, there is this.

Maybe I cannot have THIS without the other. Walking by one of these delicious plants makes up for at least half a day an hour of rain.

And since blue is among my top favorite colors, I looked around the store to see what one COULD wear if it actually stopped raining.

Anni Kuan, striped shirt dress

or an circle skirt with a happy top

The skirt is by Hazel and the cowl-neck top by Neesha

Organic cotton Luz skirt by Skunkfunk

This is how I came to work this morning. Notice the TIGHTS. I like Blues. And blue skies even more…


more curious customers …. and such

One of the perks of having a shop is that pretty much anyone can walk through your door. Well, for the most part, it is a ‘perk’… only occasionally there is the odd one out that you wish had not passed over the threshold.

It is great for people watching and trying to figure people out. Over the past few years, I have met people I would NEVER have met or spoken to in my previous professional life. I love that and appreciate it a whole lot.

Yesterday, I had a mother-daughter couple worth a TV show. Mother was all snazzily dressed up in suit and heels and Daughter (I guess, about 14 or 15) in Uggs (don’t get these anyway, especially not on a warm day), sweat pants and carrying a cell phone on a ‘leash’  of which hung little stuffed animals.  Other than that, they looked very much alike. As they were looking around, the mom would shout out:  HOW CUTE IS THIS! here and there. Daughter did not even raise an eyebrow. Later, Mother tried on a few skirts while Daughter was meeting every single one with a scowl. Poor mom – she REALLY wanted for Daughter to like the skirts. Well, needless to say, she did not buy any. As they left, Mother chewed out Daughter outside the store. How I would have liked to hear THAT conversation.

Then there was ‘Label Lady’. She looked like she was about mid-fifties.  She was pretty, had a nice figure and hairdo and was VERY talkative. One of the first things she told me was what size she wore BEFORE she entered Menopause. (>>> by now, I know how THESE conversations are going: most women will tell you IN DETAIL what Menopause did to them <<<)

As I carry an array of designers and ALL seem to have different sizing, I gently pointed out that fact and how I’d be glad to find her size. To which she exclaimed, ‘I WILL NEVER wear anything that says LARGE! NEVER!’  I probably should not have offered to cut out any offensive label because she then proceeded to say that she would also NEVER wear anything of which she knew had at one time the label ‘L’ in it. Poor thing.

Last but not least, I have encountered some very picky customers. No, not the ones who look at everything and then ask if you have THAT in Blue, or RED… but totally ignore the three colors you have. Also not the ones who love, love, love the skirt but only if it WAS half an inch longer. Or ask you to MAKE something similar to what is in the store, only with a tuck here and a pleat there. No, it is the customer who tries on the cheapest, marked down item, takes it off, tries it on again, looks at it from every side, wants it to be black instead of brown, only to take it off again. Then asks if you have and iron at hand and could I please iron the collar differently? Tries it on again – does it look good NOW? By now, we are about 60 minutes into the transaction. (>>> oh yes, I am friendly all the way and  u.n.d.e.r.s.t.a.n.d.i.n.g.<<<)

It is so much fun working in a store!

And yes, I made a $19 sale! 🙂


what the ****!?

Allow me to gripe a bit.

No, not about the bicyclists riding at night WITHOUT LIGHT.

Also not about the folks who do not seem to know that their cars have a TURNING SIGNAL.

And I have long stopped to complain about the POURING RAIN.

Well, I need to let off a bit of steam about SOME of my ‘customers’.

Now, most of our customers are PLAIN AWESOME.  However, like everywhere, there are exceptions. And, also like everywhere, these exceptions account for a lot of work.

There are those people who freely share their abundant advice, ‘You should carry THIS, or THAT’; ‘Can you MAKE this in a different color/shape/style?’;  ‘This would WORK, if it was longer/shorter/wider/tighter RIGHT HERE.’, or ‘If this was HALF THE PRICE, I would totally buy it’, all the while I am listening and act sympathetic.

Then there is the lady who realized at dinner, WEARING the dress she bought, that she didn’t receive the compliments she was expecting and continues to return the dress TELLING you the story.

Or the person who returns a pair of socks, claiming that ‘there is a hole in it and I haven’t even worn them’ after s/he ripped out the tag forcefully (which OF COURSE will rip a hole in the darn thing…)

Oh, the guts these people have!

At least, we have somebody to actually deal with when they do this to us. But then there are the shoplifters of which we unfortunately had some pretty ruthless ones this Christmas season.

I’d like to think that they wanted something pretty for either themselves or somebody else and simply couldn’t AFFORD it. Maybe them shoplifting is a sign of the depressing economic times we are in. Or they do it as a sport.

I do hope that they experience some good times in the stuff they took from us. Us small business owners. Who do not have ‘shrinkage’ built into our budget. Who hurt when we don’t have the $100 that item they stole would have brought.

And that KARMA gets them. Eventually.


the quirky things in life

Some people have a wardrobe malfunction. I had a major technical malfunction yesterday and it made me think.

First, we were experiencing alarm difficulties at the shop. We weren’t able to turn it on… or it turned off all by itself. Lights were blinking on the panel. Now, that thing scares me to death. I always imagine tripping it and then sirens blare all over town and – because I simply do not master its controls – I get charged with a false alarm and it costs SO MUCH MONEY. Of course, none of this ever happens and for this particular problem it just needed a new battery. Which arrived yesterday and I installed it. Pah – would you think I was out of trouble now?  No, MORE lights were flashing, NEW lights, and my anxiety just mounted. Well, I called them.  They were really friendly and had all kinds of solutions to turn it on a different way, and no, not to worry, they’ll get a technician to call me next week. By the third call, they also asked me whether or not I had installed the battery the right way.  You know, red to red, black to black. Feeling pretty sure, I claimed to ‘probably’ have done it the right way, because, duh – two colors? Yes, I can do THAT! Nonetheless, I wanted to make sure.  Assure myself of my capabilities… and wouldn’t you know it? – REVERSED color! YES! This one goes right with putting the milk in the cupboard instead of the fridge. I might be losing it. Slowly.

The second issue was that I had no internet for most of the day. Looking for a mistake on my part (see above), I tried EVERYTHING – rebooting my computer, checking the wireless settings, checking my phone to see if it is one thing or the other. The most annoying part of not having internet is not having MUSIC. The store just feels strange when quiet. But then I tried to recall various stores and whether or not I notice music there. And I don’t.  They probably have it but did I NOTICE? Hm.  Made me think. I then just ignored the fact and watched people to see if they would say anything. And they DIDN’T.  Go figure. Another annoyance is that I can’t read emails or updates, access my bank info, place orders without internet. All the things I wanted to do. How did my world ever function WITHOUT internet? That was a disturbing thought. How much do I rely on it? Do I need it to feel rooted in my life? This thought stayed with me until this morning when I at least made alternate arrangements for the music. (simple CD player will do it) As for the rest – I had  great conversations last night with a friend over wine. Coffee outside in the sun watching people. Orders? Can wait. Emails, too. I do not need to be reached electronically ALL THE TIME. There is life without internet.

Some things just work out themselves. Give it time, be patient. Take it slow. Alarm is working properly now. Music is playing over the internet, which miraculously fixed itself.

The only thing malfunctioning today is the weather – IT IS POURING DOWN.

I call this a season malfunction.


follow that sign!

On a bright and sunny day –

THE sign went up!

We are now SO official!

A friend just driving up told us how visible the sign is even from a few blocks away.

Here you can see the guys install the yellow neon, which gives a glow to the actual sign.

This neon sign is actually ‘grandfathered’ in by the city of Portland, meaning the city does not allow signs to stick out over the sidewalk like this one does. Which also means that if it is moved AT ALL, we lose the sign permit. The other day, I learned that the shop part of our building was put up in 1947. (I wonder if the sign dates back to this time as well…)

The guys (form Hannahsign here in PDX) drove up with their truck and the extendable ladder to work on the sign. It looked pretty tricky at times!

I took this picture last night at about 6:30.

If you live around here and take a night picture – I’ll post it and you win a PRIZE!


Flickr Photos


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