Friday, March 18, 2016

"If we had no winter

the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. ~Josh Billings
And, it is spring...and I am into some serious spring cleaning.  There is something to be said about seeing the daffodils come back from what appears nowhere!  It rejuvenates me.  In my attempt to clean and deal with my abundance of stuff...I am selling off surplus inventory.  It did get me thinking about having sales though.  I have not gone the "sale" routine in my 25 years...I just priced things and let the price talk, but it seems that we consumers need to see SALE or BOGO to buy.

Ironically, most vintage/antique/flea folks simply mark up to mark down.  From the business perspective, the initial pricing of a product is an important step in merchandising. The Keystone Method doubles cost of an individual product to arrive at its selling price (2 x total product cost ). The Dollar Markup Method takes into account the total amount of operating expenses and desired profit.  Now, many people think that those in the resale world make big money, but, in most cases, it is not easy...the buyers at Home Goods or Macy's can thumb through catalogs or trade shows.  The flea market buying requires patience, persistence, and perfection.
In reading up on retail sales, it seems we shoppers go for offers that are worse because we don't do well at math (wait until the next generation comes along! yikes!).  Plus, we love seeing BOGO.  According to research, it seems as if the psychology power of free may also make us worse at math. In another marketing experiment involving hand lotion in an actual store, researchers sold 73% more when it came in a bonus pack than when it was priced at a discount with the same exact unit price.  The Brits are not fond of the buy one, get one in supermarkets because they think it contributes to waste and is offered on unhealthy products. 

But, I am doing a sale...minimum will be 25% off in honor of our 25 years...and maybe more...I want to refresh and this is my year to do can email me...I will be around weekends, but,  I can work around my teaching schedule if you contact me.  I need to clean out and move on!
                     Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
                                                                    – Winston Churchill

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Be prepared!"

         "Right is right, even if no one else does it."
          ~Juliette Gordon Low

On March 12, 1912, Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low organized the first "Girl Guide" troop meeting in Savannah, Georgia with 18 girls.  Now nearly 4 million girls are part of that founding Girl Girl Scout world.

I am bringing you into the collecting world of my neighbor...Diane Palmentieri-Tolson...who also is the owner of Hourglass Antiques and More in Clermont, NJ. 
She has quite a collection of Girl Scout treasures and has been involved with the Girl Scouts for about 30 years (that's a lot of cookies)!
The founder Juliette Low was quite a character.  She based her idea on the Girl Guides of England.  From the Girl Scout web site we learn that a "meeting in 1912 with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, inspired Juliette to establish Girl Scouts that same year. Telephoning a cousin from her home, she announced, 'I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!'
From that first gathering of a small troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Juliette broke the conventions of the time—reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls, including those with so-called disabilities, had a place to grow and develop their leadership skills."
 Low funded her group by selling a strand of rare matched pearls, a wedding gift from her husband, to get $8000 for beginning operations.  In that era, that would have been a stash of cash!
Most of the world is familiar with the Girl Scout cookie, and, interestingly, they used to be made from scratch!
Girl Scout Cookies had their earliest beginnings in the kitchens and ovens of our girl members, with moms volunteering as technical advisers. The sale of cookies as a way to finance troop activities began as early as 1917, five years after Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouts in the United States, when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project.
In July 1922, The American Girl magazine, published by Girl Scouts of the USA, featured an article by Florence E. Neil, a local director in Chicago, Illinois. Miss Neil provided a cookie recipe that had been given to the council's 2,000 Girl Scouts. She estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents. The cookies, she suggested, could be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen.
Throughout the decade, Girl Scouts in different parts of the country continued to bake their own simple sugar cookies with their mothers and with help from the community. These cookies were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen.

Philadelphia Girl Scouts introduced the first commercially baked cookies in 1934.  In 1951, Girl Scout Cookies came in three varieties: Sandwich, Shortbread, and Chocolate Mints (now known as Thin Mints). With the advent of the suburbs, girls at tables in shopping malls began selling Girl Scout Cookies.
The cookie went through some changes as the years passed, but, based on their web site, this year marked a rather big turning point...going digital.  They announced : "We’ve recently redesigned Girl Scout Cookie packaging, announced National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend 2016 (February 26–28), and introduced our very first gluten-free Girl Scout Cookie! But the really big news is the launch of the Digital Cookie platform—a fun, safe, and interactive space for girls to sell cookies, taking the iconic cookie program digital. A bold step into the future of the Girl Scout Cookie Program, Digital Cookie introduces vital twenty-first-century lessons about online marketing, app usage, and ecommerce to Girl Scouts, who will be in the driver's seat of their own Digital Cookie businesses. But most importantly, Digital Cookie retains the one-to-one personal approach to selling that is essential to the program."

But the key to the Girl Scouts is the mission statement..."Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place."

And here are just a few more pictures of Diane's vast GS collection!

Gordon Low died in Savannah on January 17, 1927, at the age of 66. An honor guard of Girl Scouts escorted her casket to her funeral at Christ Church the next day. 250 Girl Scouts left school early that day to attend her funeral and burial at Laurel Grove Cemetery.  Gordon Low was buried in her Girl Scout uniform with a note in her pocket stating "You are not only the first Girl Scout, but the best Girl Scout of them all." Her tombstone read, “Now abideth faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

I will leave you with another quote from Low who passed away appropriate in this new digital world!
"We must accept the fact that transport and communications will bring the world in close relations and the youth of the world should have standards and ideals in common."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

"Genius begins great works;

labor alone finishes them."
~Joseph Joubert

Labor Day weekend...and for us here in a tourist area, it is the cherry on the summer sundae.  Many of the businesses in a resort are run by individuals or families, and, as we celebrate Labor Day, we rarely think about the "labor" that goes into making the area work.  From the young students who work at Uncle Bill's Pancake House to the Boardwalk retailers, rental cleaning crews, and beach life guards, there is plenty of labor going into making people's vacations work.

So, on the Labor Day, I thought it would be appropriate to feature a small local business. Judy Wietsma and her husband are the creative spirits behind A Second Look, a interior design business. Their work is available in Booth 18 at The West End Garage in Cape May, NJ, and Judy also does interior design.  
All the furniture in their Booth is hand-painted and hand-waxed with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint products.  According to Judy, the pieces are sanded until the finish feels like granite and then hand waxed for durability.  She painted 50 pieces of vintage furniture for The Carroll Villa Hotel on Jackson Street in Cape May along with all their fireplaces! 

Judy also collects vintage tea pots and coffee pots.  Judy's husband is a retired electrician and transforms them into lamps.  Each lamp has a polished nickel pull chain...easy on and off...and a decorative and interesting hand painted base.  Top it off with a new shade and a creative finial, and you have not only a lamp but also a work of won't find that in a big box shop!

You can see more of Judy's work on her Facebook page at A Second Look Interior Design.   Her web page has information about her design theories as well as a gallery of transformed furniture and her work as an interior designer.  She has painted display pieces for The Cape May Honey Farm Store in Stone Harbor and Beach Bling, Etc in Cape May.  

Judy specializes in staging a home for sale, and she works for several developers and real estate companies in the Cape May, New Jersey area.  You can contact her at or 609-903-0727.
Keep in mind the small business or those who labor in ways we tend to overlook.  To quote a famous artist, Leonardo da Vinci:
         "God sells us all things at the price of labor."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"You need to let the little things

 that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” 
                                                                           ~Andy Warhol

I have been sorting through a variety of merchandise that has been bagged, boxed, and bundled.  In a bag of odds and ends, I found this little make-up container.
I think it is a blush container...I could not find any information on the company though.  I love the little applicator.  When you look at small things like this, you realize how much attention to detail existed in the past.

 When I flipped the little box over, I saw this.
I had never seen one of these stamps before, and so off to research.  It seems the Civil War expenses sent the Federal government to issue the Revenue Act of 1862.  It created ways raise revenue as well as forming the Department of Internal Revenue. (I guess now we just let war debt grow hoping it will suddenly vanish into thin air.)

Anyway, every document was taxed...deeds, insurance policies, telegrams, stock certificates.  Some luxuries were also taxed including playing cards, liquor, matches, and perfume.  Revenue stamps were put on these items to prove the tax was paid, but the cash coming in was not enough so Congress passed a new tax in 1864 (see...there was a time when Congress actually did something!).
This tax was on "photographs, ambrotypes (photo on glass), daguerreotypes or any other sun-pictures."   Photographers were required to affix a properly denominated revenue stamp on the back of the image and cancel it by initialing and dating it in pen. There was not a special stamp created for photography, thus you will see stamps on images for Bank Checks, Playing Cards, Certificates, Bill of Lading, etc. These were accepted by the Federal Government as long as the denomination was appropriate.

The photography companies organized against the stamps since it appeared they were being overtaxed, and in 1866 Congress repealed their tax but kept cotton, tobacco, and alcohol under the proprietary tax laws.   It took until 1922 for the perfume and cosmetic taxes to be repealed, so this little blush container has to be pre-1922.  But those little stamps caused Congress to respond.  Maybe we need to bring back tax stamps!
                         Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.
                                                          ~Vernor Vinge

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Isn't it amazing

how much stuff we get done the day before vacation?
~Zig Ziglar
The final weeks of my "summer vacation" are in sight.  Those of us who live in resort areas have the advantage to have the "staycation." Every evening when I head to the beach for my nightly walk, I look at the visitors, and think, you have to go home at the end of the your vacation...I live here.

Summer vacation is American.  It is not as common in Europe, South America, and Asia to take 3 months off.  Ireland, Italy, Greece, Lithuania, and Russia do take the 3 months, but Australia, Britain, The Netherlands, Canada, and Germany take six to eight weeks.  American schools are in session for 180 days, but the Japanese schools are open 250 days.

Many think our summers off were to allow the children to help on farms, but crops were planted in the spring and harvested in the fall.  So, why have June, July, and August become the 
"hit the road" months?
Thank the rich people who lived in the 19th century!  Summer has always been a travel time, and they wanted their children to be able to go without having to worry about school.  Also, during this time and into the early 20th century, people believed the brain was a muscle, and it was important not to strain it (you know I could comment here, but I will restrain myself).

In my research, a Mr. Henry Curtis is mentioned as someone in the early 1900s who advocated for more play time for children as well as having them spend summer with their families.  He also supported Boy and Girl Scouts for summer entertainment.

There was sympathy for students in those schools where air conditioning did not exist; just like today, you will hear of school closings in the early June heat waves.  The summer was also a time for teachers to get more training.  One funny item I found was a little sexist.   In rural areas, summer classes were taught by young women and teenaged girls.  The male teachers taught in the fall and winter.

So, whatever your summer brought, I hope it brought you some relief from the daily routine, remember:
It's all emotion. But there's nothing wrong with emotion. When we are in love, we are not rational; we are emotional. When we are on vacation, we are not rational; we are emotional.
                                      ~Frank Luntz

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"All life is an experiment.

The more experiments you make the better."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think retail is a giant experiment these days.  Do we point and click or go brick and mortar?  Every shop is an experiment.  Will the inventory sell?  It is like putting chemicals in a test tube, shaking, and hoping they do not explode but create a pleasant odor or color.  The younger generations do shop differently though because they have been raised with their i-phones and Amazon prime.  Shopping may look like an experiment in buying to them!
And speaking of experiments, I ended up with a box of test tubes art auction.  A simple little glass container, but who designed it?  
The creator was a French nobleman, Antoine Lavoisier.  Lavoisier was a powerful member of a number of aristocratic councils and an administrator of the Ferme Générale. The Ferme générale was one of the most hated components of the Ancien Régime because of the profits it took at the expense of the state, the secrecy of the terms of its contracts, and the violence of its armed agents.  All of these political and economic activities enabled him to fund his scientific research.  I cannot imagine politicians using their campaign funds to work on scientific research.
Lavoisier also recognized and named oxygen in 1778 having discovered its role in combustion, and he added hydrogen in 1783.  He helped design the metric system and wrote the first extensive list of elements.  Something else that has impacted many women in the 21st century, he predicted the existence of silicon in 1787.  
In our 3 R mentality: reuse, recycle, repurpose, I offer some ideas...
Single serve cocoa...
 test tube hot cocoa
or Hot Cocoa wands...
test tube hot cocoa
Party favors...Halloween ones here...
test tube halloween party favors
I have bed springs!
I am sure you could search Pinterest also.  From toilet paper rolls to soda bottles, you can overload on the 3 Rs!  But, in case you want to be a little creative with a test tube, I have a stash.  

Oh, a little trivia about using test tubes...the first successful birth of a "test tube baby", Louise Brown, occurred in 1978.  Robert Edwards, the physiologist who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010. With egg donation and IVF, women who are past their reproductive years or menopause can still become pregnant. Adriana Iliescu held the record as the oldest woman to give birth using IVF and donated egg, when she gave birth in 2004 at the age of 66, a record passed in 2006.  So, just in case you are thinking about it...
"Experimentation is the least arrogant method of gaining knowledge. The experimenter humbly asks a question of nature." ~  Isaac Asimov