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We may be fairly “old school” at Vidler’s with our lack of scanning equipment, but we’re not complete Luddites. Thus, we’re pleased to announce the launching of our new Youtube Channel!
Here is our very first video, featuring one of our finest products, the Biker Babe Garden Gnome:
(As a result of this video, she’s selling fast! And, while it isn’t overtly mentioned in the video, I think it is worth noting that she does have a male counterpart, also available in all three sizes. He makes a cameo background appearance.)
Tune in each week for a new product video. Don’t forget to subscribe and to let us know what products you’d like to see reviewed on our channel!
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A man was calling the name of his young charge, who didn’t answer at first, then responded by saying that that wasn’t his name. “I’m COOL GUY!” he said, whirling around with sunglasses on. I laughed (it was pretty good!), prompting the guardian to ask if I wanted them (the kids, not the sunglasses.) This happens more often than you’d think, and I’m still not sure what the appropriate response is. I went with my usual “laugh so I don’t have to answer,” whereupon the guardian confirmed that I was, indeed, free to take Cool Guy and his brother. Hearing this, the former panicked. “But then I’d have to say bye-bye to my Wii!”
I was torn between amusement and horror that this was his biggest fear in terms of going home with a stranger, but then I was relieved. Always expecting the worst, I assumed he’d immediately burst into tears and say he didn’t want to go home with “the witch” or something to that effect. I know I shouldn’t take things so personally, but I truly was glad that the problem was not me, but the lack of Wii.
On second thought, I should have chimed in that he was free to go home with me, if he and the Wii were a package deal.
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Today, a coworker offered me a sucker. I was immediately suspicious, but he reassured me that the wrapper had accidentally come open while he was trying to put it away and that nothing was wrong with it. Still, I didn’t particularly want it, and neither did the person on the other register. It was about to be trundled to the Eastern Wing of the store in search of possible takers when I asked whether we could somehow break it into smaller pieces and share it, thinking that would be a liklier solution than one taker. My coworkers agreed and I attempted to break it by banging it on the counter. Turns out it was harder (literally) than I thought. My coworker on the other register suggested using a hammer which was apparently kept under the register. I searched for it, but again, nothing, so I once again attempted to break the confectionary by whacking it against the countertop. At this point, an older couple came to cash out with me, so I had to put it aside. The woman asked if it was a certain type of sucker, one which had made happy childhood memories for many people, and seemed confused as to why I was treating it with such aggression. I told her that it was, and explained the back story, the lack of hammer, and what was either my weakness or one tough sucker foiling me, when her husband asked, “Want me to whack it with my cane?” He held it up, and its head looked remarkably like a hammer. Taking this as serendipity, I excitedly responded affirmatively.
In my excitement, I seem to done two very stupid things: 1. adopted the belief that this magical, serendipious cane would cleave the sucker into the perfect number of evenly-sized pieces, and 2. forgotten what had brought the sucker to this point in the first place: that the bottom of the wrapper was open. As the hammer-cane came down with a sound that probably scared the heck out of several customers, a spray of pulverized candy shot out from the open end of the bag and flew in every direction. I giggled in amusement/horror (with the knowledge that I’d have to hunt for little red shiny chunks of sucker immediately after), as did the couple. The man asked before he left if I needed him to whack anything else for me. I immediately thought of flies, but, as we haven’t been plagued by any lately, I laughed and told him we might keep him on call.
Later, when I grumbled about finding more candy pieces after I thought I’d cleaned the entire mess up, a coworker who wasn’t in the department at the time of the incident asked what had happened. When I said, “I let a customer smash it with his cane,” I knew: it definitely wasn’t the wisest decision I could have made, but it was one of the awesomest.
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I’m in the gift shop a lot more these days, where, when compared to other departments, you are less likely to interact with children or with men who are there voluntarily. A lot of people with small children in tow take one peek into the room, say, “Nope, too breakable” and lead their child away in one fell swoop. Any men who enter are usually begrudgingly trailing their wivesor girlfriends until they find the cleverly placed lodge/hunting/fishing section. I’m not here to generalize, though. One woman, when I asked how she was, told me she was doing well but then gestured to her husband and implied that he wasn’t doing as well due to their location. Her husband smilingly responded, “Now, that’s not true. I LOVE trinkets.” This is not an isolated incident. Many men love poking around that department at our unusual selection. So unusual, in fact, that sometimes they’re unsure what an item is. One such man pointed out a pair of metal boots we have and asked me if they were spitoons (which I wasn’t aware there was still a market for.) As they were nestled among false plants, I’d assumed they were planters, but, to be honest, I’d never recieved any verbal confirmation of that. “I think they’re for planting,” I began, “but I guess you COULD use them as…” At this point, his wife, who was looking at jewelery across the room, interjected, with the precise timing that can only be developed out of necessity, “No. No. You’re not getting them to spit in.”
We had two males in the gift room for an extended period of time last week when we replaced the lights with brighter and more energy-efficident bulbs (which really do make a huge difference. You should come check them out! Today. Unless we’re closed, in which case, tomorrow.) Despite clearing off the top shelves around the room to minimize possible breakage, it was a terrifying experience for everyone involved. One bulb-installer likened the room to his aunt’s house, where you can’t move without possibly knocking something over. I tried my hardest to not make it look like I was following them around like they were five, but, well… I kind of was.
We also have a new sound system that allows us to play, in the Gift, Card AND Candle Departments, some of the lovely CDs we have for sale, making work infinately more relaxing. Right now our lineup consists of tranquil spa-like music (by George Skaroulis), jazz music (in keeping with our wine and cocktail themed gift merchandise), and some piano instrumental CDs by a fellow named Don Irwin. He apparently sounds like some other artist more than one customer has mentioned to me, whose name I do not recall. Mr. Irwin has composed his own music, but he also covers popular songs, many of which are the mellow, lilting type you’d expect: In The Arms of The Angels by Sarah McLauglin, Sail Away by Enya, and, for some inexplicable reason, Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely by the immortal Backstreet Boys (the latter of which everyone between the ages of 16 and 30 immediately recognizes, but refuses to admit so until someone else mentions it.) Needless to say, the album that includes the Backstreet Boys cover is my favorite in the current CD mix.
In the Gift Room you don’t have the benefit of other co-workers being around, but it evens out because this is the department where you feel the most accomplished if you sell something. (Or, at least, I do.) I had one insane day in the winter where I sold three of the largest items – not necessarily in price, but in size. A gigantic rabbit statue, a suncatcher that took up almost the entire length of an average door, and a birch bark table – the room looked quite a bit emptier by the end of the day!
Another perk of gifts is that you can talk a bit more with the customers who do come in. Two older women came in one day talking like old friends, and then revealed to me that this was the first day they’d seen each other in 35 years. They were former neighbors, and despite the time gap, they had picked up right where they left off and it was just like, as one woman said, the old days. It sure looked like it to me!
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…we are, amongst other festive events taking place that day (which, convieniently enough, happens to fall on a Saturday.) holding a raffle. The Grand Prize Winner will recieve an $81 gift certificate (Get it? 81 years!), 2nd place winner will get a $50 gift certficate, and third place a $25 gift certificate.
Now, what does one have to do to enter this raffle, you may ask? We here at Vidler’s like to keep our customers on their toes, so we’re asking you to put your brains (and toes, as you’ll be standing on them) to work in answering this question:
When completely filled, how many ten cent popcorn bags does our (over 50-year-old) popcorn machine contain?
The drawing from among the correct (or closest to correct) entries will take place at the store’s celebratory party on (the convinient) Saturday, June 18th, so be sure to have your entries in before then!
Entry forms are available on our lovely main floor starting today, and the drop-off box is also located on the main floor.
Good luck and we look forward to being graced with your kernels of thought! Yuk yuk yuk. (I couldn’t resist, even though it’s corny. Stopping now.)
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It’s been several months (since I’m the worst blog-esse ever), and , of course, a lot has happened since then. I’ll run through the major seasons/holidays quickly:
Thanksgiving – had up our vintage turkey decorations. I learned of the apparently magical Spiced Apples from a customer while working at the candy counter (she was asking if we had Red Hots for the recipe.) I believe I wore a turkey hat to work (I know I wore it to Thanksgiving Dinner.)
Christmas - (you can’t blame me for not blogging during this time!) Was insane, as expected. Lots of customers, calls, requests, and discreetly slipping items into bags under the counter so that the intended recipient (who happened to be present) wouldn’t see. I reprised my role from last year as Nutmeg the Elf, but I was the only one a lot of the time. Our new nametags made it much easier, since now, as opposed to making new ones. A simple alteration of my actual name sufficed. A lot of people asked me if that was my real name. (Just as now, I have a pin that says “Sparkle” on my apron, and people ask me if that is my name. I will say it here, for the record: I am neither an actual elf (at least, for 11 months of the year) nor a 5-year-old girl’s poodle, so neither is my name.) Carolcade had a great turnout, especially considering that it was so cold, and very noisy from inside the store. It was all very merry. The Vidler on the Roof wore his Santa hat, which ended up staying up there for awhile due to snow making removal difficult.
Inventory (January) – my first time with this, as well. It went exactly how you would expect it to go. This has led to my new witty response to the ever common customer query, “How do you do inventory here?” which is: slowly and begrudgingly. I haven’t yet used it, though. It sounds very negative. As embellishing the truth often is (it wasn’t terrible).
Valentine’s Day – it was my first at the store, thus my first experiencing requests for names written on chocolate hearts. Apparently, only about four of our thirty employees could do this. All the names that I got seemed to be exceedingly long, such as Jeremiah or Nathaniel. I would thus smile in terror and tell the customer I’d find someone else who could do the honors, then proceed to drag one of The (probably disgruntled) Four away from whatever he or she was doing. But even they weren’t immune from mistakes; we had a heart that read “Chritian” floating around the candy counter for a few days before we divided it amongst ourselves. I asked a pair of young twin girls who were checking out with their mother if they were excited for Valentine’s Day. They answered yes, and then, with a big smile, one told me it was because “we got our mom something really special.” As corny as it sounds, I was very touched by that. They weren’t excited for the candy and punch-out cartoon character laden cards that would doubtless be lavished upon them, but for something they were doing for their mother. They had the true spirit of Christmas!… at Valentine’s Day. I wanted to know what it was, but, naturally, couldn’t ask.
Saint Patrick’s Day - We ran out of green hair dye. The Vidler on the Roof wore a sequined green bowtie.
Easter – I learned two things: 1. A lot of people do Easter Baskets for adult children, spouses and friends (thus, far more of the “covert bagging” than I expected – I didn’t mind, though. I love my role as Festivity Collaborator) and 2. Of the magic of Placek. I was unfamiliar with this custom, not being Polish, but it sold like
hotcakes the delicious sweet bread that it is. Our friendly travelling baker had to come two times in one day (as opposed to the usual two times in one week) to replenish our supply of both that and the pastel Easter cutouts. The Vidler on the Roof, sadly, LOST his bunny ears in a fierce windstorm. One flew away, never to be found again (by us, that is. It probably confused the heck out of some poor lawnowner.) The other was too badly damaged by the wind to be usable (and he would have looked pretty weird with just one bunny ear.) As the ears were on a stake, I wanted to put the stake with the remaining damaged ear in his hand. Overruled. Not everyone shares my dark sense of humor.
Mother’s Day – again, far more Festive Collaboration than I’d anticipated. (Yes!) I also ended up helping a surprising number of elementary school teachers find craft items with which their students could make gifts for their mothers. Lots of menfolk ventured into areas of the store they normally made it a point to avoid in search of appropriate gifts for their wives and mothers.
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At this season, many people approach me saying, “this is an weird question, but…” to which I reply, there are no weird questions at Vidler’s, especially not this time of the year. I love helping people find pieces for their costumes (last year, I was proud to suggest to someone, upon finding out that we have no fake teeth for a tooth fairy costume, that Chiclets might be a suitable substitute), and talking to the excited kids. Be warned: no child at my register (and even some adults) is exempt from being asked the question, “what are you going to be for Halloween?” Today I spoke to a future candy corn, Dorothy, witch, wizard, ghoul, a(n adult) queen, and a cat and a knight whose new baby sister was going to be spaghetti and meatballs (even their father wasn’t sure how – his wife, who wasn’t there, was apparently in charge of the costume.) The little girl (not the most reliable source, for anyone wanting to call child services) told me they were going to put her in a pot, but decided not to because she could get burned, and that she might want to eat her. Good call, I think.
I asked two young twin boys, one of whom said, “I’m going to be a black ninja with THREE swords!” His brother replied, “I’m going to be a white ninja with ONE sword!” I was amused by how equally excited he was by the one sword.
Another little boy I asked quietly mumbled, “Ulysses.” I was very impressed until his mother ‘translated’ his answer: not Ulysses, but Yoshi from the Mario Nintendo games.