Bob and I want to thank you for your support during this difficult year and we pass along our very best wishes to you and yours for a Happy New Year . . . Have fun and play safe. We will resume our blog entries on Monday if we survive Bob's family Christmas party Sunday afternoon . . . From the looks of it, Miss Cecilia is destined to be a real party animal when she grows up. Please follow her example and strap yourself in if you are driving anywhere . . .
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Pleasant time last night with Rick, Eric, Maryann and Joanne. Lots of nice nibbles courtesy of Bob . . . Fun day for the most part. First visitor was Paul, a Russian native now living in Manhattan and working for Credit Suisse. He, his wife and young son live on the Upper West Side. He has been in the country for two years but is still mystified by some of our customs. He may continue to linger here, but thinks he might prefer London . . . Next in were two young ladies, one from Hoboken, N. J., and the other from Texas . . . After, an almost continuous line of shoppers getting ready for the holiday weekend. Didn't get a lot of inventory work done, needless to say . . . Copies of the latest issues of TheBurg and Central Voice are now available . . . The kid and his sister stopped by after school. JJ is into the Mario Brothers computer games. I haven't the slightest idea of what is going on, but I am impressed with his dexterity on the keyboard . . .
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Entertained some bargain shoppers today. Hope all you regulars will stop and take advantage of our lowered prices while we take inventory. The Bennington aroma-therapy candles in a jar will be just $12 until the end of January. Come early if you have a favorite scent; a few may be sold out by the time you read this . . . Finally got around to packing up the pumpkins and the pilgrims for another season; would you say I am running a little late this year? . . . Mike Billo posted this picture of the altar at St. Patrick's Cathedral on his FaceBook page. While I don't usually delve into religious themes in this space, the photo was so striking that I thought I should share it with you . . .
Monday, December 27, 2010
A wonderful holiday weekend especially since we were spared the blizzard. Delightful Christmas Eve with the kids at the Battisti residence in Camp Hill. Bob played Santa and delighted Cecilia with a doll. He made JJ happy (and Daddy Eric wild) with a megaphone device that changes one's voice into that of a robot, alien, etc. . . . We later exchanged our gifts with each other; Bob cheated on the spending perimeters by surprising me with a flat-screen TV for the den . . . Christmas dinner was shared with Mark Stevens and George Miller, an engineer for Norfolk Southern who was supposed to leave with a train for Newark. Luckily, the blizzard struck before he hit the rails so he was spared the aggravation. Bob really outdid himself with the food. Yummy . . . Monday morning we began marking down our seasonal merchandise. Thus far the ornaments and boxed cards have been discounted. More to come . . . Angela Lawson drove me to my doctor's appointment. No diagnosis yet; more tests . . . Our Green Street house has been decorated top to bottom; Bob loves doing it and I get to appreciate his handiwork. This is the living room fireplace . . .
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Just one more day, and I will admit that I am tired. The crowds are delightful, but hustling the wares is not a fit occupation for a seventy-four year old. Happily, no one was in a frenzy . . . Larry Kirkhuff called to tell me that I had misplaced The Hill Cafe in yesterday's post. It was at 13th and Market and not Derry Street as I had intimated. Larry also mentioned the Antlers on Walnut Street which I did not recall; he believes it was torn down to make way for the Walnut Street garage . . . I hope everyone has a merry and safe holiday. Other than some Christmas greeting yet to be planned for tomorrow, I probably will not be posting again until Monday. Hopefully you will be in the joyous company of family and friends and won't miss it a bit . . .
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Eric and Joanne back from Florida where they celebrated their first wedding anniversary . . . The day began briskly and Mark Stevens was here to help. Biz tailed off in the early afternoon and Bob and I fell to remembering all the popular restaurants that Harrisburg was host to back in the '60s and '70s. Do you old folks remember Lombardo's on Seventh Street, Santanna's at Second and Washington, The Maverick on what was then known as the by-pass (is it still called that?), The Hill Cafe at the east end of the Mulberry Street Bridge, and of course Harry's somewhere on Allison Hill which I only visited once but which Bob frequented often. To be honest, we couldn't always come up with the name of these establishments, so we thank our friend Lee Spitalny for refreshing our memories . . .
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunny day with a chill but not a day for browsers. All who came had a purpose and we were pleased to assist and send them on their way with everything wrapped and ready . . . The Bare Wall is noted for its free gift wrap and we think we do a good job, Bob particularly, so we were appalled by the step-by-step gift wrapping procedures depicted in today's Patriot-News. These people need a few lessons themselves; only in extreme cases do you ever tape the paper to the box, for instance. Gift wrapping is a simple procedure and maybe I should do a blog on it sometime; it would only take a few lines and you would be a professional in no time . . . Our thanks to Paula Davenport for her kind review of us on TripAdvisor . . . I have only just learned that Google somehow tracks the people visiting this site, and I was surprised that people from all around the world have stumbled upon it. (Not that they are regular readers, of course.) But I guess we might bring a little touch of home to those in our armed forces. I would hope so . . . And according to the "stats" our readership is down a bit this month. People are busy and I can understand that . . . JJ wanted to show Cecilia and me what he had found on the computer. We were really too busy, but when the Prince commands his subjects obey. (I look too much like a grandpa--and mean no offense to Tom, the real one.) Anyway, that hands to the face gesture is pure Charlie Brown right out of Peanuts . . .
Monday, December 20, 2010
People are rushing to complete their shopping and the weather cooperated for a change. The store was abuzz most of the day--some were seeking major gifts, some just stocking stuffers. A few were "still looking" and left with the promise that "I will be back." Hmmm. But all were in good spirits which was a nice thing to see . . . All of the "candles in a can" are gone. Coffee and cider collections are in short supply. Remaining boxed Christmas cards are now 30% off . . . Got my tooth back in place and am so happy that I did. This was the day for treats! Michelle Freed sent her dad Ed in from Camp Hill with a large platter of cookies; Em Robey from just up the street arrived with her fancy homemade gift boxes of goodies; Judy Robinson drove down from Juniata County with more lip-smackers including her "famous among family" sugared pecans; Lee Spitalny came in from the suburbs with belly-warming gifts as well. No wonder Bob and I were in such a good mood all day . . . Our TripAdvisor visitors today were a young couple from Philadelphia on a quick day's escape from the city. Sadly they discovered that Harrisburg is a shuttered city on Mondays. I guess I knew but never realized what a disappointment this would be for tourists. The library, museum, Broad Street Market, Midtown Scholar bookstore and other places they tried to see were closed including some establishments on Restaurant Row. They came to The Bare Wall despite that harsh review we were given by the couples from North Carolina which we discussed a few month's back . . . Caused a major ruckus this evening by finding the SuperMarioBrothers games on the Internet. JJ was thrilled since no one else in his family had been able to do so. I then learned why they had played so "dumb." Once he got started he refused to go home; screams and tears ensued. Oh, well, I was a hero however so briefly . . . Incidentally I discovered later (as I tried to learn these games) that some are infected with spy ware and my AVG Free virus protection wouldn't allow access. Those of you with children might want to be aware that the "free service" on the kid's sites isn't as innocent as we think . . .
Sunday, December 19, 2010
What a difference. Last year the 19th was a Saturday, the one before Christmas and traditionally our biggest day of the year. If you remember, it snowed, and snowed, and snowed. The store never opened! We were fortunate to survive that experience; it almost brought The Bare Wall to an unexpected end. But we are still here, and today was sunny and allowed for a few shoppers . . . Bob and I spent the free time refilling our "flea market table" which shoppers demolished on Saturday. Still a lot of nice bargains to be had, so be sure to check the shelves just inside the door . . . Sold some more of our goat milk soap; the company is now Pennsylvania owned, but the goats are still in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. One customer from the region filled us in: there are now a lot of goat-raising farms in the area. The owners once raised tobacco, but when that market "went south" they turned to goats. Just why those animals were the chosen replacement for "the weed" is not quite clear . . . "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" in this limo. It plays the tune in the traditional way: wind it up. No computer chips here. And the tree on the hood goes around as the music plays. $35 . . .
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Happily busy today. Root candles and Santas were a big attraction. Everyone was in a cheerful mood--it is time we ignored the world for a bit and enjoy the friends around us. Pam MacNett was the lucky one--she got the last box of our Christmas mints! . . . We still have a nice selection of Emerson pottery; made and hand-painted in Virginia. Patterns feature dragonflies, pine cones, and wisteria among others . . . I may not be smiling when you next visit, but I will still be happy to see you. I just couldn't resist those yummy chocolates so I sneaked one when Bob wasn't looking. Unfortunately, the candy wasn't as creamy as I expected and I lost a tooth from my dental plate--and right up front, of course. Please, let me find someone willing to make a quick fix come Monday . . .
Friday, December 17, 2010
Bustling business today. Bob has been wrapping his little heart out. As most of you know, we provide free gift wrapping of your purchases . . . I haven't had a moment to plan today's post, so perhaps this will suffice. If you have about five free minutes don't miss this performance by the Norwegian Royal Guard. It is spectacular: http://www.sorisomail.com/email/16993/exibicao-de-banda-militar--um-espectaculo-imperdivel.html
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Harrisburg is changing its schedule for curbside trash pickups come January. City readers will surely be informed of the change via news releases. In my area, the pickup changes to Tuesday . . . Mark Stevens is back from Dublin, Ireland, and in a dilemma. He went to interview for a summer hospitality job and his credentials were such that he got multiple and competing offers. He is mulling over which, if any, he should accept; one venue would like him to take some lessons in French and/or Italian. At least he won't have to learn Gaelic--or will he? . . . I have no animosity for any people. I support the United Nations. But I swear if I get one more call from India asking to "update my files" I will blow a gasket. I have gotten about four a week for the last month. Apparently being registered on the "do not call" list is less than effective . . . Snow, snow, go away . . .
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Minor improvement in the weather led to a minor improvement in business. We do have an alert for those laggard shoppers: some items are fast disappearing. We have only 12 or less of the bayberry candle pairs, the "Around the World" coffee collection, and the Christmas mints. And there is only one "cocktail glass" pin left. If any of these were among your anticipated purchases please e-mail us immediately to reserve. (Address to the left.) . . . this fancy tassel sells for $7 and also is in short supply . . . I wonder what triggers the recall of long buried memories. That happened to me today. For no discernible reason I suddenly remembered an event from the '60s . . . My party was at a window atop the very fashionable Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Fog had billowed in, blotting out the ground below; it was like flying just above the clouds. Suddenly there was a terrible ruckus in this quiet and most sophisticated venue. A patron, somewhat inebriated, was shouting obscenities and threatening the bartender. That brought the manager and security guards running. The man said he had stepped away from the bar for just a moment to visit the men's room and when he returned his drink had been discarded and his stash of money stolen. He was certain the bartender was the culprit. The staff was patient and when they calmed the man sufficiently they explained that his drink and his money were safe and intact. But both were now about ninety degrees to the left of where they had been. This was, the drunk was informed, the famous scenic revolving bar. He was then led to his seat, his drink and his money. A subdued collective snicker echoed through the room as we returned to our conversation . . . But why I should have remembered that incident this afternoon totally escapes me . . .
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Cold, cold, BITTER cold and even a dusting of snow early this morning. Bob and I huddled around the radiator all day and we didn't see a single customer. We closed an hour early. This doesn't bode well; hope our creditors are an understanding lot . . . Very happy to report that Jack Barnett is back home after an extended stay in the hospital . . . Well, what can I say about this sampling of our Santa Clauses and Snowmen? This is just a few of them. They range in price from $6 (the small pair of snowmen on the left, front) to $36 (the jolly old fellow, left rear). Most are in the $23 range and as you can see vary in height (click to enlarge). . . I thought we all could use a little warmth, so on the left we are featuring the Battisti fireplace decked out for the season. You can bet that the largest stocking belongs to JJ but it will never hold all the "dollar store goodies" that Uncle Bob spent the day wrapping . . .
Monday, December 13, 2010
After the hustle and bustle of the past week today was a real disappointment. I don't know if it was the bright winter sun or the bitter cold wind that kept everyone inside . . . In Southern California Alan Peters went shopping for his tree in sunny eighty-plus degree weather. That just wouldn't put me in the holiday spirit . . . I chuckled over Kimberly Rathnam's FaceBook post today: Women are angels and when someone breaks their wings they continue to fly--on their broomsticks . . . E-mails are flying--it is that time of year again: Put Christ back in Xmas; boycott any store promising Happy Holidays; Season's Greetings is insufficient. Only Merry Christmas is acceptable . . . I appreciate the argument with reservations and would offer this alternative: Say whatever is comfortable to you and respect the response you get. Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah. This should resolve the situation . . . Years ago when I was in public relations I met an associate who had inadvertently cut his Christmas card list by half when he sent what he considered a very clever greeting. The card, beautiful in design, had a simple message inside: The same to you. Friends and acquaintances were not as amused as he thought they would be . . . The Bluebirds of Happiness are wrapped and ready for giving. A nice token gift for neighbor or associate and only $9.50 . . .
Sunday, December 12, 2010
It appeared to be a smaller than usual crowd that turned out in warmish but very rainy weather for the HHA Candlelight House Tour today. There was nice traffic through the store, however, though not as much as last year . . . The Santa cookie jars mentioned here a few days ago have all found homes. So have the porcelain slippers and Victorian pedestal eggs . . . The "de-decorators" attacked Bob's Christmas tree with a vengeance today. He is hoping it will be completely bare by December 25 . . . Am already shuddering with the cold that is to come. We will linger in the low 30s for most of the week if the forecast holds true . . . Bob has written and mailed most of our cards; it is nice to have a social secretary in the family . . .
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Nice traffic flow today but Bob and I found time to hang our greenery around the door. Folks were in search of a little bit of everything, and of course they could find it here . . . Our TripAdvisor visitors today were a couple from Buffalo, New York. Very pleasant people and they found some treasures . . . Always check the glass and chrome shelving just inside the door when you enter--it contains our in-store flea market items greatly reduced for clearance. Some really good bargains . . . Well after twelve or so attempts I was able to get this shot of Fred Imhoff's new collection of glass jewelry. (Still does not do it justice.) This is just one tray; there are a few others featuring the blue and green pieces. Now is the time to choose while the selection is greatest . . . And remember that our few remaining pieces of "Reflections in Silver" are on sale at 25% off . . .
Friday, December 10, 2010
Early morning snow flurries engendered the holiday spirit but the cold dissuaded all but the heartiest shoppers. It was good to see Mollie Clark, Terry Sneed and Richard Williams, among others . . . Georgia Latsha is planning to enroll The Bare Wall in the Friends of Midtown organization (for a fee, of course) and Julie Catanzaro is helping to place a free mention of the store on the VisitPa.com website which directs tourists to various attractions . . . A new shipment of Fred Imhoff's glass jewelry arrived today and it looks spectacular in the showcase. We have six earring/pendant sets ($70) and 36 pairs of earrings ($29). I hope I can photograph these for the blog . . . I don't know why no one wants to give this jolly fellow a home. He would make a great cookie/candy accent during the season, but this is the second (or third) year that he has been languishing on our shelves and he is only $14 to begin with. Would someone offer $10? . . .
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Another busy day despite the chill and thanks in part to our advertisement in theBurg. Two women who couldn't remember the address toured Green Street from Division before they spotted us. Others were here for the pre-wrapped grab bag gifts. Everyone has been in a happy mood, a change from attitudes this summer. Hope we can continue to see better news through the holiday . . . Sunday's tour ticket sales have picked up slightly; good coverage in today's Pat-News and the weather forecast says it may be wet but not severe for the event . . . We have only one more set of the bottle brush trees featured in yesterday's post . . . For your Francophile friends no gift would be more welcome than these Eiffel Tower bookends. $42. The real thing, incidentally, has been closed down because of heavy snows that inundated Paris . . .
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Cold and promising to get colder after a weekend warm-up. When I joked a few days ago that Alan in Palm Springs would have to look elsewhere for a shipment of snow he informed me that he can see snow caps from his home and in 20 minutes he can tram up the mountain to all the snow he could possibly want . . . It was nice to see Peggy and Charlie Schenck today. They have been in and out of the area all summer . . . The kid amazed both Bob and me this afternoon when he sat behind the checkout counter and wrote down every number from one to 109. And he can count backwards, too. And, most important, he can tell you exactly how many days there are till Christmas . . . The season does bring back childhood memories. My grandfather was a coal miner with a two-tiered round aluminum lunch bucket. I would greet him every evening and sort through the leavings; there was always a little pie or cupcake left over for me. It was years before I realized that grandpa hadn't saved it for me. Rather, grandma always packed something extra for me to find. Today, JJ has a magic jacket. Every night when he slips on his coat he finds that a Tootsie Roll has mysteriously appeared in each pocket. The smile that forms on his face is precious . . . These charming Woodland Santas are just $22.00 each and the big gold-tipped bottle brush trees are $30.00 for the set of four . . .
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Nice traffic in the store today despite the continuing cold wind. I cannot remember when I was comfy warm. And I must get outside and hang our greenery before Sunday's HHA tour . . . Ticket sales for the event have been slow. The rise in price may have inhibited some, while others are waiting to see the weather forecast before making a commitment. But remember that the price goes to $20 for day-of-tour purchases . . . At first glance I thought this photo had a charming Victorian "Tiny Tim" quality about it. But then I studied it for a while and came up with a different scenario: A smug JJ is thinking I know I will get everything on my list, while a stunned Santa is mentally calculating all the overtime he will have to pay the elves to fill this kid's request. And, of course, JJ is on the NICE side of the ledger so he is deserving. (He really does take good care of his sister, Cecilia.) . . . Santa shouldn't worry. Uncle Bob and Grandma Diane and Grandpa Tom have all been busy at Toys 'R' Us . . .
Monday, December 6, 2010
Thanks to all who came out in this cold and blustery weather to make our day worthwhile. It is nearly impossible to get an old house warm when it is so-o-o-o breezy as you already know if you own one . . . Our street is already looking spiffy and in a holiday mood. Amy and Doug Hill, Jaime and Bryan MacLeod, Erica Gordon and Dr. Bob Coldren and Jack Barnett are deep into their preparations. We all try to look good for the HHA Candlelight House Tour which is this coming Sunday . . . Just learned that Lyn Lawson's house at 225 Briggs Street is the latest to hit the market, asking $224,900. I have lived in this area since 1963 and I cannot remember a time when so many properties were available--I can name six without even thinking . . . I was happy to hear that plans for converting the old convent at 603 North Second Street into a rooming house had been shot down by the city planning commission. It was a bad idea, parking considerations aside. That grand old building deserves a better fate . . . And speaking of conversions, this little gadget will make your prized (empty) spirits bottle into a stunning conversation starter when displayed amid your nibbles trays at your next party. The five-pronged candelabra is made of wrought iron and sells for $18.50. Candles are provided for the inaugural burn . . .
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Bob's party was a great success; comradeship and lots of tasty food. The men usually "regift" a lot of worthless junk (which they may have received the year before) in their gift exchange, so I was surprised when Bob came home with an expensive coffee bean grinder. Now all we need are the beans . . . Our overnight guests report that they encountered very light snow on the turnpike as they returned to Needmore in Fulton County . . . Very, very busy day at the store. Some Juniata County people discovered our store thanks to our ad in TheBurg and they were delighted with the selection. We made their trip from the distant suburbs quite worthwhile (and they made their visit quite worthwhile for us as well). It really delights us when the merchandise we select delights others as well . . . Perhaps I shouldn't share a really good thing with potential competitors, but TheBurg advertising rates really do return excellent value for the investment . Whatever your business you should call Angela (602-4300) and ask for a rate card . . .
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Overcast and colder. The weather inhibited the browsers but not a couple of serious shoppers. Mark Stevens came to assist in Bob's absence; we have house guests this weekend and Bob was preparing for tonight's party. Many of you know Mark from past Christmas seasons; he will be helping again later in the month but in the meanwhile he is flying off to Dublin, Ireland, to interview for a summer job in the hospitality industry. We certainly wish him the best . . . Mark and I had a nice chat with Richard Hebbard . . . Got an S.O.S. from Alan Peters in Palm Springs; he has searched all of Southern California for bayberry candles without success. Apparently this tradition has not yet reached the West Coast. While we don't normally provide a shipping service we will make an exception this time. But Alan will have to go elsewhere if he wants snow for a white Christmas . . . Bob is holding up (and hiding behind) this cuddly printed fleece decorated with cabins, pine cones, bears and animal tracks. Real comfy for your cozy lodge in Sullivan County or in front of the fireplace in your suburban rec room. It truly is snuggle-y and only $20. We have two . . .
Friday, December 3, 2010
Too quiet a day for the holiday season . . . I have lost the argument with my "decorator" and have wisely thrown in the towel. My tree is decorated in green and gold to match the room decor, but JJ insists that red is the color of Christmas. So I made the concession (as if I had the choice) and now there is one red ball prominently displayed on my tree . . . Bob's men's club has its Christmas dinner and party this weekend; guess which white-bearded member gets to play Santa Claus . . . And speaking of Santa, I really like this little fellow who stands ten inches tall and sells for $18.50. We have only two on hand . . .
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Post #525. Just the kind of day I like--lots of sales and chitchat. Yvonne Brown, Suzi Marsico, Jacquie Kirby Hensel, David Koppenheffer. Like "old home week" as people are wont to say . . . First, I must remind you that your purchase of tickets for the Candlelight House Tour must be made by cash or check; no arrangements have been made for the use of your credit or debit cards . . . I just learned today that Bill Campbell has "retired" his chowder bowl which was A12 in the collector's log. We still have four of them at $23 each. Collectors are already scrounging for these; I had a call from Lynchburg, Va., from one collector already. If any of you are into Campbell Pottery seriously, please contact me immediately to reserve. (Phone or e-mail on the left.) The Lynchburg man is awaiting a reply from another gallery before committing to these, and I would rather that our regulars get first dibbs. (Where did that word originate anyway?) . . . The Harrisburg Men's Chorus will present two concerts at the Maennerchor on North Street this Sunday, at 4 p.m. and then at 7 p.m. $10 . . . And you could shop The Bare Wall before the afternoon show . . .
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The handmade holiday candy sale is in full swing at St. Michael's Lutheran Church on State Street. Patties are fifty cents each and come in an assortment of flavors--peanut butter, mint, creamsickle, butter cream and others. You can place your order and get further information by calling Lindsay at 234-6644. But don't wait too long; the candy makers have other duties in the church's Christmas programs . . . Our neighborhood is in an uproar since we learned that a corporation wants to convert the old convent at Second and Liberty into a boarding house for 30-some residents while waving the requirement to provide parking spaces. Our CAN organization is certain to raise objections and well they should. One may hope that the city is a bit far-thinking before it approves of this particular project . . . Bob is having new windows installed in his Uptown home and a new door to the balcony from my second-floor bedroom. We try not to smile at his predicament, but the workman installing the door inadvertently locked himself out on the balcony. He couldn't pound for attention since Bob would simply have thought it a part of the construction. Luckily the workman had a cell phone and could call his company which in turn called Bob and told him to go unlock the door. Does this fall under the "occupational hazard" definition? . . . Thanks to Angela Lawson for treating us to Susan Boyle's Christmas album . . .