After a week of lackluster and disappointing sales, the holiday season came to a blazing end this afternoon, besting last December by just $95--but it was an improvement just the same. The week ahead will be devoted to inventory and several items will emerge with sale prices, so I hope you can visit soon. We might be a tad late on Wednesday; time for another doctor visit . . . Bob made a beef roast for our supper (one of my favorites) and tomorrow it will be sauerkraut and pork (one of my least favorites, but Bob likes it) . . . Our bayberry candle is burning brightly as I write, promising us wealth in the new year. We have observed this tradition for more than 25 years and the candle has yet to keep its promise . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR . . .
Friday, December 30, 2011
We will be closing at three o'clock tomorrow afternoon. Happy New Year to all our readers. Please party safely . . . Our thanks to the writer who posted a favorable review of The Bare Wall on that TripAdvisor site . . . TheBurg January edition is now available here . . . Joel Turley called to say that he has been struggling with City Hall to have a burned out street light repaired on Prince Street which runs parallel to and between North Second and Green. (It was once Love Alley.) He has received no support from the Thompson administration and Joel is now rightfully furious because the block was the target of graffiti artists last night and numerous buildings were defaced. The complaints about street light black outs and the dangers darkness engenders just continue to mount. When will Thompson "see the light" do you think? . . . The one thing that makes me happy during the week between Christmas and New Years is a CD Bob found several years back. It features two holiday shows broadcast to our troops around the world in 1945 to welcome in the year. Many of the big artists of the day--Lena Horne, Harry James, Spike Jones, Benny Goodman, etc.--are heard in some songs they made famous. One would believe that the performances are originating from military bases all across America, but in reality it was a program put together in a studio from pre-recorded music. How many of you out there remember such popular tunes as "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet" ? . . .
Thursday, December 29, 2011
A cool damp day with snow flurries kissing the evergreens in front of the store. Nothing depresses Bob faster than a flake or two . . . Started to inventory and box the Santas that failed to find a home this year. Sad little fellas . . . Closed a tad early for tonight's get-together. A couple of us have been meeting every year to pick over the leftovers from Bob's family holiday party. There is a lot to choose from this year . . . If you are a free-checking customer of Sovereign Bank you will have to make some adjustments to your account in the next few weeks; otherwise you will be charged a monthly fee of five dollars. You have several options to avoid that . . . I made my adjustments today and surprised the manager who discovered I had been a customer of the institution since 1981. It all started with First Federal which became Harris Savings which morphed into Waypoint which was bought up by Sovereign. I have one little problem with all this hocus-pocus. I owned 100 shares of the First Federal operation but every time the business changed hands my shares became fewer and fewer. Those 100 shares are now 30 or so and certainly not what they were worth years and years ago. Not everything on the market goes up regardless of what Wall Street wants us to believe. I could name one or two that went worthless while in my possession . . .
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Cold rain all day certainly scuttled any hope we may have had for an after-Christmas sale. Total income was $12. But we remain optimistic for the rest of the week; all seasonal merchandise will be marked down and you can make an offer on other items until our inventory is complete . . . Tried to get some help for my sinus headaches from my primary doctor but he refused assistance and suggested I see a nose and throat specialist. That seems extreme for a minor condition like I have; maybe I should find a new doctor altogether? . . . Thanks to friend Terry for the collection of fresh donuts . . . As you will notice above, we plan to be closed next Monday (another touch of retirement, perhaps!) . . . JJ gives his in-the-flesh Santa a squeeze for the Looney Tunes DVD, Barrel of Monkeys game and his I Spy book among a stack of other Christmas Eve surprises . . .
Monday, December 26, 2011
Today may have been an example of what retirement is like. (I am all for it.) Slept a bit later than usual. Had drop-in visits from Dr. Bob Coldren and Janet Reed. Took my mile walk. (Am a little out of practice; it was very exhausting. but I found my Campbell's Tomato Soup on sale at Rite-Aid--five cans for three dollars.) Had a quick cat nap. Ordered the hoagies from Ciervo's for the family Christmas party on Wednesday. Bob and I went for a drive to see Christmas lights. Nibbled at leftovers and watched two football games. This is the life despite a sinus headache . . . Had two inquiries about the figurine featured in yesterday's post. It is not from the store but is owned by Bob; Larry Kirkhuff gave it to him as a joke a few years ago . . . And here he is, smiling and embracing his notorious gumball machine. If his face looks a bit distorted it is because he is chomping on some gum . . .
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Busier than expected today. We want to thank all of you for your patronage during this season. It was most appreciated and, yes, all the real estate taxes got paid . . . Saw JJ and Cecilia tonight; they were totally wound up in expectation of Santa's visit. There was a platter of cookies for the jolly fellow and food on the lawn for the reindeer. Both loved the gifts Uncle Bob had found for them; the gumball machine came last and was a hit. (A picture is sure to appear here soon.) It will be forgotten tomorrow when the hand-held computer video game makes an appearance; JJ has been saving his pennies for that since last year . . . Bob and I hope that you and those you love have a very happy holiday . . .
Friday, December 23, 2011
A mild chill in the air did not deter those shoppers who are fast running out of time. Hosted a constant stream of patrons today which turned out to be our biggest of this season. Thank heavens Mark Stevens was here to help . . . We are opening at ten tomorrow morning and are promising to be in the store and wrapping until three o'clock at least. This is our fortieth Christmas and in the past we have been able to close as early as two p.m. or have been hard at it as late as nine thirty. Those days are over, I assure you . . . Since most of center city will be deserted the day after Christmas we have decided to give ourselves a day off. As you can see by the above streamer, we will be closed on Monday . . .
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Another slow day. I suppose the serious shoppers have already wrapped things up. Sadly that means some of our regulars won't be dropping by this year. And I had selected some things just for them . . . I did a walk-through of the store late this afternoon and was gratified to see that there are still numerous desirable items available. Don't mean to pat myself on the back, but I guess we did some smart buying this season . . . JJ and Grammy built a gingerbread house together yesterday. Today, he was invited to join some little friends for more gingerbread building. Knowing JJ, he will pass himself off as an expert architect and engineer and show the others how everything is done . . .
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
A long and quiet morning. I might have fallen into complete despair but by late afternoon Bob was wrapping as fast as he could. Several new clients. Most welcome . . . Gee, how time flies. Eric chastised me for my recent post; he and Joanne have been married for two years . . . We are hopeful for three very busy days so please come out. Remember that we gift wrap; shop here and put it under the tree when you get home . . .
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
A cold rain scuttled business, the fourth straight day of disappointing returns. The next four days better be exhausting ones . . . Mark Stevens was on hand to help again today. He is thinking of driving home to Texas this weekend despite the raging snowstorms between here and there . . . Have been scanning those lists of influential people who passed away this year. Except for Elizabeth Taylor and a few others I haven't a clue as to who these "famous" people are. I don't know whether they had an influence on my life or not. On the other hand I can name a couple of people who have left us who were of considerable importance in my life; those I will continue to miss in 2012 . . . It has been rumored that a popular restaurant on North Street is in the process of buying the bar adjacent. The rumor which was just a whisper a few weeks ago has become a roar, so perhaps there is some validity to it all . . .
Monday, December 19, 2011
Colder, overcast and damp. More seasonal, perhaps, but not very festive . . . And what is going on here? For the third straight day business was weaker than expected. Hope this isn't a week-long trend; I'm still trying to scrape together the funds for my school taxes . . . Judy Robinson drove down from Honey Grove with a bag of holiday goodies . . . There are still three dirty joke books on hand ($9.95). Same number of Internet Password address books ($7.95) . . . all remaining boxed Christmas cards have been reduced . . . "magic glasses" still available--just . . . A couple of our major customers have yet to make an appearance; hopefully we haven't lost them this year . . .
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Crisp and mostly sunny but a lot less busy than expected. While Bob and I labored at ground level The Kid was high atop the Empire State Building. Cannot wait to hear what he thought of that experience . . . Happy first wedding anniversary to Joanne and Eric . . . Last night's party was spectacular. Our thanks to the hosts: Kevin and Kevin, Mary Ann and Rick, Jim and Keith and Mary and Lennie. The food and decorations were outstanding . . . A friend who must remain nameless suffered a tragedy yesterday. He had just finished decorating his huge tree when he decided it needed to be moved just a nudge; well, he nudged it, a leg on the stand snapped, and the whole thing collapsed across the floor. Our sympathies . . . We may have solved a two-year mystery involving our readership. I have often mentioned that we were Googled by people across Europe and Asia and I speculated that they weren't at all interested in The Bare Wall. Well, it appears I was probably right. In some circles the "tbw" apparently stands for TeenBoyWorld and will lead to what I assume to be a porno site or something close to it. A mention of this site popped up yesterday in my Google statistics . . .
Saturday, December 17, 2011
The day was virtually a repeat of yesterday--busy early and late with a lapse in the afternoon. But that gave us a little time to visit with JJ, Cecilia and the parents. The kids are getting impatient with the holiday season; they are ready for Santa . . . Bob and I are weary but we are heading out for a brief appearance at a holiday party which several neighborhood hosts are sponsoring . . . hoping for a little action tomorrow from one till four . . .
Friday, December 16, 2011
Busy morning and evening with a breather in mid-afternoon. Thanks for coming out. This has really been a fun season for us . . . Fudge joins our list of "sold outs" . . . Cannot help but notice that you are not buying those decorative crystals for the dinner table as heavily as you did last year . . . What we assume to be our last shipment before Christmas has been inventoried and is now on the shelves. A neat painted brass magnifier in the shape of a peacock would look great and be useful on any desk ($22) . . . a small brass cat pin cushion ($14) and a decorative but playable wood and brass tic-tac-toe game . . . more brass "good luck" and "new house" crickets, now $13. The nickel-plated ones that looked like silver have been discontinued . . . Jigsaw puzzles, anyone? Those are moving slowly this year . . .
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Another busy day despite some occasional sprinkles. It is so gratifying to have on hand just the thing someone wanted and the fact that they learned about it from your advertisement in TheBurg makes it even more worthwhile . . . Mark Stevens helped with the patrons; we sent Bob off to do some of his Christmas shopping. He is still looking for special presents for the kids--JJ, Cecilia, Sabrina, Felix and Annalise. Candidly, I think he just enjoys trying out all those toys. I never imaged that we would spend so many of our "golden age" hours worrying about little youngsters. But it is fun, I will admit . . . Part of my Amazon shipment came today and I listened to Susan Boyle's latest album. I cannot be as ecstatic as many of her fans; far as I am concerned she still hasn't produced the music she is capable of. But I am glad she has set the world on its ear and has earned millions. The latest effort is not selling quite as well as those in the past, I read. Wish I could program a Broadway album for her. Incidentally, the Autumn Leaves tune on this album is not the song we are familiar with . . . Hope you like our newly painted sign. One certainly cannot miss it as they drive down Green Street . . .
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
What a delightful morning! Frank Hummert and a dozen or so other retired teachers came shopping at The Bare Wall before touring the Governor's Mansion and having lunch at the Chicago Grille. Bob especially enjoyed waiting on them, being a retired teacher himself . . . Thanks to our neighbor Eric our sign is back in place and looking spiffy after a masterful refurbishment. We cannot congratulate him enough. This calls for a major act of gratitude on our part . . . You were warned: this afternoon one customer came in and swept up all our remaining bayberry candle pairs. They join the mints, canal houses and white snowflakes that once graced the archway and window on our "sold out" list . . . I cannot vouch for this story myself, but---an acquaintance who works half a year at a gift shop in Maine told me that his store sells more Root Candles than any other in the nation. He has been to the factory in Ohio and did I know?--Root candles are the tapers of choice at the White House . . .
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Another busy day at The Bare Wall. We certainly are grateful for the business but it must be said that renewing acquaintances with so many is a delight. And I am happy that you approve of our enlarged and enhanced group of offerings this year . . . I apologize to you who missed out but I am happy to report that our supply of Christmas mints has been sold out . . . Three boxes of peanut butter fudge remain ($10) . . . Our thanks to Jeanette Krebs, an editor of the Patriot-News who was in touch several times today. She is trying to figure out why my post on PennLive was removed and where it is hiding out in cyberspace. I told her not to worry but to ask her writers to occasionally remember that The Bare Wall exists and that a mention now and then would be appreciated. She promised to do so . . . Each evening while Bob prepares dinner I relax with my Yule Log DVD, watching the flames and listening to the music. Remarkable how soothing that can be for me . . .
Monday, December 12, 2011
Think I made personal history today--it appears I was censored by the Patriot-News. A story lamenting the loss of small business downtown appeared on Saturday in the newspaper (I didn't see it then) and was repeated on PennLive. I mentioned in the comments section that the paper might want to note that The Bare Wall was having its 40th Christmas season; I also pointed out (graciously) that the paper frequently forgets our gallery when discussing downtown venues. My comment was "up" for a while but then mysteriously disappeared. I filed a complaint with the editor and she did respond, saying that she could not explain its removal. Oh, well, it made for a cute story to amuse our clients today . . . We did not sell many tickets for the house tour this year so I was glad to hear that HHA sold more than 900. That translates into more than $14,000 for the organization and it can use it . . . I feel a bit sorry for our angels and Santas this season. No one wants to give them a home, it seems. (So I put the angels on sale!) Snowmen, on the other hand, are being adopted left and right . . .
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Nice crisp sunny day and quite busy at the store. I was told by several persons that the Candlelight House Tour was very pleasant and studded with properties not featured before. But no one expected to be bodily scanned before being allowed into the Governor's Mansion . . . Ordered the kid's gumball machine from Amazon this morning and got a "your item has been shipped" notification early this afternoon. Guess they really are geared up for the season . . . Despite the stress we have all felt this year everyone seems to be in a good mood and looking forward to friends and family at the holiday season . . . Only fifteen pairs of bayberry candles left . . .
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Wonderfully busy today--there must be a holiday in the offing. Sold several pieces of the new pottery and the bells from Maine have arrived . . . We have sold our line of adult cards for thirty-some years; these are far less popular than they once were, and I assume that the Internet might be partly to blame. We have been advised that the costs of these cards will jump dramatically after the first of the year so we have decided to discontinue the line once our current stock is exhausted . . . The kid came to visit this afternoon and assured me, after consulting Amazon.com, that he was certainly worth the $60 we might have to spend to satisfy his desire for a gumball machine and its refills . . . He has his own folder on the computer desktop and loves playing his "Mario" games which can give me a headache. I threatened to remove the game from his folder after the holiday, but it was an empty threat. "That's okay, Uncle Ronn. I'll just Google it and find out where to get it." This from a five-year-old . . . Casinos in Vegas take bets on all sorts of things; I think our local one should accept bets on when the Pat-News will issue a front page without Sandusky on it . . . Everyone in the area is invited to the Salvation Army at Green and Cumberland Streets for a Christmas breakfast from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. No excuse to be alone and lonely on this holiday; friendship awaits . . .
Thursday, December 8, 2011
The anticipated snow failed to materialize but the Bill Campbell pottery did. Some really beautiful pieces for you collectors . . . The midtown carolers are out on the streets as I write; I can hear their songs. They have a crisp evening for their stroll. Bob corrects me on yesterday's post. The carolers did their visits by phone a few years ago because of heavy rains, not cold as I had reported . . . Got our greens up around the door today but wondered where the shoppers were. It was very quiet in the store . . . I have to thank Joyce Reiner for her thoughtfulness. After reading yesterday's post she brought me a hang-on-the-wall gumball machine that was intended for her family room but never used. It was still in its original packaging and had never been opened. Unfortunately it was not what the kid had in mind but I certainly want to thank Joyce for thinking of us and offering the item for free . . .
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Learned this morning that a major computer malfunction at Campbell Studios has delayed delivery of our new pots. We are now promised they will be in hand by Friday at the latest . . . The expected new barbershop at North and North Second appears to be open now . . . Neighbors called to inform me of several incidents in and near the parking lot in the 200 block of Briggs Street that required police and/or ambulance service. All occurred in the last ten days. Best to be very alert when traversing that area although, to be honest, the whole midtown area seems to be at risk these days . . . Today's rain might give way to snow overnight. I wonder if we might blame Betty Holmboe and her gang of carolers for the change. Seems like they always get bad weather for their Christmas caroling evening. Why just a few years ago it was so cold that they sat in Betty's living room and did their singing for selected neighbors by telephone! . . . the kid wants a gumball machine for his Christmas present. What I see on Amazon that appears worthwhile isn't cheap. (But the kid will undoubtedly get whatever it costs; he has his two godfathers buffaloed). Should any of you have had experience with these gadgets, please let us know. Otherwise I will simply have to go by the Amazon reviews . . .
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Warm rain all day. Bob spent his morning in Millersburg decorating family graves for the holiday. Our expected delivery of pottery from Bill Campbell studios did not materialize . . . Midtown residents can look forward to a serenade on Thursday evening as those musical or not so musical gather to tour the area with their annual carol sing. All are invited to participate; gather at 1618 Green around seven o'clock . . . Ron Hinkle's glass kisses have proved to be quite popular. Still have a selection of fifteen or so at $7 each . . .
Monday, December 5, 2011
A nice visit with Melissa Herman, up from Maryland for a dental appointment . . . Candlelight House Tour tickets moving slowly at the moment. Nice weather in store for the weekend we are told . . . Those of you with special orders for ship's bells or the "big bonger" Cape Cod bell can expect a call from me at the end of the week according to the team in Maine that makes them . . . The burned out street lights all over the city enhance the lighted Christmas decorations around doors and in windows; just the same I would rather the safety I feel with the street lights ablaze . . . This month's advertisement in TheBurg has stimulated a lot of response. Hope that continues through December . . .
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Great weather. Bob's weekend with his club brothers was a great success and several of them came shopping today as did a pleasant couple from Halifax . . . A customer e-mailed to report that our freezer bags for carrying cold bottles to and from an event ($7.50) are selling at an up-scale Camp Hill store for $10.75 . . . And you saw them here first . . .
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
I am saddened to report the passing of Rhea Maff of North Street. She and her late husband Ed were stalwarts in the neighborhood for forty years. Our condolences to all the family members . . . The December issue of TheBurg is now available at The Bare Wall . . . Checked with Alan Peters in California and was pleased to learn that the high winds that are menacing the state have spared the fruit trees which we featured here earlier this week . . . Bob's club brothers are gathering for their annual holiday dinner and gift exchange this weekend. Mark Stevens will be on hand to help me in the shop tomorrow . . .
Thursday, December 1, 2011
It is that time of year again when I begin to nag you about your bayberry candles for New Year's Eve. Don't be left out, buy now. $7 a pair . . . ABC TV is promoting a "buy American" effort this holiday season. Supposedly, we will spend $700 for gifts this year and if we spend just $64 for things made in America we will create at least 200,000 jobs. Perhaps The Bare Wall has an unfair advantage since we deal primarily in handcrafted gifts, but you certainly could find your quota of Made in America gifts here. Pottery, jewelry, candles, candies, bookends and soaps and lotions are just some of the items. Of course, we also have our share of foreign goods . . . Now that we are using those new bulbs, driving hybrid cars and so many businesses have cut back on manufacturing, etc., I am wondering just how much this activity has cut back on oil imports. Haven't seen any figures recently . . .