Saturday, February 26, 2011

NY Times Article

photo by Peter Wynn Thompson for The New York Times

Last week Jay Goltz wrote a post in the New York Times about me and my dilemma about whether or not I should open a store. Let's just say I had no idea what an amazing outpouring of feedback it would create! Little did I realize that a very informal and casual conversation I had with Jay a few weeks ago could be such an inspiration for a real-life interest story that would put focus on this crossroads I find myself in these days.

It turns out that I am not alone. There were many folks who shared their war stories owning their own businesses and I thank them for sharing! I agree that it is grueling and often brutal.

This leaves me with even more to ponder- I see that there are many, many more possibilities that I hadn't even thought of before. It really comes down to leveraging my assets and skills and crafting that into a business perhaps other than a brick and mortar.

Here's the thing though: I find it so very sad that our world is becoming so detached from human contact- the idea that an internet business can be more successful than a beautiful shop is such a hard pill to swallow when you are as visual and tactile as yours truly. It's sad that people are drifting away from the shopping experience and that the only relationship they will have in the future is with their keyboard-operated shopping basket. Call me old-fashioned or nostalgic, but I love engaging all my senses when I shop- you can't do this with a computer! It's the dawn of the "numbing of our senses" that internet shopping has created. Not to mention, relating to a human being. To be fair, if you live out in the sticks and can't get out to shop often, then maybe getting the shop come to you in the form of home delivery is OK-but for the rest of us who live in urban areas- I thought we thrived on stepping into shops for the all-out experience. The seeing, touching, tasting and smelling products before you buy blindly.....

Clearly my decision isn't just a practical one-there's an element of preserving the past that is gnawing at my core. I come from a long line of retailers: my grandmother and grandfather opened the family hardware store in 1921- it's still there and going strong 90 years later (is that possible??) Wow. No wonder this is so hard.

My grandmother, Sophie Tarzian, taken by her sister, Lily, in front of Tarzian Hardware circa 1940

I don't have an easy decision that's for sure. I am, however, open to a happy medium. It's out there and I am going to find it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coffee Talk

Or as Linda Richmond would say "coffee tawk" (Mike Myers made this character famous on SNL)....but seriously I wanted to wax philosophic about that rich and delicious cup of heaven that so many of us can't live without and has become part of a daily ritual for a lot of us.

Over the holidays I was staying with family and friends quite a bit and I noticed that they all have their own individual coffee making ritual every morning, and to me, this is even more interesting than the equipment they use. It's really not about the brewing method as much as the way everyone would drink and enjoy their freshly brewed cups.

There are many, many ways to brew coffee from the electric drip, to the pour over, french press, espresso machines, stove-top espresso pots.....I could go on and on. The purists grind their beans fresh each morning- and being in this group myself, I find that it makes a huge difference in taste and freshness and the aroma that fills your kitchen is intoxicating. There are several types of grinders too: burr and blade being the most popular methods. Ah, but what follows beyond the brewing process is what caught my attention.

I love how my Dad relishes his morning cup- he uses a burr grinder, an electric drip machine and uses filtered water. He even drinks just decaf now (doctor's orders) but the best part is how he enjoys it- pouring it into a stainless thermos, sitting down with his favorite mug and the New York Times- happily reading and savoring his brew leisurely- it's his daily meditation time. It's like he's one with the coffee.

A good friend of mine, a creative director, a world traveler and all about great design, begins her morning with a fresh cup brewed in a cute little electric drip machine. She pours it into a handmade beautiful coffee mug, with a teeny pitcher of milk set out and a vintage silver teaspoon to stir in the raw sugar. She sips at her kitchen counter window overlooking the courtyard at her loft and checks through her morning emails on her Blackberry.

My sister and her husband have a rare thing going with their morning coffee ritual-they make it a time to share breakfast with their teenage son before he goes off to school and they take off for work each day. And they take turns making the coffee-it's a precise measure of regular and decaf (their absolute favorite is Gimme Coffee) that goes into their grinder, and it's brewed in an electric drip machine. They share this time over breakfast and my sis says it's her favorite time of day not to mention the coffee is amazing.

Which brings me to my own ritual- I'm a French Press girl- I put my Staub kettle on to boil, grind my beans, pour the water over the grinds in the press and wait just enough time to be sure that the water has extracted just the right amount of flavor-I do this every day even before I take the dogs out for their morning walk! They just hang out and sleep until I finish my first cup. How lucky am I?

So to me it's really not just the coffee that we crave each morning, but it's the way we all enjoy it. That is what I am talkin' about!

What's your ritual? Love to hear it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bubbles Anyone?

This holiday I received this amazing gadget- at first I wasn't quite sure what to make of it-I thought geez another thing to clutter up my already over-loaded counter...don't get me wrong though, I am a total gadget geek!

I have seen the SodaStream in action- mostly at my Dad's where he must make at least three bottles of seltzer a day and thinks that this is the greatest thing since he acquired his other coveted kitchen savior: the panini maker. He and my nephew have the panini fever and I have to say the two of them are making some incredible creations.

Long story short: I am digging the SodaStream and for good reason! The savings over purchasing bottle sparkling water is the first thing- you get about 60 litres from one C02 cartridge, which works out to be about 25 cents a litre as opposed to anywhere from 99 cents to a buck and a half at the grocery store. And it's environmentally friendly- you re-use the special bottles so no more filling up the earth with used plastics. Oh and I should mention, no more lugging cases of sparkling water from the car! I use my Brita so I am getting filtered sparkling water and that is truly better tasting than the tap.

You can flavor your water if you choose (I don't- it's the purist in me) to give a more soda taste to it-hey....I wonder if those bacon tablets would work in this? Just kidding. Don't get me started on the bacon thing- that I will leave to another post!