Children, Children Everywhere

DarronBook

It is Sunday morning at Room & Board and the ratio of children to adults is much different than normal. The showroom is crawling with kids who are climbing on the couches, tumbling by the tables and running on the rugs. Today we are hosting our Family Fest event where we invite parents to bring their kids to the third floor Kids department and take part in arts, crafts and fun. It is our way to introduce families to our wonderful kids furniture and also allows us to create a happening that makes us feel part of our new neighborhood. It was a smashing success. I mean, when you have miniature donuts, Pirates Booty and a “decorate your own cookie” station, what do you expect? In addition to hyping the kids up on sugar, we had someone creating balloon animals and there was face painting and storytelling.

I read a story.

After perusing several books, I finally landed on one called ‘How to Catch a Star” about a little boy who dreamed of having his very own star as a playmate. I offered to read a story from Chapter 3 of my own book, “The Bitchy Waiter.” That chapter is called “I Hate Your Children,” but we thought it might not be appropriate. (You can order my book at Amazon, available on April 5th. Seriously, I wrote a book that comes out in a week and a half!) When it came time to read, I had an audience of five kids, one with a face painted like the Incredible Hulk. I settled into the Ellery chair as one little girl sat in the Vineyard Pink Tilly Chair that her mom had just entered to win. To my left were three kids sharing space in a Nest toddler bed as one little girl wandered around the general area in a circle like a dizzy chicken. The kids all stared at me, rapt, and when I say “rapt” I mean “totally not paying attention.” The little girl in the Tilly chair quickly lost interest and ran away, presumably for another mini-donut. The wandering girl kept wandering and eventually disappeared, perhaps deciding that a balloon shaped like Elmo was more to her liking. The three remaining children listened to my story of the little boy who climbed a tree in order to reach a star. With each passing page, they became more vocal, eagerly yelling at me that they couldn’t see the pictures or that it was silly to catch a star, “everyone knows that.” I persevered. By the end of the story, they were clearly ready to move on to a new project, but they politely waited for me to say “the end” before bolting off to find something else to do.

Overall, the event was very successful. We had 60 folks enter to win the Tilly Chair and of those 60, 38% said YES to opting in! There were some crumbs on the floor and the place looked like a hurricane had hit it, but still, we had a fun day and gave parents something to do with their kids.

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The Blizzard of 2016

snowstorm

The weather outside was not fit for man nor beast last week here on the East Coast. In case, you didn’t hear, we had a record snowfall in New York City of 26.8 inches which is the second most snowfall ever recorded in the history of all time since the dawning of the age of man. That’s a lot of snow; like if someone left a Harding in Central Park and took off the back cushions, it would have been completely covered in snow since the Harding has a height of only 26″. Or if you put two Graham cocktails tables on top of each other you would only see 1.2″ inches of Ebony peeking out over the blanket of white. Or you could put a High Headboard Avery in Sunbrella Canvas Pink out there and still see three feet of bright pink, but don’t worry because it’s Sunbrella fabric and it’ll be totes fine. Anyhoo, lots of snow. You get the picture, right?

On Friday, we all began to wonder how Winter Storm Jonas would affect us.

“Will be open?”

“Will we close early?”

“Do I need to go the liquor store?”

We all left work on Friday not sure what was ahead of us. Early Saturday morning, my alarm clock went off and the first thing I did was look out the window to see what had happened as I slept. The wind was whipping snow horizontally across the courtyard and I could see drifts of snow as high as an Allard table. There was no email from work giving me a reprieve so I took a shower and ate breakfast as I wondered what one wears to work during a blizzard. And then my phone alerted me to a text: SNOW DAY. STORE CLOSED. The first thing I did was a little dance of joy, not unlike Snoopy when Charlie Brown serves his supper.

The second thing I did was think the following: Thank goodness I work for a company that puts the safety of their employees over the importance of sales. I bet if I worked at some other retailer, I would have to get to work not knowing how or if I would get home. Thank you, Room & Board, for making that decision in a timely manner and understanding that sometimes being open is not the best decision. It seems like every couple of months, Room & Board does something else to remind me that it’s a mighty fine place to work.

The store was open on Sunday, but I didn’t have to go to work because I was on vacation. My trip to Puerto Rico had been canceled, but I kept my vacation day on the schedule and went sledding in Central Park where I saw no evidence of a Harding sofa, Graham cocktail table or High Headboard Avery.

‘Twas the Night of the Floor Change

twasnightoffloorchange

‘Twas the night of the floor change and all through the showroom

Every DA drinks coffee to insure they can go zoom.

The rugs are rolled up and carried out of the store,

And new ones come in and are placed on the floor.

The drivers are moving in new Berkeley beds

While visions of Mackintosh dance in their heads.

Amy in her sneakers and Jason at her side,

Watch over the commotion, all full of pride.

When out on the sidewalk there arose such a clatter,

Amy springs into action to see what’s the matter.

Out to the truck, she flies like a flash;

Runs past a Hudson we now stock in Ash.

The moon on the sofa reflected the shine,

Gives luster to all like a glass of mulled-wine,

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,

Macalester in leather! “Oh my goodness, it’s here!”

One hundred inches, its leather: top grain!

In Lagoon Cognac, its beauty: insane!

More tufting than Reese and the Wells combined,

The comfort and beauty is all so refined.

“It’s gorgeous! I love it! I want it! I need it!”

“It’s perfect! I crave it!” said all who had seen it.

To floor number two, the sofa is carried

And placed on an Arden, perfectly married.

Next to a Louis Chair, across from a Nichols;

For Lynn, who does visuals, nothing’s a pickle.

The drivers bring in more furniture too!

It’s not even midnight, there’s so much to do.

There are lamps to be hung, pillows to fluff,

Shelves to wipe down; floor change is tough.

Amy and Jason look over their list

Checking to make sure nothing is missed.

The beds all need ironing, the floor must be swept,

If only they knew where the vacuum was kept.

The next several hours fly by in a hurry;

With so much to do they still do not worry.

The lamps how they twinkle! The fabrics, how merry!

The Orson is gone and the Grove is in cherry.

The Anson in Tamm, the color of spice,

Embraces mid-century and looks oh so nice.

The Andre in Total and reversible chaise

Sits proudly as Amy walks by in a daze.

The staff is now tired, their energy sagging,

In two more short hours the tag team starts tagging.

The drivers are done and thank God they’re so burley

And Brenda and Lauren will get to work early.

Each piece will be tagged with the greatest of care

From the new Julian table to the standard Quinn chair.

The show room now sparkles, it shines and it gleams!

The collection is stunning; the stuff of our dreams.

Amy and Jason collapse on the York,

He hands her champagne and says, Pop the cork!”

The night is not easy; it takes a great plan.

The result is all worth it from whence it began.

“Everything’s perfect,” she says. “It’s just right!”

“Happy floor change to all and to all a good night!”

‘Tis The Season For Giving

ToysForTots

As we begin a new year, it’s always a good time to look back and reflect on what was accomplished in 2015 and what we have to be grateful for. Sometimes during the holidays, it’s easy to let the stress reach out and put a choke hold on us, forgetting that this is the season for giving. Somehow, going to Wal-Mart and pushing old women onto the floor in order to grab a .99 cent salad spinner tends to erase the real spirit of the holidays. I’m not gonna lie, a salad spinner is deal at twice that price, but wouldn’t it be better if we took a step back and tried to recognize how crazy this season makes us? We should have a cup of egg nog (with extra brandy) and let the old lady have the last salad spinner. There are lot of people who need things more than others and this time of year is when we need to focus on them.

Each year the annual Toys for Tots program is a great way for people to give to the less fortunate. Children want toys at Christmas and if their parents can only afford the necessities like food and rent, it’s quite possible that a new stuffed animal may not make the budgetary cut. This is where Toys For Tots comes in. According to their website, the primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. One of our Design Associates, David Alberico, always spearheads the donation drive for our store and this year was no different. He found a drop-off location only two blocks from our Chelsea store and sent out his yearly email to our staff encouraging us all to stop at a nearby drug store and pick up a couple of toys. I am happy to say that we came through. Within a week or two, the box was full of coloring books, puzzles, toy cars, dolls, educational toys and all kinds of goodies. David and I filled several Room & Board bags with the toys and carried them over to the drop-off location. I am happy to say that with what we at Room & Board donated we filled their box to overflowing. It felt good to know that there would be children in New York City who would have toys on Christmas morning because we took the time to think of someone other than ourselves. It was a great reminder of what should remain at the forefront at this time of year: peace, love, giving and happiness.

Finally, I would like to apologize to the little old lady I knocked over when I ripped that salad spinner out her arthritic hand. I feel bad. But, hey, it was .99 cents.

There’s No Place Like Home

Dorothy

Where am I? Am I having one of those dreams where I know I am in a certain place but it’s not really that certain place? Things look familiar, but this is not my usual Room & Board. I feel like Dorothy who just landed in Oz. Perhaps I have unknowingly landed my house on a Wicked Witch and any minute a group of Munchkins are going to pop out of a Anywhere Armoire and start telling me to ease on down the road.

Normally, I work at the Chelsea store, but since we have two locations in New York City, we have begun an Exchange Program so that we can all work at both stores. Each day, twoAssociates swap places so that we can become familiar with the other store and also continue building relationships with the staff at the other store. This is in preparation for the future should our two teams merge as one if/when the SoHo store closes. Today is my day to work in SoHo and, even though the furniture and the faces are the same ones I have seen many times, it feels odd to be here. Even though this is work, it doesn’t feel like I am at work. It’s nice to see the collection in different forms. Oh, look, there’s the Bram chair when I’m used to only seeing it is as a sofa! And there’s the Georgia bench which I never see! Callans in Tatum, that chair, oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

It is nice to be in SoHo, my old stomping ground. After all, I worked at this location for over two years. Not only does it give me the chance to learn about other pieces in the collection it also allows me to have lunch at that burrito cart down the street. Although the Chelsea store is just a few blocks away, it may as well be the Emerald City. It’s a world apart separated by two subway trains and a field of poppies. When I get back to my store on Saturday I will feel home again, but I will know that SoHo is my home too. Every Room & Board is partly my home and if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with. It’s right over there next to the Reese sectional.

I Can Turn the World on With My Smile

Watch out, Minnesota! I am coming for you. After four years of working for Room & Board, I am finally getting the opportunity to visit the Central office, or “campus” as everyone calls it. I hope it is called a campus because of its sense of unity, education and the existence of a quad. I hope it’s not called a campus because upon arrival I will be expected to share my SAT scores and then I will be hazed by senior members of staff who will make me drink PBRs and do hundreds of push-ups.

While I am looking forward to putting faces to all the names of the people I have been corresponding with the last four years there are other things I am looking forward to even more. Although it will be exciting to see pieces of the new collection and finally witness this mythic photo lab I have oft heard spoken of, there is still something that is more exciting. I am not speaking of the gym or the cafeteria or even the possibility of seeing John Gabbert in his natural habitat.

The classic television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show was set in Minneapolis/St. Paul. From my understanding, there is a statue somewhere commemorating this wonderful and iconic program. Somewhere in that fair city is a statue of one Mary Tyler Moore who is tossing her hat into the air with eternal glee. It shall be my goal to find that statue, take a picture of it and post that photo to every possible form of social media. I shall make that happen! Mark my words!

I will be arriving on Monday, October 19. Look out, Minnesota! I’m coming for you.

MaryTylerMooreStatue

This Day in History: September 26

Sept26

Forgive me, for this is a little bit late, but it needs to be said: September 26th is a very important day! Of all 365 days in the year, this is one of the big ones because so many momentous events have occurred on this special day. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the five most important thing ever to have happened on the 26th day of the ninth month of the year:

 

  1. On this day in 1904, Earl Gray was named British governor-general of Canada. I know not what that means, but I do know that he has a very famous tea named after him and for that, we should all celebrate this day.

 

  1. On this day in 1962, the third best television show of all time made its debut on CBS. That show was called “The Beverly Hillbillies” and it was, and still is, a cultural masterpiece that brought possum stew and cement ponds to the forefront of society. Coincidentally, it is also Donna “Ellie Mae Clampett” Douglass’ birthday which makes this day even more special.

 

  1. Two years later, in 1964, the second most important television show ever made its debut on September 26th also on CBS. (CBS basically rules.) The show was “Gilligan’s Island.” Need I say more? No, I didn’t think so.

 

  1. Five years after that, the premier TV show of all time arrived to change the face of television forever. CBS lost its mojo and bowed down to ABC when it debuted “The Brady Bunch.” It’s hard to believe that so many wonderful shows all made their presence known on the same day, but it’s true. “The Brady Bunch” has yet to be topped and I severely doubt that anything will ever surpass the wonderfulness of it. Honestly, the show is that good. No TV show can top “The Brady Bunch” ever. (Well, maybe “Magnum P.I.”)

 

  1. What is the number one thing that happened on this day? What could possibly be more exciting than three amazing TV shows and Earl Grey tea? One thing and one thing only: on this day in 2011 is when I had my first day of employment at Room & Board. September 26th will always be a special day for me, partly because it was when my career at Room & Board began, but mostly because it’s the day “The Brady Bunch” began.