Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Shop Girl in Paris 2010

My customer Tracy & I at Dom Perignon on The Avenue de Champagne in Épernay,
the Champagne capital of the world.
Wow.  When I stop and think about it, I've been here in Paris for 15 or 16 days and we leave next week on Wednesday or Thursday to come back (I don't remember the exact date and I refuse to look at the tickets).  How unfair that this whole vacay is going by far too quickly. 
Far too grand to capture in one image, this is the front of the Château de Versailles.
See for details about its brilliant history.

Inside view of Château de Versailles.
I wish the people would've moved. LOL.

Marie-Antoinette slept here.
Every day that I've been here, I've told myself "You need to write to your customers" and every day I didn't.  Instead, I wrote and posted pictures on my Facebook page, because it was quick and easy...and to be honest...I didn't know what to say to all of you.  Remember last year?  I gave you all a blow by blow and I thought it would probably bore you if I did the same.  So until I could figure out what I should say, I said nothing.  But that's my usual M.O.  I don't say anything until I'm sure I should.  I think that can be both good and bad. 
One of the magnificent store windows at Printemps Department Store.

Another window at Printemps.
Anyway.  I'm not really ready to come back to Oakland.  But then again I am.  (Oooo, I'm so contrary.)  You see, I bought some really cutesie stuff and tomorrow I'm going to pick up the rest of it.  The exchange rate is horrible (same as last year), so I wasn't able to get as much as I would have liked, but I at least bought as much as I did last year, so it's all good.  I want to come back and show it to you...but I want to stay and "be French" too.  LOL.  Clearly, I have issues. 
A really cool sculpture that uses negative space brilliantly.
The truth is...I'm coming back in July for a family wedding, so I really should stop whining like a big baby.  But blogging is a good way to vent...and I don't mind sharing my feelings with you.  =)  I'll just save the details of the trip for when I get back.  (Wanda and Tracy, my two customers from Oakland, are having a blast, by the way.  Hope you can make it next year.)
The magnificent Riems Cathedral which is 800 years old.  Wow.
(not to be mistaken with Notre Dame in Paris).

An inside view.
Guess I'll sign off now.  It's after midnight and I should at least lie down so I can be energerized for tomorrow's shopping.  I really do sorta kinda miss you all.  LOL.  See you on the 30th!
Tracey ;-)
Your Oakland Shop Girl

At Aunt Astrid's...acting silly.  LOL.

My horse encounter (today!) of the magnificent kind...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

OMG, I Missed You!

I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted here.  You know how it is when you keep thinking (and thinking) about doing something and then something else gets in the way?  Well, that's my story.  But I'm pretty much over myself and woke up early just to write.  I love my store and I love my customers, so here's What's What in oo la la Land.  =)
Paris.  As you (hopefully) know by now, the store is going to be closed (I know, I know) for the month of November.  I'm going on a nice little vacay in France, where it will be chilly (who cares?) and fabulous in spite of the protests and al Qaeda threats (gulp).  (France has never bored me and I guess it never will.)  And while there is some really cute new (!) stuff in the store right now, I'm going to be shipping back some French fabulosity that I'm hoping will knock your socks off!  I'll be back in the store on November 30, so be sure to mark your calendars and tell a friend!  In the meantime, I just got in the MOST BEAUTIFUL scarves eh-ver...
This year, two of my customers - Wanda and Tracy - will be joining me in Paris for 10 days of oo la la!  I am truly looking forward to setting them up in their Paris apartment, orienting them to the city, and stopping by their apartment to swap stories and drink champagne.  If you're a Facebook person, feel free to join me on the One Brown Girl In Paris Facebook page so you can get a blow by blow and decide if you want to come along on my annual November jaunt next year.  Everyone is welcome!  I'll be posting updates here as well, but not as often.  (Facebook has really taken over the world, haven't they?)
Other than Paris, I've been doing a lot (!) of writing and traveling and thinking about What's Next...and overall life is good. 
My last day in the store is October 29 and I plan to work from Noon-6pm Monday-Friday between now and then, so please...if you have a little gift you need to give (to yourself or someone else), come on down.  Even if you don't, come on down and say hello (maybe good-bye is more appropriate...LOL).  And if you happen to see lights on while I'm away, it's just a friend checking on things and keeping the space occupied.  She will not, however, answer the kindly keep that in mind.
Time for me to scoot!  We have some overzealous raccoons here at my house (do you believe one actually used its paws to slide open our bedroom window?!?!?), so I need to do some cleanup and raccoon prevention.  Any tips?
Your Oakland Shop Girl,
Tracey =)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Diggity Dig!

I’ve been flitting around California and other parts of the US like a little bumble bee since July 25th and I’m pleased to say that I am flitting no more. Well, not right this minute anyway. I was in Las Vegas for MAGIC and I can’t wait for the orders to start coming in (see American Airlines Black Atlas site for my travel story). I just got back from a houseboat mini-camp experience at Lake Shasta with 10 girls over Labor Day Weekend and had a blast! (See for photos.) During the rest of September, the store will be open Monday through Friday from Noon to 6pm and I will only be closed for one day on Friday, September 24. In October, I’m in Miami for a long weekend. But right now, it feels good to be still.

I’m tying up loose ends for oo la la!’s Shopping Trip to Paris (which of course isn't just a shopping trip) this November and I’m happy to announce that I’ll be the doing the trip every November from now on. This year, two of my customers – Wanda and Tracy – are going to experience Paris the oo la la! way. =) In fact, I’m firming up the Marais apartment now and will be booking airfare this week. If you were interested in making the trip but were unable to, I’ll be doing my regular blog and Facebook reporting once I get there (just like last time) so we can still experience Paris together technologically (smiling). And if you're still interested, you are certainly welcome.  Just don’t forget that oo la la!’s very own Paris Fashion Week will start on Tuesday, November 30. I can’t wait!

Yesterday, I got a shipment in of these really cute sandals. You can swap out the middle part and have an entirely different shoe. Kuh-yute! Great for vacations, cruises, beaches, hanging out. I wear a 9.5 and I fit a 10 (they don't come in half sizes, but do go up to a Size 11).  Come and get 'em!  (I don't think they'll last.)

I look forward to seeing you!

Bye for now....

Tracey, Your Oakland Shop Girl

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The State of Retail

It's been awhile since I've posted, but if you've been by the store and I haven't been there, you've seen my little heart-shaped post-its with the "Be Back Soon" messages and know that I've been busy as a bee handling business for the store, handling business for my travel adventure camp for girls, developing a new e-commerce site at, going to conferences and expos, and simply having a good time.  Whew.  As I type this blog post, I'm in my (lovely) hotel room in Las Vegas on the tippy-top floor of the Aria, a new hotel here on The Strip.  (My husband, who got comped for 3 days at MGM Grand, the Bellagio and here, selected this hotel because it's new.  And I'm not mad at that either.)  When you walk into your room, the drapes open automatically and the lights come on and every single thing is managed technologically from the control panel next to the bed.  It's a modern, luxuriuos room and the bathroom is absolutely to die for.  When I'm not at the conference I came here for, I'd rather be up here than in the smoky casino down below.  Anyway....enough about Vegas. 
I was quoted recently in an Oakbook article about the proposed sales tax hike by saying "It sucks for retail and retail sucks right now” and by the looks of things here at MAGIC - the preeminent trade event in the international fashion industry that takes place twice a year in Las Vegas - I was dead on.  What was once a massive fashion expo with tons of people is now a moderately sized event with much fewer attendees and vendors...and it's painfully obvious.  I don't even see any fashion groupies.  And you know something's up when the groupies don't show.  LOL.
About a year ago, when all you heard about in the media was the demise of retail, I was doing extraordinarily well at the store.  I thought I must've been doing something right.  And then it was my store's turn...and for the past 6 months, it's been...well, let's just say...retails sucks.  LOL.  I buy with far more care than I used to and although (as you know), my prices are more than fair, I'm a little slower to bring in higher end items.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I have my faithful loyal customers and I get new customers every day (that I'm open) because of the high foot traffic area.  But I've had lots of my regulars come in to tell me that they've been laid off and/or they're moving out of State and/or their hours have been cut.  And I feel really bad for them too.
I hope I don't sound depressing or anything, because that's not at all how I feel.  I love my part-time boutique, I love my customers (mostly ... LOL), I love being a buyer, and I love presenting (aka merchandising).  Retail is rewarding in many ways and being here at MAGIC is just one of the perks.  I managed to order a little bit of really cute stuff and I can't wait for you to see what'll be coming in.  (I'm really looking forward to bringing back stuff from Paris again this November though.  You all bought me out in less than 10 days the last time.  Stay tuned for more info about that.) 
Well, I guess I'll go downstairs and hang out with my husband before we head out.  Our flight leaves for Oakland tonight at around 9pm and I've got to catch a flight to Los Angeles (just for the day) tomorrow.  But Art & Soul is this weekend, so look for me there as I won't re-open the store until Tuesday or so.  I miss talking to all of you and hope to see you soon.  Until we meet again, remember to always wear cute stuff.  LOL.
Your Oakland Shop Girl,
Tracey =)

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Mehserle Verdict

Yesterday at 1pm, I finally bit the bullet and arranged for the front of my store to be boarded up.  And I was right on time evidently, as the Mehserle verdict was announced three hours later and the Mischief Makers started causing problems in Downtown Oakland just as it began to get dark.  I was watching the news when all three of my contact phones started ringing.  It was my alarm company calling.  I had to get up and go to my store at 10pm last night because "your glass break sensors have gone off and have been comprised." Here we go.  On my way, I saw small groups of people on the street hanging out.  I even saw one guy carrying a pipe. When I got there, there were a dozen police officers in riot gear standing by, the psychic guy was outside, some local business owners were on the corner, and another store owner was guarding her property.  They gave me the full story:  Apparently, a small group used M100s to try to blow open the coffee shop (aka marijuana dispensary) across the street from my store and the vibration triggered my alarm. Created broken glass for some and anxiety for me.  I so resent this.
Before The Verdict:  When other store owners on the street began to panic last week and started boarding up their stores, I stubbornly refused.  I ran my business "as usual" and shooed away the news reporters and news cameras that pounced on 17th Street en masse.  (18 months ago, I got a threatening phone call after 17th Street got hit and I appeared on the news.  I don't need that.) 
My "kumbayah" stance faded quickly however and I closed my store early on the Friday before the 4th of July weekend since 17th Street looked like a war zone with boarded up windows and business owners were in fear passing out posters of Oscar Grant in the hopes that his image would actually make a difference to the Mischief Makers (I think not).  I even had a flight attendant customer from another city comment on the tension in the air and she didn't even know what was going on.   
This Week:  Because I knew the verdict results would be coming in "any day now," I decided not to open this week.  I resented the idea that fear was being used as a weapon and I saw no point in hanging out in a charged environment.  And then yesterday, I fought with my stubborn streak and boarded up my property.  With floor to ceiling glass, the expense of replacing it outweighed my fear.  Like I need another expense. 
I am writing this blog post because this morning I saw some people on Facebook try to minimize the damage last night by saying that the media is sensationalizing the damage.  And while they are known to do so, it's the casual attitude of the people that haven't been affected that irritates me the most.  "Oh, they [the Mischief Makers] just started a few fires and looted a few stores.  The media sensationalizes everything."  You know what?  Bite me.  When you own a store and you start to operate from fear, then you can talk.  In the meantime, STHU.
P.S.  I am outraged by the killing of Oscar Grant and the unjust verdict.  However, damaging property and ruining people's livelihoods is not and never will be the answer.  I'm pissed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Checking In

I have the biggest smile on my face. Not only is it the start of summer, but it's the 4th of July and I have officially started planning for the trip to Paris this November! No, I'm not eating barbecue (yet) and no, I'm not at the County Fair (which is a really good idea actually). Instead, I'm dreaming of Paris (so what else is new?) and planning for Paris too! I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.  Check out the new tab at the top of this blog to get info about the trip.  Hope you can make it!  (Even if you can't, I promise I'll bring back some great stuff for the store!)

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Sale Like I've Never Had Before

50% off all clothing!
until it's all gone.
It doesn't get any simpler than that.  =)

And no, I'm not going out of business...just reorganizing and such...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Volcanoes Mess Stuff Up

I'm bummed.  All of this volcanic activity in Iceland is putting a dent in a trip I was going to take to Europe this July.  But I'd rather be safe than sorry, so oh well.
I am, however, excited about the Shopping Trip to Paris I have planned for November!  In fact, Miss W (that's what I'll call her) came in and dropped off her deposit today!  Miss T, the other adventuress, dropped off her deposit several weeks ago.  It makes me feel good to know that they trust that I will find the best possible price for the trip.  Of course, and as I've stated before, they'll get all of their money back should they be unsatisfied with the final price and decide not to go.  I seriously don't think that's going to happen though.  =)  Let me know if you're interested.  November will be here fast.  Watch.
Other than not  being able to go to Paris, everything is going pretty well.  I have lots of changes coming on the horizon, so it'll be fun to see oo la la! transition over the next year.  Even though I'm not going to Europe (boo, hiss, boo), I plan to do some shopping in June, after the sale is over.  Oh yeah.  I guess I shouldn't forget to mention that there is a sale going on at the store:  10% off on all jewelry, hats and gloves through Memorial Day Weekend.  In fact, if you bring in a copy of this blog post, I'll give you another 10% off (smiling).  I swear, I love a sale.
I guess that's it for now.  I've got seeds to plant.  =)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

RIP Lena Horne

My love of fashion started at any early age.  I grew up watching musicals and old movies and was always drawn to the imbeccable style and craftsmanship of the garments, whether I was looking at Greta Garbo wear a man's hat and pinstriped suit or Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor in an Edith Head creation.  They just don't make clothes like they used to.
They also don't make stars like they used to.  Stars back in the day always had so much style and class.  Including Lena Horne.  Lena Horne died today at the age of 92 and there will never be another like her, just like the fashions of my childhood cannot ever be re-created in the same way.  RIP, Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 - May 9, 2010). 
For more photos, click here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Appreciation Sale

So this coming Thursday is Earth Day and this week is Earth Week, which are designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment.  Frankly, and like most of you, I think Earth Day is and should be every day, but since I've just returned from one of the most beautiful environments on earth teaching adolescent girls about the beauty of nature, I thought it would be appropriate to have oo la la!'s very own 20% Off Earth Appreciation Sale for the rest of the month of April to honor the world we live in!  Likewise (and FYI only), the Children & Nature Network has designated April as Children & Nature Awareness Month which is right in line with President Obama's White House Conference on America's Great Outdoors that took place this past Friday, which is right in line with one of my own interests.  So if you need a little pick me up for yourself or a gift for a friend, or if you just want to say Happy Earth Day, come on in!  ;-)
P.S. The World Peace necklace I have in the store makes a great gift!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shopping Trip to Paris

Several years ago, I snuck a peek at a questionnaire my husband was filling out that asked him what famous person I reminded him of and he wrote Josephine Baker (see photo to your right).  I thought that was kinda cool.  I always fancied myself one of those women that - like dear Josephine - would pack it all up and move out of the country.  In fact, it had always been my plan to live somewhere in either the Carribean or Paris, both places I love (among others).  And although my husband is a French citizen with his mom's side of the family all over France, I loved Paris waaay before I met James.  He's definitely the gravy.  Good gravy too.  =)
When James and I trotted off to France last year, a part of my agenda was to do some planning for the Shopping Trip to Paris (for interested oo la la! customers) I had been talking about for so long.  After a 3 week holiday, I changed my mind.  And now I've changed it back.  I enjoy travel for myself, but I also enjoy facilitating travel as well -- as you might have deduced from my travel camp for girls.  So here we are, and this time, I'm going for it! 
The plan is to take 10 easy going & adventurous women (i.e., 5 sets of girlfriends, co-workers, moms & daughters, etc.) away for 10 days of gay Paris departing around November 10, 2010!  I will host 2 complimentary dinner/info meetings before we go; arrange all of the air transportation and hotel rooms; arrange for 3-4 tours; provide an itinerary (with choices!); and throw in a few surprises!  All you'll need is money for food, shopping and Paris Metro &/or taxi fare.  All costs will be laid out for you and I will simply charge a concierge fee for my services.  I throw a mean party and put together even meaner events, so I feel confident that you will have a fantastic (and rather unique) experience.
If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here or shoot me an email.  I'm accepting $250 deposits (that will be held in escrow) to secure your spot until I firm up the cost of everything.  You can even start making $300/month payments now!  Once the price of the trip is announced (I'm aiming for a great deal for less than $2000), if you decide not to take the trip for any reason, you get your deposit back (and any payments) toot suite!  It's really as simple as that!
Vive la France!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I've Got Butterflies

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown
I created a heartfelt little Facebook pictorial in honor of the butterflies that have invaded my stomach on and off for the past week or so (because of the launch of an OBG Adventure Camps inaugural trip).  I imagine the butterflies must be enjoying themselves, because they're definitely making their presence known. Cheers to their beauty and to the change and growth they represent. =)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

See Oakland Run

I jogged to the dentist's office and back yesterday.  His office is two blocks away from my house.  Boy was I tired.  And the day before that, I ran on the treadmill at the Oakland YMCA for 1 minute, then walked 1 minute, ran 1 minute, walked 1 minute...for about 40 minutes (so that's 20 minutes in all...LOL).  Today, I raced my husband down the street for about half a block.  I won't say who won.  But it wasn't me.  I was relieved when I went to exercise class last night and learned that the instructor wasn't going to make us run around the indoor track like he made us do last week.  Yeesh.  I just get tired thinking about it.
As you might be able to tell, I'm not a runner.  My knees refuse to cooperate and my lungs are friends with my knees.  But I am pleased as punch that Oakland (after a 25 year hiatus) will be bringing back the Oakland Marathon...uh...Running Festival this coming weekend (March 27 & 28, 2010).  In fact, I think it's pretty exciting stuff!  I even had the nerve to consider running in it when I first heard about it as a way to get fit, but I changed my mind.  I even imagined that someone would notice this little block and the course would make its way down 17th Street (and not 19th).  Ha!  I think I'll surprise my friend Tovi and volunteer at her water stop (it's at mile 6) for a few hours.  Maybe I'll even jog there. 
For more info about the Oakland Running Festival, click here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

I keep saying that someone should bring a reality camera to 17th street and shoot a series.  I swear:  It is SO colorful.  Between the new crop of psychiatrically impaired people that like to make 17th Street their hang out (Security!) and the traffic that the Pot Club attracts (not to mention the stuff I can't talk about), this little tree-lined block of Downtown Oakland is a slice of life that would make for some great tv.  The restaurants, retailers, hairstylists, and yes, even the psychics on 17th bring a spectrum of the working class to the well heeled and it's kinda cool to just sit outside sometimes on a sunny day and watch the world go by.  Folks fighting about parking spaces, horns blaring, cars driving too fast, tattoo guys hanging outside smoking cigarettes, and the occasional pimped out Mack Daddy strolling down the street in his lime green ensemble make this 2 lane stretch of land Oakland's mini-version of Venice Beach.  For me, last week was eventful, as always.  A group of 5 girls showed up in the store and stole some stuff; I almost started a fire in the wastebasket; the property manager for the building thought he had permission to yell at me and treat me disrespectfully (and found out what a big mistake that was); and someone (from the City?) is finally making an attempt to care for the trees on 17th Street and there is now mulch at the base of the trees.  (I'd like to think my b*tching & groaning had something to do with it, but I can't confirm it.)  I'm telling you:  There is never a dull moment...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flower Power: A Sneak Peek

I'm gearing up for Spring and Summer and found these adorable flip flops - called SwopFlops - for the store!  The flower snaps on and off, so that if you're feeling pinktastic, you can wear a pink flower; and if you're feeling apple-licious, you can snap on an apple green flower.  They also come in black and orange in Sizes XS-XL (which is supposed to fit up to an 11). They'll be here in May.  Cute, cute, cute.

Handling the Pan

Retail establishments everywhere are experiencing relatively slower traffic these days and business (or the lack thereof) for some retailers can even put business on the verge of painful.  And not just because it's the first quarter of the year either (retail's slowest time of year).  No matter what business strategists say about how business owners should change with the tide or roll with the punches in order to survive the recession, the truth is that many businesses will not survive through the end of this week, this month or this year.  Which brings me to the point of this blog entry.
As a retailer in a Downtown neighborhood (across the street from a pot dispensary no less), I've grown accustomed to the unique and colorful personalities that make their way up and down the street everyday.  But what I can't seem to get accustomed to are the aggressive pan handlers that harass people (think potential customers) while begging for a handout.  Not only can an intimidating pan handler encourage people (mostly women) walking down the street to walk down a different street (so as to avoid any discomfort; oh yeah and my store), but having pan handlers regularly hang out can change the vibe of the neighborhood.  So as you might be able to gather by my rant, I don't think Slow Traffic + Pan Handlers = An Increase in Store Traffic.
I hope, of course, that I don't sound terribly unsympathetic, but I'm trying to increase my odds of success (and the odds of the other merchants on this street) by shoo-ing the pan handlers away every day.  And if that means calling on the local Security Ambassadors to get them to move on every time I see a pan handler making a person uncomfortable as they walk down the street, then so be it.  I'm just hoping for a new equation that might have a more positive impact.  Who knows?  Maybe No Pan Handlers + Business Owners That Actually Care might even = An Increase in Store Traffic

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Back Seat Sale!

Everything I usually do (including caring for the store, eating, sleeping, etc.) has taken a back seat to a very important project I'm about to implement and I'm feeling (mildly) guilty about it.  As a result, I'm having a Back Seat Sale through March 30, leading right up to Easter.  Whether it's new merchandise or marked down merchandise, everything thing in the store will be on sale as follows:
March 3-5: Everything is 15% off the lowest marked price.
Week of March 8:  Everything is 12% off the lowest marked price.
March 15 - March 27:  Everything is 10% off the lowest marked price.
March 29 and 30:  Everything is 20% off the lowest marked price.
See?  This is what you get when I feel mildly guilty.  Imagine what you might get if I were feeling really bad!  =)  P.S.  Does not include layaways.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On the Radio, Whoa Oh Oh Oh Oh

Bay Area radio personality Nikki Thomas of KBLX 102.9FM interviewed Oakland business owner Tracey Friley (that's me!), creator of® and Executive Director of CampCaribe, on Nikki's half hour radio show - Bayview - that airs at the crickety crack of dawn (smiling) this Sunday, February 21, 2010 @ 5:30am on KBLX.  Nikki's awesome!  And if you aren't awake (yawning already), no worries. I'll post the recording on my FB page & somewhere on the CampCaribe blog. =)
Tracey <<<< doing her best impression of Donna Summer singing
::::: On the radio, Whoa oh oh oh oh, on the radio :::::

Monday, February 15, 2010

27 Degrees and Sunny?

LOL.  I leave for Denver tomorrow and I just checked the weather:  27 degrees and sunny.  Sounds like an oxymoron to me!  I'll just need to remember to bring my sunglasses...and my coat.  See you soon!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Love, love, love.

Valentine's Day is coming up, but I don't think this annual Love Holiday is just for lovers, do you?  Who says you need Big Diamonds? (Okay, let me think about that a little more.)  What I really think is that VDay is a cute little holiday that's meant to show affection to any of the people we love with Little Love Trinkets, like the little treasures and trinkets at oo la la!  Since my weakness is sweets, I ordered these amazing Raspberry truffles that will knock. your. socks. off.  They should arrive at the store by Thursday, as they're being shipped in from Washington state.  There are also rose petals for the romantics, red barrettes for the girls, and a number of other cutesy red items for the loves of your life, including yourself.  Feel free to come on by and see what's what.  
Love you like crazy,
Tracey, Your Oakland Shop Girl  

Ooooo! The Shop Girl is All Fired Up!

"Well behaved women rarely make history." --Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
[Note: I wrote this last week and I still feel the same way, so I figured I would go ahead and publish it.  :::Shrugging shoulders:::]  I don't feel like being PC today.  I am over (O-V-E-R) lip service, false promises, wasting time and haters. Where are the action-oriented people? The ones that don't hate because you are doing something novel and new?  The ones that don't just jibber jabber for the sake of flapping their jaws?  The ones that know how to do business professionally?  Where are the people that realize that we can collectively be of service to girls that need our help? The ones that don't care about Who Gets Credit, but Who Gets Growth? Where are these people? Do they exist?
I've been working on my camp project and volunteerism for awhile now and a number of irritating occurences have motivated me to write. I'm POed. It's official. 
(1) I was blown off (how unprofessional!) by a local women's organization that didn't have the decency to return an inquiry, but they were perfectly willing to accept my annual donations for the past several years.  I'm over them. 
(2) I sent a proposal to a girls organization with a similar mission that I had previously contact with.  Instead of a yes or a no, I was blown off (yes, again!).  Oh yeah, someone from their Board of Directors contacted me a few months after my proposal to tell me that they wanted to "pick my brain" because they want to do a similar program.  I told them I'd send them my fee schedule and haven't heard back.  Good. 
(3) I made a business arrangement with a local booster with contacts.  She said she would fundraise (she was going to get paid) starting in January and on my third follow-up communication, she told me I fell off her radar over the holidays.  WTF. 
(4) I volunteered my time to a local girls group and some of the staff turned one of my survey questions into a race issue.  Some adults always seem to find a way to ruin what could have been a positive experience.  Ugh. 
(5) Even some of my customers have made promises (that I didn't ask them to make) and didn't follow through, or at least tell me that they are no longer interested.  Oh well. 
(6) I met a local politican at a networking event and asked if she knew the best way for me to go about raising funds.  She got all enthusiastic about my program and said she would help (yes, she said it).  And then she passed me on to her Right Hand Guy and he told me he couldn't help.  Gee, a politican that didn't follow through on something.  How novel.
(7) A local church said "Yes! We're in!" and then they weren't.  Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  NOT. 
(8) And then a pastor I met told me I would "definitely be hearing from the Youth Division leader" at his church, and I don't hear a message on my voicemail.  (Yes, it's working.) 
I could go on.  But I won't.
Just be about what you say you're about.  And if you don't roll like that, just stay the hell away from me.  No offense intended.
P.S. Success is the best revenge.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Oakland Shop Girl Challenge

Yeah, I said it.  I'm challenging you.  I'm challenging you to collect gently worn shoes from your friends, your customers (if you're a business owner), your mom, your dad, your kids, your hair stylist, your co-workers, your neighbors, etc. and then I'm challenging you to bring those gently worn shoes to my store (by February 20), or take them to your local Finish Line where they will be donated to Soles4Souls, a non-profit organization whose quest is to collect 1,000,000 pairs of shoes for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.  Go ahead.  I dare you.  Consider the gauntlet thrown.

Shoes Glorious Shoes

Ooooo.  I love shoes, don't you?  And like a few of my girlfriends in particular (you know who you are...laughing), I would be embarrassed to tell you how many pairs of shoes I actually own:  Flats, high heels, boots, sneakers, sandals, flip flops, yada yada yada.  I've got some really cute ones in spilling out of my closet, but I have no problem admitting that I usually wear the same 2 or 3 pair on a weekly basis.  Right now, sneakers are what I wear more than anything else, but that's because I've just recently turned into a gym rat.  Otherwise, I wear flats most of the time and save my bad a** shoes for when I go out on a date with my husband or when I'm out with girlfriends.  On Tuesday, I'm going to The Shoe Show in Las Vegas (just for the day) to start my search for the bestest cutest most wonderfulest shoes with heels that are 2.5 inches and under and I'm super excited!  Can you imagine looking at rows and rows (and rows!) of shoes in a place 1000 times bigger than the biggest DSW shoe store?!?!?  I'm afraid I won't be able to stand it.  But I'm going anyway.  LOL.  See you when I get back!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Helping Haiti

oo la la! is collecting gently worn shoes at the store through January 31.  Your gently worn shoes will be donated to Soles4Souls for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.
Please see store schedule for drop-off hours (!) particularly during the week of 1/25/10.  I have donated much of my time during that week to Girls, Inc. of Alameda County for No Name Calling Week and don't want to miss your visit!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rules of Engagement

About 5-7% of my customers are men.  Some gentlemen buy gift certificates for their wives, loved ones, daughters or secretaries while some gentlemen actually enjoy shopping and are very clear about making their own selections.  Right before Christmas, a gentleman came in to the store and bought some things for his girlfriend.  He was obviously very anxious and somewhat indecisive while he was shopping and after repeatedly leaving the store (3 times!) and coming back, he told me that he was going to be popping the question (yes, that question) over the holidays and he just "wanted to get it [buying a gift] right."  Awwww.  I was instantly enchanted.  He had already bought the engagement ring but he said he still wanted to buy her something nice for Christmas.  I probably don't have to tell you that every female customer in the store melted just a little bit.  I made him promise me that he would bring her into the store as soon as he could and today was the day.  They're a darling couple, in their 40s, neither ever having been married, and they are definitely in love.  And yes, he even got down on one knee.  She flashed her ring, they kissed, he blushed, they smiled and then they left.  Awwww.  She told me she doesn't like to shop, but she's got a man that does (he even bought her a cute little tattoo tee that was on sale for 10 bucks while he was here today), so I expect I'll see him again.  I'm just so happy for them, I wanted to share. love.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ready for the Next Level?

Oakland Magazine:  "Next Level of the 10 workouts worth falling for..."
I started working out this week and everything hurts.  Ouch.  But I brought it on myself, so I'm not complaining...owie...much.  To be honest, I love my work out at Next Level Fitness and the results I am certain I will see within the next few months.  After several attempts to find the best trainer for my needs, I found Abu at Next Level and I am tickled pink. The classes are semi-private; typically with only 3-5 people at a time and my personal training sessions make me feel great (after I'm finished).  In the past, my most successful fitness routine has been with a circuit training program and that's exactly what you get at Next Level's classes.  I'm definitely hooked.  If you need a place to work out, check out Next Level...and don't be surprised if you see me in fitness gear at the store from now on.  It's just me...ouch...trying to stay in shape.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

From the bottom of my heart, I'd like to thank you for all of your kindness and ongoing support.  I simply could not do it without you!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!