Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Early Years at Fishs Eddy

People often say to me hey Julie, what was customer service like in the early years of Fishs Eddy? Glad you asked because I’ve been dying to post this little story. And yes, it’s all true!

Customer Service, in the early years.
Fishs Eddy 551 Hudson Street
Our very first store was no more than 500 square feet so there really wasn’t a need, or room, for sales people. But the week after we signed the lease Dave and I listened in horror as both of our mothers proclaimed that they would be running our new store.

“We’ve decided to split the week up between the both of us” they demanded, even though neither of them had ever had a career in anything… ever.

Both mothers lived in the city at the time and were very excited about their new Fishs Eddy “jobs." Dave’s mother was a tall Irish woman with a sharp tongue, a martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She had a preference for gay men and resented straight men, which included Dave. “You know, I lost all respect for you when you married him” she would tell me, pointing her drink in Dave’s direction. My own mother was a shorter, stockier Jewish version of Dave’s mother. 
Setting up first store 1986

From day one our mother’s employment came with various stipulations. “I’m shutting down early on Wednesdays, that’s when I do lunch and theatre with the girls” said my mother.
“I want two weeks cash-in-advance in case you don’t make enough money to pay me” said Dave’s mother. 

But when it came to customer service, our mothers had completely different styles. My mother had a don’t-make-eye-contact-with-the-customer approach. Parked behind the counter with her face buried in her People Magazine, customers were privy to my mother's informative mumblings. “Boy George is gay now? 
Oy, what next!” 

Shoplifters in particular liked to frequent the store during my mother’s shift. I pointed out that someone stole our microwave from the back office. “Well apparently they would rather have a microwave than your dishes.” said my mother.

Dave’s mother had her own special brand of customer service. When Dave and I called the store to check in she would put us on hold, but we could hear her through the phone line communicating with a customer, “I didn’t ask you to come in here, did I!” 

Even in the early days at Fishs Eddy, celebrities were stopping by the store. Dave’s mother was on the schedule the day Diane Keaton stopped in. “Uh, mom? What did you say to her?” said Dave. “I told her she looks younger on the big screen then she does in real life, now stop bothering me here!” said Dave’s mother.

In spite of both mothers, business grew. Eventually we hired a perky young woman named Beverly as a third salesperson. Beverly would cheerfully greet customers walking through the door. “Hello and welcome to Fishs Eddy!” Dave’s mother rolled her eyes and mimicked “hello and welcome to Fishs Eddy” followed by “you’ve got to be kidding me!”
My mother, Dave's mother... and Beverly

Dave and I decided to call a staff meeting. It would be our mothers, Beverly, and us. At the meeting we directed our attention to the mothers. “Uh, we were just thinking that Beverly seems to have mastered good customer service, not that you two aren’t completely charming."

Despite the staff meetings we knew Beverly was never going to be their role model. We needed a plan. We replaced our tackle box with a real cash register. “How the hell do you work this thing!” said my mother.
We would have deliveries arrive during their shifts. “Now I have to stand there and hold the doors open? I don’t think so!” said Dave’s mother.

Eventually work overwhelmed both mothers and they moved on. Mine to the gated communities of Boca Raton and Dave’s mother to the gay communities of Pompano Beach. In their short time at Fishs Eddy our mothers proved something valuable.

Our dishes would sell themselves.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ready, SET, Go! - Part 1

Many MANY years ago Dave and I found ourselves sitting in a stuffy old boardroom with some prospective investors...who didn't get us. We were discussing the concept of selling dishes a la carte instead of matching dishes in boxed sets.  To show you how little they got us, I'll recall the conversation.

Julie: Well you see our customers are very creative,  they don't need to have sets.
Investor Guy: What? Did you say they don't need to have SEX?
Julie: No! I said our customers do not need to be told that their dishes have to be boring sets.
Investor Guy: What? Your customers are having boring sex?
Julie: Is lunch included in this meeting?

But it's true, our customers ARE creative and have always thought way outside the boxed set of dishes. So twenty five years ago when we were hauling endless bushels of random  plates,  bowls, saucers, and mugs out of old defunct china factories, you were there to mix, match, layer and create dinnerware sets that were unlike any other...and you're still doing it!

Vintage Fishs Eddy Play Station

To celebrate our roots we've pulled out our 20 foot farm table and labeled it the Fishs Eddy Play Station!

The table top is the canvas, the rest of the store is the pallet. Designers and bloggers have been stopping by all week to "play." We invite you too!

Stefanie of Brooklyn Limestone finding inspiration for her place setting!

Created by Stefanie - give her a hand!

Grace and Max from Design*Sponge stopped by to design a few playful settings!
Grace's setting was pretty in pink!

Max's setting appeals to our inner child!

Susan from House of Brinson mixes and matches the perfect plates!

Susan's setting was elegant and sweet, perfect for spring!
Food writer and blogger Nancy Matsumoto and her good friend David Cobb Craig stopped by too!
Nancy & David's colorful place setting was inspired by gorgeous vintage book plates!

Stop by to create your own perfect place setting and share them with us via Twitter and Instagram with #vintagefishseddy!

Stay tuned for more great photos!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Calling All Singles!

Over the years  Dave and I have amassed bushels of random sugar bowls and even randomer lids. The tops and bottoms never matched, but their patterns and designs  were way too beautiful  to leave behind.  I guess we thought that eventually the bowls and lids would come together to form a perfect union. In an optimistic moment of merchandising, I even displayed a few bushels of mixed sugar bowls next to a barrel of mixed lids with a sign Find Gods Match For You.

Shapely dish seeks perfect mate for sweet relationship!
Recently I saw  Sara plunge her hand into an innocent little cactus- like plant, pull it out of its little planter home and plop it into one of the vintage sugar bowls.  
And then it hit me... Sara is a plant killer!

No Julie, I'm turning these gorgeous little sugar bowls into planters - they're way too beautiful NOT to use simply because they have no matching lids. And BTW it's called DIY... said Sara. 
A succulent sweetens a sugar bowl!
Here are a few nifty uses for these American-Made beauties from the creative and clever minds at FE… And we would LOVE to hear YOUR ideas too!
Way cooler center pieces than the 1-800-FLOWERS vase!

As pretty as the necklaces ... says Kristen M!
Take that Container Store ...says Jane!
An enlightening idea ...says Kristen K!