Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Gift Post--The Story Behind our Matryoshka Table

I love gift trends. I love them. It's my secret vice, that since I've become the book buyer, I've put to good use. (Though it's not that different from "It's time we expanded our yoga section" or "I'm going to put a book about opera in our gift guide.*"Now not every trend works for us, but it's interesting to see the way these sorts of things grow, just like color trends.

Last year, I noticed a growing interest in nesting doll iconography in graphics. One trendy card line turned their card image into gift wrap. In the spring, another stationery line started using Russian dolls in their cards and a new line of coasters. And then it seemed one of our trendy gift vendors was all over the icon--nesting glasses and plastic measuring cups and key caps.

We did a cute little display in the spring that proved to be very popular. But what were we missing? Real matryoshkas. One vendor had a line a gimmicky plastic ones (mostly licensed) but license doesn't usually work for us very well.

I had found a good website, but it looked like it was more for retail. And then I found a vendor at the Chicago gift show, with reasonably priced, high quality dolls from Russia. I love them, and wanted them all. Knowing our limitations, the ones we brought it a nice selection of miniatures, all priced at $15.95 and $16.95. That said, our hit item still seems to be the measuring cups (not pictured--come to the store and see them!)

Best news of all--we filled the table with Russian fiction and culture, and books are selling off the table! My favorite? Elif Batuman's The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.
*For those who'd want us to put a book about opera in our gift guide, you can't beat the Florentine Opera Insights world premiere preview for "Rio de Sangre" this Tuesday, September 21st, at 7 PM. It's free and it's wonderful. More on this later.

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