Tuesday, May 13, 2008

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

Our springtime here continues to be on the chilly side, but that has helped to extend the flowering season in nearby Central Park. We have had lots of April and May showers and the still new leaves on the trees are very green and very heavy, really weighing down some of this year's fresh branches.

On a recent Park walk after recent rain, I took this photo which give you a little idea of the mood of that overcast day.

I regret that I have not had more time to take such walks in the Park due to having the usual busy times at the shop. Despite media reports of our being in a recession (or maybe just on the edge) our shop has had its busiest spring ever.

How wonderful that I was able to add another staff member, and that she is terrific. We all just work together, enjoying each others' company, and trying to keep our customer service skills high. Many evenings when 7 p.m. (the posted closing hour) arrives, we still have customers in the fitting rooms, trying on clothes, making their decisions. The two or three of us who are still there as the "closing shift" are by then so, so tired, but we do try to remain poised and gracious until that last customer has left the shop.

This results in great sales figures, but also in very tired folks, who have been working a physically and mentally challenging job for over eight hours. Still, we laugh and compliment and complement each other, and get up the next day to do it again!

This past Sunday was Mother's Day here in the States, and I was able to let all but one of the mothers on my staff have the day off. The four of us who were to work on Sunday wondered just how busy we would be. The answer was ... very. As a gesture on that day we had purchased lots of deep red and pale coral roses, so that we could present one long stem to each lady who visited us that day. It was a simple thing to do, but seemed to be quite popular.

Yesterday was super rainy and windy, and not an ideal day for a celebration, or maybe it was. Scheduled months ago, it was the day of my employer's annual service awards luncheon, which honors folks reaching milestone anniversaries with the company ... five, ten, fifteen years and more. I attended to support two members of my staff who were being so honored. We traveled via a chartered shuttle bus from the company's Garment District showroom to a beautiful site overlooking the Hudson River. The building was once the home of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.

As always, the luncheon was beautifully catered, and it was great fun to get re-acquainted with old friends, and to meet new ones. The event is usually somewhat emotional as well, because we all really do believe that our company is just a bit different in that we do care about each other.

Afterwards, the shuttle bus took us back to the City. Of course, many folks attending the event drove their own cars or used other transportation. We do have many locations in the metropolitan suburbs and anyone living in those areas cannot rely, as I do, on public transportation.

I also wanted to thank all the folks who have been posting words and comments about their beautiful gardens, and the exercise and delight that those gardens ensure. I have mentioned before that my apartment is not at all plant friendly, and thought that I would share with you a little photo that proves my words true.

These two scraggly survivors are too stubborn to totally give up. This view is from my living room and, as you can see, has a vista facing across an air space to other apartments. Thank goodness that the view from my bedroom is much more open and lets me see sky, trees, interesting architecture.
Perhaps you now know more of why I do have country dreams.


  1. Oh hellooooo Frances. There have been times when I had been in shops here at closing time - and the staff made it very clear that I was wanted out and now . . . clearly not the case in your shop - despite the fact that you all obviously work so hard - you put the customer first. What a lovely idea to offer flowers on mother's day - no wonder where you work is doing so well and the staff and you are so happy.

    And how lovely too to have an awards ceremony - wouldn't it be amazing if all work places were like yours.

    Ah would that I lived a little nearer I would be supplying you with house plants . . . taking away the ones that weren't doing so well and replacing them with new ones.

  2. we are in high summer here! All fit to end with the advent of cricket starting on thurs (I WILL reply about that, promise!!! but a BIG question) awards ceremony does sound nice and great that you could go along too. All very caring. The attitude of most of the staff at your shop (headed by you!) is not one I've encountered desperately often over here. Would love to wonder in anonymously and witness it all (and steal a rose!)

  3. Here in France shops give women a single rose on mothers day I find it very charming!!!

  4. The rose is a lovely idea, and as UPL says, it happens here too.
    You must be exhausted at the end of a day, serving ladies who may not always be easy!

  5. Hello Frances, I can picture you being 'poised and gracious' in your shop and how lovely to give each lady a rose on Mother's day.

  6. Hello Frances. I love your blog - such a refreshing view on life in one of my favourite cities. I'd love to come and visit your shop one day - highly unlikely that I'd be troubling your changing rooms, and I'd be out before seven, of that you can be sure! I used to work in a clothes shop (nothing like as grand as yours!) and I was always gnashing my teeth if a customer came in just before closing.

  7. I am the same as you Frances in my wee library, I have never hastened anyone on their way at closing time and some (most) librarians do I have to say.

    The rose idea was lovely, shows what a caring firm you work for or was it your own personal choice?

    I wish all employers were as caring as yours seem to be.

  8. This is going to sound like a cliche but pride in offering a good service is so rare here and it's something that drives me bonkers. Your professional attitude clearly results in higher staff morale, increased customer satisfaction and must make your work very satisfying - well done.

  9. I obviously haven't had the pleasure of meeting you in person Frances, but I bet if anyone can remain gracious and poised until the end of the day, it is you. A happy shop is a productive shop, sales wise, and a wonderful reflection on you as the manager.

  10. Hello Frances. Your photo kind of belies your claim about plants as they look quite healthy against the window - I imagine the light must be a problem for you, but oh those park walks! Beautiful.

    So pleased to hear the shop is still as busy in these worrying times and how wonderful to be able to hire a new member of staff. Love the idea of the roses for Mothering Sunday xx

  11. Hello Frances - it's taken me a while to pop across the pond to you but I've finally made it! Lovely to see your face and your world. My husband was in New York just last week (Sun to Tues) and I think the sun shone the whole time. Clearly it has changed since! Our springime here is tardy and still a mite chilly (well, up in the north where I am at least!), though Sunday was a beautifully hot day (and a one-off!).

    I'm so glad your shop is thriving in these difficult times - but I think I can see why treating your customers with the care and respect that you do. I'm afraid to say, I would be one of the women in the changing rooms at 7 o'clock - I'm always doing everything at the last minute!

    The award ceremony sounds lovely and you are clearly lucky to work for a company which treats you so well - you see, if you get treated well, you treat your customers well too, don't you? If only more companies were like yours...

  12. That picture taken in Central Park reminds me very much of one I used to live near in London - the image really captures the mood of a much-enjoyed green oasis in the middle of a great city. I hope your employers appreciate all the hard work and dedication you and your staff seem to put into the shop and glad to hear you had a successful Spring.

  13. The lovely picture of Central Park Frances, reminds me of the many walks I used to go to at Regents Park in London.

    I would love to be able to visit your wonderful shop, I know I would be greeted by the warmth and care of you Frances, and your wonderful staff too. What a charming gesture to give a Rose to all Mother's, think other shops here should do the same.

    May the continual sales to your customers go from strength to strength.


  14. Greetings from Marrakech!
    I love getting your comments
    see you in June.
    All best wishes

  15. i love those plants..
    its a nice place to put the plants they should get sun there..