Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Buy Local - Installment 3

I ran across these posters produced by the American Independent Business Alliance.

I guess that tells the whole story.

For our readers who are businesses you can purchase these posters through the American Independent Business Alliance website on their merchandise page - click here. for more information, they're very affordable!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Buy Local, Installment II

We are thrilled to be in business in Downtown New Bern after 19 years.

So many of our customers have become our friends.

And so have the artists.

I know 90% of the people that make the things we sell. Many, I've been to their studios and watched them work. I know their kids and their spouses. They've become friends too.

We share information. I was at a show a couple weeks ago and one of our artists was telling me about some new work she was doing, she was firing at a lower temperature than she was used to and was having problems with bubbles in the glaze. I've had the same problem and told her how I fixed it. We were having cracking issues and another told us how to prevent them.

It would be impossible for all of our customers to know all these artists but we're all connected. The customer to us, us to the artist. We see things an artist makes, and know which of our customers would like it.

We buy supplies around the corner at Art Materials, they buy from us.

We make tiles and buy the glue we use on the back, we buy screws, lightbulbs, keys, tools, plumbing parts, sandpaper at Mitchell Hardware. Every year I look forward to the evenings I stay open late during December and Mitchell Hardware comes shopping for Christmas, or birthdays or whatever.

We buy lunch at Cow Cafe, Capt Ratty's, Port City Java, Bakers Square, to name a few. And they buy from us.

And on and on.

It's a different life than a lot of people know.

We have customers that we've had since the day we opened on Middle Street. We know their kids and have watched their families grow.

We know parents with kids at camp. They come every year. Then they'll disappear for a few years and the kids come back as counselors, they get married, then their kids come to camp and on its goes. Almost every year I do a special series of gifts that are given to Camp doctors, or Board members. They buy from us, we buy from the guy around the corner, the guy around the corner sends his kids to camp.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Buying Local, Installment 1

Today I read in USA Weekend an article called Local & Loving it, One writer's quest to help her community by celebrating birthdays closer to home. The author is Natalie Ermann Russell.

It made me think about how we live.

Michael and I live in Downtown New Bern, we walk to work - Carolina Creations, we walk to the Post Office, we walk to the Galley Stores, Mitchell Hardware, One World Shoppe, Four Cs, Chelsea Restaurant, Captain Ratty's, Nauti Paws, Julliettes, the Pepsi Store, Bear Essentials, Branchs and on on and on.

We walk around Union Point Park and over to the Sheraton, soon to be Hilton, and eat on the deck and look at all the Yachts. It makes me feel like I'm on vacation, and I can do it every day!! How lucky can you get.

I'm digressing here but we LOVE our new house. With all the windows and the view I feel like I'm on a cruise ship. We see all the way down the Neuse River in both directions. I can lay in bed and see sail boats and out another window the steeple of First Baptist church. When I climb the stairs to the second floor the steeple of City Hall is framed in a window. I can see the onion on the top of the Sudan Temple and the Craven County Courthouse steeple.

Now back to the buying local theme!

Natalie said in her article "There are good reasons for buying local. It reduces the need for shipping, which reduces pollution, and it supports the local community. A study we did found that for every $100 spent in a chain store, $14 went back into the local economy. for a locally owned business it was $45."

"Locally owned businesses buy a lot of services from other local businesses. So by buying from one local business, you're not only supporting that business, you're supporting other local businesses."

I know you can't buy everything locally but like Ann Bartz with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies says you should look locally first.

The closest shop to our house is the Galley Stores, they have meat, vegetables (both fresh and frozen - btw the frozen corn is the freshest I've ever tasted) spaghetti sauce, cake mix etc.. Did you know that they buy from restaurant suppliers so much of the frozen items are the same quality you would eat in a restaurant. They have a great selection of beer and wine, bread, milk, cleaning supplies, etc. It is a miniature grocery store and it sells gas as well. How more local can you get - 40 steps from my front door!

At Carolina Creations we sell the paintings I do and the pottery that Michael and I make in our East Front Street pottery. The clay we use comes from North Carolina. I buy my painting supplies at Art and Materials on Middle Street 3 blocks from my home.

Some other New Bern artists whose work we carry are Stan Harmon fused glass panels, pottery by Jim Bisbee and Carolyn Curran, paintings by Ruth Heppler, Rita Fugimagari, T Rader, and regionally we represent Michael Brown furniture, soft sculpture by Suzanne Coatta, paintings by Salay Anger, Mary Page Whitley, Janet Atkins, and on and on. All these artists buy their groceries and clothes locally with dollars they earn creating their products and selling them through our gallery. It's a real boon to our local economy when we can keep our money in town.

I want to thank Mike Foster and NPR for the ads they've been running about shopping locally. And I would also like to thank NPR, the Sun Journal, The Herald, the Greenbrier Gazette and all the other local papers, Arts Alive, New Bern Magazine and WITN for the free coverage they gave to our Downtown events through the Dickens of a Christmas.

I'm calling this post Buy Local, Installment 1, and will write future posts about what you can buy locally in Downtown New Bern!

Ciao, Jan Francoeur

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pansy season

It's pansy time here, having grown up in Michigan I still find it hard to believe (after 20 years living in New Bern) that pansies bloom outside here all winter.

We are in zone 8 being so close to the Gulf Stream.

Pansies are very popular here so Michael and I have been making pottery "Pansy Rings" - a vase for short stemmed flowers.

Michael throws them and I decorate them.

They also work great for camelias and my favorite gardenias.

They measure about 4 1/2" across and 1 " tall.

If you're interested in one visit our website by clicking here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Our tree

Michael made this Christmas tree on our 2nd floor porch out of strings of lights.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tryon Palace Makes Time Magazines Top 10 List of Places in the Nation to Find the Most Holiday Cheer

We were thrilled to read that Time Magazine honored Tryon Palace by naming it one of the Top 10 Places in the nation to visit for Christmas.

We've known all along it was a GREAT place!

Read all about it!

Tryon Palace is just4 blocks from our house on Pollock Street. On Saturday night we were able to look out the back window of our house and watch the fireworks that wrapped up the candlelight tours for this year.

Not a bad street to live on!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Street

Here are a few photos of our street, Pollock Street. Our gallery is in the 300 block and our house is in the 200 block.

The 200 block where our house is is lined with B & B's.

City Hall is across the street from our gallery.

Further down on Pollock Street in the 600 block is Tryon Palace, our citys biggest atraction (2nd only to our location at the confluence of the Neuse & Trent rivers.)

More about Tryon Palace in my next blog entry

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Here it is December 20

Boy have I been a slow blogger this month!

I've been in the gallery every day since Thanksgiving so haven't had much time to think about anything other than business.

We are really pleased with the reception our first year of "A Dickens of a Christmas" has gotten.

I thought I had photos of every one of our story boards but it seems I'm missing some. We'll pick them up from the merchants the week after christmas and get photos of them all and post them.

With all the downward pressure we have, Broad Street, the Bridge, the tanked economy, we are thrilled that we've been busy! Between being open extra hours, our website sales and phone sales we are only slightly behind 2007 which was a banner year for us.

We have friends with galleries in Boston, San Francisco, Denver and Houston that are all suffering with the economy. My family lives in Michigan and they are REALLY hurting with whats going on in the auto industry. No matter what your business is or what you do for a living, every single person in Michigan is affected by the auto industry, like it or not. So we're keeping our fingers crossed that things turn around for them soon.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank every one of our customers for their support and hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gift Guide

Here are some gift ideas in every price range

We have gifts Under $25
Beautiful nail files - $14, $16, $20
New Bern Ornaments - $12
Soy Candles - $6.50
Funky Reindeer - $16
Collegiate Wine Glasses - $15
New Bern Wine Glasses - $17
New Bern Tea Towel - $16
Bear Christmas Ornament - $15
Solemate Socks - $18
A variety of Christmas Earrings - $14 & up
New Bern Notecards - $5
Hand crafted soap - $4.75 - $10
Stuart Nye Earrings - $11 & up
New Bern Desk Calendar - $15
Hand blown glass ornaments - $24
Journals by Brush Dance, Moleskin, Exaclair and others - $8.95 to $25
Clever Toothbrush Holders - $9.95-$12
Pansy Rings - $16
and lots more!

Jewelry by over 25 artists earrings $25 & up
Moving Sand Sculptures $54 or $74
Blown Glass Starfish - $34
Flying ladies papier mache - $44 to $72
New Bern Coasters, set of 4 - $42.50
Neuse River Coasters, set of 4 - $42.50
Neuse River Clock - $44
Framed New Bern Prints - $38-$75
Maruca purses - $26-$74
Hand decorated tile of New Bern landmarks - $54
Hand Crafted Wood boxes - $24 to $74
Hand blown wine glasses - $74
Pottery made in New Bern by Janet & Michael Francoeur - $24-$75
Pottery made in New Bern by Jim Bisbee - 34-$74
Hand crafted wood trays - $44 & $54

$76 and Up
14kt gold jewelry by Ben Dyer and others
Original paintings by regional artists
Clay sculptureSteel Clocks
Leaf Leather pursesBlown glass by Josh Simpson and other glass blowers
Large jewelry boxes
Ceramics by over 30 professional artists
Watches by Watchcraft, Skagen, Ann Allen, Sandy Baker
One of a kind Plaques by Sticks - $115
Lazy Susans by Sticks - $385
Small frames by Sticks - $144
And of course LOTS MORE!
Visit our website www.carolinacreations.com or better yetstop in!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's Hot?

My friend Greg was in tonight and asked "what's the hot item this year - that you didn't expect?"

Well we have been surprised that our glass nail files are just FLYING out of the gallery! when I first heard about them I was skeptical, a nail file? Big deal I said. But we're always looking for gifts under $20 so said sure, send us some.

That was October 1 and today we're waiting for our 5th order to arrive. They make a great stocking stuffer, gift for the girls at the office, etc. For more information click Nailfiles.

Another is lip balm - go figure. This lip balm is "a one-of-a-kind lip moisturizer that is equal parts fashion statement and sun protection confection. Exclusively patented and formed for your inner trend setter, this stylish sphere is bound to be the envy of lip addicts everywhere. Packed with the latest and greatest in pucker protection technology, Ballmania delivers a crucial combination of oils, butters and full spectrum UVA/UVB lip armor."

It comes in a ball that opens, it's easy to find in the bottom of your purse because of the shape. Lip Balm We used it on our face one day to prevent getting a sun burn, we smelled like vanilla but we didn't get burned.

Other "hot items" are the ever popular mismatched socks, moving sand pictures, our pansy rings, funky clay reindeer, our exclusive New Bern Wine Glasses and tea towels, the New Bern desk calendar, blown glass ornaments, Michaels and my Celebration Pottery, The Carolina Hooker to name a few.

We've got 2 weeks until Christmas! It's an exciting and beautiful time in downtown new bern.

Jan Francoeur

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This weekend

There is a lot going on Downtown this weekend!

We'll have our luminaries on Friday evening 5-8pm with a Dickens of a Christmas Trolley Tours at 5:30 & 7.

At 6:30 the Downtown residents association is going to be caroling in the business district.

16 shops and restrauants will be open friday evening until 8 pm (at least).

The Nutcracker is this weekend only at the civic theatre, The Holly and Ivy Tour, the Candlelight Tour at Tryon Palace.

On sunday there is a Dickens Christmas at the Library and don't forget that there are 14 shops and restaurants open Downtown on Sunday. Our hours are 11-5.

For the details on these events go to www.downtownnewbern.blogspot.com.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Anne Marie Chagnon

Lou came back from a trip with a fabulous piece of jewelry by Anne Marie Chagnon last year. We tracked her down and have been representing her work since.

Anne-Marie is a graduate of Fine Arts of the Université du Québec à Montréal, Anne-Marie creates her scupltural jewelry inside a constant research of asymmetric equilibrium. Her jewelery reflects the creator, at once eccentric and aethestic, intriguing and seductive. Her pieces are made from fine pewter, glass and pvc. Never Common, always unique.

“From as far as I can remember, I always loved making all sorts of objects. As a child, I recycled my mom’s jewels, making new ones by welding them with my dad’s tools. Today the materials have changed but the passion has remained intact, whole and bold.”

Her work is VERY COOL!

We have some pieces on our website. Click here

Friday, December 05, 2008

December Slow Blogging

December is always a tough time for me to do anything but finish commissions and be in the gallery.

With our newly revamped website we are not only busy in the gallery but we're busy online as well. Since we've been listening to the news we're thrilled that we are busy!

In the next few days I'll post some new pieces we've just finished and talk about some new artists like Anne Marie Chagnon and her very unusual jewelry.