Monday, December 8, 2014

Behind the Scenes

     We had our Open House both at the store and at  the complex where we are located last weekend.  For a small business owner this is both an honor (a way to say thank you to the customers who keep our doors open) and a lot of work!   There are the behind the scenes preparations which you would expect such as public relations meetings, emails with advertisers, etc.  But then there the moments you might not think of.  For starters there was last Tuesday evening spent at the grocery store buying large quantities of items.  Then on Wednesday I baked seven dozen cookies.  On Thursday I hauled as much as I could ahead of time and left it at the store for the weekend.  On Friday I had been asked to speak for our shopping center at an early morning news show which means being there ready to go at six a.m.    THAT MEANS SIX O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING!
     Of course I did not read the preparatory emails for the interview until nine thirty Thursday night.  How hard could this be?  I had thought about what to say and was pretty sure I could handle it.  I made a practice drive over there to make sure I would not get lost in the dark.  I knew what I was going to wear and even made sure it was ironed.  The curve came when our PR person suggested in the email that I print out the press release along with some other information to take to the television station with me.  Oh gosh!  My printer hadn't been feeling very well and I had to crawl around on the floor near it to try to coax it along but my efforts were futile.  Both dogs even gathered in to see what all the fuss was about but we could not get the darn thing to print anything useful.  It did eventually come up with something I needed weeks ago but that was all.  So, I did the only thing possible.  I called my neighbor and asked her to stay up a while longer and let me borrow her printing services.  It is a long story but after an hour and several phone calls to a college student we had the documents ready.  
     All went well on Friday's interview ( except they did not need the papers I had heroically printed the night before).   I left the show promptly by six thirty and went to Wal Mart to finish up shopping, then home to make and wrap the sandwiches and prepare trays of cookies.  I got everything finished up and the car loaded and then realized that I did not know where Nana (our St. Bernard) was.  Oh good grief.  I looked all over the yard and called and called.  Well, it was kind of a sultry day and our back porch concrete was sweaty.   In my haste to locate Nana I kind of skidded across the porch and ended up down flat !  Which of course, mad me tee tee in my pants just a little bit, and also, it kind of hurt!  I was lying there on the yucky  floor when I heard barking and looked up to see Nana standing inside the house and laughing at me through the window.....  
     I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and still had to go to the bank and then to work and I had slept only about four hours.   Then, just at this low point someone texted me to say that she had seen the interview and that I had done a good job.  Her kind words lifted my spirits and made me feel like my efforts were not for naught.  I share this for two reasons:  first, there is a lot of behind the scenes work involved in owning your own business.  Your day off is seldom entirely your day off.   There is always something to which you must attend.  And second, never, ever, underestimate the power of an encouraging word.  You just never know.  Your words could be the game changer for a sleep deprived stressed out  woman with a car full of food and pants that are just a little bit wet...... 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ho! Ho! Ho!

          Our stockings are hung and our shelves are stocked with goodies galore!
          Now all we need is you in the store!
          Please join us on December fifth and sixth
          to relish in a holiday retail fix!

                                                           Vineyard's Jolly Hollydays
                                                                 December 5 and 6
                                                                     9:30 - 5:00

                                              IT WILL NOT BE A PARTY WITHOUT YOU!!!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Critters in the Store!

     When my Mom died last year I inherited her love for all sorts of critters.  Apparently, this trait became dominant at market because look at all these adorable animals that have crept, crawled and burrowed their way into Vineyard's this fall!!!


                                         I LOVE EVERY ONE OF THEM!!!!!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Team Names

     So I heard on the news this morning that there is going to be a large group of people protesting the Washington Redskins game this weekend.  You know, because of their controversial name.  Oh boy, I need to get on a soapbox just for a minute.  What if all of the bluejays in Toronto suddenly swarmed the stadium like something in Hitchcock movie?   Or how about those Chicago Bears?  That could get ugly!   Just be glad all of the Cowboys in Dallas aren't on a rampage!   Seriously,  what are we supposed to name our teams?      Come on people, the world has enough real problems to keep us busy.  Let's move on.

     I also heard on the news that Amazon is gearing up for Christmas a little early this year.  That is fine.  But please, let me encourage you to visit your locally owned businesses during this holiday season.  Save some time for us.  We have great merchandise, personalized service and we are part of your community.  I hope to see you soon!!! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

   Please allow me to introduce you to the newest member of our Vineyard's staff.    Mallory Allen.

       Isn't she cute?    Mallory is from Florence, Alabama and graduated from Union with a degree in Graphic Design.  She was destined to work at Vineyard's because she came in just to shop and left with a job lined up!    We found out a little about her background and then realized that she had childcare the exact two days we needed someone.  Ann Marie had just left for her teaching position so we needed someone else to print invitations.  Voila, Mallory!

     Mallory met her husband, Josh, when they were interning at Englewood Baptist.   He is from Memphis but also graduated from Union.  Josh still works at Englewood as the Senior High Youth Minister.   Mallory is here on Tuesdays and            e  Thursdays while young Jake is at Mother's Day Out.  She is great with the printing assignments and also (her misfortune ) has to help the more senior associates with the computer.   We are so happy to have her and hope to capitalize on her many talents even more in the future!

What a sweet family!!!     Mallory and Jake are playing peekaboo at The Pumpkin Patch ..... 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


   Meet Debbie.

    Debbie has worked here several years now and has the most glamorous position at Vineyard's.  She gets to unpack boxes and listen to my bad attitude and go to the dumpster.   If you need forty 'leven  Christmas ornaments unpacked, priced, tagged and then arranged back in the box ---  she is your man.  If you need someone to call a vendor and curse at their customer service rep just let Debbie know.  She can handle it!!!
If a customer's order just never seems to arrive and someone has to speak to them on the phone yet one more time let Debbie do it.  She doesn't mind.


     Truthfully, I have never heard an unkind word spoken by Debbie.  She is unfailingly cheerful, polite and helpful.   We are kind of old dogs down here trying to keep up with technology and she not only is a good sport about it she seems to enjoy the challenge.  I really appreciate all that she does to keep us running and I cannot imagine how I got along without her.  She has two very handsome sons, a lovely daughter in law, a precious new granddaughter and a sweet husband.   She works on Tuesdays and Thursdays so if you call the store on those days and hear a really sweet voice on the phone it is Debbie!  Watch out though, you can't believe a word she says!

     Debbie hard at work entering new merchandise into our inventory .   She is probably thinking, " Who ordered all this stuff anyway?"

     Precious new baby Virginia.  Let's hope she grows up to be just like her grandmother!

                                                          THANK YOU, DEBBIE

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Uncle Sam's Directions

     When my Uncle Sam gave you street directions he would throw his head back, close his eyes so he could better visualize the lay of the land, and then the conversation would go something like this:  "Well, let's see --- now, you need to go south on the highway until you come to the old Wilson farm, then you turn right on that low road that runs along beside it.   When you see the field on the left where the old Baptist church used to be you need to take that road that angles off to the right and go on until you come to the orchard --- that used to be part of the Hooligan farm but I believe their third boy sold it to the Harton family, anyway just past the orchard turn on the high road that runs off to your right and you will see the entrance.  Then you are there!!!

     You think I am kidding, but I am not.  Furthermore, I always enjoyed Uncle Sam's directions and   I love the charm of old road names.  They are descriptive and  inviting.  Who could resist a trip down Lickskillet Road?   I can entertain myself   for hours riding around reading old street names.  On a recent trip to the mountains I persuaded my husband to turn around and let me get pictures of some real doosies so I could share them with you.  Regrettably,  I did not get to photograph Bee Tree Road.  I would like to have been there the day that one was named!

     When I got back from the trip I looked at some of my vendors' addresses for comparison.  Mary Rose Young, a British artist, has a charming address:  Oak House
                                                Arthur's Folly
                                                Parkend, Lyndney

Jars (a china line) has a nice address, also.   Theirs is 65 Pondfield Road and Blenko Glass Company is Fairgrounds Road.  Bernardaud China Company has particularly glamorous sounding address:  499 Park Avenue at 5th.   Ooh la la!!!  Lovely china, lovely address.

     Compare these to 5 Corporate Drive and many Post Office Box numbers.  But, the winner of the worst address of all is 32501 Collections Drive.  Yes, I really do send checks to that address.  I shall not name the company to avoid embarrassment                                                                     for them.

     My point is this :  in our dot com society I sincerely hope we do not throw out the baby with the bath water.  Yes, Vineyard's has a website now,  we have a blog, we are on Facebook and we are trying to get Instagram up to snuff but what I really hope is that people will come into our shop.  Smell our candles, pick up the merchandise, feel the texture and the weight of an item.  Chat with us and let us know how you are doing and if we can help you with a gift or  some stationery.   Escape for a while in Vineyard's.  Our address is 31-F Wiley Parker Road.  That does not sound particularly charming but I was pleased to learn that Wiley Parker was a real person.  I believe he owned a store!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014



     No one prepared me for this stage of parenting.  There are tons of books preparing you for having a baby,  potty training,  dealing with tantrums,  getting children safely through adolescence (on this one I think you can count no drug addictions, no lasting scars, and no arrests a win  ---  actually, even if these things happen and you are still standing you can count it a win)  and,  how to handle that first year of college.  But, there is absolutely  nothing that prepares a parent for the gut wrenching years of seeing your children through early adulthood.  This has been the hardest summer of my life and I am not ashamed to admit it.  One child  completed graduate school in a triumphant manner  ---  big celebration,  happy times,  lots of emotion and hoop-la followed by an even more emotional move to a far away city where I cannot get to her in under seven hours.  She is all alone.   I cannot be there to see her through.  She has to do this by herself.  I hope I have prepared her.

     Another child completed a graduate degree,  passed all the parts of an impossibly hard test and moved to a new city to begin a new job using the new degree.  It all sounded good.  Then there was a really bad break up which pretty much  brought us all to our knees and caused all kinds of turmoil and heartache followed by a rough adjustment to the new job.  Have I given him the skills he needs to navigate this road?

    Our daughter in law also began a new job this summer which has really been a challenge.   I wish so badly I could do this for her but I can't.  I hope I am the encourager and supporter she needs.     Am I doing my job?

     What brought on these dismal musings in this lightweight blog, you ask.  Well, our youngest child, the baby, turned 21 this weekend.  Of course, we had a fun celebration with friends and family at our home on Saturday night and  I want to share a few pictures from it with you.  
     You need to know that I like to use what I have on hand as much as possible.  If you could see my garden you would know that this year it was "slim pickins."   What it boiled down to was plenty of zinnias and a handful of ornamental peppers.  But, like the loaves and the fishes look at how it all turned out!

     I arranged the zinnias in martini glasses using some floral oasis and fern from my porch and the ornamental peppers looked great on an appetizer tray in a small silver pitcher.   Using surprising containers lifted my home-grown flowers to a new level!

     The table settings included pea shooters --- a huge hit,  paper pumpkins with surprises tucked inside and chalk table runners and buckets of chalk.  No, these were not four year olds, but, they loved it!

     The birthday girl loves art and I have discovered that the wonderful people at The Tulip Tree Wedding Chapel will tackle any cake.  Last year it was Van Gogh's Starry Night --- my very favorite painting, and this year I requested Van Gogh's Sunflowers.  Look at how well they turned out!!!


     I know all that techno stuff should not be in this picture but I do not know how to get rid of it.  I told you I am not good at technology.

    It would not be a party without friends.......

    So, to the birthday girl I would say that it is your time to sparkle and shine and even though this may seem like a rite of passage to you,  Dad and I know that it is really another milestone for us.  To all the parents of adult  children  I would say "Buck up!  Our job is never finished!"  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Punkins, Made on Acorn Hill

        I think I may need a pumpkin intervention.  Fall fever hits me pretty hard about this time every year and this year's cool weather has intensified the symptoms.  So far, I have visited the fruit stand (my Dad calls it the Peach Orchard) three times to load up on pumpkins.  They are my solution to a myriad of decorating issues in the fall.
        Need a table arrangement?  Pumpkins and squash, of course.
        Something by your front door?   A big, fat pumpkin would be perfect!
        A hostess gift?  Who wouldn"t love one of those small, warty ones?

      Vineyard's doesn't sell pumpkins but we are celebrating the first day of autumn on Tuesday, September 23.  We will be giving away a bar of  Made on Acorn Hill soap to customers spending over $25.00.   These soaps and other products are fabulous and made right here in Jackson, Tennessee of goat's milk and other natural ingredients.  ( We fondly think of them as the goat girls....).   Also, for that one day only our fall decorations will be 20% off.  Yes, this does include potpourri and candles!
      I hope to see you Tuesday to help celebrate the official beginning of my favorite season and just in case you are wondering --- Green Acres Pumpkin Patch in Milan says on their recording that they will probably open this Saturday, the 20th.   I know --- I have called!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

West Tennessee State Fair

     Remember when we used to get out of school an hour early to go to the fair?  Somehow, I have never outgrown that excitement.   One year when my kids were in high school I still managed to get everyone rounded up to go the fair with me because they were having a costume contest for cows!  I could hardly wait to get there.  Well, maybe  the costumes were a bit lackluster,  but cows never disappoint.  They are always calm and beautiful.  Have you ever seen prettier eyelashes?

    Last year we had to rush to the fairgrounds when I heard about the monkeys racing on dogs.   I simply had to see the Banana Race.  And, it was fun --- and cute --- and over pretty quickly!

     This year it was Kachunga, the alligator wrestler, that beckoned.   I mean, how often do we Jacksonians get to see a real alligator wrestler?  So, Friday after work John and I went to the fair.  He was only a week out of surgery so we took it kind of slow but we ate 4H chicken of course,  saw the Banana Race,  spent some time with the cows,  ( I remembered too late that my mother forbade me to ever wear open toed shoes to the fair ---  won't do that again), went to the tractor pull, viewed the exhibits and of course, attended Kachunga's show which proved to be informative and delightful!

    I am proud to say that Vineyard's own Denise Stuart was responsible for putting together the crop competition booth in the exhibit hall.  No, she is not a farmer, not even a native West Tennessean but she is fulfilling the requirements for her master gardener certification.  The booth looked great --- maybe too good.  I think the powers that be are lobbying Denise to participate next year!

     Why does the fair fascinate me so?  I don't know......It is just so hometown.  So unifying.   I mean gosh, sentimental..  How could you not get a lump in your throat when the giant Skytrak forkliftie thing held up a colossal American flag for the national anthem at the tractor pull?   Or, when the most adorable little boy you have ever seen manhandled his prize winning heifer around the cattle ring?  Or when very hardworking and polite teenagers waited on you at dinner?   So, next year I hope to see you at the fair.  A word of advice though --- be sure to wear thick socks and tennis shoes.
                    Sweet face.....                                  

Denise's booth.......

     A prize winning watermelon.  Be glad I did not show you the video I took of this guy.  I told you I am not good with technology!  Truly, a 20 second video!!!  Don't worry, you did not miss much!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Peaches and Cream

Before all of the peaches get away from us I want to show you this cute table from a family dinner at my house this summer.  I used Caspari  plates and napkins and Skyros  peasant mats.  The gladiolas were quite inexpensive, the zebra grass was from my yard and the peaches were put to good use after the meal!

Sometimes things just work out well and when they do I like to share ideas.  Stop by the store soon to see new fall paper products! 


Saturday, August 30, 2014

From the Attic Number One

     What is it like to own your business, you ask.  Hmmmm.  Well, it is kind of like jumping out of an airplane with no parachute.  Especially when you consider my work background which consisted of teaching school and then being a stay at home Mom for thirteen years.  My retail experience was running the front register of the Old Country Store when I was in college.  So, when I bought Vineyard's, oh boy, I dove right in!!!  I have learned every single lesson the hard way and have some funny stories of my goofs which I will share by and by.

     This is a new blog.  I am Joy Meriwether, owner of Vineyard's Gifts. and the least technical person you know.  Yet, here I am.  Hell could freeze over tonight --- don't be surprised!

     Back to your unasked question.....   Owning this gift shop is like jumping out of an airplane with no parachute in that it is intense and exciting but hopefully, this ride will last more than a few seconds and we will not end up in heap on the ground!  I do have some safety nets below me:  faithful customers, capable and committed employees, good reps with great products, and an unfailing desire to achieve that perfect balance of elegance  and whimsy.  There is always something new down here which keeps me thinking and moving along.  Sometimes it lures me, sometimes it drags me along and sometimes it pushes me almost over the edge but it definitely keeps me moving!

     Although I am technologically challenged I am completely passionate about this store, our merchandise and most of all, the people who shop and work here.  I love being a part of your lives and in this space I hope to share with you products, events, and people that excite me.  To fully understand this blog you need to know that my desk at Vineyard's is literally in the attic of the store and from my window I view the pine trees that you see here.  In each entry I shall give you glimpses of Vineyard's from my point of view:
FROM THE ATTIC.              


     This adorable vase is handmade of fabric pressed between leaded glass.  My daughter filled it with zinnias from our garden.  Who would not want to receive this precious gift?