Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The evolution of the pirate ship

Here are some photos of the progress of the pirate ship from plywood laid on the floor of the shop of Nate Piper, our own shipwright, up in New Hampshire to the current form at YoYo Joe's. Nate and Krissy (my sister) are working on it right now. The second mast was raised an hour or so ago. Here's a photo of the plywood subfloor laid out at Nate's shop. Not too exciting, huh? But, that's the beginnings of our pirate ship. Next, here is a photo of the base of the ship - the deck of the ship. See, I wasn't kidding about how sturdy it is.

The next photo is of the two masts of the pirate ship. Each mast is nearly 16 foot in length. Yes, I mean the photo of the boards glued together. Nate constructed each mast of four planks glued together, then carved down to a round mast. According to Nate, using a single timber would be bad because the wood would dry, and split in time. (the photo shows the two masts on top of each other, each mast is four planks). This result is a square timber that is carved down to a round pole by first making an eight sided shape, then 16 sided and so on until it appears to be a round pole. If you check the masts at YoYo Joe's, you'll see that it is slightly flat on each facet, not a perfectly round shape. I think you'll also find it hard to determine that it's a laminated piece of wood and not from one solid timber.

This next photo shows the view of the ship from the front, with the sides attached. Obviously, it's not finished at this point, but you get a good idea of what it's shape will be like.

On the areas where the ship has been screwed together, there are slight recesses in the wood. These recesses have been filled by wooden 'bungs.' Each of these bungs is drilled out of wood. Here's a photo of Patty Piper, Nate's mom, drilling the bungs from a piece of wood stock. This next picture shows Krissy filling the holes with the bungs. And, yes, the hole that the bung fills, is......a bunghole. There you go, you learned something. Perhaps Beavis & Butthead dabbled in shipbuilding at some point.

And, finally, my family all gathered together last night at YoYo Joe's - all of em. My sister Wendy, her husband Ric, my brother Tom, his wife Elise and their son Graham, my father, Emily, Ethan and I all were here. My dad was kind enough to bring a pile of pirate gear to get us in the mood, and Ethan, never the shy one, was kind enough to sport it for us. Arrgggh, indeed!

Check in tomorrow for more pics as the ship evolves!

First look at the pirate ship...

It's coming together. Yesterday my sister Kris and her husband Nate carried in the four pieces of the pirate ship. Two of the pieces are the base of the unit - a two foot platform on which the pirate ship will rest. It's rock solid - it looks like it could hold a house - actually, according to Nate, it is better supported than most houses! The other two pieces are the sides of the ship. These will rise off the base and provide a railing for those on the ship itself. The ship is all wood - a combination of spruce and plywood. Check out this little detail - tacked to the bow is a spruce branch. This is a traditional ship process that provides an homage to where the wood for the ship came from. Kinda cool, eh?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yo Ho Ho Ho, A Pirate's (ship) Life for Me.

Tomorrow is a big day at YoYo Joe's. The painters show up at 7:30 am - a little under seven hours from now. PLUS, the pirate ship shows up. Did I mention the pirate ship? No? Oh, it's just a 14 foot by 10 foot wooden pirate ship designed and handcrafted by Nate Piper of Maine.

Who's Nate? Well, besided being my brother-in-law, he's one of the people who came to Delaware to build the Kalmar Nyckel - Delaware's tall ship. He's a real wooden shipbuilder, having gone to school specifically to learn the craft of wooden ship building. He makes his living up in New England building and repairing wooden ships, so we're blessed to have him building our own pirate ship.

The ship is going to be awesome. It will be elevated two feet off the floor. Kids will be able to get up onto the ship by going up a small set of stairs, and they can get off the ship by either going back down the stairs, or taking a small slide down off the ship. Plus, it will have a real ship's wheel, two masts, a yardarm, a sail, anchor and the cannon we previously posted back on Talk Like a Pirate Day. I will be taking lots of photos, so tune in tomorrow night for photographic evidence of said pirate ship.

it's electric!

Thanks to my brother, Tom, we have electric at our checkout counter. Kinda hard to hook up the cash registers without electric. Tom and I spent a good five hours at YoYo Joe's today hooking up the electric to the pole to our checkout counter, as well as messing with the phone lines. For some reason, the kind folk at Cargo Kids (the previous tenants at our space) pulled the pole from the sales floor, cutting the electric, phone and network cable. Tom and I spent hours tracing lines to determine where they went from the telephone juncture box. We got the phone lines running to the office and to the pole.
Yay Tom!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

...with a little help from our friends...

Our wonderful friends and family have been invaluable to us in these weeks (has it only been weeks?) since we signed our lease and got into our space. My sister Wendy and brother-in-law Ric and nephew Jared have volunteered for days - painting, hauling shelving, helping us build displays. My sister Kris and her husband Nate are headed down from New England on Monday. Nate is bringing the partial construction of the pirate ship. Which will be awesome. Dave Lovelace (no relation), who worked with me at Mitchell's for years and his friend John actually walked (yes, walked) from Mitchell's today carrying a 20 foot metal strip for our shelving in the back. Yes, walked. My brother Tom, his wife Elise and our nephew Graham have stopped by several times and Tom will be helping me run network wire later today. My dad has been by a bunch of times, giving us suggestions from decades in retail. And to top it off, our good friend Ann Lake has volunteered several days, including today (er...yesterday), where she just left about half an hour ago! Emily and Ann marked tons of toys today - getting previews on playing with many of them.
Honestly, we'd be waaaaaay behind where we are without our friends and family. Thank you to all of you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Toy Hall of Fame announced nominees for 2008

Twelve toys were nominated to join the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. The toys nominated were: Baby Doll, Clue, Dollhouse, Flexible Flyer Sled, The Game of Life, Hot Wheels, Magic 8-Ball, Rubik's Cube, Skateboard, Thomas the Tank Engine, Whiffle Ball and Yahtzee.
Only two of the finalists will be inducted into the Hall-Of-Fame. The Strong Museum will announce the winners on Thursday, November 6th.
As mentioned here, Thomas the Tank Engine presented the Strong Museum with a petition signed by 33,000 Thomas fans, collected from the 'Day Out With Thomas' events around the country.
As of today, there are 38 toys currently enshrined in the Toy Hall of Fame - including the Duncan yo-yo, Lionel Trains and Scrabble. To visit the National Toy Hall of Fame, click here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Birthday! Now, back to work.

Today is Emily's birthday. She celebrated it by cleaning the floor at YoYo Joe's for, oh, about 15 hours. And, she's been doing that for about a week now. It's tough, hard work, but the floor looks friggin awesome. She's a trooper. Happy Birthday, Emily!

It's Not Mean to be Green

Nope, not at all. It's pretty darn cool to be green, actually. And, hey, it's trendy! All the cool kids are going green. It's all the rage.

Actually, that's the title of a new childrens book that's been released by Pink Sand Press. The author, Jamie Kleman, is a friend of our good friend Gayle Lafferty and Gayle was kind enough to ask her about doing a reading at YoYo Joe's. Jamie agreed, so she's gonna be at YoYo Joe's on Saturday, October 25th in the morning. We're not sure of the exact time just yet, but check back here for more information. Come join us with your children to hear a great message and be among the first people to see YoYo Joe's. Our first reading!

Thanks Gayle and Jamie!

Boxes Boxes Boxes!

I've been ordering like a mad man the past two weeks. Funny thing about that, after a period of time, the orders actually show up. In the past two days, over 100 cartons of toys have showed up. Toys from Playmobil, Safari, North American Bear, Cloud-B, Around the Table Games, Out of the Box Games, Schylling and more. Check out the pic above of the back room - already many more boxes than when I shot the Tour de Store video, eh? eh?
Just today, I dropped piles of money on toys from companies like Alex, Thomas the Tank Engine, Lamaze, Carerra slot cars, Blue Orange Games, Gamewright Games, wind-up toys, Thames and Kosmos and more. And, since our fixtures aren't finished being recoated and we're waiting on the painting to be finished, we've gotta stack up these orders in the back room. It's a race to the finish!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tour de Store

OK, it's 12:25 AM, so I may be a wee bit punchy. Here's a quick video I took of a tour of the store as of about five minutes ago.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Counter installation is underway

Emily was hard at work late Friday night as we were getting the counter island ready for YoYo Joe's. Suffice it to say, they're pretty darn nice counter area - with room for gift-wrapping!

Me? I'm wrasslin with QuickBooks.


Avast ye mortals, it's time ye walked the plank!

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and we're celebrating it by unveiling one of the props we're going to use on the pirate ship at YoYo Joe's. It's a life-size replica of a pirate cannon! With a real piratey kinda guy behind it! Local artist Andre Kerr made this cannon for an exhibition and has loaned it to us for the pirate ship. The piratey dude behind it is Ethan, our son.

Andre, by the way, is making us a grove of palm trees for the store. I first saw his work at Dogfish Head in Rehoboth, where he had several dogfish carvings for sale.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Plan Toys

I placed a big fat order today for one of my favorite toy companies. A company that does things right. One that makes really cool, fun toys that were socially responsible before being socially responsible was cool. Just look at their theory on being a 'green' company:

"PlanToys® practices the “Three R’s” of green living: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Our manufacturing processes are designed to reduce waste and save energy. We reuse materials, and have introduced innovative methods to recycle paper and other products. We are always looking for new ways to improve and preserve our environment."

They've been using preservitive free rubber wood since 2004 and water based non-toxic paint since 1994.

That's a concept we are going to try to emulate at YoYo Joe's.

Plus, not to ignore the most important thing about their toys - they're awesome! Look for them in the Plan displays when YoYo Joe's opens...


It's an animal! It's a transformer! It's both, both things in one! Zoomorphs arrived today at YoYo Joe's. They're sitting in the back room in their cardboard cases, just itching to get out and get purchased and morphed from one animal to another. Each set includes from 35-60 pieces, and all of the pieces from all 15 sets are interchangeable so the number of horrendous beasts you can create is limited only by your imagination. (Remember imagination?) Suggested for ages four & up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Überstix = Überrific!

Ja! Das ist sehr gut! Überstix ist über kühl.

OK, they sound über German, yet it's an American company, based in Idaho. This award-winning contruction toy can incorporate recycled elements into it's designs. Things like water bottles, paper clips, McDonald's straws, KNEX and Lego pieces and more, plus the Überstix products are made from recycled plastic.

Corolle Dolls

French dollmaker Corolle sent our order confirmation today, so YoYo Joe will know dolls. Check out this cuter than cute babydoll, named Tidoo Suce-Pouce (?). It's twelve inches tall, sucks it's thumb, and has 'sleeping eyes,' which I take to mean that it's eyes close when it lies down. It's also made specifically for bathtime fun - Tidoo floats! It is filled with polystyrene 'beads,' which will dry after being removed from the tub.
Girl toys were always a weak spot for Mitchell's. I attributed it to the image that Mitchell's portrayed - we were primarily a 'boy toy' store - lots of hobbies and trains. We're going to address that weakness by making sure we have lots of toys that are traditionally associated with girls. Look for Tidoo when YoYo Joe's opens this October!

Counter mania

We got our checkout counter delivered today as well as some other store displays. It weighed over one and a half tons. As the truck driver asked me, "who else is here to help you?," I looked around me signifying that I was it. We spent a while unloading, and he was kind enough to help me move most of the counters into the store. One massive carton was left outside (our six foot glass case). Thankfully, my brother Tom and nephew Kyle showed up later to help me move it into the store. So, we have a checkout counter. Our power will be switched on tomorrow (ahh, power), we get our phone installed in a week (302-478-8FUN). Things are moving along quite nicely now. Look for a photo of the counter setup tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pegboard for dayz

Today, I worked at Mitchell's all day. Emily was at YoYo Joe's, where she and my brother-in-law Ric painted miles of pegboard. The pegboard goes in the fixtures we dropped off last Friday. They painted the pegboard white. Sadly, while I stopped by this afternoon, I did not take a picture of the pegboard lined up behind the store. I know, you had your heart set on seeing piles o pegboard. I have to say, my sister Wendy and Ric have been unbelievable this past week. After spending all of Friday helping me haul fixtures around, Ric spent hours painting for us today. Thanks!
I did place one order today for an item Emily I liked at Toy Fair, the Twilight Turtle. It's a plush toy, whose back will project a starry night onto the ceiling of any room in blue, green or amber. The turtle even projects eight constellations onto the ceiling. How cool is that?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bananagrams (ba dee bedebe)

Third order for YoYo Joe's placed. They should be coming hot and heavy now. Today's order was for an award winning game called Bananagrams. It was originally from the UK, and has won lots of toy awards, including Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Dr. Toy Awards, Creative Child Magazine Awards and more. Plus, it comes in a banana shaped holder! It's a fun, kinda a hybrid between a crossword puzzle game and scrabble. It's fast and fun. I played it at the ASTRA Conference this past June.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back room shelving installed...

I spent lots of today installing round one of the backroom shelving. It's in now, and the orders we've received are stacked and waiting for out marking labels to put on them. We also went up to Ikea to get some store shelving and some office furniture, which Emily spent time putting together. Emily, bless her soul, was out our door at 7 am to get to the store and paint. T-minus 46 days till opening!

Toy Evaluation Underway...

We had a crack toy evaluator come in to the store today and check out a Melissa & Doug stacking toy. He was quite impressed with the ducky, the bear (a walrus) and the stars on each block. We were quite impressed with his stacking technique. That is our nephew Graham checking out the blocks. Who's got the cutest nephew in the world?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Piles o' Metal

No, that's not the name of an Irish mixed martial arts fighter, it's what we hauled around Delaware today. My sister Wendy (that's her in the truck), my brother-in-law Ric and I spend a good eight hours hauling hundreds of pounds of steel fixtures from my garage and from Mitchell's. I rented a 14-foot truck and the fixtures took up half the truck. We took them down the Powder Barons in Middletown, where they will powder coat the fixtures. I can promise, you've never seen fixtures like this before. Below is the pile the fixtures made in the barn at Powder Barons. An exhausting day! Again, thanks to my sister Wendy and my brother-in-law Ric who spent lots of time helping us today.

Tonight, we did some more work on the store, Emily painted in the mens room and I built the desk in the office.

A UPS Truck showed up today...

...and it was entirely for YoYo Joe's. 124 flippin cartons. Yikes!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Top Five Songs to Paint the Bathrooms to

With a nod to Rob Gordon at Championship Vinyl, here are my top five songs to paint the mens and women's bathrooms to in the middle of the night:

  1. Sequestered In Memphis - The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
    The latest from The Hold Steady, steadily becoming one of my favorite bands

  2. Peace, Love and Happiness - G. Love and Special Sauce - Superhero Brother
    Indeed, G, indeed.

  3. Do the Panic - Phantom Planet - Raise the Dead
    Do, Do, DoDoDoDoDo...I dare you not to sing along.

  4. Look Out Sunshine - The Fratellis - Here We Stand
    Positively Beatlesque. You can almost imagine they're doing an impression. Still, a rocker.

  5. Salute Your Solution - The Raconteurs - Consolors of the Lonely
    One of my big regrets last year was not standing in line overnight to get tickets to see the White Stripes at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. Sure, this isn't a White Stripes song, but I doubt the Raconteurs will be gracing our presence in Wilmington.

Painting the premises

We spent most of today painting in the new YoYo Joe's. Emily (my wife) painted the office a blue that was a bit brighter than we expected. I painted the ceilings and floor trim. That's Emily in the office. That's me on the floor.
Big thanks to my sister, Wendy, who came over and spent some time painting the floor trim while I picked up my son (Ethan - that's him skateboarding in the spacious back room) and took him to piano practice. Wendy's much faster than I am, but she is an artist. Wendy and her husband Ric own The Frame Shoppe, just about a mile or so away from YoYo Joe's, so expect to see some cross-promoting going on between us. Ric is an accomplished artist as well.
One really cool moment today came when I was up near the front of the store painting trim and I heard a family go by the store (we had the doors open, since it was so nice and to try to pique curiousity about the store - if you're in the area and you see the doors propped open, stop in and say hi). I heard a little girl, in a very excited voice say "ooooh, toys!" and she popped her head in. Obviously I was happy to hear that so I went back to tell Emily about our visitor and when I came back, she was peeking in again, so I went and introduced myself. The girls sister was dancing around, singing "YoYo Joe's, YoYo Joe's." Clearly, she was happy to see us. I talked to the family and they seemed very excited about our pending arrival and promised to be our first customer. Only after the fact did I kick myself for not taking a picture of them and posting it on here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The lease is signed..

Today we signed the lease to YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun. It's officially gonna be in the Concord Gallery Shopping Center in Wilmington. The official-like address is 3654 Concord Pike. It's between the Pier One and the Staples. It used to be Pier One Kids (not so long ago) and Rainbow Record (long ago). It is now the home of YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun. T-minus 7 weeks, 4 days till our official grand opening!
The photo is of our empty store with Emily and Ethan taking video of our first night in the store.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


So I joined Facebook, which is a social networking site. Originally started for college students, it's branched out to be a networking tool. You can keep tabs on your friends and they can keep tabs on you

Now there's a page for YoYo Joe's on Facebook - and you too can become a fan of YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun. It's like cool & trendy and such.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Me! On the radio!

Here I am, live on the radio. Well, not so live, actually....not live at all. Recorded live, how's that? Special thanks to John Sadak and Mark Kasubinski of the Blue Rocks for putting up with me in the radio booth for two innings of Sunday's game. It was a lot of fun! The clip is just over 30 minutes long, so you've been warned.