Thursday, July 29, 2010

People's Pops on the High Line!

Ladies and gentlemen, today's lesson: dreams do come true.

The first time I was ever on the High Line, the beautiful, re-purposed elevated railway-turned-greenway that runs up the west side of Chelsea, all I could think about was how much better-looking and happier everyone on the High Line would be if they were licking ice pops.

I can't help it, I think that way sometimes.

Ever since that first brilliant vision, we have been harassing the nice folks at the High Line to give us a chance to prove ourselves right, and they have finally done so. We are up there for 29 days (until Aug 20), from 12-9:30pm, and as it turns out, my surmise was correct. Everyone on the High Line armed with a pop or shave is better-looking, happier, or both.

My pictures aren't super good, so go and check it out for yourself! Sundown with a yellow plum & mint makes the quotidian a celebration.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wacky But Worth It

There are tons of things about our business that I lament us not having adequate time to plunge headlong into developing: an inventory system I can run on my iPhone, an automated payroll system that accounts for our highly irregular hours and staff, a more eco-friendly and attractive packaging solution….the list is a million miles long and growing every day. But I must say, the thing that goads me most unrelentingly is what to me represents the biggest of our many missed opportunities: our shop’s incredibly banal freezer display case.

Initially, we were hoping to have real pops on display behind the glass, but that dream quickly died after the lights at the top of our freezer kept melting them all down. So we whipped up a batch of wax pops and popped those in the case. It looks okay, but….

Ok, hear me out. Envision a world in which our freezer served as the stage for a fantastical diorama similar to the Washington Post’s extremely awesome annual Easter-time Marshmallow Peeps Contest. (Highlights from this year: “Where the Wild Peeps Are,” and “White House Party Peepers.” Seriously, check it out.) I mean, the glassed-in part of our freezer is 5’x 1’ x 1’… basically a few times the size of the shoeboxes with which we all made dioramas in elementary school. I have visions of scenes like “Ice Pops At The Beach” or “Ice Pops Hit The Disco.”

Joel jokes that the scenes should be true to life at the people’s pops, a retrospective of Summer 2010. Yeah boy. I can see it already. How about “Nat Getting Hit By A Car,” “Dave Nearly Getting Mugged While Van Shopping In Harlem,” “The Rhubarb Delivery Is Too Heavy To Get Off The Truck And Has To Return Upstate To The Farm,” or “The Fire Sprinkler In Our Freezer Explodes, Flooding The Entire Kitchen.”

Maybe depicting these scenes in miniature could bring us one step closer to being able to laugh at them. Is this art therapy?

Of course, we have no money to pay for a pop-themed diorama, and no time to do it ourselves either. But I always thought that it could be a fun project for an art school professor to give to his or her class, where everyone would get a month in the spotlight or whatever. Aren’t some people out there studying visual merchandising or window dressing and looking for experience, for something to put on their résumés? Or it could be a fun thing for an artist with too much time on their hands to quickly get a ton of exposure. A lot of people walk past our freezer case, and what’s a better example of public art than a sculpture in a pop shop?

So, people….who out there can make my dreams come true??

Seriously—email us at people[at] if you have any ideas!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Three Stooges On Ice

The number of ways in which this snippet eerily parallels our business is embarrassing...and hilarious.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Open Letter To The Worst Bank In The Known Universe

Dear Chase,



Ever since we opened our business bank account with you (see the hopefulness in our eyes on that very first day), you've done nothing but TREAT US LIKE SHIT.

We have no debt and impeccable personal credit. You started us on $500 worth of credit (for a BUSINESS!--my Amex gives me $10,000), citing our youth and inexperience. Since then, we have been good, responsible, solvent customers who pay bills on time and deposit money regularly. (Also, we are older!)

Every time we ask for more credit, you turn us down. We STILL have only $500 of credit.

You’ve turned down every loan for which we’ve ever applied, and as well as every line of credit (including one through the so-called Small Business Association).

You charge us for withdrawing change (hello, we run a retail shop).

Most egregiously, you ALSO charge us every time we DEPOSIT over $10,000 a month. Yes, Chase Bank, YOU MAKE US PAY TO GIVE YOU MONEY.

This month,
you charged us $60 just to withdraw and deposit money.

Your customer service is also appalling. Your employees don’t know your own rules and your managers can’t explain them.

Let me sum this up here. We are a successful, growing, three-year-old business with $500 worth of credit that gets charged to deposit money.

Thanks for ^%$&% NOTHING!

Nathalie, David and Joel

p.s. See you at HSBC.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Some Thoughts On Strategy

In other big news for the week: Inc. magazine put us on the list of Brooklyn's Best Entrepreneurs, alongside a privileged cohort composed of the likes of Brooklyn Brewery, Etsy, Steiner Studios.....what? If this continues, we're actually going to start taking ourselves seriously!!

We're a little baffled by the attention. Last week, we got an email from a professor at Brigham Young University who was taking a group of business students to New York and wanted to know if we'd be willing to take a few minutes to talk about "the strategy behind People's Pops as an emerging brand."

Strategy? Is that what's happening while we're drinking wine on the sidewalk as we paint our sandwich boards? (one of which was stolen off 15th street today, btw, so if you see it, tackle the mofo!)

We like being flattered, so we said yes, and after a long day in the kitchen, I sped over to the shop, spattered with raspberry juice and the rotten pong of things left perennially undone. The nineteen students--clean-cut, well-mannered, inquisitive--had spent their morning at American Express and their afternoon at Johnson & Johnson. They looked at me and David expectantly. I told them our story, all of it--of how making pops for a one-day market with my prom date and his roommate most unexpectedly turned into a vibrant, dynamic business (manufacturing, retail, wholesale, catering) that, daily for the past three summers, has had us toeing the delicate balance between euphoria and despair ever so unpleasantly schizophrenically.

There's no secret, or if there is, it's still unknown to us, too. Our story works because it's actually a true and believable story, not something a marketing executive had to dream up. Our product works because it's carefully made using quality stuff. Our business works because we treat our suppliers, our customers, our employees and ourselves with respect, trust and affection. (And because we work our asses off.) The hype? I have no idea where it comes from, but I'm grateful for it. I'd like to think it's due to the reasons above--is that unrealistic?

The business school students had polite, pointed questions: "Have you considered franchising?" "Can you identify your most persistent bottlenecks?" "Will you be taking on investors?" I answered them to the best of my ability, knowing that sounder, more measured business owners would have spent time actually talking to each other about things like this. We don't, because anytime we come close to having 30 seconds to take a macro look at the business, the freezer fails and the van overheats.

So the monster grows, and we just try to keep up: that's our strategy. But I feel good about how, despite everything, we continue being capable of keeping the most important things about our business intact: good local fruit, happy customers, and having fun with each other. Actually, wait: maybe that's our strategy.