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What a week! Grandson Isaac celebrated his first birthday with lots of help from siblings opening packages and blowing a candle! We spent the night but left before being awakened by the children to attend a workshop through the Small Business Administration lead byJane Applegate. Driving there Lew and I sipped daughter Kara's great coffee and talked candidly about business. How do people get lost from Main Street? Should we say we're in Chester Depot, not Chester? Do we need a state directional sign? Should we offer a rainy day special next year? Do we have too many dolls offered on the web? The answers?

Jane led this workshop for small business owners who may or may not be struggling in these tough times and provided early registrants with copies of her books. Her talk and books provided food for thought. Are we struggling? We're doing okay. Are our prices justified? Do I stay on top of the financial picture? Yes to both. Barter Holly doll for wood! Yes, I know and love my banker. We refresh the web site nearly daily. Am I ahead of last year? Customer ten percent appreciation discounts make the difference. We have many new customers and old ones keep coming back. However, no Yankee Magazine boosts this year like in 2009. Off to the attic to find the pattern for Tess Teapot for Stephanie's order. She had seen an old photograph. There were bags and bags of patterns of dolls I no longer make, not necessarily filed! So with what I had, I redesigned the face and clothing, and the doll will be even better than 25 years ago! Finding our first Bundle Bugle newsletter from the fall of 1989 was revealing. Downsizing then was necessary as I was going "out" to work; and now in retirement, I simply picked up where I left off. So cutting down on the offerings again makes good sense. So Jane insists, go out and come back in refreshed. We raked leaves and blanketed ourflowerbeds for winter. Waiting in the living room for a photo session were a dozen dolls who just won't leave home, so now the sale page on our web site takes you to the trunk sale. And I can tell you that our Annual Holiday Sale Thanksgiving weekend will be a perfect venue for discontinued dolls at special prices. Our dolls won't go away forever, just like Tess didn't. Over four decades I've designed nearly 400 distinct dolls, but the fabulous sixty will stay. How will I choose? Some are very dear to me, and apparently to you as well. Stay tuned for the outcome. Thanks, Jane, for making me play outside.

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