Wednesday. Dave Newson, man at large, joins me at Holt Renfrew to meet the visual display people and discuss the props available for our Valentines pop-up store. I envision chandeliers, mannequins, black velvet curtains swagged from the ceiling. They offer up a six foot table and a power bar. Dave senses my profound disappointment and assures me he’ll make it work. I skulk back to Mink and take an Advil.
Thursday. Dave pulls the two primary colors from the Mink Valentines poster, and arranges to have wide vinyl striping applied alternately on the table. He coerces them into giving up a couple of plinths with glass cubes that he’ll use to showcase my Artist Series bonbon boxes and anchor either side of the table. He pulls a graphic detail from the poster and instructs the vinyl guy to produce a band with that image in repetition that will finish off the bottom of the cubes. He confirms there is more to come.
Friday. I have one week to produce all the chocolate I’ll need for the pop-up shop, as well as the Mink store downtown and the one at Morgan Crossing. Sales volume from last year isn’t much of a predictor, as Valentines coincided with the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics, and the organizing committee, Vanoc, scared the bejeezus out of everyone and implored them not to come downtown unless absolutely necessary. We still had a great holiday, albeit not entirely an accurate reflection of our potential.
What’s the mood this year? In retail, unless there are significant indicators of pending calamity, you have to be an optimist and plan for a 10% increase. But the pop-up store? It’s entirely unknown. Holts is the pinnacle of fashion retailing in Canada. I should kill, but what if I don’t? Hand filled hearts don’t have the same value the day after. I take the rest of the afternoon off to work from home.
Saturday. Mrs. Mink is planning Jr. Minks 3rd birthday at the Sunset Community Center. The list of planned activities is long, and the guest list longer. She runs a few perfunctory details past me, knowing I’m only half paying attention. I perk up slightly when she references something about paying for it all from our joint account, but I’ll clarify that at the end of the month when the statement comes.
Sunday. I get an electronic e-vite to my son’s soiree. I open it, admire the choice of template, and click on my name. I have the option of attending for sure, attending maybe, or not attending. I choose the latter. For the benefit of all the parents of his pre-school buddies and their nannies, I feel compelled to decline with an explanation. Levi originally had a due date of February 15. Had he adhered to the schedule, I’d be having cupcakes after finger-painting. He chose to take an earlier flight, and arrived on the 13th.
The day before Valentines, and the day of Valentines, are the two single biggest days in the chocolate business. By the time my business will allow me to party with the pre-schoolers, he’ll be in University. I go into his room and interrupt him playing with his trains. I tell him I love him and I’m sorry I won’t be at his birthday party. I try and explain that had he stayed in his womb until it was time to leave, I’d be there. He gave me one of those innocent quizzical looks he so often does, then asked if Toopy and Binoo would be there instead.
Monday. I’m stressed. Shecky texts me to say stressed backwards is dessert, and that I should have some rice pudding. Instead, I walk up to the Bentall Center and get my shoes shined. Sitting in the chair, watching my Blundstones get a new lease on life, I think back to when I’d go with my Dad on Saturday’s to get haircuts, him a shoeshine, then off to Mikes Cigar Store, where he got a stogey and I got a Dinky Toy. I couldn’t tell you anything about my birthday parties from those years, but I’ll never forget Saturdays. I call my wife and propose that going forward we celebrate the kids birthday on his due date, not his actual arrival date. Valentines will be in the books, and I won’t have to make excuses.
Mink Chocolates Inc.,
Mink A Chocolate Cafe Ltd.
Call the store: 604.633.2451
Call my mobile: 604.376.3464
Call toll free: 1.866.283.5181
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In Person: 863 Hastings Street West, Vancouver, BC V6C 3N9