Never Gonna Gift You Up

I am pretty addicted to Reddit. I have been using it for around 3 years, and subscribe to a few business/entrepreneur sub-reddits, along with the obligatory r/awww which is home to the cutest animal pics. This year, I decided to sign up for the Reddit Secret Santa Rematch service. I have participated in Reddit’s Secret Santa, and other Reddit gift exchanges before, but unfortunately I have always been unlucky with receiving anything back from my allocated Secret Santa. This doesn’t bother me that much, as I always find the giving much more fun than the receiving. If you are not familiar with Reddit’s Secret Santa, it works like regular Secret Santa but you could be hooked up with someone from the other side of the world which is a little more exciting than being paired with Barbara from Accounting. Some famous peolpe get involved including Bill Gates, who this year gifted a lucky lady a HUGE plush pusheen cat! Sadly, a lot of folk, like myself, send gifts, but don’t receive them back. Thus leaving them presentless. These unlucky people can sign up to be rematched with another present giver. And that’s where I come in! I was excited to see who I had to buy for, and when my giftee was selected, she couldn’t have been better! A tea addicted, cat loving, Engineer!

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I thought it might be a good way to promote my small business, albeit potentially to a solitary, singular person, but sometimes RSS participants share pics of their gifts on Reddit, so I thought if I included some La La La products, they might be seen by more than one set of eyes. In my giftee’s profile, she stated that she had a pet cat, so I included a little catnip toy mouse and a set of pencils printed with the slogan ‘Cats are people too’. She referred to herself as an ‘Enginerd’ which was a term I had never heard before so I had to google to make sure it wasn’t anything offensive before I hand-stamped it onto a bangle!

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She mentioned that as a child she had wanted to be an astronaut. By chance I was in Waterstones and saw this beautifully illustrated book titled ‘An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet’. No self-respecting Tea Jenny would not be familiar with Whittard – purveyors of delicious flavoured loose leaf teas. These mini tea caddies were in the sale at the time, down to £3.50 from £7. I deliberated far too long over what flavours to choose, but settled on Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Serenade.

I hope she likes it all!

Top 10 Gifts for an Indie Music Fan

I am a huge fan of indie music, especially the post-punk to Britpop years. Oh yeah, and my birthday is coming up. Take notes.

Liam Gallagher Candle £15, The Smiths Pencils £4.50, Ian Brown Tote £12, King Tuts Art Print £12, Live Forever Sweater £32, Unhappy Birthday Card £3.50, Liam Gallagher Mug £25, Arctic Monkeys Wall Hanging £22, The Cure Greetings Card £3, Stone Roses Raglan Tee £25.

Don’t Look Back Into The Sun

Occasionally I will receive an email, tweet or Instagram comment asking if I still have my bricks n’ mortar store in Glasgow’s west end. I moved La La Land online in January 2014, after 4 years of running the shop, as my sales online had increased to a point of overtaking my face-to-face sales. I was sad to leave it behind but was looking forward to La La Lands exclusively digital existence.

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What I miss most, is the visual merchandising. I loved making paper pom-poms, shop signs and slogan bunting, often featuring lyrics to my favourite songs (see above), and on quiet days, I was known to completely change the look of the entire store. When a new clothing delivery arrived, I liked nothing more than planning colour schemes for different areas of the shop. The shop was teeny tiny, but I always managed to make it look cute and colourful.

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I also miss talking to the customers. I made so many friends, many of whom I am still in regular contact with; from regular customers, fellow neighbouring shop-owners, to designers whose work I stocked in the shop. The odd celeb dropped in too. Kacey Musgraves (HUGE American country music star) came in, as did the v funny Kevin Bridges, Frankie Boyle and Limmy to name a few. When Game of Thrones was filming the first series, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams’ vocal coach bought them presents to give to them including badges that said ‘I Live In La La Land’. Now, working in my office/studio is a lonely existence, as I can go a full working day without seeing a single other person!! However, I don’t miss the children. Oh my god THE CHILDREN! I love kids but their cheesy-wotsit-covered-fingers, I could live without. When I saw a small, unruly child come into the shop with a sticky lollipop, I immediately started blasting N.W.A on my stereo. Parents don’t seem to like their children listening to sweary hip hop for some reason and were swiftly escorted from the premises. I know. I’m a terrible person. And I have a child who at one point definitely was entirely covered in wotsit stickiness!

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Whenever I go to another city, I always spend ages googling, and trawling streets away from the chain-store shopping malls, in search for shops like mine. On a recent trip to Manchester, I discovered a fab shop called Thunder Egg. It reminded me a lot of what I was trying to achieve with La La Land. Needless to say, I bought SO. MUCH. STUFF.

I often think about opening a pop-up shop in the run up to Christmas. Maybe I’ll do it one year, but I think I’d be hard pushed to find somewhere suitable to host it. My old store was located down a quaint cobbled lane, nestled among other like-minded indie stores. The perfect spot for a indie retailer. Maybe one day, I’ll have a physical shop again!

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Make a cup of tea. Put a record on.

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Some of my fondest childhood memories are of sitting in my parents’ ‘back room’ listening to their vast collection of vinyl. My favourites included Abba’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2, The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar. My friends and I used to make up dance routines to Summer Night City by Abba during sleepovers, and I remember memorising the lyrics to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds that were printed on the back cover of Sgt Pepper as studiously as if I were cramming for an exam. When I started to receive pocket money, my sister and I would go to the big Asda in Bearsden and buy a single of whatever song we liked that week. £1.99 for a 45 – my first two being Knocking on Heavens Door by Guns n’ Roses and Suicide is Painless by Manic Street Preachers. The latter, I sold at a decent profit 10 years later.

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Feeling nostalgic, I recently bought a beautiful Crosley Cruiser suitcase record player. It’s sky blue and fits perfectly with my living room colour scheme. I have a grand total of 5 albums. All by The Smiths and/or Morrissey. One single by The Smiths, and one LP by The Voice of the Beehive. A limited collection, but one that I plan on adding to. I would have loved to borrow some of my parents records but alas, at the introduction of CDs they offloaded their entire collection to charity. I hope someone out there is cherishing their Beatles records and that they are not too annoyed with the scratch half-way through Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight).

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I am currently looking for a record cabinet of some sort with vinyl storage, and enough space to hold both my record player and my Sonos speaker. I found some cute ones on Urban Outfitters. Which one do you like?