Something old and something new: Adventures in shop inventory!

Posted on July 4, 2019 by

A blog post by JMM Office Manager and Shop Assistant Jessica Konigsberg. For more posts from Jessica, click HERE.


The annual shop inventory at Esther’s Place is a daunting task. Though we’re a relatively small operation, our stock is extensive. We’ve got books, toys, games, souvenirs, homewares, art, jewelry, and Judaica in every size, style, and price point—so the individual inventory items are quite numerous.

It’s a big job. But it’s also fun and edifying, and the best possible chance for busy staff and volunteers to slow down and get to know the inventory in a deeper way.

We conducted our inventory count over June 12 and June 13 with the invaluable assistance of five wonderful summer interns and two brave and seasoned Shop volunteers. And since we counted more efficiently this year (thanks Google Sheets!), we had a little energy left at the end to share some of our discoveries and new inspirations for the coming fiscal year.

My favorite discovery, buried deep inside the box of custom JMM postcards, was a postcard I’d never seen featuring a photograph of 1963 East Lombard Street by John McGrain. Up to that point, I had been unaware we had a postcard showcasing our beloved historic Lombard Street (the subject of permanent exhibit Voices of Lombard Street), and naturally the newly discovered postcard now occupies a prime spot at the counter!

While counting and searching inventory items on the inventory worksheet, some of the more descriptive and whimsical inventory names caught our eyes and made us smile. Featured below from left to right are the “spider bullet” mezuzah, swiss cheese mezuzah, chimes mezuzah, and waterfall Kiddush cup and candle holders.

A new term, “jacquard,” also caught my attention during the count and led me to a deeper appreciation of some of our artisan items. The Shop features two “jacquard specks” scarves and a hamsa hanging described as “royal jacquard.” Jacquard, I learned, is a complex, raised weave made on a special loom invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard. Florals, such as the image depicted on our Royal Jacquard Hamsa, are popular jacquard designs. Learn more about textile arts on July 14 during a hands-on workshop with shop-featured silk painting artist Diane Tuckman. More details on the workshop here.

The count also got us quite excited about some of our new merchandise, including car mezuzahs (a returning favorite), and shofar necklaces (a brand-new inventory item).

The yearly inventory also serves as a great reminder of interesting and handy products that haven’t been featured recently, or that our customers might not always remember we have.

Two examples are our gift enclosure cards (only $0.75 or $0.95 each and the perfect accompaniment to your gift purchase) and some of our older local history reads by valued community members, including A Life Worth Living by Ralph A. Brunn and Uncommon Threads by Philip Kahn, Jr.

Thank you to all JMM team members who gave their energy and attention to our inventory count. Visitors, stop by Esther’s Place to welcome in the new fiscal year and discover inventory items old, new, and newly “re-discovered”!

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