January 22, 2012

South Africa SO Needs a Pottery Barn!

I get a lot of feedback from readers who love my stories about a) being stopped by the police and b) shopping. How is it that such mundane topics can stir so much interest?

Since I can't really control the police thing - it happens all by itself without my aid plenty of times, trust me - I'll focus on the shopping today. Or the lack thereof, depending on how you look at it.

Well, remember how I resolved to get more organized this year? What I meant then was time management, but what sent me shopping yesterday was organizing my physical space. I hate when things don't have a home, or when they do have a home but the kids insist on putting it somewhere else. One such thing at our house is the pile of musical notes crowding the top of the piano and pretty much the area of a squash court around the piano. Everybody has different pieces from different books to practice, and no one can ever find anything.

Well, there is a perfect wall space next to the piano, where one of these things would fit very nicely:


Unfortunately, it's already in use elsewhere in our house. I'm pretty sure it's from Pottery Barn Kids. Have I already told you how much I miss Amazon.com? Only a half a million times? Well, I miss Pottery Barn almost as much. Although I shouldn't even give them a plug here, because if you're in South Africa, you will note that their website is blocked for us. You can't even look at their stuff without the hassle of a proxy server.

So back to local shopping. Meaning my problem already starts with: What do you call this thing? Officially I think it's a library rack. I'm now envisioning going into one of Joburg's furniture stores asking "Do you have any library racks?" Nope, that's not going to get anywhere, don't even have to try it. I'd meet blank stares followed by "So sorry, we're out of stock at the moment." I've already tried that adventure with night lights and such.

I've so far been to Look and Listen (good place for CD and DVD storage solutions, but no library racks) and Plasticland (good place for plastic storage containers but nothing in the form of racks, although I'd be perfectly happy with a plastic one). And my next step would have been to approach my Zimbabwean friends at the street corner with some cash to buy wood and hopefully make me something to spec, much in the way I solved my shoe storage problem when we first got here.

But, as so often in Africa, an easier solution offered itself over coffee with some friends. One of them was busy explaining her new business, a website geared towards the interior decorating market modeled after Restoration Hardware, and when I asked her about library racks, she not only immediately understood what I meant but a few hours later had found something similar from one of her suppliers:


I'm not sure if the width will work and if that ledge is high enough to keep the notes from falling off, but I am thrilled just to have found a new source of this type of furniture. She sent me some other cool storage solutions as well:




I would have killed for that entryway coat rack when we first moved here. It's got four of each, and I have four kids - how perfect would that have been?

Needless to say, I'm now a big fan of her website, which is called Net Decor. It's pretty much the first of its kind, as the online market is still very much in its infancy in South Africa. Net Decor is still in the process of growing to a full range of products, but go check it out, I'm sure you'll love what's there.