Cover image for Minding the store : a big story about a small business
Minding the store : a big story about a small business
1st ed.
Physical Description:
163 pages : chiefly color illustrations ; 24 cm.
Road to Fishs Eddy -- For rent -- Doing dishes -- Customer service in the early years -- Family business -- Roll call -- Road scholars -- Destined for Broadway -- In the black -- Half-baked -- Lost leaders -- Bully in a china shop -- Dishing it out.
Added Author:
"An illustrated history of the iconic New York City dish store Fishs Eddy"--


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book GRAPHIC 338.76 GAI 1 1
Book GRAPHIC 338.76 GAI 1 1
Book GRAPHIC 338.76 GAI 1 1

On Order



"I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I could go for a second helping!"--Amy Sedaris

"Entrepreneurs will learn a thing or two about translating a dream into thoughtful business growth, and everyone will laugh, cry, and nod along with a woman who has chosen to live an extraordinary life amidst many piles of dishes." --Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, founder of Shake Shack, author of the New York Times bestseller Setting the Table

In this charming graphic memoir, the founder of an iconic housewares shop recounts the ups and downs--and ups again--of starting a family business, starting a family, and staying true to one's path while trying to make it in the Big City.

Whether it's a set of vintage plates from a 1920s steamship, a mug with a New Yorker cartoon on it, a tin of sprinkles designed by Amy Sedaris, or a juice glass from a Jazz Age hotel, Fishs Eddy products are distinctly recognizable. A New York institution, Fishs Eddy also remains a family business whose owners endured the same challenges as many family businesses--and lived to write about it in this tale filled with humorous characterizations of opinionated relatives, nosy neighbors, quirky employees, and above all the eccentric foibles of the founders themselves. Readers come to know author Julie Gaines and her husband, with whom she founded the store, and because this is a family business, the illustrations are all in the family, too: their son Ben Lenovitz's drawings bring Fishs Eddy to life with a witty style a la Roz Chast and Ben Katchor.

Over the years the store has collaborated with artists and celebrities such as Charley Harper and Todd Oldham, Alan Cumming, and many others to produce original designs that are now found in thousands of stores throughout the country, and Fishs Eddy has garnered a huge amount of media coverage. A great gift for anyone who has ever dreamed of opening a little business--or anyone with any kind of dream-- Minding the Store offers wisdom, inspiration, and an exceedingly entertaining story.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Equally a business and family story, this cheerful history opens in the mid-1980s, when Gaines, a recent art college grad, hits it off with store clerk Dave Lenovitz when she stops at a small shop to buy glassware in Lower Manhattan. They both daydream of becoming their own bosses, and serendipitously, they discover a tiny space for rent near Gramercy Park. Together, they open a quirky vintage shop that would become the New York City housewares institution Fishs Eddy (with an ease that seems fairy tale-like when viewed from the contemporary N.Y.C. real estate market). Their stock-mainly vintage paintings, chairs, cabinets and glassware-comes from flea markets. After unearthing a treasure trove of old dinner sets in the basements of local restaurant supply stores, the pair focus on stocking the patterned dishware that becomes the store's trademark. As Fishs Eddy grows, the couple deal with the challenges of expanding locations and staff, balancing childcare with retail commitments, the tragedy of 9/11, and a family health crisis. Drawn by the founders' son in a naive crayon line, the art feels unfinished, but also intimate. Avoiding the trap of coming off as an extended advertisement, this tribute pulls off an engaging narrative on the ups and downs of following dreams. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Family spirit extends from the beloved housewares-and-curios store to the collaboration on this graphic memoir.New York's Fishs Eddy has become an unlikely retail institution, taking dishes and other artifacts discarded by the restaurant industry and turning them into treasures of Americana. The story of the businesshow it got its name, stumbled into its stock, and developed in such haphazard fashionis told by Gaines, the former art student who started the store with her husband, David Lenovitz, and illustrated by their son, Ben Lenovitz. The latter's artistry would fit fine in the New Yorker, whose readers are likely among the store's loyal customers. But Gaines isn't really a writer, and the story lacks the structure and momentum that generally give such memoirs their punch. The perspective of her co-founding husband is conspicuous in its absence, though there's a suggestion that he has never been as committed to dishes and design as she isthat he has more of an eye for real estate. This might seem like a vanity project for the store that has become a brand, though the author displays so little vanity with her self-deprecating sense of humor and sense of wonder at how things have worked out. It's a tale that begins with two people falling in love and trying to figure out what they can do together to make their way in the world. On a camping trip, they stumbled across a small town named Fishs Eddy and decided it would make a great name for a store. They filled the store with finds from flea markets, garage sales, and the occasional auction and soon discovered that restaurants and suppliers were eager to unload what they were successfully selling as "an unsung part of everyday life in America." As the business grew, their mothers insisted on working there, with comic and disastrous results, and Fishs Eddy became a brand, attracting trendy designers.The faithful will find this very illuminating. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Gaines' graphic memoir opens with two love stories. Living in Manhattan after art school, she met Dave; they fell in love with each other and with running a shop where they could be their own bosses. At Fishs Eddy, the beloved dishware store they founded in the 1980s, they turned a profit from beautiful old dishes they found languishing in the basements of the Bowery's restaurant supply stores, employed both of their mothers, and eventually sold their own designs as the business grew. Gaines graces her telling with deadpan humor; for instance, their mothers' terrible customer service skills proved that Fishs Eddy dishes sold themselves. Lenovitz, an artist and Gaines' son, pairs perfectly naive illustrations with Gaines' adult storybook-style writing, which covers heavy times 9/11, money troubles, bad employees, store closings in a few paragraphs. Gaines in her green jacket and Dave in a white tee-shirt are always easy to spot. Without pretense, mother and son chart the ups and downs of owning a small business, and it all adds up to a lot of love for family and "doing dishes."--Annie Bostrom Copyright 2018 Booklist

Library Journal Review

[DEBUT] Fishs Eddy founder Gaines's sweet memoir offers an unexpected, idiosyncratic entry into the world of buying, selling, and designing dishware-a very niche business in our mass-market world. Gaines clearly loves her work, weaving her fellow proprietor (and husband) Dave Lenovitz, their mothers (also their first extremely sassy employees), and her children into the story but always with "the dishes" in mind. From collecting dusty plates and cups from basements of famous hotels to dealing with rental and real estate challenges to elegizing the Twin Towers in iconic skyline plates, this is also a very New York tale. Paired with son Lenovitz's playful, simple illustrations, Gaines's simultaneously self-effacing and promotional tone feels quite recognizable, à la a less cynical Roz Chast or a down-to-earth Maira Kalman. VERDICT An intriguing peek into the heart of an industry you didn't know you could be interested in-and a love letter to carving out your own path in New York City. Great for graphic memoir fans of all ages.-Emilia Packard, Austin, TX © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.