C'est la Vie and www.clvcatalog.com was founded basis of two observations. The first is that customer service has been lost and to even receive a snarling "Have a nice day" from a clerk who does not care one whit if you actually have a nice day is the norm. We wanted to fix that. The second is that the retail landscape started to look the same, virtually everywhere. We decided to change that too.
First, we wanted C'est la Vie to be the place where everybody knows your name and we wanted to care for each customer the way we would like to be treated. We was also wanted for C'est la Vie be a gathering place for people to come and share their life stories, adventures, challenges. C'est la Vie was founded in April, 2001 just five months before 9/11 and on that terrible day there was only one store open in town, C'est la Vie. It was not open for business but rather as a place for people to come and share their grief, fears and to be with other people. Every person who walked in the door that day said, "Oh, thank God you are open! I just needed to talk to someone."
The second vision was to be a place where artists and craftspeople can sell their creations and to provide an alternative to the vanilla retail landscape across the country today for our customers.
No, you aren't seeing things, we do have "catalog" in our website url (clvcatalog.com) and our plan in the beginning was to have a print catalog to mail out. Then, after about the ten thousandth print catalog was being removed from our mailbox and deposited directly into our recycle bin we decided that print catalogs are not exactly a good thing for mother earth. Or father earth either. Even if you are using recycled paper it still paper.
So, we don't have a print catalog but we will have an electronic one very soon. We will let you know when it is ready. The best part is that our electronic catalog will never fill up your mailbox and recycle bin.
C'est la Vie means what?
C'est la Vie (Say La Vee) is French and translated means "Such is life" or even better, "That's life" (shoulder shrug and roll of the eyes optional). We have also heard variations of the phrase such as "Kest Luh Vy" and "See-est-lav" but translated those mean, "I don't get out much".
Why did you name the stores that?
This is kind of a funny story. Colleen had her whole business plan ready to rock and roll but she still could not come up with the right name for the store. Luckily for Colleen, her husband Michael, a.k.a. the poster boy for ADHD, spent a very large percentage of his younger years at a gathering after school called detention. Those young souls lucky enough to be chosen for detention earned the privilege of copying, exactly, both sides of a page torn from an outdated dictionary. Every umlaut, every comma, every tilde was copied and when finished it was quickly looked over by the teacher and then dropped in the wastepaper basket (another waste of paper).
So, even though it was supposed to be a form of punishment it quickly changed Michael into someone, even to this day, who was passionate about the origins and roots of words. Every night for weeks he would pull out one of his many books and read words and phrases to Colleen until finally "C'est la Vie" resonated (or maybe she was just tired) and that is how the stores came to be called C'est la Vie.
To all of you, from all of us at C'est la Vie and www.clvcatalog.com thank you for your patronage.
Colleen & Michael Bowman, Owners
C'est la Vie and www.clvcatalog.com is privately held and based in Edmonds, Washington.