Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Happy Happy Joy Joy and what you do.
Heather Lee Jones: Happy Happy Joy Joy is Midtown’s biggest little shop of random stuff. It is a toy store, but it’s not just a toy store for kids. We try and have gifts and a lot of “white elephant” stuff for all ages. We do have baby gifts and gifts for kids, classic toys and low-brow-style street art. It is a mishmash of all sorts of things. My role is owner. I have one employee that’s part- to full-time depending on how well we are doing — we have only been open for six months. I am the buyer and the bookkeeper, though I do have an accountant that comes in once in a while to help with my tax stuff.
NNBW: What made you decide to open this store?
Jones: I had a store in Austin, Texas, that I owned for three years and learned a lot from. I really liked it and wanted another chance to try and do it again, taking the experience I had from that. It was called the Lowbrow Emporium. It was similar, but not as much kids’ stuff. I grew up in Reno, graduated from Wooster High School in 1985 and moved to L.A. There was a store in L.A called Wacko that I used to go into all the time because I loved all the crazy stuff they had in there. In Austin there was another store called Toy Joy that had all sorts of crazy fun stuff. When I came to Reno I wanted to do that again.
NNBW: What challenges did you have to overcome to open the store and bring people in?
Jones: This was a completely empty garage space, so it was dirty and plain and needed a lot of work bringing in shelves and inventory and painting and offices. It was just myself and Kenny, who after he worked all day would come in and also on the weekends. It was a very independent venture. When we first got the space I wanted to paint the entire outside of the building bright crazy colors so that people could see it, but the landlord nixed that. We have a limited budget, so it is a challenge to keep the store stocked. We try and do as much advertising as we can, and that’s one of the biggest challenges: Getting the word out on a limited budget.
NNBW: Is this the career you had envisioned for yourself?
Jones: I don’t think I’ve ever really envisioned a career for myself at all. That’s probably why I am doing this. I didn’t really take any schooling in one direction. I did advertising and marketing and advertising sales. I took some art classes, but never had the patience for graphic design or something like that. I still don’t know what I envision for myself, but this is working now and I am having fun with it.
NNBW: What’s behind the name?
Jones: “Happy Happy Joy Joy” is a Ren & Stimpy song. It is kind of a twisted cartoon, and I am a fan of twisted cartoons.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Jones: Working at my aunt’s butcher shop. I was cashier, and at night I had to scrape the meat cuttings off the floor and vacuum the store.
NNBW: What’s your dream job?
Jones: National Geographic photographer.
NNBW: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Jones: Probably when I get new stuff in and rearranging — I love to rearrange the store and try to make all these different random things fit together in a cohesive way.
NNBW: How do you like to spend your time away from work?
Jones: I did roller derby for nine years. I did it for the L.A. Derby Dolls for a year for the TXRD Lonestar Roller Girls and here for the Reno Roller Girls. I was Daisy May Damage. I do art projects in my spare time, and I like to reupholster taxidermy. I’m looking to replace roller derby with something — a friend of mine does mixed martial arts, and I was thinking of trying that. I think it will be fun.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a little girl?
Jones: I dreamt of becoming an adult and tried to grow up too fast. Now I am trying to go back and be a kid again.
NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?
Jones: The Slayer concert at the Hardrock in Las Vegas. Prior to that it was a Reno Aces game.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Jones: A hut on a beach with a tropical drink.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada, and what do you like most about working and living here?
Jones: I chose here because I am from here. I was coming back to reconnect with a former boyfriend and family. My dad is here, and my sister moved back out here. Being closer to family is good. I was tired of big huge cities. I like the openness and friendliness and big little city-ness or Reno. There’s a lot here.
Know someone whose perspective you would like to share with NNBW readers? Email reporter Rob Sabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 775-850-2146.