I think one of the best things about bricks & mortar shops is that you get to walk in and chat with the owner and the people there. Of course you can always email and chat on the phone, but I don’t think that’s ever quite the same as getting to talk to someone in person. We get a chance to shoot the breeze, talk about that new cafe opening up across the street, or the trip they just took, or what they do for a living.
I’ve been thinking about doing a series of posts on some of the people that come into the store. It’s surprising and wonderful to see all different kinds of people using fountain pens. This project has been a bit on the back burner now that Jon is in the shop more, and I don’t seem have as much of a chance to chat with some of my favourite customers. I’ve been hassling Jon to take photos of some of our regulars, which he says is embarrassing and awkward, so he only does “when the opportunity presents itself,” whatever that means.
However, I was recently re-inspired by an interesting coincidence!
We get a few Toronto cops from our local 14th division coming in every once in a while. I remember once in our very tiny space there were four or five of them basically taking up the entire space, and my landlord happens to walk past the window. She did a double take, and gave me a look – “I thought you were just selling pens in there…”
The first cops to come in were Boomer and Rob. Boomer, who already had a fountain pen or two, was trying to convince Rob that he also needed one, and I think they both ended up getting Lamy Al-Star. I remember Boomer saying that the Toronto Police had finally changed the rules, so cops were now allowed to write with blue ink, instead of just black. And here Boomer was, trying to find the bluest possible ink.
They said that cops need permanent ink, in case they’re writing those notes in the rain. I told them about 54th Massachusetts, Bad Blue Heron, Salix. Once later, Rob came back, and he remembered that Bad Blue Heron is permanent, which I suspect is because the Heron is in jail on the label of the bottle, haha.
Here’s a picture of Boomer with his super stealthy bright orange pen case, which I think he got off eBay. I wish I also had a picture of Rob, who looks more serious, but who is also a pretty nice guy. Rob told me he once had to parent volunteer on a field trip with his daughter’s class, and they gave him the “tough” kids because they assumed he could handle it since he’s a cop. I laughed because I probably would’ve done the same thing.
It’s funny because you don’t really think about it when you don’t know cops first hand, but they have the same problems everyone else does. For example, they have these notepads that look pretty badass and read “Property of Toronto Police” or something, but the paper quality isn’t great, so they have to find pen and ink combinations that don’t bleed through. There they are, cops, standing there, flipping through their notepads, showing us where the ink is bleeding and feathering. I keep trying to tell them they need to use a Fine nib, but they like their 1.1s.
Jon and I joke whenever we’re in the car driving somewhere and we see a cop – it’s going to be Boomer or Rob or another cop that we know, and they’re going to pull us over and write up a ticket…with the fountain pen that we’ve sold them. We’re going to miss them when we move. I’m not sure if the cops in the new division we’re in use fountain pens, but you never know.
But here is the coincidence:
The new business that’s going to be in 906 Dundas West is called 348 Studio and is run by a wonderful couple (plus their adorable dog who is vastly better behaved than Super).
They’ve both been in the shop more than a few times because they are actually stationery lovers themselves. They make jewelry and design things – including this amazing looking concrete door stop, which I told Jon we should get, but he says at the new place, we’re not supposed to be propping the door open because it opens into the lane way. Go figure.
From their home one night, George had to call the cops to report a noise disturbance plus some …uhm..fragrant smells and when the cops came, George pulled out his fountain pen, and guess who pulled out his new Copper-Orange Al-Star.
What are the chances…