Our Shop in Pen World

A few months ago on a rainy day, Jil McIntosh came by the shop to snap a few photos and to chat with us about the crazy adventure us two kids + babe + pup have been on for the last few years. She wrote up all of our scraps of details and stories into an article about our shop in October’s issue of Pen World Magazine.

Pen World Magazine Wonder Pens Toronto Canada Fountain Pens

Second page of article – Caleb looking dazed and balding, he makes me one proud mama!

Pen World is one of those heavy and glossy magazines with thick pages, and they write a lot about new pens, limited editions, what’s happening in the “universe of writing culture.” They’re an international magazine, although they’re based out of the US, so it was a bit of a surprise that Pen World would even be interested in a tiny shop in Canada, selling fountain pens and inks and papers, but nothing extraordinary in the fountain pen world – except for Blue Upon the Plains of Abraham 😉

However, the first line of Jil’s article talks about how it is a bit unusual these days to take on all the risk of a bricks & mortar shop when there are so many online retailers already eating up the little fish, and I think this is a big part of the reason why Jil wanted to write this article, and maybe also why Pen World wanted to publish it.

While we aren’t any sort of slick operation – although we’re trying! – I think part of what we’re doing is a bit against the grain of how so much of the world is doing business these days. There is so much demand for clicking online and getting things fast and on your doorstep before you blink. Of course I shop online, too, and I love when I can close my laptop lid and the next day, I’ve got a brown box in my mailbox, but the world at a dizzying pace sometimes needs a pause.

Just like there’s a bit of push back to technology everywhere and all the time, so you slow down with pen and paper, there’s also something pretty great about walking in to your local and independent and owner-operated and community-building shops and saying hello. I just started reading Tim Ecott’s ‘Stealing Water,’ which is a very funny memoir about growing up in South Africa, and the author describes his mom’s shop in Johannesburg and other local shops in their little strip, which I completely adore.

While if you read this book, you may see why I don’t want this exact neighbourhood for Caleb, I do love that the ladies in the coffee shop in the building think Caleb is the bees knees, and that I bring him to the local indoor playground, and that we get our business cards printed two doors down, and that our building maintenance guy gives us advice on how to de-squeak the stroller’s squeaky wheels.

I’d like to think that local shops give a bit of colour and charm and spice to communities, and I think it’s really important and great that a magazine like Pen World, in our niche market, is choosing to fill their beautiful and glossy pages by highlighting small shops like ours, giving us a fighting chance against amazonian giants (maybe like the one on the cover of the book I found on my walk with Caleb this morning). At the end of the day, we love and use the pens and inks, but without the relationships we build with the people we see or the people we interact with online or the blogs we read, our fountain pen world might be a bit of a lonely place.

Pen World Magazine Wonder Pens Toronto Canada Fountain Pens

First page of article

Pen World Magazine Wonder Pens Toronto Fountain Pens Canada

Third page of article

Here’s a link to the magazine online. Thanks, Jil + Pen World! 🙂

12 thoughts on “Our Shop in Pen World

    1. Liz Post author

      HAHA! Yes, actually I thought the same thing. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I put it on him! (Clearly I wasn’t thinking at all…) Caleb even has another one that is beige with dark grey stripes, even closer to the classic jail outfit!

      Reply
  1. Sean

    That’s a fantastic story. While I purchase from your website I pick up all my purchases in your bricks and mortar. I come from out of town and when I am in Toronto I make a point of stopping in. It is what makes the experience unique. I could buy from the web anywhere but it is the experience you offer that makes me return to your store. I am also the kind of shopper that likes to see and feel products. So often when I am in your story I am like a kid in a candy shop checking out what you have to offer. I make my list of must sees after checking out your website. I think you have hit on a nice balance and as you expand the experience you are really leveraging the real estate you have. Good for you ! Keep up the good work. I have to say though every time I have been in the store it is Jon that is there to make sure I have the correct nib and just the right amount of ink supplies and has patience as I run around the store in 5 minutes to check out all the items on display while he organizes my purchases.

    Reply
    1. Liz Post author

      Wow, thanks so much for everything! For following along with the blog, for stopping by the shop to say hello and take a look-see at everything, and especially for supporting our small business! I can definitely attest to Jon’s patience 😉 – although for me it’s more about “I just need ten more minutes to get ready!”.
      I’ll hope to be around the next time you’re in the shop 🙂

      Reply
  2. smkhattak

    It is so good to see you get the recognition. What the two of you are doing is great and I am glad we have a place like Wonder Pens in Toronto. I am sure I’m not alone in wishing you all the success with this.

    Reply

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