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