Category Archives: What’s Happening

Changes to the Blog! Exciting Stuff!

On my last blog post, I hinted at some changes to the blog. They’ve been a long time coming, and they’ve definitely stretched us past our limited technological abilities, requiring phone calls and lots of online help, but we’re about set up and ready to go!

We’ve finally migrated from our current blog site (wonderpens.wordpress.com) to blog.wonderpens.ca.

Wonder Pens Blog Life Behind a Stationery Shop

One of the big pushes we’ve had in hiring some additional help in the shop is to be able to focus on larger projects like this one, which has been on the back burner for months and months. Look forward to more and more to come!

The new blog is up and running, but I’m sure you’ll see some small and large changes ahead over the next few weeks, both in how it looks and how it functions. Over the next week, we’ll be re-directing links and moving things around. If you know us at all, you know we’re not too technologically inclined here, so please bear with us as we work out glitches and wrinkles and broken links. Which will mostly look like me saying, “Jon, this isn’t working right, can you take a look at it, and umm…fix it?”

The good news is that I think mostly what we do on the blog, which is write and share pictures for you all to read and see, will still be basically the same – it’s the smaller stuff, like the formatting and how everything looks that we’ll be working on back here.

However, the other big change that goes along with this change in the blog is the format of our newsletter.

Up until now, we’ve typically sent out one e-mail newsletter at the beginning of each month, letting you know what we’ve been up to and what’s new in the shop. If you aren’t signed up for that e-mail, but you’d like to receive it, you can sign up at the bottom of wonderpens.ca, or let us know when you visit us in the shop next.

This monthly newsletter usually covers new products, anything exciting that’s been on the blog, and what we’re expecting soon to arrive in the shop. It’s a good way to stay in touch with the big stuff, without getting stuck with all my rambling on the small stuff or the behind the scenes stuff.

We’re still keeping our monthly shop newsletter for those that want updates on the shop, but for the blog, we’re doing something a bit different.

On our previous wordpress site, you had the option of signing up to have each blog post delivered to your inbox. Now, instead of getting multiple e-mails a week with each new blog post, I’m going to be writing a weekly, informal newsletter, recapping blog posts from the week, doing a bit of a ramble on what’s all going on in the shop, and sharing a bit of Wonder Pens at home.

If you follow the blog relatively closely, you won’t be missing too much by not signing up for the weekly newsletter, but it’s going to be some good stuff in there! Ramblings! Corny jokes! The inside scoop on my new ink sample making record! And really, just a recap of the week, once a week.

So if you’re interested in the Wonder Pens at Home weekly newsletter, which will really mostly be me telling you how the week went here, you can sign up at the new blog site on the right. Of course you can unsubscribe at any time (to either newsletter).

That’s it for now! Hope you are all having a great start to the week – and stay tuned! (To the new blog…)

 

Reviving Old Pens in Your Collection

As a pen clerk, I have the pretty great responsibility of getting to know each of the pens we carry, and some of the ones we don’t.

I can’t deny that it’s one of the best parts of the job – filling up and trying out pens, seeing how they write or what it has to offer or what challenges it might pose its future writer. There are a few times when Jon’s stranglehold on maintaining some business order has overruled me, like the 2015 Limited Edition Edison Pen Collier fiasco, but for the most part, we like to try out the pens we carry in the shop. (In case you were curious, no, I did not get to keep my Number 18.)

Fountain Pens Toronto Canada Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca

Trying out new pens is an absolute blast, however, I try to be a bit more discerning when it comes to bringing new pens or inks or stationery into my own personal fold. As much as possible, I’d like to make sure that the pens (and inks and stationery and notebooks…) that I have and keep are ones that I love and use and are going to keep using, and not just have for the sake of having.

With new pens and inks coming into the shop all the time, and despite all my good intentions, I must admit that I do have maybe a few more pens than the average person may need. On occasion, especially with yearly new Lamy Safari + Al-Stars coming out, I’ve passed along a few pens, but I certainly do have more pens than I can use at once.

In my pen roll, I keep pens that are inked, and often these guys stay there for a while, since sometimes it seems like the next natural step, to just refill a pen that’s been working so well for you. There are times I look at the pens that I have cleaned and stored and realize that there are a few that I haven’t used in a long while.

Rather than just having pens sit in your closet or in your desk, unused, here are a few strategies you can try to bring them out again.

  1. Remember that sometimes a pen that hasn’t been used in a year, or two, or more can feel like a brand new pen to you once you’ve inked it up again! Just go digging.
  2. Consider getting a new nib for an old pen, especially if a bum nib is what’s stopping you from getting your pen out. Or, sometimes you may like a pen, but over time your preferences for nibs sizes may have changed and a new nib may just give a pen some new life. You can always keep your old nib and have some flexibility for the future. Even if your local pen shop doesn’t carry spare nibs regularly, often times you can special order them.
  3. Swap pens with a friend. If you haven’t used a pen in a while, but you’re not sure you’re ready to let go out of it completely, consider swapping a pen or two with a friend so you both get to try something ‘new,’ to see how you like it.
  4. Especially if it’s a lower-value pen, “lend” a pen to someone you know who’s not writing with fountain pens – it’s a good way for someone to try a pen with no pressure, since they don’t have to pick a pen out of maybe dozens in a shop or online. Be very, very aware that no matter how many suggestions or warnings or instructions you may give, that you may not be getting your pen back exactly the way you had it, or maybe not at all. For me, this is okay, because I have so many other pens, anyways!
  5. Find a purpose for it, like your gratitude journal, or making notes at a specific location, giving you an opportunity to really use it.
  6. Try a new ink sample that you would ordinarily never pick, and put it in your pen. Sometimes an unexpected match may surprise you with how well it works out.

Just by simply using your pens, you may remind yourself of why you liked this pen so much in the first place, which would be great! Sometimes a new pen or a new tool can give you some inspiration, or make you feel like writing again.

On the other hand, by really giving a good try-out of a pen you haven’t used in a while, you may discover that this pen really isn’t for you, and that may be a good opportunity to give it a new home. Or, if you’ve lent it to a friend that loves it, maybe you’ll realize you didn’t really ever like the pen as much as your friend did, and that’s where the pen belongs.

The whole point is that sometimes you just have to dig out your old pens, give them a good cleaning, and see what they’re up to. I tend to like using the same pens over and over, sometimes even refilling them with the same ink! But when I take the time to dig out pens that I’ve stored away, sometimes it’s a real treat to have a pen that feels like it’s new to you.

One of the best parts about being in this business, of running a pen shop and selling stationery, is the hope that we’re helping people write whatever it is that they’re writing -notes or journaling or a novel or letters or doodles. And so the hope is that the pens and inks that you get from us are serving you well, and not just kicking around in some desk drawer.

Some pens are works of art, and some are workhorses, but my personal philosophy is that pens are made to be used.

***

In other news, Caleb and I have been going for more walks in the halls of the building with this cold weather, since he is apparently not a mitten or glove kind of a kid, and his hands are always freezing at the park. We’ve been meeting some of our neighbours including one very friendly Labradoodle, and a cat. I’ve been trying to convince Jon we need a cat, since Super is too big to really curl up in your lap, although not for lack of trying.

Caleb enjoys things like pushing buttons, and there’s a very, very slow elevator that goes between two floors, and that is just the bees knees for a one year old. The dumbest thing of all is that the the only button low enough for Caleb to reach on his own is the call-for-help button, so I’m constantly swatting away curious fingers.

There’s also a crazy freight elevator that we haven’t tried yet – it’s the kind where you have to physically open the doors vertically yourself, and hold the button to keep the elevator moving up or down. It’s just a wire grate between you and the walls, so best keep your arms and fingers in for the ride.

We’ve got some exciting things coming up including some new pens from Waterman and Platinum, and we’ve got the Pearlettes from Edison’s production line, all already in the shop, heading online soon. I’ve already got a Pearlette (guess which one) in my pen roll, so look forward to a review of that coming soon.

Edison Pearlette Fountain Pen Wonder Pens Canada Toronto

But most exciting of all, we’ve got a big shipment of stuff from Life Japanese Stationery. It’s no secret that Life makes some of my favourite stuff including their Noble Note line, and their L-Brand Writing Paper. We’ve restocked all the good stuff, and we’ve got a few new things coming in that I can’t wait to get my inky pens on.

We’re also thinking of making some changes to the format of the blog and our newsletter!  Stay tuned. We are not exactly techno-folk here, but I’m now running El Capitan on my Macbook, so there’s nothing I can’t do.*

*…that is a joke, because El Capitan has done nothing but slow down my wifi, which is why I now write my blog posts while eating ice cream directly out of the tub.

Chalkboard Artist: Sarah Kim

A few months ago, we put out a call for any calligraphers, artists, letterers or graphic designers, aspiring or professional, to come and do up something on our chalkboard wall. When we first moved in, between me and Jon, it was up to me to get something up on the wall, but we know that there are so many talented and amazing artists out there in our community and in Toronto.

We certainly believe in paying artists for their work and creativity, but not exactly being a Forbes 500 company, we could only offer the chalk + board, $100, plus some free promotion on our blog and social media.

I was beyond thrilled, then, to get an e-mail from someone like Sarah Kim! She trained and now works as a biomedical illustrator, but also has a growing personal business doing custom lettering and calligraphy work, which she shares about on her amazing Instagram account.

Sarah came in this past Monday to climb up our ladder and leave her mark on our wall. Being a medical illustrator, and with Valentine’s Day coming up, an anatomical drawing of a heart and a Proverb for cupid’s day that reminds everyone what really matters in the heart, whether or not you’re in that perfect relationship, seemed just right.

Sarah Kim Calligraphy Chalkboard Artist Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

Sarah Kim Calligraphy Chalkboard Artist Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

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Sarah Kim Calligraphy Wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Chalkboard Artist

We couldn’t be more thrilled! And not only because Sarah herself is a delight, and friendly, and super easy-going – a complete pleasure to have in our shop, if only for a few hours. The chalkboard itself is gorgeous. If you haven’t stopped by the shop this week already, you need to come by sometime in the next month or so to check this out in person!

A cheerful heart is truly good medicine.

Sarah was kind enough to allow me to tape her putting it all together, and trust me to put some music to it. Even though Sarah came by to do her work on Monday, and it’s now Thursday, this has not been without some pain.

This video has been a piece of my soul.

I used to have a 6-year-old Macbook that I used to complain about all the time because it was six years old and very slow.

Upon the advice of my favourite customer Claudia, who I’ll forgive because you know, she’s still kind of awesome, I got a refurbished Mac, and despite every single Apple technical support guy telling me it has nothing to do with the fact that it’s furbished, this Mac has eaten up more hours of my life in hard re-starts and forced quits and dropped internet connections and frozen applications.

To finally get my iMovie working to put this video together, I have spent literally hours – literally – on the phone with Apple support, and let me tell you – they may be smarter than me, but they are no geniuses.

I had to listen to some Apple tech give me a play-by-play along the lines of “just have something in my eye here, oh I think it’s a hair, hmm, man, this thing is really stuck, oh, almost there, I’m getting it, oh, man, is it in here good, just a little more, it is a hair!” and another inform me that its maybe my trash can being full that’s causing me entire computer to freeze and crash, and hear “hmm…strange…” more times than I can count.

So I’m telling you the truth when I say that I put together this video out of both deep and abiding love for you all, and also tenacity that you will never see the likes of again.

Please, enjoy.

If you watch carefully at the beginning of the video when Jon is cleaning off the board, you can see a little monster toddling around back and forth across the shop. And at the very end, you can also see that same baby ogre doing his thing (i.e. getting in the way.).

***

As a bum note on the side, I’m sorry to say we’re going to have to be raising some prices. The Canadian dollar, the Canadian dollar. We’ve been sitting around the dinner table bemoaning it, but unfortunately, we can’t stay alive with prices as they are. And additionally, some of our prices are below what our manufacturers require them to be, which isn’t fair to anyone – our manufacturers or other retailers in particular.

We’re going to be seeing some big increases on Edison, which is something we should’ve done a while ago. Edison pens are going up from $175 to $210 taking place tomorrow (hustle, friends!).

TWSBI, Platinum, Lamy, Sailor are going to see some small prices increases, all taking place February 5th. There may also be some small price increases on individual products on other brands, but these are the big ones.

We’ve grouped these price increases together to announce all at once, even though we’ve been eating the difference for a while: some of them are price increases from our distributors, and some are discrepancies in the exchange rate.

We’re sorry. You know that we love to give to you the best and fairest prices we can, and while I know the price isn’t the only important part of a purchasing decision, it is important for all of us. Know that we will continue to try our best to offer you the very best that we can.