Tag Archives: Small Business

Reflections on Year’s End

We’ve made it!

A whirlwind holiday season, including mopping the floor more times in the last three weeks than I think I’ve ever mopped my own home, desperate calls to Santa-like distributors for stock, gift-givers coming in to a buy a pen for “someone who really likes fountain pens, but already has about a thousand and I have no idea what they are I NEED HELP, PLEASE!”

We’ve had a wonderful year, thanks to everyone who has supported our tiny business on a quiet strip of Dundas West.

Wonder Pens Stationery Shop located at 906 Dundas Street West, Toronto

It has been a big year for us, with lots of lessons learned and exciting moments.

We have…

Opened our bricks & mortar. This was a bit crazy, as we played chicken with our contractors and our opening date, and we purchased furniture without too much “design sense.” But we got to help a lot of people pick out their first pen, as they walked in to try out a few and get a crash course on how to use it. We also got to meet a lot of people who had ordered from us online. We also got some people who ordered from us online, visited us, didn’t say anything when they visited, and then e-mailed us later to say, hey – that was me…

Got our first broken ink bottle in an order. Actually, we had a pretty good track record until winter hit. I’ve received my fair share of broken ink bottles in shipments to us, so I know it’s something you have to prepare yourself for mentally when you see a stained box. Canada Post, winter, bubble wrap – it’s like a really big Venn diagram that doesn’t quite sense, but we’re working on it. Oh, Canada.

Fielded a lot of suggestions for what to bring in next. Iroshizuku, Sheaffer, Pilot Metropolitan, Faber-Castell, Parker…the list is pretty long. It’s exciting to know how much we have ahead of us, but kind of daunting to figure out what’s best for next. Don’t change that channel, we’ve got some stuff cooking for the new year.

We also
…had our first painful and tedious lessons in bookkeeping
…built our website from experiments in code (bad idea)
…ate enough instant noodles to bring me back to college
…received our first fake five dollar bill
…learned how to use my camera properly – or mostly properly
…been featured in some pretty cool publications
…and most exciting of all – convinced my Asian parents that having left teaching to start a business selling fountain pens has not made me a new-age hippie.

We are off this week! We’re out in cottage country – Jon and I enjoying some eggnog, and Super romping about in snow up to his neck.

The online shop is still open, but orders won’t ship until we get back on January 2nd. The bricks & mortar will also be open again on the 2nd.

Hope you all had a happy Christmas, and the new year brings wonderful things and new pens to all.

Midori Traveler's Notebook, Pilot 78G and Noodler's Fountain Pen Ink

The Best & Worst Things About Being Your Own Boss in a Pen Shop

Taking a hiatus from your “real job” and starting your own business can be a bit of a risky thing. However, people wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for a few perks of being your own boss.

Pro: You get to try all the new inks and pens and toys out first.
Con: None.

Fountain Pens from Pilot, Platinum, Jinhao, Palomino, Serwex for testing at Wonder Pens in Toronto

Most of the pens in the “tester tray” have been filled and tested by yours truly.

Pro: When you and your business partner/husband disagree, you usually win.
Con: When you’re wrong, your husband doesn’t say anything because he’s a nice guy… but you know he’s thinking “I told you so.”

Recycling Packaging Peanuts for Shipping

You know I’ve just unpacked a shipment of inks when there are Styrofoam peanuts clinging to the walls.

Pro: You can take your lunch break whenever you feel like it.
Con: You can only feel like it when there’s no one in the shop/no new shipments to unpack and count/no restocking needs/nothing to do.

Pro: You can keep candy and treats in secret places.
Con: When the only other person who works in the store eats them first, it’s pretty disappointing.

Balancing Boxes in the Back Storage Room

Pro: You have a back room full of inky things and notebooks and pen things.
Con: It’s almost impossible to find what you need in underĀ 10 minutesĀ because things are balanced precariously on top of each other. Also kind of dangerous.

Pro: You get to choose the playlist.
Con: Listening to the same playlists over and over can drive you crazy.