In praise of local pen shops

iridium_new_shamblesI know that for many the internet rules OK. Particularly in the arena of pen buying. What would we do without our favourite blogs, websites and e-commerce in general. Life would indeed be poorer though our wallets not so.

But among the loud cheers for the sites of our favourite pen manufacturers and online retailers. I want to spare a thought for a rare breed of men and women who run local pen shops and who trade in pens, ink and writing utensils from behind a carefully arranged window display. Now I know that for many it’s not an either or, many bricks and mortar shops have their web presence well established and sell online. But I still admire their high street presence, particularly in the UK where independent shops have been under much financial strain.

Often overlooked, these stalwarts of the pen trade are usually only too happy to help you in your quest for that one pen that will fulfill all your writing needs. They will stock oodles of wonderful and exotic inks with names that exude opulence and intrigue – who could resist names such as Diamine ‘Salamander’, J Herbin ‘Orange Indien’, Iroshizuku ‘Kon-peki’ to name but three? These, along with papers and pencils from the far-flung corners of the world all reside in the warm cosy cavern that lies behind your local pen shop door.

The ‘ace in the hole’ that these entrepreneurs have is the ability to let you play with a pen that you haven’t even thought of buying, wisely allowing you to ‘try this out’, secretly knowing that once the pen has found its place in your hand the magic is often irresistible. Ahhhh the power of a guilty pleasure, that one bottle of ink more, that extra nib, that one pen…

Now lest you despair and say that you don’t have a local pen shop, let me say that neither do I really. My ‘local’ shops are a one hundred and twenty-mile round trip to and from Kendal in Cumbria (one of them is in the picture above, you can follow them in twitter: @iridiumkendal), but I relish every visit, even if I have to arrange a work meeting there to enable my time to browse and play. The proprietors of these, or indeed any, pen shop are more often than not more than mere vendors callously after your hard-earned cash. They are fellow enthusiasts, fellow addicts, people with like-minded passions who provide much-needed advice and help in assuaging our search for the ideal writing implement, ink, or paper.

So my advice is, search out these shops, make the odd journey and form relationships with these people, look out for your independent pen shops and use them. Buy local if you can, and if price is a problem then talk to them, they might surprise you with what they can do for you. As for myself, though I appreciate good, efficient, internet based suppliers I would not trade the charm of the ‘local’ shop even if they are over a hundred miles away.

Happy hunting!



2 thoughts on “In praise of local pen shops

  1. Good post! I almost always get a positive response when, after spending some time looking and testing, I ask the merchant, “Is this the best price? Is there anything you can do for me?” So yes, shop local when you can. It usually works out for both parties.

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