Things we've learned since setting up shop here: 1. Chicken is still the most popular member of our team. 2. Raccoons, while slow moving, are terrifying and fearless creatures.   It's been two weeks since we opened up here at 290 Gerrard Street East, and while the to do lists never end, it's been a relief to finally have our doors open. We're hoping to have an official grand opening event soon - raffle prizes, treats, special sale items - but we're hoping to gloss over a few rough edges first. At long last, here are a few photos from our last couple of weeks setting up our studio shop. We've kept as much of the original architectural detail as possible - the deerheads, alas, are still hidden, but stick with us (for maybe another 2-4 years) and one day all will be revealed.
We're slowly settling into the neighbourhood, and finding our rhythm. It's been nice to see both new and old customers coming in, and a welcome challenge to figure out what sort of inventory to prioritize and new products to bring in. Some days are more productive than others, but we're checking things off our lists, even as more things get added on. The latest example: we started with four extra large bins plus a green bin that I wanted to downsize to three total, but for some reason, after several phone calls to 311, the city municipal services number, we now somehow have seven total. The surplus bins are stolidly waiting in our front yard (!) to get picked up, and I can't wait to cross that off my list - I've spent so much time on hold with 311 that I've cycled through all of their hold music selections several times. But of course, that's just the nature of setting things up. I have very, very much missed living behind the shop at Carlaw, being able to pop in after putting the kids to bed, sorting through inventory, packing orders, slipping down while Naomi is napping, having Caleb go up to get a snack or a glass of milk on his own, and so this is a return to home for us in more ways than one. We've had a few journaling workshops now, figuring out small details like chairs and tea mugs and lighting, and everything is slowly falling into place. While there are still some relatively big renovation projects ahead, I'm glad for this opportunity to slow down and get comfortable where we are.


It's been a bit quiet on the blog and on our social media over the last few weeks, and while it's been busy, it's mostly because I'm a real procrastinator (also because I'm lousy at time management). As things go with renovations and small businesses, there are always going to be big and little things to improve, but it's more that I'm still working on finding and anticipating those pockets of time when I've got my hands free to take photos or sit down to write.* I keep telling myself done is better than perfect and that people sort of like seeing all the behind the scenes stuff anyways, but you know how it goes. Part of the adjustment has also been going from managing one shop to managing two shops and Caleb in school. My day usually looks something like: wake up, get Caleb ready and off to school, Jon heads to the main shop, I help open the studio shop at around 10:30, and then pick up Caleb for lunch. After I drop Caleb off after lunch is Naomi's nap, and then before I know it, it's 3:00 and time to pick Caleb up again. With after school snacks and dinner prep and diaper changes and dishes, it seems the hours and minutes of my day are vacuumed up before I even get a chance to answer an email. I think part of the problem is that I have a looong lead-in time to productivity (checking emails, mind wandering, mind returning, checking social media, mind wandering, etc.), and then when I finally clear out all the tabs, I discover I'm missing something "critical" that derails my whole process: oh, this photo is blurry. Is it absolutely necessary? Yes, I think so. I will need to retake this photo tomorrow in the sunlight. Alas, time for tea. In any case, both the studio shop and I are works in progress. Bear with us! More to come.   *As of right now, Jon is trying to put a crying baby back to sleep, and I'm wondering how much longer I can milk this for before he tags me in.

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September 22, 2018 — wonderpens



Anonymous said:

We get most of our furniture used, from antique shops (mostly here in Toronto), off of websites like Kijiji, or come across them by accident (i.e. left on the street as garbage). The card catalogue in particular comes from I believe the University of Waterloo library! Or maybe Windsor? Via Kijiji. Patience and luck – eventually you just stumble across a good find or fit for your place :)


Anonymous said:

Thank you! And thank you for following along with us on our journey for so long—it’s been quite a ride. We’ll have to look forward to a possible visit from you one day! All the best. :)

Julie-Anne Mendoza

Julie-Anne Mendoza said:

Your card catalog cabinet is absolutely stunning! Is it weird if I ask where you shop for furniture? for the shop? (desperately trying to furnish a condo on a budget)


Larynxa said:

Hi, Liz!

Are you still looking for staff for that Studio shop? I think working in a pen shop, in a lovely old house, patrolled by a ginger cat would be heaven!


Anonymous said:

Hi there! We are not actively looking now, but are still collecting resumes, as we’re always looking for the right person to join our team. You can always send your email to for Jon to take a look. Hope that helps!

Michael Simon

Michael Simon said:

Liz—Congratulations to you and Jon. This is quite an accomplishment, especially with two young children. The shots you’ve shared give the shop just the kind of homey and abundant look stationery people will appreciate. If I ever get to Toronto, Wonder Pens is on the top of my list of places to visit.

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