Thoughts on Three Years in the Pen Business
As what seems to usually be the case, I'm writing my blog with the baby-who-is-now-a-toddler snoring in his crib, and the dog snoring on the couch, and the big cheese snoring on the bed after a few glasses of wine. How fortunate and delightful for me that I can see (and hear) all three of these handsome fellows from my seat at the kitchen table, since our apartment is one big room. I've been inspired because, after a glass of vino myself and just before Jon decided to "rest his eyes" on the bed, I was fiddling around with my Pilot Custom 92. Despite many past errors in many trials with various pen casualties, of course I couldn't resist adjusting the tines - I mean, what could go wrong? - and I'm pleased to say that not only was no irreparable damage done, the pen is now writing a bit wetter! A miracle. Today is officially the third year anniversary of our tiny and fledgling and unwieldy business that we semi-jokingly named Wonder Pens until we registered it as a business with the government, and then it wasn't a joke anymore. If you're wanting to get your business up off the ground look into vr business brokers and see if your idea could be invested in.
I remember Judy from our old neighbourhood business association on Dundas West asking if we were officially "Wonderpens" or "Wonder Pens" and Jon and I just kind of looked at each other, not really sure what the right answer was. (We answer to either, but according to our official papers, it's two words.) It's nutty to think that we've already been around for three years, which sounds both like not a very long time at all but also a very, very long time, if you know what I mean. We didn't really know how to celebrate, so we're kind of just aimlessly patting each other on the back for having made it this far.* Accomplishments this past crazy year include:
- The acquisition of our first new staff member last fall, and then a few others along the way
- The acquisition of health insurance
- Moving across the city to this new space
- Baking my first loaf of bread
- Getting our first exclusive pen, our Franklin-Christoph Model 20
- We're all still alive, including the baby, and the dog, and most of the plants...
So I guess that's it. We're three years older and three years wiser, and we're hoping for a few more years to keep at this thing. I say this a lot, but it's because it's the truest thing I know about this business - it's thanks to folks like you, reading the blog, coming into the shop, ordering from us online, passing on our cards or buttons to your friends, it's thanks to you all that we're here. My noble prince (Jon) has aroused himself, and I now see him struggling to change the bed sheets. I'm pretty sure he needs my guidance as he's a got a bed sheet in each hand, and they're both for a crib. I cut Caleb's hair while he was napping on the bed this afternoon, so there's hair everywhere on the sheets. Family business. *We're also running a giveaway on Instagram - a Lamy 2000! Check it out here. Sorry I didn't do the giveaway on the blog, especially since you, my eight loyal readers, would have each had a truly excellent chance at winning.
Thanks so much, Ajmal! We’ve really enjoyed your patronage and friendship over the years. We’ll see you again soon :)
Chris S. said:
Perhaps an Anniversary Family Photo? Your photos are wonderful!
That’s a great idea – thanks so much! I may have to try to strong-arm Jon into one later this week – a bit late, but close enough ;)
We’re real proud of you. The accomplishments speak for themselves, but the journey and your courage are what truly inspired me.
Since three years ago, hardly one day I do not have one of your pens in my hand. My eyes lite up when people asked me about my fountain pens; love the chance to tell them the incredible story behind.
The photo of the crazy kids three year ago brought back so much memory. . . .
Congratulations ! Couldn’t be more proud of you !
Thank you so much!!
We have lots of goals and dreams and wishes! I’m not too sure if there’s anything coming in the foreseeable future – but we’ve got our eye on a few pen brands and other exciting things by the end of the year!
Thanks so much! I will have to keep you mind for our next contest :)
HAHA! Mark, you made me laugh out loud at your comments about doing slow laps around the middle table. It was exactly like that! Jon used to laugh because I’m small enough to weave in and out between people, but it was a tight squeeze, and got a bit insane around Christmas time. It was the perfect sized space for us when we first opened and we had no idea if Toronto would have that many people interested in fountain pens, but as the interest and community (and also our family) as grown, this new spot on the east side is pretty great, too.
I never realized that was how you found us (and fountain pens!) in the first place! What a serendipitous story – two inky things.
And yes, we sure do miss Porchetta & Ella’s & California sandwiches. Here, I think I personally can manage about one Rasher’s sandwich a month, but Jon has yet to reach his limit.
Thank you so much for your congratulations, but even more for your continued patronage over the years! Often people talk about how great it is to shop at independent retailers and small businesses where you know the people behind the counter, but it’s just the same, or maybe even more so, for us on the other side – to know and appreciate the same faces that come into your shop every once in a while.
Thank you so much!
Many congratulations on your anniversary. It’s great to have another Canadian pen shop that does online orders. I’ve been really impressed with the quality of your shipping, and your handwritten notes are a great personal touch.
Mark D C Brownlie said:
I remember the first time I walked into the old shop on Dundas. I was killing time waiting for the local tattoo shop to open, and I wandered in. There were such bright and shiney things in that glass cabinet. And the inks! I had no idea such things existed. I recall doing very slow laps around the table in the middle. When it got busy you had to just go with the flow – eventually I’d make it back to where I’d been standing, admiring a new pen, or a bottle of ink, or Life pads of paper. I bought a couple of Jinhao pens on that first trip, and then my visits to the west end became less about tattoos, and more about awesome pens.
I have to admit I was thrilled to hear you were moving to Carlaw, though I do miss stopping in for Porchetta sandwiches at Porchetta and Co, just to the east of the old place. Still, you’ve got Rashers right around the corner, Mean Bao, and Mercury, (as well as the awesomely named “Reliable FIsh and Chips”), so there is a lot going on all around the new place.
Congratulations. It’s been a privilege to watch your business grow and prosper.
Thanks so much for your kind words! We hope to continue doing business for a few more years :)
Ruth Martin said:
Congratulations on three successful years in business, and best wishes for many more! (I don’t do Instagram, either, pooh!)
Pat D said:
Congratulations!!! Happy Wonder Pens Anniversary!
I`m sure you have more than 8 loyal blog followers :)
Any goals for the business moving forwards?
Coveted products to stock? Workshops/gatherings to host?
Dick Davies said:
Congratulations on a loving good post about a wonderful adventure!
Glad to know we can count on you!! And yes, we’re hoping for a few more years of this – and hope to see you in the shop again soon :)
Sorry about that! We’ll probably try to do something here soon – but I am glad to hear you’re still reading the blog! :)
Barry Torch said:
One of eight! Congratulations Liz and John on 3 wonderful years – to many, many more in the future!! (possibly expensive for me!)
Congratulations on three years in business! That picture of the old shop is making me really nostalgic :‘) I remember I accidentally walked past it my first time there… It’s only been a year since I discovered you but it’s made my life so much better, so thank you so much for being here!
I love reading your posts, they really brighten up my day no matter what the topic is! But I can never seem to work up the courage to comment aha…
Ajmal S said:
Congratulations Jon and Liz. I am glad you store exists and I have learned so much through your Blog and visiting your store over the last couple of years. Keep doing what you are doing and congrats again. Great to come and visit you all the time.
Congratulations once again!
Thanks so much for the kind words!! The pictures of the old shop make me pretty nostalgic too! We learned a lot of lessons and have even more good memories there.
And thanks also for following along with the blog! Haha – I do seem to write about sometimes random topics, but I really appreciate your taking the time to comment! Thanks again for supporting our small business :)
Fah, I don’t do Instagram.
I think you have more than 8 readers. I just moved 4500 kms west of Ontario and I still read you! I’ve never tried ordering from you out here so I’ll make a wish list…