I found these photos from some time ago now, months! A surprise to no one but me, when I stumbled across these photos, that I would’ve made plans to share them on the blog but they got lost in the swamp of blurry photos of the cats.


They’re from the earliest days of reopening the Main Shop this past summer. I contemplated just letting it go, the dirty dishwater down the drain, the shop cats casually sauntering out through the hole in the back gate, blog posts that were never meant to be, but in many ways, this is all a part of the story, the reopening, the endless anxiety, the creeping thrill you hold onto maybe just a bit too tightly.


It has been some adventure. In all of the life advice we receive, starting 9 years ago and never stopping, about quitting our jobs and opening a stationery shop—no one is using pen and paper anymore, what are you going to do when they stop manufacturing fountain pens, the impossibility of rent in Toronto, how little we knew (how little they knew of how little we knew!) about running a business—no one came close to predicting recent times. I guess some people did bring up the idea of a recession.


We kept our doors closed for longer than expected, and at the end of July 2021, we finally opened them again. It was a long runway to getting the shop ready, drilling hand sanitizer dispensers to walls, contemplating how people would want to try pens or pick up notebooks. How fastidious did we want to be policing people wearing things that sort of looked like masks but that we all knew were not masks, etc, etc. There were a lot of unknowns for both us as a team and for customers coming in, all of us learning how to be out in the world again.




It’s interesting to contemplate how already the shop has adjusted and changed, displays shifting with new inventory, tables mostly fuller than they were here, plants moved around, dead ones to the back, live ones to the front.


I have to laugh sometimes when I chat with other shop owners or retail pros, whose shops are beautifully set up for browsing and all of their lovely goods in towers, staggered artfully. We are mostly just people who really love stationery, with a defunct printer being used as a plant stand, half of our display furniture found at the side of the road.


It’s a miracle to be open every day that we are here, slow days, busy days, rainy days—we will take them all.



Currently reading: The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Currently reading with Caleb: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Gas tank currently: flashing E E E

Currently contemplating: a Canada Post pick up slip whose tracking number did not exist when scanned at the post office

Currently deep breathing through: this quiet season before the holidays come on full blast

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November 07, 2021 — Liz Chan

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