With all of the convenience of the online world (of which I am often a partaker of), the brick and mortar pen stores that are still standing around the country are a great place to stop in, buy pens, paper, ink, and to have a "human" experience.
I wanted to take a few minutes to post about my local brick and mortar pen shop, Scottsdale Pen Company. (Also officially known as Scottsdale Pen & Knife)
The shop is owned and operated by a gentleman named Jay Sadow who is not only pleasant to do business with, but is always generous with his time for a chat about all things pens, what is happening in the market, what brands are doing, etc. A wonderful human experience each time. The shop is small, but is long and narrow and the walls are lined with displays, ink bottles, pens (of course), and posters. Such a great place!
When we have some additional time during our midday at work without appointments, I will often bring co-workers down to the shop (that I am slowly indoctrinating into our hobby) to just "look around". This usually prompts them to buy their first nice pen (or two). This is a really fun experience that gives them a glimpse into our world of nibs, feeds, inks, converters... As we all know, there is a deep satisfaction that comes from writing and analog tools, and visiting the shop is an eye opening journey.
What is prompting this post is a visit I made yesterday with a friend over to Jay's shop and I wanted to share my thoughts about supporting small businesses. The truth is, often visiting a physical store will produce a higher price on many items due to the fact that these businesses need to keep the lights on, pay the rent, and support themselves and their family. We go into these visits with the knowledge that we will likely spend a little more money, but the experience is lasting and enjoyable. For a first timer, there is a "kid in a candy store" type of experience that cannot be replicated through online means (in my opinion), and spending time with the proprietor of the shop is insightful and memorable.
I must also note that in addition to the human experience, Jay works extremely hard to make his pricing competitive.
There is a place for online purchases, but my recommendation would be to seek out your local brick and mortar pen shops (if you have one) or those you may encounter in your travels to stop in, say hello, and do business. You'll be happy you did... and you'll likely be back! If you live in the Phoenix area particularly, stop by and see Jay.
Who are your local brick and mortar pen businesses? It would be fun to put together a list.