In my time at The Paper Seahorse, I have been consistently surprised that so many of our clientele are men. Specifically, men who write.
I have always maintained that our Frivolous Dry Goods line, curated by co-owner Randy Rosenthal, is appealing to a more serious, less frilly sensibility. Items like vintage desk lamps, refurbished typewriters, and—perhaps most interesting to me, as lifelong carrier of man bags: a rare, massive U.S. Mail leather postman's bag made in Georgia at one of America's foremost tanneries, now defunct—aren't "cute" so much as they are "cool."
But more often than not, gentlemen of a subtle seriousness come in and want all the tools for writing.
Several months back, a visitor entered the store just before closing. He was on a work trip from Georgia, and needed to find simple, blank stationery to write year-end thank yous to his best clients and business referrers.
He was wearing a Columbia outdoorsy-style shirt, jeans, and work boots. Not our archetypal paper buyer.
I helped him find an elegant set of vintage cards and envelopes, cream paper embossed with a black and gold chess motif throughout.
And during a private event we hosted for thirteen teenage girls, one of the dads found his way to the Lamy case and was impressed with our selection of fine writing instruments. He mentioned he was a regular at Montblanc, but liked the way our Lamys wrote.
Other males have come in and surprised us all with their beautifully-worn, well-loved Traveler's Notebooks or Kaweco fountain pens, used around the construction site or in the cockpit of a plane. These customers also challenge us with their encyclopedic knowledge of the product lines.
Ultimately, our goal is to serve all the men who want to write. Not only is it not frivolous, it's sexy.
Nearly everything we carry is niche, and speaks to connoisseurs rather than the masses. It takes a trained, exacting eye to appreciate the design precision that most of our products, coming from Japan, Germany, or the U.S., are created with.
I even had a gentleman stop in yesterday for origami supplies, mentioning that in his home base of Dallas, there are plenty of stationery shops, paper stores, and art supply retailers, but few who carry good origami paper.
One of our goals for 2018, on the subject of gentleman's stationery, is to carry more simply exquisite stationery.
We are working with a local printer and embosser to create Paper Seahorse private label stationery, for the express purpose of choosing the best paper, the best finishes, and unisex designs like letters of the alphabet or symbols.
We have also added more fountain pen options, including a curated selection from Faber-Castell, one of the world's oldest and most respected pen brands.
It has been a pleasure being involved here at The Paper Seahorse, in guiding overall strategy, product assortment, marketing, and daily operations. Meeting the men we serve, helping them put pen to paper, has been an unexpected delight as well.
Comments will be approved before showing up.