Our Last Days on Carlaw

Last Saturday was our last day on Carlaw. It was a wild and emotional and hectic day, but it was so wonderful to see so many familiar and new faces coming by to say hello (and goodbye). It’s always hard to gauge how things are going to go beforehand, even when you’re offering loot bags, but it was absolutely a thrill and an honour to see how many people turned out to show their support for fountain pens and writing and independent business. Who says handwriting is dead?

Hundreds of egg tarts! All gone! Some people had two, but I won’t tell.

I left these really great and elaborate tape arrows on the floor to indicate how people should line up and I had to work really hard on not letting my feelings get hurt after everyone ignored them.

It was nuts for the first half of the day, and then slowly tapered off. There’s only so much you can do in preparation, and it’s mostly about organizing delivery for lunch for the staff. We reminisced about our warehouse sale in August, and the sweltering heat only partially abated with dripping popsicles, and so on our last day here, with the crowds, we were mostly glad for the cool weather. We also set up two check-outs, like at Scriptus.

One of the first customers in line said the crowds were a fitting send-off, a tribute to the three years here, and I loved that. I tend to be a bit dramatic, but it was really lovely to see so many folks coming by one last time. People wishing us luck with the move and set-up, sharing stories about their first time finding us down the laneway, customers and friends who have been with us a long time, but wanted to come and celebrate by waiting in a long line. It’s really something else, to know that people will wait in line for ages, and yet be so friendly and polite and eager to share their stories. Torontonians? Fountain pen users? A delight.

I left Caleb to “man the snack table” and I returned to discover him luring other children in the somewhat murky area below the stairs, under which fit only tiny humans and cats and possibly spiders but I’m certainly not looking. Sometimes other mamas (bizarrely) feel like I seem to have it together, and I need to remind them of moments like these, when I’ve left my quasi-latchkey child under the stairs, scampering around with a crushed egg tart in his hand.*

After we closed down just after six, we locked the doors and got straight to packing up the shelves. We are a small business by every definition, and we really needed to keep our down time as short as possible so we were packing the minute we closed down. It was one long night of boxes and tape guns and markers and piling up things here and there. The next morning, Sunday, movers came with two big trucks and began carting everything away.

The staff have really been superstars through this entire move, with heavy boxes lifted, furniture pushed this way and that. Sunday and Monday were the big days when we moved basically our entire shop and warehouse, and I can hardly believe it all happened in two miracle days.

One last Lamy ring! I have a box of them somewhere that I’ve been hoarding since the early days of the shop (it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Lamy Safaris, and slightly less so, Al-Stars), and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that someone packed them up for the move, and they haven’t been chucked into the recycling. One day I’m going to string these all together for a necklace, or perhaps put them into a box and squeeze my hands in there for some glorious stress relief. One day!

I don’t think I was quite as sad to say good bye to 906 Dundas West. Here, it was strange and emotional to see all of furniture being picked up and cheerfully marched off by extremely friendly and professional movers. I wonder how often they move things for people who don’t really want to move and whether or not they have a sixth sense for people who seem like they’re about to lose it.

Caleb, at least, had the time of his life watching the trucks and everyone moving the giant pieces of furniture around and getting in the way with his dolly. I mostly stood around, holding the baby, weeping dramatically on the inside. The end of an era, that’s for sure.

***

 

In other news, we’ve been keeping busy setting up the new shop.

Lights are in and mostly turning on, the warehouse is mostly being put back together, although everyone has been avoiding the boxes of the miscellaneous things that have just been piled in, and I continue my general stance of holding the baby while watching all the action.

In the time I’ve been here, I’ve experience a tasty burger (Rudy’s), tasty noodles (the ramen place on the corner) and a tasty fried chicken sandwich (the tiny place beside the theatre). If you end up going to the ramen place, right on the corner of Clinton and College, I’ve had the Shoyu (whole egg noodles) twice, and I highly recommend it. They also offer these slightly spicy bean sprouts as an appetizer which are very good.

We’re vaguely on track to have the shop open again this Saturday, May 5th, although if you want a sneak peek, we may very well be ready by Friday for you to come in and say hello, if not everything is back on the shelves yet. We had a few disappointed customers stopping by even today, and I’m sorry to say we are really still in the thick of getting the furniture set up, with electricians and contractors taking things apart and putting things back together. Fingers crossed, Friday!

I’m hoping to share more pictures soon of the progress and details of all the excitement for our opening day. Jon is “open” to getting balloons for Saturday. In the last five years, I have gotten more helium balloons than I ever would’ve imagined, but there is nothing as cheerful as a yellow balloon. Please come by. You can reassure me that Everything Will Be Alright.

The baby and I have been traversing the city in our trusty Subaru that someone backed into while parked on College, with Jon to the shop, picking up things from hither and thither, back again to pick up Caleb after preschool. I haven’t spent this much time in the car in a long time, and while I don’t want to jinx anything, I’m sort of enjoying the relative peace of an audio book and a coffee, once everyone is strapped in. The baby is not quite enjoying it as much as I am, having previously been used to maybe half an hour in the car a week and now not really a fan of the tight space, but I thought I would share this photo to where I caught her reading one of Caleb’s books to pass the time. She’s getting ready for renovating her own shop.

*Caleb is well-loved, and actually in a very unique position of having grown up with many adults around to gently nudge him back to safety when needed.**

**Sometimes the gentle nudging is more like “Caleb Chan get off that table right now or else.”

14 Comments

  1. Simar

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, I will miss the carlaw location. Hope the new spot will make even more memories!

    • wonderpens

      Thanks for all of your visits! I still remember you sharpening knives right out front! Haha. Looking forward to seeing you again soon 🙂

    • wonderpens

      Yes, this place has given us so much! It’s hard to think that three years has passed us by just like that.

  2. Jim

    R and I find ourselves in a strange position – we arrived in Toronto the day after you closed and we’ll be leaving the day before you open. I choose to believe this is because the universe knows I get all weepy at endings AND beginnings and wants to prevent your having to say “why has that man gone misty eyed over the Stalogy? They’re good notebooks but seriously!” Honestly I felt a twinge in some of the photos above. But we’ll be back for Scriptus in October and by then all things will be in their place again. This is not to say we won’t walk by the place today while we’re in the area – give your neighbors the once over to make sure they’re worthy, that sort of thing. 🙂 All the best for the reopening!! Chapter 3 – The Little Italy Years. I need a tissue.

    • wonderpens

      Oh, I am right with you! As much as I am looking forward to all the new adventures ahead, there is so much I will miss about the familiar hallways and shelves and Caleb sneaking in and around. Seeing the place empty brought me right back to how it was when we first saw the place empty and full of potential, and the late nights painting the walls and putting up the displays to get ready… and everything in between then and now.

      Although, it’s perhaps a good thing you’ll leave before we open – we could certainly use the extra time to get to all the last fixes and details before you come again in the fall, and by that time, we’ll be settled in and ready to show you around the new shop. It’s hard to believe we’ve made it three chapters – what a ride.

  3. Rosemary

    You guys are awesome.
    As a child, I grew up in the busyness of the family business too and when I look back it was pretty cool. There were 3 kids in the family but we look back and call the business the 4th child.
    Thanks for the update and I hope you all will soon get to rest from all the hustle!

    • wonderpens

      I certainly hope Caleb and Naomi will feel the same way when they’re older! It’s tough to tell because Caleb sometimes has different experiences than other kids his age, and I wonder how he will navigate that as he gets older.

      Although in our family, in some ways the business is the first child 😉

  4. Kristine Martin

    Totally amazed that an online order I put in right in the middle of all that arrived in just a few days! How was that possible, lol? I raise my shiny new Edison Collier to you! Looking forward to seeing the new shops when I make it down south.

    • wonderpens

      It’s all the guys on the shipping team for that one! It was one hectic move, and I am amazed at how quickly they reorganized inventory and pulled what they needed. Thanks so much for your order, and looking forward to your visit as well 🙂

  5. WPfriend

    By the way, would you please consider carrying the dotted Leuchtturm1917 in the B5 size? I have no doubt that plenty of people, like me, prefer to Bujo in slightly larger notebooks. Thx.

  6. Marr Kelly

    Awesome post. I wish you the best in the new home(s). I passed by Carlaw today and missed the old, hoping I could get to the new… but time denied me. I will be by soon.

    Thanks!

    • wonderpens

      Thank you so much! Looking forward to truly settling into the new space, but also missing the character and stories of the old. Can’t wait to see you again soon!

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