What a crazy weekend! On Saturday, from 1-5 pm, we had Brad and Myke from the Pen Addict and Ana from the Well-Appointed Desk at the shop. The next day, Sunday, was Scriptus, the Toronto Pen Show. I thought maybe I could fit the whole weekend into one post, but after looking through all the photos, I’ve decided to break it into two.*
Saturday was fabulous: what a terrific turnout. Along with our usual Saturday shop traffic, we had streams of people coming in to say hello and hang out, and it was a proud moment to see so much of our incredible and quirky and supportive community coming out. A lot of familiar faces, a lot of new faces: just the way we like it.
We’ve had people messaging us well in advance, expressing how excited they were about this meet-up, and so it was no surprise that so many people were coming out to meet our guests. In my own personal adventure into the world of stationery, I found the Pen Addict blog, and then discovered the podcast with Myke, and still remember early on, the immediate connection with realizing there are other people in the world who share this understanding of how the minutest differences in a pen – the grip, the cap, the ink flow – can make or break it.
I remember thinking I could never write with those Japanese extra fine nibs Brad seems to like, but at the same time appreciating that these personal preferences are exactly what give our stationery community so much flavour. The Well-Appointed Desk has her own very loyal following as well, and she’s added her own voice and love of washi tape and colour to the stationery community. In a pen and stationery blog world where there seem to be a lot of men, I’m glad to have her example. It was an honour to play host for an afternoon.
Brad and Ana brought supplies, and if I recall correctly, we still have a few Pen Addict buttons that Brad left us. If you’re making an online order, let us know if you’d like one, or you can pick one up in the shop. Ana had her huge Col-o-rings filled to the brim with ink swabs, sorted by region and brand, and we had more than a few people recommend us our next inks to carry.
It was great to see both Simar, who’s involved with the pen community here in Toronto, and Azizah from the Gourmet Pens blog, coming in from out of town. Would you believe this is my first time meeting Azizah as well? While she’s been into the old Carlaw location a few times, I think I was mostly lurking in the back, with Naomi’s early months.
The real question, though, is what’s in that Laywine’s bag?? 😉
And we had snacks! We samosas of all sorts, cheese and crackers, fruit, egg tarts, and we even had a few guests bring in some treats to share. Our friend Mikey brought in the Montreal bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese, which were a real hit, and it’s yet another indication of how incredible our community is, this assembly of people who have been with us since our earliest days, before Caleb, before Instagram, right when our story was beginning, and everyone who has joined us along the way to where we are now,** bringing food to share. There is no better community than this one, friends.
The kids did great, too. Or at least as well as we could’ve hoped for, which is basically how we’ve been operating for the last four years. The baby had a nap in the middle of the day, and I missed out on the first hour of the meet-up with a snoozing baby in my arms in the office. Towards the end of the day, even Caleb was fading fast, and there was still a lot going on in the shop, so they both took a nap in the car. It was one of those days when Caleb subsisted off grapes and egg tarts and made forts in the warehouse out of packaging material. What memories this kid is going to have.
The “best” photo of all of us. You may indeed notice our three guests and Jon, look like they’re posing for a photo, and me and the babies look like we’re in various stages of being caught unawares. As good as it gets, and a sort of indication of who has it all together here.
And so we survived Day 1!
When Brad emailed many, many moons ago to suggest adding an extra Toronto leg to his and Myke’s stationery tour, maybe doing something at the shop, maybe pitching in at our tables at Scriptus, and what do you think? I responded with something like that sounds fantastic we’re all game no problemo how fun! I think it was something like just after the holidays when he first emailed and I must have been still floating around in a daze. Half a year passed, and then as the weeks ticked on by, my initial enthusiasm was slowly replaced with panic and terror. We’re hosting people?? What does that even mean! A meet-up? What exactly does this entail??
We’ve had some big days in our old shop on Carlaw – warehouse sales, vintage pen markets – but this was definitely gearing up to be our busiest day here in our Little Italy shop since we moved here in May. There are always so many little details, moving furniture, where are the electrical outlets, washing cups, taping wires down, rainy forecasts, signs, staff breaks, music, dog hair on the couch, napping babies, especially in our new space where we’re still getting to know all the secret nooks and best places to set up things.
Of course everyone would forgive us if we ran out of sparkling water or chairs or toilet paper (uhhmm, maybe not that one), but ideally, we don’t want to run out of anything. The magic is when people can come and enjoy an afternoon without noticing any of the details at all. Admittedly, this hasn’t happened quite yet, but we’re working on it.
In any case it was a wonderful afternoon, as of course it would be with guests like Brad, Myke and Ana. I had met Brad in person before, we carry his Nock Co line, and we email and chat with him regularly and so I knew he would be more than fine with anything, but it was our first time meeting Myke and Ana in person, adding an extra layer of fingers-crossed-they-like-samosas. It turns out Brad keeps good company, and Myke and Ana are as lovely and gracious and easy-going as could be.
After it was all over and the shop was closed up, everyone was wiped. It was lovely to debrief for a minute with Brad and Myke – of course I wanted to hear about their New York trip, but I especially appreciated being able to get some context for where we fit into the stationery world. It’s not to say that we’re insular here in Canada, but it’s always meaningful to sit down and have a real conversation about what other shops are like and are doing and what’s working and what’s exciting.
It’s truly a thrill to be a part of events like this, where we can play a role in bringing people together. So much thanks to Brad, Myke and Ana for being willing to make the trip up north, for celebrating small shops like ours, and for spending time with us here. This was so much fun, and we can’t wait to do it again.
And what’s this, in Brad’s hands? A surprise he brought over?? Stay tuned.***
*I read somewhere that the recommended blog post length is 400 words. Mine typically range around 1000 to 1200. This one is going to end up being 1400+, and I’m not sure if it’s because we had such a fantastic weekend or if it’s because I’m one of those “if you build more lanes on the highway, the cars will come to fill them” people when it comes to writing.
**Literally, people who have schlepped back and forth across the city to find us, wherever we are.
***Normally not one to do teasers, mostly because I’ve so rarely been organized enough to find myself in a situation where I could do one, but in this case it’s because my photos are in chronological order, and I didn’t have time to do anything exciting until after the show was over.