This is the biggest news we’ve had for quite a while!
For a long time we’ve been dreaming of opening a second shop: of course we miss our west end pen friends, we know that so many of you come from so far to make it to our shop. It’s a tumultuous commercial real estate market in Toronto, that’s for sure, though, and we weren’t sure if it was ever going to happen.
And then, last year, we found out that when our lease is up in the spring, our rent is going to jump an astronomical 30% – unlike residential leases, there are no caps on increases on commercial properties. Throughout the building, we’ve watched a slow mass exodus of small businesses and workshops as leases have come up.
We have loved being in Leslieville – from our neighhours who visit us regularly on their walks to the local shops and cafes – and had planned on being here for a while, but we gotta roll with the punches.
And then sometimes the punches are serendipitous opportunities in disguise.
Over the next few months, we’re opening up a small studio shop, still in the east end.
Those few of you who, like me, reminisce nostalgically about our days at 906 Dundas West, will have lots to look forward to with this new shop, a smaller space ready for shelves and long conversations over the pen counter on rainy afternoons. I’m already dreaming of those boxes stacked up against the windows, and inks buried deep underneath. And now we’ll have a cat!
Those of you who remember warily the days of having to squeeze past boxes and the merry-go-round of customers around our center table during busy hours, everyone shuffling a few steps at the same time, will be heartened to know that we’re planning on opening the main shop again in a new location, after our lease here in Leslieville ends.
The studio shop is an old Victorian in a great neighbourhood. It’s both perfect for us, and …not quite actually perfect. A bit wabi-sabi: in need of some love (and a few contractors), but with its own character. The main floor will be our studio shop, and upstairs will be where our family lives.
It’s going to be significantly smaller than our main shop, and as such won’t offer our full range, just a selection of the good stuff. We will, however, be as charming as ever! (HAHA.) We’ll be able to be flexible with stock between the two locations, and we’ll have a sneak peek of the newest arrivals to be photographed and prepped for the website before the bulk of our shipments head over to the main shop. We may occasionally have cookies.
You might be asking yourself many questions such as:
How long will you still be in this Leslieville location? (until estimated early spring 2018)
Where will your main shop move to? (unknown)
When will the studio shop open? (estimated mid-winter 2017/2018)
Where exactly is the studio shop going to be? (the east end – stay tuned for announcements and details!)
How is your business going to survive so much turmoil? (who knows!)
Who knows real answers to these questions (no one, but most likely Jon)
Are you hiring? (yes we are! Please come and work with us! All of our positions are available here, but we’re in particular looking for a full-time person now that we’re gearing up for the studio shop.)
I know some of you may also be asking didn’t you just move into this Leslieville place? And the answer to that is, well yes.
I know it seems, unfortunately, like we’re bouncing around the city, but we’re hoping this next set of changes will be the last ones for a while. It’s partially the nature of real estate in Toronto, and also the nature of surviving as a small, independent business in this age of huge and huger mega-businesses and technology. We outgrew our tiny 906 Dundas West space after two years, and now our building is catching up with the growth of our transforming neighbourhood.
And, to be honest, one of the driving forces behind this new place is watching Caleb grow up.
While I know (or at least keep telling myself) that Caleb is learning lots and experiencing lots by living here in this industrial building, with a movie prop maker (with some pretty crazy and occasionally scary stuff in his studio) and a bicycle repair shop and a tattoo parlor and a metal workshop and a print studio, I also know I want Caleb to have roots.
I know that there are some sacrifices to Caleb’s, and now the new baby’s childhoods that they will have to make because we are a small business family: Saturdays are our prime game time in the shop, not trips to the zoo; chores include sweeping the shop and taking out the recycling, in addition to clearing dinner tables and picking up socks; dinner time is sometimes late, and sometimes take-out, depending on what’s going on in the shop (and, basically for all of December).
But community is so important – the community and village we all share as stationery lovers, yes, but also the community that our children will grow up in, their schools and the local shops, our neighbours and the people we run into on the streets.
As Jon and I learn more and more about Toronto real estate, and how turbulent commercial properties can be and are, I know that I don’t want Caleb to be changing schools and our family uprooted every three years, something that Jon and I took to a bit more naturally when it was just the two of us, and when Caleb was just an infant. When this opportunity came up for a long-term place for us, we took the leap.
I’m deeply looking forward to both our family and our business being able to put down roots in a community. To be on a first-name basis with our librarians and shawarma take-out place people. To have favourite tables at my local cafe. I want to be able to contribute to the economy and fabric of a neighbourhood for a good long while.
So this studio shop that we’re opening up is (hopefully) going to be our good long while.
And best of all, we will have a backyard.
(This doesn’t look too backyardy right now, because the previous folks used it as a multi-car parking lot for their offices, but trust me, there’s going to be some green in there.)
There is definitely going to be more to come – announcements, photos, news, renovation updates, funny stories. I hope you’ll continue to follow along with our journey – we continue to barrel along new paths I could hardly have imagined for us four years ago when we first opened the shop.
This news is terrifying for us, but with our newest turkey (the baby) fresh from the oven, there’s only so much terror to go around, so we’re plunging ahead with our hearts in our hands.
There’s so much to be excited about and thankful for in this new adventure. Watching Caleb run around the rooms, already making himself at home, spilling his juice on the floor. I can’t wait to see a few walls come down on the first floor to open up space for our shop, and to see some familiar faces come in through the door.
A tiny stationery shop studio, in an old Victorian house, with some of my favourite people in the world wandering in and out. What a dream.