Happy New Year!
Another year in business. This was a year filled with adventure, growth, luck, some good, some less so, learning, slogging away, good books, mediocre books, huge moments, tiny moments, airplane rides and train rides and bus rides, new pens, surprises, hurdles, Google translate, diaper changes in unusual places, spilled ink, celebrations, reading lessons, waiting, finger crossing, coffee, good company, good customers, good staff, new relationships, changes, stickers, snacks, some relatively low level disasters, painting, and some pretty okay stationery.
Here are a few photos from 2019.
What a crazy year it’s been. We look in admiration at other retail shops and small businesses that have made it and are making it over decades, innovating and hustling and balancing. There is nothing more humbling than someone on Live Chat at 11 pm asking why you cannot price match Amazon and offer free on day shipping and possibly also a first time customer discount, other than possibly having your cat swing his butt in your face as you try and type. But there is also something incredibly meaningful to be in a business with the relationships and friendships we’ve been so fortunate to be a part of over the years, with customers, vendors, staff, former staff, and all the other people that touch a small business. We are trying our best, and sometimes it seems like we’re swinging blindly, but we’re grateful to be in the game while we are.
It’s impossible to capture an entire year in moments, but here are some of the ones that make up a stationery shop and a family business in our corner of the world.
This summer, we took a trip over to Asia, our first time visiting a few of our favourite vendors in Japan, and then heading over to Hong Kong. Japan was filled to the brim with stationery shops, factories, good food and a huge learning curve to a new culture. Hong Kong was hot, crowded, and also full of good stationery shops and book shops, as well as tumultuous, tense and increasingly full of unrest. What a time to have been there, and what an incredible opportunity to show our kids a different part of the world. While I’m still getting flashbacks to some pretty crazy moments traveling with young kids, especially in a few business meetings in Japan, books and travel are possibly the two greatest gifts we can give them, and we’ve only got a finite number of years with them in our nest.
While some moments this year have been so special for us—visiting Traveler’s Notebook or Superior Labor or Life or Pilot, surviving a pen show, trying to convince kids to stop stomping around upstairs when there are customers in the shop down below—a lot of our life is pretty universal. Reading out loud to your kids on transit, negotiations with your kids at a pumpkin patch, negotiations with your kids on a plane, negotiations with your kids at snack time. We’re all just trying to survive, maybe raise a few good humans, and have a cup of coffee uninterrupted every once in a while.
Caleb has turned 5 and Naomi 2. Caleb is learning to read and what a magnificent, insane, beautiful journey that is, both he and I equally delighted and in awe as he’s begun sounding out words and reading whole sentences by himself. This year has marked a real shift in that we started reading chapter books aloud together, and it has truly been an adventure into some new worlds. Naomi is our wild child who brings her own magic to every situation, whether or not magic is called for. I am equipping myself with a strong cup of coffee and my own magic.
Chicken the shop cat is now 3, and continues to patrol his territory and bring home live mice. He occasionally comes in for a scratch, usually after you shake the treat bag, or if it’s raining. Super, the dog, is going grey, and has slowed down some, but is usually just deceiving you into leaving your lunch on the table, so he can jump up and scarf it down in one bite.
In between the excitement and the highs and the new releases in the shop, we are keeping at it. I’ve been a bit wayward on the blog recently (as evidenced by the very last minute nature of this post), with the busy-ness of the holidays in the shops, and also for the kids, and also just because I’m prone to waywardness, but if there’s a time for reflection and mental regrouping, this is it, December 31st in the final hours of the decade. As we roar into 2020, we are very much looking forward to what’s ahead. There is a lot to come, some new projects materializing into reality, and I can’t wait to show you all the new goods.
Here’s to the balance between work and life, hustling and slowing down, chocolate and vegetables, analogue and digital, growing up and staying young, reading books and living life, the right number of pens inked. Here’s to 2020 and the new decade ahead.
I’m writing this while in the shop on New Year’s Eve. I’m eagerly awaiting a package from Purolator, the tracking of which claims it’s going to be delivered today. Night is falling, along with my slim hopes, but what a marvellous thing it is, to be sitting in this shop, with a shop cat, and pattering feet and the heat admittedly turned a bit low by Jon while the shop is closed over the holidays.