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newsletter: late spring 2013: news from New York


We are back from the National Stationery Show and so inspired by the fun imagery and creative energy of all the artists. We are excited for our shipments to arrive (some already have). We placed over 42 orders for calendars, cards, papers and prints; we’ve staggered the ship dates, which means you’ll find something new every week or two throughout the summer.


Here are some of the trends we saw and orders we placed at the show:

Hand-lettered text

Hand-painted florals

Chalkboard designs

Gold foil accents

Delightful woodland critters and sea creatures

Letterpress with bold geometric patterns and text

Wooden postcards and bookmarks

Pretty party supplies (invites, napkins, cake toppers, doilies, banners)

Washi tape--rolls and rolls and rolls!

Charley Harper bird and animal stickers, boxed notes, kids’ activity kits

Boxed Holiday Notes: ugly sweaters, dachshunds (*we’ll have a special sale Thanksgiving weekend)

Photo journals of London and Tokyo

City ABC prints

Chicken prints and vegetable note cards

Temporary tattoos

Vintage French advertising prints

Japanese notebooks, notepads, folders, stickers, paper clips

Letterpress calendars (to use later as postcards)

Boxed thank-you notes and blank cards with images inspired by nature and architecture

Cards by contemporary Japanese designers

Cards with Spanish sayings and pick-up lines

Mexican wrestler wrapping paper

Japanese letter sets and printed favor/gift bags

Scientific prints (snowflakes, moon phases, also Ocean, Earth & Atmosphere in a smaller 8x10 size)

Dreamy photographs on gift tags and gift enclosures

Gorgeous botanicals on sturdy gift bags

2014 desk & wall calendars and boxed notes derived from their designs (donuts, feathers & terrariums)

Speaking of calendars, it sounds crazy to buy your 2014 three months ahead of time but September is when we have the best selection. If you wait until the new year to buy one on clearance you will have missed out on our most beautiful designs, which are long gone by then. Treat yourself to the one you want to see 365 days/year.
Stop in and see what new! Then stop in a week or two later to see what's newer!

sneak peek

whew.... my mind is still spinning. The Stationery Show in New York was an abundance of inspiration! We were particularly pleased to see so many relatively young (20something and 30something) printers practicing the art of letterpress and furthering the cause of letter-writing everywhere. For anyone whoever despairs of the digitization of our culture, I am here to say that the art of corresponding with actual paper is alive and well. Every aisle we went down was filled with great ideas and products, and it was charming to see all the mini-reunions going on, as printers from around the country met up with each other, shared their new wares and chatted about their presses.

This is the view as we first arrived at Javitz. It felt like there should be a chorus of angels.... we do so love this show. You aren't supposed to take pictures inside and although there would have been opportunities to do so with permission, I pretty much just stuck with looking, taking notes and catalogs, and placing orders.

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That said, we brought home plenty of catalogs so I've taken some shots to give you a little sneak peek at the items that will be arriving over the next few months.

We already received our very first shipment, from a New York company that prints in DePere, Wisconsin, so there wasn't far to travel. Gift bags! People often ask us for gift bags but we've had a hard time finding some that we like. But then we turned the corner and found these gorgeous botanicals. I would love it if they made them into wrapping paper or wall paper but will settle for gift bags for the moment.


For the last two months, I've been keeping two notepads up at the cash register and jotting down a list of vendors and products to look for. Naturally I managed to leave those notepads at home we had to settle for relying on our memory. Of course, we walk up and down most aisles at least three times during the course of the show so there was plenty of time to jog our memory and make sure we didn't miss anything.

1. One of the things I knew I was looking for were more same-sex wedding cards. We loved these which come from a print collective with many other graphic/text cards that we ordered to diversify our collection. Sometimes people seem to have a hard time finding cards for guys at our shop; hopefully this vendor and a few others will help that matter.

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2. I don't really have pictures of these but another mission of our trip was to stock up on boxed Christmas notes. We've decided that is going to be our "Black Friday" special for Thanksgiving weekend - to encourage people to send out Christmas cards we'll offer a sale on our boxed notes that weekend. Sachi placed several different orders and we picked up other catalogs for future ordering so we should have a nice assortment to choose from. 3. We also wanted to expand our calendar collection, looking for some more artsy or decorative calendars - distinct from the calendars that can be found at any old book store.  And yes, some of them will be functional, they aren't all simply decorative.

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4. We also have an assortment of journals on their way.

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5. We were pleased to see that many letterpress artists were also making prints. The last time we went to this show, we were looking for prints but didn't find many; this time we were pleasantly overwhelmed.

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6. gift tags and 7.  gift wrap.

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8. fabric tape, and washi tape.

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9. The aforementioned gift bags, but also wine gift bags made of Tyvek--like material.

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10. Bookmarks. Some made from wood, others letterpressed with various modern etiquette tips.

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11. party supplies, including patterned doilies.

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12. And, of course. Note cards, note cards, and more note cards. Letterpress and offset printed, on paper or on wood, silly and lovely and sweet and sometimes a little snarky. Now I just need a few more spinners, and the space to put them in.

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Hmm. I have to admit that for some reason on this trip I wasn't in as much of a photo-taking mood as usual. New York City of course is filled with marvelous sights and plenty of material. I can't really explain it. That said, the trip was wonderful. I'm sure what you are most interested in is the blog post that will come after this. We brought home three bags full of catalogs and purchase orders and are just sorting through it all. Items will be arriving to the shop over the next couple months but there are some lovely paper goods on their way - I promise you that!

As for the rest of the trip.... well, there isn't that much left after spending three full days at Javitz. Walking up and down aisles of paper products is fun but somewhat tiring. Nonetheless, we managed to squeeze in a few non-work jaunts.

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It is tradition to walk Times Square and Rockefellor Center, and then up 5th Ave, at night and enjoy the windows. Anthropologie of course always has a lovely window. The composition of stores on 5th Avenue seems to have changed somewhat over the years since and I do feel like the current style of window display is not quite as artistic as it has been at other times. I remember Mays when the windows were fully decked out and floraly in honor of Mother's Day. Punk as a theme is not really my style and there is something kind of off-putting about it being the focus of the Bergdorf's windows. Bergdorf's just seems so... un-punk... to me.

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We did explore some new areas of the city and finally walked the High Line park, picking it up very close to Javitz one late afternoon and then walking to Chelsea Market. It was rather hot and sunny so the gelato at the end was a nice treat, and there were all sorts of clever popsicle vendors along the way.  It is so fun for me to see the ways people are repurposing the urban landscape.

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Our version of shopping New York City might be rather different from others' - we aren't so much interested in the fashion. But we did manage our own version of checking off bucket-list stops. Ever since I read about this store, I have been anxious to go and we were happy to make our way to The Ink Pad. A-Mazing. If you are a crafter at all, you really should go there. They have zillions of rubber stamps, designs I've never seen before...  Sachi and I had a hard time making up our minds but each ended up going home with some additions to our collections. I'm quite sure we could have spent twice as much money. I feel like sometimes New Yorkers get this bad rap about being unfriendly but on the whole, I find that all my interactions are very friendly. Any time that I've really need help or directions, someone has been happy to assist. I cannot imagine what it is like to try and live and work in the City - there is just a larger volume of people everywhere you go, and trying to go to work when there are idle tourists meandering would drive me crazy (it already does drive me crazy at the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings - I would not deal well if that was a daily issue). The woman at the Ink Pad was friendly without being overly solicitous, and the selection simply cannot be beat. Sometimes when I go to a rubber stamp store, I am disappointed by the volume of "cute" bunnies and teddy bears, but they have a very artful collection. Last night I stamped some of the designs in my planner (which has many blank pages because I am being bad about actually writing plans in it) and had so much fun. Naturally, I left the planner and the stamps at home so you'll just have to take my word for it. There's one stamp that is like my stamp alter ego - striped tights, pouffy tutu, great flower hat....

Sachi finally made it to a dollhouse store. We'd read about one years ago and spent a long time wandering the 70s looking for it - only to find that it was in the process of moving and closed at both old and new locations.This time we had more success and Sachi added to her miniature bakery collection.

Tiny Doll HouseWe set out for the Tiny Doll House search without eating breakfast, figuring we could find something in the area. Naturally, we turned right when we should have turned left so we were having a hard time. After some deliberation about who to ask (the nannies? the construction guys? the store owner?),  we came across an elegant woman walking a well-groomed dog. She sent us to Eric Kayser, and we enjoyed a perfect French-New York brunch for our last meal.

Kayser pastries

We also had a little time before catching our plane to stroll through Central Park. It must have been lovely a few weeks earlier with all the daffodils in bloom but there were some nice flowering trees and bushes. Central Park
Now we've been home for one full day. I've mostly caught up on what I missed while we were away, and now comes the sorting through catalogs and purchase orders - have to enter all that into the computer! One box already arrived but the arrival dates are spread out across the next couple months. We'll keep you posted!

we're off to see the Wizard


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Admittedly, it's hard to leave Madison right now. Spring is pretty much perfect - nice temps, assorted acid greens and magentas of emerging leaves, tulips, magnolias (almost at their end), apple blossoms, lilacs (just beginning). I don't know if this is payback for the crummy extended winter, but everything is quite lovely.

However, it will be nice to get away.

And I do kind of feel like I'm on the brink of that moment when Dorothy arrives to the Emerald City - all shiny and wonderful...

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In a few days we will be departing for the National Stationery Show in  New York City. We can't wait! (though as much as I have been anticipating this for a long time, it suddenly snuck up on me and I've had a little flurry of cleaning the office and making sure the store will be ready for other people to run it in our absence. Thank goodness that didn't last long.)  We've got a long list of booths to go to, vendors to check in with, and that's not even counting the things we don't know about yet. So fun!

We've been receiving so many lovely postacards and announcements from various vendors - there's a definite perk to being in the stationery business.

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Unfortunately for you, I still don't have a smart phone so you'll be stuck waiting for pictures and updates until I return to Madison later next week. But I'll bet if you go to Instagram or Twitter  you will probably find plenty of other pictures.  As you can imagine, for two sisters who collect stationery as we do, there is much temptation to be found.

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We're departing early on Sunday morning so I'll be back later in the week with pictures, and to fill you in on what will be arriving to the store over the next few months.

graduation sneak peek

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Well that went fast, didn't it? At least there's a little time before high school graduations, but we've had students in already this week buying presents for their friends. This end of college always seems so hectic - finals and packing up, then graduation, then off to the next thing!

We have a nice assortment of graduation cards in case you are going the "cash is king" route.

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We've continued building up our collection of Wisconsin and Madison images and products so there is plenty to choose from. The Wisconsin pint glasses have been very popular as have the Wisconsin license plate bracelets. And the Wisconsin necklaces and t-shirts of course.

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The map wrapping paper is also popular, to wrap and just to hang on the wall.

map wrapping paper

For a less geographically-specific gift, we have plenty of prints, which have been very popular as gifts. An assortment of artists have created an assortment of prints: from original letterpress on atlas pages to prints on antique book pages to Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.'s amazing works of art to inspiring text prints based on linocuts and other graphic design skills.

  prints at Anthology

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for the Moms

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I suppose it all depends on my frame of mind. There are times when I'm in agreement with Anne Lamott who writes about why she hates Mother's Day. There was a moment in my life when I was coming to terms with not being a mother myself, a moment when the value placed on something that you are not just seems to be adding to the general feeling that society thinks you are somehow less valuable than other people. Much the same as Valentine's Day functions for me as a single person.

So, fine, I don't get a day on the calendar. I do take the entire month of August to celebrate my birthday so I probably make up for it.  Additionally, in our family we are not really big on specific days. I do think that kind of adds to the potential artificiality - do you really have to wait until May to tell Mom that you appreciate her? Do we have to wait until December to give someone a gift? Personally, I don't mind at all if my birthday is not celebrated on the actual day, but I do expect about a month's worth of celebrations.

Additionally, since I just sent my adorable (but tiring) niece home with her mother after one sleepover night that included an unsuccessful photo shoot in which I am ashamed to say it was hard to tell who was acting more like a five year-old and since there are two more sleepover nights yet to come this week, I am really enjoy my night of singledom, feeling like I can take a breath and actually hear myself think, and maybe work on a project that I feel like working on instead of being at someone else's beck and call. So you could say that my current frame of mind is that I do not feel left out not being a mother just as Mother's Day is arriving.

Being a shopgirl, there might be some tension between my feelings about any particular holiday, particularly the commercialization of it, and my desire to actually make money in my chosen profession. But I do love giving gifts, and I sure do love receiving cards, so I guess we see where I land on that side of the discussion.

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I have had lengthy discussions with various grammar fanatics, about whether it is Mother's Day or Mothers' Day. I think we came to the general conclusion that it is supposed to be specifically about one's own mother and should therefore have the "s" following the apostrophe. And even though I came to that conclusion myself, I am feeling lately it is more like "s" and THEN apostrophe, a general celebration of the people who have acted as Mother in our life. Some of these people are women. I also know some women who have not at all been Mother in my life, and some men who have filled the role more than those women. And, yes, a very specific mother has a great deal to do with who we are and how far we have come, but I think what I'm coming to more and more is the sense of the very many people who play a part in who we are and how far we have come. Maybe you'll send one of them a card this weekend. Maybe in a month or two. I will admit that the general political sentiment these days seems rather....... unMother's Dayish.... It was with that in mind, not even specifically for Mother's Day but really more as a sign that I wish was in the office of all politicians, state and national, that I created my She Is print last year. It continues to be popular and we've shipped off a few this time of year. Again, not really something that I think should be limited to one Sunday in May.

She Is print

By the way, I've always been charmed by the idea of sending a card off-season, so to speak. Making Valentine's Day the big holiday for sending out greetings instead of Christmas (I think that was something Julia Child would do), sending a thank-you for no particular reason, celebrating someone's quarter-birthday.

For us, Mother's Day kind of marks the kick-off of the selling season so we use it as a deadline for finishing up various projects and making sure that we are well stocked. Naturally we do have an assortment of lovelies for moms, even though a part of me wishes that people would just buy things they think would be perfect for someone when they see the items in the store, saving them for a holiday or not, rather than using a date on a calendar to drive the shopping. That has always been more my style - I keep things in my closet for months if necessary because I hate the idea of having to run around at the last minute or settle for something just because I'm on a deadline. I know full well there are other people who like that pressure. This week has certainly been busy with such shoppers and the Saturday before is usually marked by lots of Dads with kids, sent out of the house to get a present for Mom, but also giving her a present of a day without them (I always imagine). 

Curly Girl magnet

Perhaps most important for us is the relatively simple matter of sending Mom a card. I was eating my lunch in the office and overheard a customer yesterday: "It's funny when my Grandma started sending me e-cards, that's when I started loving real cards. You don't even get real cards on your birthday. I'm not talking about money, just a CARD." I'm no better than anyone else when it comes to relying on Facebook and email, in fact, I may well be worse but it still makes me happy that I can at least try to facilitate other people's good intentions about staying in touch.


The craft table is filled with paper scraps and supplies and people have stopped in every day this week to make cards. Two sisters spent a long time making these amazingly layered cards for their Mom - one for her birthday and one for Mother's Day. I do love the idea of a Mom getting a handmade card long after the elementary school days of card crafts. Additionally this year, we really stocked up on printed cards. Since we opened in 2008 and I had to bring cards in from my own collection, we have consistently been unprepared for Mother's Day. Each year we order more cards and each year it is not enough. This year we had so many cards two weeks ago that I was getting nervous that we over-ordered but gaps are starting to appear in the pockets and we should more or less make it through Sunday.

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P.S. While I was cleaning my living room from spillover from painting my bedroom, I found a gift certificate for a massage from the talented Candice at In Balance with a post-it note on it: "For Mom for B-Day." Her birthday is in February. So I AM cheating and giving her that for Mother's Day, but I also found a lovely dish at the newly opened The Regal Find in Middleton and a potholder at Orange Tree Imports. I know, I know, the potholder is really not a very good Mother's Day gift - along the lines of giving her a vacuum cleaner, but she asked for some at Christmas and this is a new pattern with cute little birds that I know she will love. And for someone who loves wrapping paper as much as I do, I actually went off course and wrapped them furoshiki style with a Japanese kerchief. I'm liking the idea of wrapping things that way, even though the ones we have at the shop are so cool that I would have a hard time giving them as part of the gift - maybe I'll just get one and keep it in the family. There are mothers in my life that I really should send a card to, but I still have postcards to send from my flurry of Valentine's good intentions. 

spring arrivals and departures

Well, I'm glad that's over with. May has its share of chaos, but April seemed especially bad this year. A few projects have been wrapped up & boxes unpacked, we got our new cell phones, I returned the ladder to my parents. Maybe by June we'll be all settled in. Our new part-timer has started training and we're shifting our schedules a bit, Sachi is packing up and preparing for moving, Laura is putting her room back after painting. Laura is in the middle of her four-week class in financial management from the Small Business Development Center so that is requiring more left-brain action than she's accustomed to, also starting at 8:30 in the morning which is earlier than she usually has to be functioning. The weather is getting warmer so we're already seeing a jump in sales. May tends to be the big kick-off month after winter: there's Mother's Day followed immediately by UW graduation, then wedding season and high school graduations and summer tourist season.

Around town, things are looking lovely. Although we've had some exceptionally warm days, spring is proceeding at a slightly more typical pace than it did last year. I should be able to get a few visits to the UW Aboretum to enjoy the magnolias, then the crab apple blossoms, then the lilacs. The magnolia trees around town are really spectacular right now, and other trees are starting to blossom and leaf out - there's an assortmet of acid greens and spring colors to be found.

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 I finally put my bedroom back together after long-overdue painting of the walls. Once you see the "after" pictures, you will realize what a task it was. Pretty much everything in those pictures was in the "before." And the rest of the house is just as full so there wasn't really room to clear the whole room and paint; instead I painted one wall at a time and then shifted furniture over to the painted walls to reach the next one. Glad that's over! Lily even "helped" me paint. And my Emily Kircher rug has a home, and there was even some room to spare to add more pictures and prints. I added more of my own collages and photographs, but also some new prints from the store that I've been eyeing for a while. I'm using those frames that are just a piece of glass with clips holding it together for some of my own photographs, and am kind of thinking I wouldn't mind a whole wall just like that. Not sure where that's going to happen. Maybe the living room. An acquaintance who is into feng shui was somewhat horrified when she stepped into my room before it was painted (pretty much the same color but a few shades lighter) - "most people would feel like they are drowning with all this blue" was more or less what she told me. As for me, this is my most favorite color and every time I step in my room, it makes me so happy - it just keeps getting better: the darker shade of blue makes my art show up better, my new quilt that I made and my new rug... it all coordinates so well (and yes, I moved most of the red/yellow books out into the living room), that it makes me very happy.

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We have a bit of a lull as far as arrivals go - pretty much everything has arrived from our last trade show and we need to do some selling before we do any reordering. But we did get some more blank note card sets from Chicago and our favorite stamped pottery from Milwaukee. Sachi's made some more jewelry with Tim Holtz pieces; I'm just in the early stages of another batch of magnet picture frames but also some painted switch plates, which, if they turn out for my walls, I might also make for the shop. Other than that, Sachi has been much more diligent about stocking the shop. I'm afraid this financial management workshop is taking up a lot of my brainpower.

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Immediately after Mother's Day and UW graduation, we are heading off to New York for the National Stationery Show. It is one of our favorites and since we rotate around to different shows, one that we haven't been to in a few years. We are already receiving lots of mail from various vendors who will be there - often letterpress on nice paper - it is kind of like receiving a bunch of wedding and party invitations at once. It feels like a perfect end reward for the hard work and upheaval of April and early May.

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Coming up on the trip to New York, taking this financial management class, and having just passed our five-year anniversary, I have been thinking a lot about where we started, where we're going. I have special fondness for this Stationery Show because it was the first trade show we went to, just a few months after opening. I had known about it for years before and it is entirely possible that being able to go to that show was one of the factors motivating the opening of our own store. Lily came with us on that first trip - I remember teething tears in the middle of the night, taking turns placing orders while the other waited outside in the atrium with Lily playing on a blanket. We had a lovely afternoon sitting on a picnic blanket at Union Square, partaking in the Farmer's Market, doing a little "market research" at Fishs Eddy and ABC Carpet & Home...


My how time flies.
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