You may have heard that we've been hinting at some shop changes lately, or that our website has been a bit of a mess as we sell out and remove products. There's a reason for all of this.
In late January/early February, we will be debuting a brand new website and a renovated shop. CW 2.0, we've been calling it for now. Before I tell you about the actual differences, let me first share this:
Six years ago, when I first put our website online, I had the goal of opening a shop that specializes ONLY in pencils. The products on the website were extremely edited and carefully selected through the lens of a person who wanted to convince New York City that pencils are, indeed, an object that deserves more appreciation. Since then, we've moved to a bigger shop, multiplied the number of products we offer and navigated our way through a global pandemic (so far!).
The thing is, I don't feel like I need to convince anyone of anything anymore. And as I spent months working alone in my shop this spring, just trying to figure out to save my business, I realized that since this website went live in November 2014, the thing that had become most important to me and my business over the past 6 years is not the concept itself, but the community built around it. This pandemic has forced me to take a hard look at the way I run my business and has made two things apparent:
1. It's unsustainable and risky to keep a physical storefront open that relies heavily on tourism, especially when that storefront is in a community that might need something different from us as a business.
2. That I personally wouldn't buy many of the products I'm selling in my shop because they don't align with my ethos as a consumer. That I can be doing better to sell products that encourage better consumer habits and support the types of businesses I personally prioritize.
CWPE was born simply out of my vision for my very own dream shop, and in a lot of ways, that's what I think has made it so successful. That it's a shop operated by people who really, really care. That the customers who come to see us leave feeling like they had a special experience or that they learned something new. As I've grown as a human, and learned from my mistakes as a shop owner, I've realized that my business needs a hard reset. The world is changing around us, and it feels natural to evolve with it and to strive to build a better, more impactful business for the new climate we're slowly re-entering. I don't want to wait around for things to go back to "normal." I'm more interested in inventing my own new normal.
That said, in the new year, we'll be shifting gears to provide the things our neighbors and our community have been asking us for all this time. We'll be re-opening as a full service office supply store. Our first love will always be pencils, and we'll still be specializing in writing tools, but we'll also be offering our favorite versions of ALL of the other essential desk tools, as well as a lot of the services you'd hope for from your friendly neighborhood office supplier -- all with the enthusiasm and knowledge that you've come to expect from us. I want my shop to be a place where our neighbors can find the things that they need BEFORE it's a fun, quirky place to visit as a tourist.
With all of this, we've set some new guidelines for the products we're choosing to sell going forward. We'll be prioritizing brands that are local, small and/or have high standards for transparency, sustainability and ethical business and manufacturing practices. I want to enable our customers to be conscious, mindful, educated consumers and I feel strongly that on the whole, the stationery industry isn't doing enough to encourage this. I'm hoping I can do my part to set a new standard.
Now, for the logistics:
Pencil Box Subscription - We will be discontinuing our Pencil Box Subscription service after the March 2021 box. This wasn't an easy decision, but ultimately, it makes more sense to re-allocate the time and resources we put into the boxes into other things, including tools to help you better find the right things that YOU need in your life, instead of us automatically sending stuff that you may or may not need or want.
Individual pencils - Beginning in the new year, we will no longer be selling pencils individually online. Full transparency: the way things are now, there are many online orders that we actually don't make any money on because of the labor and packaging materials it takes to fulfill individual pencil orders. For our business, it's just not a sustainable way of doing things anymore. We will be introducing more sampler sets to help you find your perfect pencil before committing to a full dozen, will be offering a paid personalized sampler service ,and will continue to sell individual pencils in our physical shop.
Last Call Items - Throughout the rest of the year, we will be adding products to the "last call" section on our website. These are items that will not be coming with us to the new shop.
Holiday Season in the shop - In early November, we will be clearing out our physical shop, putting the remaining inventory online and setting it up as a super cute, super efficient holiday gift shop through Christmas. This means that we'll be stocking it with MANY super easy, gift-wrapped sets, lots of seasonal cards, samplers, great single-item gifts and stocking stuffers. If you want to come to 15 Orchard Street to buy individual pencils and regular stock, do it before the end of October!
Website - Our new website will be totally different but a lot more user friendly. There will be advanced search/filtering options, better product photography, more organized information, and more intuitive navigation.
Phew. That was a lot. If you're reading this and you're confused or bummed out by all of this, I get it. But please trust me! I'm not going to spoil any surprises, but I think you're going to like what we're working on. And if you don't, ask me and I'll gladly recommend another small business where you can find the thing that we don't sell anymore.