Back in May I mentioned in my monthly Confessions of a Pencil Ladypost that we would be introducing a small selection of mechanical pencils in the near future. Well, my friends, that time has come. As of yesterday you can find a section on our website dedicated to our propelling friends and the same selection also installed in the shop in a lovely custom-made wooden display (made by our friend Gary).
I've mentioned before that my hesitation regarding mechanical pencils mostly has to do with the fact that they have little relation to the wood-cased pencil that I know, love and have dedicated my career to. That said, so many of you guys ask for them so I just couldn't resist any longer. In true CWPE style, I decided that if we were going to stock mechanicals we'd start with a small but thorough selection of ones that are awesome because of their function first, design second. Because stories are important to me, I thought I'd take a moment to share a very brief history of the mechanical pencil.
For just about as long as graphite has been a substance used for writing, some type of lead-holding device has existed. However, it wasn't until 1822 that John Isaac Hawkins (an engineer) and Sampson Mordan (a silversmith) patented the first "propelling" pencil in England. Mordan bought out Hawkins and continued on with his very successful S. Mordan & Co., manufacturing beautiful silver propelling pencils until the factory was bombed during the London Blitz. Early versions of a propelling pencil held tiny pieces of lead in sizes between .9mm and 1.8mm in diameter and worked by turning either the end of the pencil or the tip of the pencil to extend the lead.
The mechanical pencil experienced a couple moments in the early 20th century too. First, in 1915, when the Ever-Sharp pencil was designed and patented in Japan and second in 1929 when Caran d'Ache developed their Fix Pencil, the first modern clutch pencil.
In the US the most iconic surviving mechanical pencil company is Autopoint, which was founded in 1919 in Chicago. They're known for their old school propelling pencils in larger lead sizes including .9mm and 1.1mm (hint: if you're using an antique pre-1950s pencil and are struggling to find the correct lead size for it, the Autopoint 1.1mm is likely your best bet) as well as their Twinpoint double-ended pencils.
Most mechanical pencils these days use a ratchet or spring mechanism, though there have been some modern improvements especially in the Japanese market, including pencils that you shake to release the lead and pencils that are auto-rotating to keep the lead continuously sharp.
Finding the right mechanical pencil these days can be a bit tricky, I've learned, since there are so many to choose from. The two most important things to consider are the lead size and also the feel of the pencil. Do you want a precise line or a thick one? Is it important that the pencil is heavy or would you rather it feel weightless? Mechanical pencil lead comes in sizes from a tiny .3mm all the way up to a 5.5mm, though not all of them function the same way. For general use a .5mm or .7mm is usually ideal, while a 2mm is preferable for drafting.
For our first few mechanicals, I've carefully selected a few that are iconic. These include two varieties of Autopoints and Caran d'Ache as well as some more contemporary favorites like a Uni Kuru Toga and a couple of types of Rotring. I must admit that my personal relationship with mechanical pencils is still in its infancy and as I learn and experience more I'll tweak our offerings accordingly but for now, I hope you'll give these first few a try if you're so inclined. And in the meantime, post in the comments if there's a pencil you really want us to take a look at!
Photos: the mechanical pencil we're now selling, an 1840s S. Mordan & Co. pencil from the Met archives, an old Autopoint advertisement
In case you've never heard of it, Paperworld is one of, if not the biggest stationery trade show in the world. It happens every year at Messe Frankfurt, in Germany, which is a ridiculously large convention center. Set up over 5 exhibition halls are vendors from all over the world, showing everything from notebooks and pens to industrial printer toner and book-binding machinery. It's incredible, the sheer volume of exhibitors and the wide range of things to see. My first trip to Paperworld was two years ago when I was still new-ish to the pencil biz, which was incredibly exciting but also very very overwhelming. This time around was definitely easier, more fun and more productive.
If you've ever been to a big trade show you know that you have to be VERY organized in order to see everything efficiently and not burn out early. Fortunately, we live in the 21st century and there are apps for that. The Paperworld app is good--there's a well filtered exhibitor search where you can save favorites--a feature that I used often. In the end I didn't even need an actual map, I just searched booth numbers in my favorites and followed the signage. On the first day I went for a walk from my hotel to the Messe center just to time how long it would take and spent a lot of time taking notes about what exactly I was looking to find and where I was going to find it. I'd made appointments with a few brands, so my days were planned primarily around that. The plan was to do 2-3 halls a day, with repeat visits in the ones that I thought were necessary.
On Saturday my first stop was Viarco, where I had my first appointment. I preach this pretty often, but I LOVE Viarco because they always have something new in the works, actually new things, not reinterpretations. It's always a joy to visit them because I'm sure that they'll always have something new and exciting to show me. This time I found a lavender version of their ever-popular floral scented pencils, some regular pencils in colorful, contemporary prints and a pencil case that kind of looks like a pencil jacket. It's made from recycled leather off-cuts from a nearby leatherworker in Portugal. They're made to unzip and stand up for easy access at a desk. Speaking of desks--Viarco also officially introduced their new one! I posted a video of how it works on Instagram but I forgot to save it so I'll try my best to explain it: There's a long cavity in the back with multiple types of modular wooden boxes that slot in, for storing pencils, books, brushes--whatever tools you need. The rest of the table top is mostly filled by a blotter with a roll of paper fitted over it. On both sides are hidden compartments with cranks fitted into them, so you as you use the paper, you and roll it away. In the front are drawers with pencil slots and underneath is a hidden book shelf. It definitely made me wish I lived somewhere other than in a Manhattan apartment (WAY too small).
The rest of my Saturday was spent roaming around neighboring halls. Amongst my favorites finds were a few things at the Kutsuwa stand--a double-ended pencil extender/holder, a clear version of their T'Gaal sharpener and a set of Camel-made pencils with caps that stack together to form a pencil holder. Between pencil stops I marveled at paintbrush makers, sticker vendors (I found some new things for the CW Sticker Emporium) and hobby/craft product suppliers. Also in the same hall I visited Milan, a brand from Spain that makes awesome erasers and sharpeners. They showed me around and introduced me to some new things, including a slightly moon-shaped pencil which was designed to be more comfortable to hold (it was, indeed). With a bag full of samples, I carried on before meeting my friend Kelly, director of the National Stationery Show in New York for a coffee and a lap around Hall 6. By the afternoon I'd done 4 halls and was exhausted. I stopped to visit Kum for a bit and then headed straight to dinner with Courtney and Clark, friends from Hester & Cooke in Nashville.
Day two was a lot more work--I had an appointment in the morning with Hindustan, who make Nataraj, Apsara and SiVO pencils and an afternoon appointment with Caran d'Ache. My first stop at Hindustan was fun because there were lots of new products to see and it was the first time I'd met Vikrant, my new sales rep. My favorite new thing was a pencil called the Festa that's round (which is becoming an increasingly rare pencil shape), writes darkly and is gold with tiny stars on it. It sounds like a ridiculous pencil, but I was excited to see a round pencil that was functional and also fun-looking. From there I visited M+R (not much new there) and a few of the other bigger brands. The rest of my morning was spent in the hall with most of the boring office supplies because I knew Emilio Braga and Balma (Coccoina glue and Zenith staplers) were there. I was actually surprised by just the sheer volume of glue and staplers that I found--it really made me want to actually open CW Adhesives & Attachments, a shop Alyx and I have been joking about for a while. By lunchtime I was pretty much done with the 8-ish vendors I'd planned on visiting so I spent some time glueing business cards into my notebook, organizing my notes and catalogs and reviewing my list of things to find. I was especially grateful to find a juice bar--seemingly the only source of actual fruits and vegetables in the whole complex (I'd packed a TON of healthy snacks from home because I knew I wouldn't last these long days on schnitzel and pretzels). Next up was my meeting with Caran d'Ache.
First, let me tell you about the Caran d'Ache booth. Instead of having an open booth set up and meeting tables scattered around, they built walls around the whole thing, with an opening for the reception and a small opening for a room with a few products to see/test. Normally this would annoy me since it was all pretty inaccessible BUT the wall itself was covered in wallpaper printed with a giant color-able scene of Switzerland. There were tiny houses, mountains, hikers, gondolas, skiiers--everything! They set up stands with lots of pencils in them so everyone was free to color the wall. I wish I'd taken a proper photo towards the end when it was really colored in but I was just too distracted. To be honest, by the time I'd left Paperworld I'd probably spent a full hour coloring that wall. Inside, though, there were lots of new things to see. 840 pens made from recycled Nespresso pods, a very special anniversary edition of Supracolor pencils, a new "brut rosé" colored sharpening machine and my personal favorite: a double ended graphite/highlighter pencil, a perfect companion for the Editor (red/graphite) pencil, which I designed for Caran d'Ache last year. They're actually rolling out the Editor and the new highlighter pencils under the name Graphicolor for shops to sell worldwide. This was exciting for--really, a dream come true to see the pencils I came up with become an actual thing that everyone can buy and use.
Later that evening I had dinner with my friends from Caran d'Ache, including Carole, who's the president (she's SUCH a badass boss lady), which is always a lot of fun. Once I got back to the hotel and sat down to write in my travel journal I realized just how grateful I am to be part of a business where pretty much everyone knows each other and supports each other. This weird little world that is the pencil business has been extraordinarily kind to me and friendlier than I ever could have imagined.
Day three was my easiest one--I slept in and went back to Messe to do one last round through a few halls (and ran into the lovely Mr. Charles Berolzheimer of Palomino/Cal Cedar) before an afternoon meeting with Karin at Faber-Castell. I've only ever working with the US Faber-Castell office, so this was a real treat. I discovered SO many things that aren't available in the US currently (trust me, I'll try to get them!) and a lot of things coming out later this year, which I'm excited to share when the time comes.
By 3pm I was done with everything I'd set out to do (a lot of which I can't share right now because it's not out yet or because it involves future subscription boxes) and though I felt a little relieved to be done with walking 6+ miles a day and talking for hours on end I was little sad to leave. Paperworld feels a little bit like a stationery industry reunion, and was so much fun now that I actually have relationships with a lot of people. I didn't feel ready to go back to the hotel just yet so I went to the mall next to Messe to stock up on super tiny, travel-sized Weleda Seabuckthorn hand creams that I'd discovered on Friday when I went to the mall to keep myself awake. While at the mall I was alerted about a small shop crisis so I dashed back to the hotel to sort everything out.
For my last evening in Frankfurt, I met up with Jens, Martin and Michael from Viking for dinner at a really cool restaurant that does a tasting menu with modern interpretations of traditional German foods/flavors. It was so delicious, and though I'd never met Jens, Martin and Michael before, they were wonderful company, it was just like we'd known each other for years (which we have, on e-mail).
The next morning I worked for a few hours, packed my bags and left for Paris, where I'm spending a few days with a friend before going home, because honestly, shows like Paperworld are EXHAUSTING. I spent about 8 hours a day at the show and at least another 3/4 working at the hotel--I need some time to chill!
I probably won't go back to Paperworld again until 2020 because since I'm looking for such specific things there just isn't really enough there for me to justify going every year. One thing I love about it, though, is that it's essentially a live version of the product scavenger hunt that I first embarked on when I started setting up CWPE online almost 4 years ago. The best part is that it never becomes any less thrilling.
Photos (from top): Hall 6.1 at Paperworld, new Viarco pencil "jackets", a wacky new pencil from Hindustan, a scene from my hotel desk.
Around this time last year we introduced the Pencil Box, our brand new quarterly subscription. Without even knowing quite what it would be we quickly sold out of our first spots to 300 brave pencil fans and the rest is history. Going into 2018 we're about to grow it to 1,000 subscribers and are looking forward to all of the boxes we've got planned for the year (seriously, they just keep getting better and better). Each box includes a number of items based around a simple theme. We work hard to make sure that we include things that you might not know about, things exclusive to the box and things that are often hard to find. As we were planning the 2018 boxes we thought it'd be a good opportunity to actually share what was in the first four:
The Pencil Box #1: the Classic Box
Included in Box #1:
Stationery Inc. Reporter's Note Book from Richmond, VA
Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencil in Gold from Germany
We're keeping all of our 2018 secrets for now, but if you're interested in subscribing to find out what we have in store click here. We currently have a waiting list, which we're working to diminish in the next couple of months. Stay tuned!
So far it's been smooth sailing at our bright new location on Orchard Street. Pencils are nestled snug in their jars, pictures are hung, sharpeners are at the ready! And we can finally talk about our newest venture - CW Sticker Emporium. CWSE is currently a brick and mortar store only, we hope you can pop by for a visit!
We've been calling this our "teenage dream" wall. Definitely expect a lot more pencil ephemera to be added to it in the near future.
Our new (old) giant Mongol 482 came to us from a fan of the shop. He had picked it up decades ago from James A Townhill and Co (which was established in 1867!). The gentleman who ran the store said that his father acquired it from Eberhard Faber back before he was born, as a way to prove they sold genuine EF products. "His father told him that he had once purchased a load of pencils where the lead only went into the barrel about 2 inches and 'by the time you sharpened the damn thing, there was no lead left.'"
We plan on using this giant table for events soon! For now, it gives us the space we desperately needed to show off colored pencil sets and notebooks that we didn't have room for previously.
The shiny new sharpening station was a dream we could never really fit into our old location (literally - our new store is nearly 4 times bigger than our old one). Now customers can come and play with our bladed beauties to their hearts' content.
We had to bring back the wall of pencils - the store just wouldn't be complete without it!
And of course the biggest reveal... CW Sticker Emporium!
This started as a sort of joke after the National Stationery Show back in May when we were getting the FOMOs after looking at all the gorgeous cards and stickers that we couldn't sell logically in our pencil store. Is it a little indulgent for us? Oh, most definitely. We have loved seeing everyone's reaction when they turn the corner and discover this little slice of heaven - so many surprised and delighted exclamations! We're tempted to put up a reaction camera.
Also new -- Esther! She joined us just in time for the store opening. She's an illustrator, so come drill her with all your sketching questions. We'll also be joined soon by Olivia, who some of you may remember from her time with us last holiday season.
If you've made it this deep into our website you probably already know that this week I made the really scary/nauseating/painful decision to temporarily close the shop. As I write this, it's Wednesday evening and this is very new. Actually, it's 6:41pm and I'm still at work because it hasn't really hit me yet that I can leave at a normal time because there's no shop to close. I haven't even posted on social media about it yet because I'm afraid of what will happen. When I opened this shop just over two years ago we were getting TONS of press. We were new and people didn't 100% get it yet. The worst part is that a lot of these people were sure that we would fail. I had to learn not to ever read the comments. That's where the worst of the internet trolls live and it's a place that made be feel like everyone was just waiting for the wave of excitement to end so we would go out of business and prove them right.
The thing is, that we're DEFINITELY not going out of business but it kind of feels that way. We'll all still come to work everyday and we'll still do the things that we do. We'll even have time for other improvements and projects that we haven't had time for before. But it still feels like an arrow has punctured my heart and I can't get it out. We're in New York City--which is an amazing, alive place that can make crazy businesses like mine happen, but also one that can kill them in a second. It's not easy to have a business in a place where people expect the world but the world is always throwing little hurdles in the way. I'd never want to be anywhere else, but all of this has taught me that to stay here I have to fight for my business. That it's not going to always be amazing press and endless praise. There will be evil landlords, environmental problems, plant thieves, horrible skeptics and a very real potential for failure.
I don't feel like I've failed. I just feel like this city has let me down a little bit. Maybe there's a metaphor to be found somewhere in the mold that's festering, hidden in my beautiful shop. I've prepared the Instagram, all I have to do is press "SHARE" and it's out there. I'll probably then turn my phone off until tomorrow morning so I don't have to be reminded of it.
I now know a lot of things that I didn't know two years and I know that I'll figure it out and that even if we re-locate it'll be easier to re-open than it was to open in the first place. I know that tons of people will show up on that day to show their support. I know that I'll have other business and that they'll probably be mostly successful, even if it's hard and even if I sometimes feels like I've failed.
For now, I'll sit here until exactly 7pm and I'll hold my breath and press "SHARE".
We've had a very inspiring month, thanks to long talks with lovely folks in the stationery industry, some serious re-organizing, and assembling the very secret (very special) second edition of The Pencil Box! Here's what's buzzing at the pencil store lately:
Our original Pencil Dude Max is back for the summer! It's about time we had someone tall enough to reach the shelf of boxes...
The National Stationery Show was flipping amazing, though it make have given us the largest case of the FOMOs ever. We made lots of new friends, visited with some old ones, and basically squealed at all the cute cards all day long. If only we sold greeting cards and party supplies and napkins (for the record, Caroline is nuts about napkins).
Speaking of the NSS, CW Pencils has joined the board of a new organization called Writes for Women, wholly supported by women entrepreneurs in the stationery industry. Their launch party hosted at the 230 Fifth rooftop bar was a blast and featured pencils provided by you know who (not Voldemort). Stay tuned for more info on WFW in the future!
I know many may not ever see it, but this makes us really happy: we reorganized our entire office. Much time was spent playing with an Epson Label Maker, which is definitely our new favorite gadget. It even has a pencil symbol!
The coffee shop is back! After a long hiatus, our next door neighbors at the Football Cafe are finally back, meaning we can indulge our caffeine addictions in less than 20 steps. And seriously, there's nothing more refreshing than their watermelon juice on a warm day.
BEWARE: minor spoilers for The Pencil Box ahead! 400 boxes are currently sitting prettily, patiently waiting to be shipped for the second edition of The Pencil Box. We just want to say we're really excited about this one. Check out behind the scenes teaser of me and Alyx assembling packs for this box:
Time has been flying especially fast lately over here a the pencil HQ, so I think it's high time for a little wrap-up on what's been going on this April:
- Our very talented Pencil Lady Meredith has returned to us for good after a hiatus spent in Detroit! Oh, how we missed her! You'll recognize her world from the pin sets, patches, postcards, stickers we have--90% of the illustrated things in our shop are Meredith's work!
- Did you know that the Crayola crayon color Dandelion is being discontinued (or retired as they like to call it)? We panicked and bought the biggest one we could find (2 lbs to be exact). We might be a pencil store, but who says we can't have a giant crayon? After all, it is technically Pencil Yellow.
- Alyx, our #1 Pencil Lady plant friend planted some new green things in the planter next to our shop stoop. This marks the 6th time we've put plants in that planter in the past two years. The first 5 times they were either sat on or stolen so last summer we picked plants ugly enough that no one would steal them and hearty enough that no one could crush them. Only time will tell if the new guys survive.
- Mental Floss paid us a visit! You may have seen this video circulating around Facebook recently:
- Caitlin and I recorded another episode of the Erasable Podcast with our pals Johnny, Tim and Andy. Listen to us babble about shop news, the Pencil Perfect and all the pencil things. I also did an episode about the Pen Addict (don't worry, it's mostly about pencils), which you can listen to here.
- A lovely customer visiting from Italy got us hooked on the dreamiest stationery shop in Milan called Fratelli Bonvini. Obviously none of us have been there (yet) but we've been majorly stalking it and drooling over the perfect shop interior. SERIOUS shop envy!
- If you're planning on visiting us sometime soon, check out our new favorite ice cream spot in the neighborhood called Soft Swerve. They serve up soft serve in odd flavors with lots of interesting toping options. I like the black sesame/matcha twist with toasted coconut and freeze dried strawberries.
- We were on the news! CBS paid us a visit to talk about how pencil sales have been rising in the past two years (thanks, guys!). We're told the segment played on 108 different cities across the country. Even better for this life-long Sunday Morning fan--Charles Osgood talked about it on the Osgood File!
When I opened this shop two years ago, I was afraid to even think two years ahead. Every day was a new adventure and a new challenge and as a newly minted, kind of naïve shop owner in New York City I knew better than to make any big plans right away. The entire idea of this shop was only a farfetched dream for a long time. I'd romanticized the idea so much in my head and described what I'd imagined this shop to be so many times that having it actually become a real thing hardly felt any different--almost as if I was just living in my own head. It wasn't until recently, when I first received a copy of a book with my name on it that it really dawned on me that this is something greater than a crazy idea in my head.
These days I arrive every morning to our office to meet any of the three amazing women with whom I spend my days here. We take turns spending time in the shop where we are thrilled to meet so many different people everyday--people who come to experience the shop but also to hear our stories and suggestions. In our office down the street we pore over ideas for Instagrams, new products and projects for the future. Knowing that there actually, really, really is a future is a big deal for me. This thing is a real, working business, even if it is an unconventional one. With the kindness of the media, the customers who continue to so loyally support us and the stationery community who have welcomed us with open arms we've been able to succeed without most of the things the internet says are necessary for running a successful retail business. For this, I am more grateful than I can express with words.
As for the future, I've learned that maybe I was right not to plan too far in advance because if anything that's happened in this two years has taught me anything, it's that things happen in their own time. I'm a person who makes lots of lists and seeks the security of plans but just about everything I'd dreamed about years before this shop existed have already happened. For now I think I'll just hang out here for a little bit, do my job and just let things happen.
Photo: Recent antics in in the shop--a leopard printed Caitlin photographing a flat lay with my awkward arm.
Anyone who has visited our shop knows that it's in a really special, kind of strange place. Our street faces Lionsgate Field, a well-known soccer field and is one or two blocks away from a number of neighborhoods, each with different reputations. Head south and you're in the heart of Chinatown. Head east and you'll find yourself in the center of the Lower East Side. West, and you're in Little Italy/Nolita. We find ourselves in the center of all of these neighborhoods in one that has been recently dubbed 'Nolo' by Travel & Leisure (more on that here).
When I came across this storefront in January of 2014 I fell in love with the diversity of the immediate blocks, the slightly different landscape and the authenticity of the other businesses. To me, Forsyth St. and the streets around it had all the qualities of a true New York neighborhood to me. I've always called it "the last frontier of the Lower East Side" and I've come to think I was right about that. It's one of the last little pockets of this notoriously 'cool' neighborhood that isn't totally gentrified. Of course, it's only a matter of time before that happens, as any New Yorker knows, but for now we ought to celebrate all of the wonderful things about it.
Should you find yourself visiting the city and plan on coming to see us, here are a few of our favorite places to visit, all with in 5 minutes of our shop:
Cafe Henrie - Opened in late 2015, Cafe Henrie looks like it came straight out a French New Wave film, with a little bit of a 21st century update. Tastefully and carefully outfitted in hues of pink, light blue and pale lilac and with a little bit of a diner aesthetic, Cafe Henrie has a very relaxed vibe--one in which you'll feel welcome to catch up over coffee for as long as you wish. As for the food--it's healthy, playful and perfect for a leisurely lunch. 70 Forsyth St., cafehenrie.com
Birds & Bubbles - Situated directly below our shop, Birds & Bubbles is one of our favorite places to wind down. The menu features two of our very favorite things--champagne and fried chicken. The refined Southern fare draws crowds, especially in the summer when the surprisingly large patio is open. We suggest going for dinner and ordering everything. 100b Forsyth St., birdsandbubbles.com
Vanessa's Dumplings - An NYC standby and one of the best inexpensive lunch spots in Chinatown. The dumplings are always hot and fresh and the scallion pancake sandwiches perfectly greasy and crisp. It can get really busy during lunchtime so be on the lookout for a table the minute you walk in the door. 118 Eldridge Street., vanessas.com
Simple - Family owned and operated, Simple serves up beautiful and consistently delicious poke bowls and bento boxes. In fact, it's the place where we first learned about poke bowls (now one of the trendiest dishes around). 109 Eldridge Street., simple-nyc.com
Erin McKenna's Bakery - A certain Pencil Lady here has a lot of dietary restrictions and allergies, so this is our go-to for baked goods. You'd never know from tasting the cupcakes that they're egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. Sounds crazy, but they're seriously delicious. 248 Broome Street, erinmckennasbakery.com
Doughnut Plant - The non-gluten intolerant among us frequent Doughnut Plant, where some of the best donuts in NYC can be found. Expect find better versions of classics as well as season flavors. Good luck not buying a whole dozen. 379 Grand Street, doughnutplant.com
Roni-Sue's Chocolates - A neighborhood classic! Roni-Sue's has the best hot chocolate in the city and so many gorgeous treats. In the summer the large patio in the back is open and classes are offered regularly. Check the hours before going--weekdays are only open 7am-12pm usually. 148 Forsyth Street, roni-sue.com
Top Hat - This is where we often go on our lunch breaks when we need some a pleasant distraction. Inside you'll find a curious selection of home goods, stationery and ephemera carefully curated from small brands most in Europe and Japan (and LOTS of MT washi tape). It's one of our favorite places to shop for unique gifts. The aesthetic is exactly how we like it--modern, playful and well-crafted. 245 Broome Street.
oo35mm - If you're a fan of sheet masks, you MUST check out this place. They specialize in mostly Korean sheet masks and other imported beauty products. Expect to find well known brands like Tony Moly and Innisfree as well as ones you've never heard of. 81 Mott St., 2nd Fl, oo35mm.com
Coming Soon - A self-described "design gift shop", Coming Soon sells a curious array of useful things, decorative things, trinket-y things but always unique things. It the perfect shop for those who have curatorial eye. 37 Orchard Street, comingsoonnewyork.com
The Randolph - When Fontana's, our favorite after work spot closed last year we were worried we'd never find a bar that felt quite right. That is, until we started frequenting the Randolph. It's situated west of us and is the right amount of dingy, the right amount of friendly and serves up excellent cocktails. 349 Broome St., randolphnyc.com
Attaboy - If you're looking for an extra special cocktail experience, Attaboy is the right place. It's unmarked, aside from the AB sticker on the door. Knock on the door, and someone will answer and seat you. It's mysteriously dark and there are no menus--that's because every cocktail is made to your specific preferences. Don't be afraid--this isn't a stuck up speakeasy, the service is in fact very friendly. 134 Eldridge Street.
The Tenement Museum - The Lower East Side has a vast and rich immigrant history, and the Tenement Museum is here to share and celebrate that. The museum itself is worth a visit but neighborhood tours are also offered. 103 Orchard Street. tenement.org
The New Museum - My personal favorite NYC art museum, the New Museum hosts a daring exhibition program of international contemporary artists. If you're looking for a more interesting alternative to the Whitney or the MoMA definitely check this one out. 235 Bowery, newmuseum.org
Chinatown shopping - Chinatown is a really overwhelming neighborhood. It's crowded and there are tons of shops. The dollar stores are full of surprises, the plant shops are always a joy to visit and the markets are packed full of unfamiliar foods. If you have the time, get yourself lost and see what you find.
The lighting district - The blocks on Bowery between Grand and Delancey are known as the Lighting District. You'll find a lot of shops with ridiculous light fixtures in the windows but what it's especially good for are specialty/hard-to-find lightbulbs. Our giant Edision bulbs come from the once on the corner of Bowery and Grand.
Restaurant supply district - Just a little bit north and a little bit west of our shop you'll find many restaurant supply shops. They're great for kitchen supplies and tricky to find gadgets. The one on the corner of Delancey and Forsyth is especially good.
The list is really never ending! We're so lucky to be in such a unique location, surrounded by such a colorful, diverse landscape. That's what New York City is about and we are proud to call this our New York.
When we closed Pencil of the Month in 2015, we had no idea how much you all loved it! It was a project that was very near and dear to our hearts, but ultimately became a bit more than our small team could handle.
Since the outpouring of love (and disappointment over its end!) over POTM was so great, of course we had to scratch our brains and come up with a way to offer the same pencil passion to fans. We rolled around some ideas and finally, we can announce that we are beginning a new subscription!
Since this is a totally new program for us, for the time being we are limiting the amount of open spaces in this subscription, as well as offering this as a U.S. only subscription. Don't worry - we are researching expansion options for the future!
As of right now, this subscription is set up on a recurring payment process. This means that once a quarter, your credit card will be charged $30.00 for your subscription, until you decide to cancel it. You may update your payment, shipping or cancel your subscription at any time via the unique URL that's emailed to you at the start of your subscription.
Just a small note: please bear with us while we work on this program! We've done our best to make it seamless and easy on your end, but being that we are analog-oriented people, new systems can be a bit of a challenge for us. We promise, as always, to be transparent and honest with you - so if you have any questions don't hesitate to email us!
We're really hoping you love this new subscription! We're really excited to pick out special goodies for you each quarter.