Today we are talking to Jay at Scottsdale Pen and Knife. In Mike Dudek’s recent Fan Profile, he praised Jay’s excellent customer service and store, so I wanted to chat with him! Thanks Jay!
RD: Please give us a short description of your store.
Jay: Scottsdale Pen and Knife is a bricks and mortar retail store with an e-commerce website. Located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, we are a destination store for both locals and tourists. The website enables us to reach people all over the world. We represent dozens of better brands of pens, ink, refills, paper, and pocketknives.
RD: Have digital devices and apps changed how people use notebooks?
Jay: Obviously, technology has had an impact on many retailers including bookstores, pen shops, stationery stores, etc. However, we believe that there is a growing population of users that have discovered the joy of writing and the use of good quality paper. We are “retro cool” if you will. Oddly enough, this not only includes younger people but also older people who are going back to what they used to do and enjoy before technology took over their lives.
RD: What do you see as the future of notebooks?
Jay: Studies have proven that there is a positive link between writing and learning, and the younger generation is slowly stumbling upon this “new-fangled” way of doing things. Also, according to my wife, studies have shown that “millennials” are followers, and the more of them that follow paper and pen related topics on social media, the more of them will discover the joy of writing. Many people enjoy journaling, sometimes daily, or in my case, while on vacation to interesting places. Others like to sketch or doodle or just write down ideas that inspire them.
RD: Why do (some) people continue to use paper in a digital world?
Jay: My wife and I prefer to write down important dates or appointments on a physical calendar and we do all of our accounting by hand. Yes, we are both owners and users of computers and smart phones, but that hasn’t changed our interest in and use of pen and paper. When we answer the phone here at the store and take an order we are writing all of the information down, not doing data entry on a computer. We also hand write all of our invoices, and there’s nothing that shows you care more than sending a handwritten note of thanks or sympathy, etc. It shows that you took some time to think about what you were going to say and leaves behind a potentially permanent message. E-mail might be fast, but it is fleeting, cold and impersonal.
RD: How do people “discover” paper and notebooks now that so many stationery and office supply stores have disappeared?
Jay: The internet is a powerful tool and is the number one driver of business to our store. Combined with social media, the ease of finding pen and paper places may never have been easier even if there aren’t as many locations to visit. This is a very narrow niche business, and people that “stumble” upon us usually have been looking for us or someone like us on-line. I know I do most of my searching for information on the internet.
RD: Any additional comments or observations that you would like to add?
Jay: News of the death of this and related industries are premature. The United States is a bit of an aberration when it comes to views about learning cursive writing and there is a growing movement to re-instate this kind of education all around the country. And if you’re going to write, you’ve got to have paper. We use Rhodia pads here in our store as test pads for pens. People love the smooth finish and the fact that water based inks will usually not bleed through or feather. Our ink swatch sample binder is filled with Rhodia paper only, which we frequently show off to fountain pen users to demonstrate how well the paper performs.