As a life-long pen pal, my stationery has often been the envy of pen friends. They adore my writing paper, and state they can’t find such stationery in their area. My writing paper tends to be cute, colorful, etc. I am always on the lookout for stuff that is not ordinary, but unique in some way. In recent years, stationery gets harder to find, but my general tips on finding stationery remain about the same. (I am not a user of fine or luxury stationery paper, being a bit too frugal for that, although it is lovely!)
Number one tip? Stop looking at chain stores, big box stores, popular stores! These places are not likely to sell stationery anymore anyways, but even back in the day, their products were usually not too interesting.
Rather, look at independent shops, thrift stores, and other places off the beaten path – such as in the “Chinatown” section of a city or in the “artsy” district. I always have my eyes open, and sometimes stumble upon stationery products when I least expect it.
A few years ago I found a big variety of cute Asian stationery in a Chinatown shop, and I stocked up! Cute? Think hearts, puppies, etc! The salesclerk looked at my cash carefully, as I must have been the first person to buy $50 of stationery all at once! haha. The prices were reasonable, so I got a good amount of stationery for what I spent.
I am not a spendthrift, but since finding stationery can be a here and there or infrequent occurrence, I don’t hesitate to buy when I do find it! Taking the photos for this post, I realized I am getting towards the end of my supply of certain stationery that I acquired as long as 15 years ago! Boo-hoo!
I’ve acquired my Sanrio stationery in several ways: years ago there was a Sanrio store in a local mall, years ago I visited a Sanrio store near Times Square in NYC (that sold stationery normally only available in Japan), and more recently a dear pen pal in Japan sent me a package of awesome Sanrio stationery!
Used/independent book stores can have a section of paper products, like journals and note cards. I have found off-beat or old-fashioned note cards in these shops. A relative of mine tends to visit artsy areas, and has bought me unusual note cards in the past.
In the last several years, I increasingly find stationery at thrift shops. As people write less, I think they are cleaning out their desks and donating it. Sad, but good for those who still love to hand write letters! Much of the stationery I am finding is from the 1980’s and 1990’s (people taking too long to de-clutter!) but the paper is still in great condition. My “big find” last year was a huge selection of cat themed stationery that the thrift shop had packaged together. It was only $6 or $7 and it had multiple pads and packages of cat themed stationery, note paper, note cards. I was thrilled. (Yes, I love cats!)
On that note, garage sales can be a source of stationery products to.
Around the corner from where a relative used to live was a dollar store, but it was not a chain dollar store. It was an independent one, owned and run by Asians (not sure what nationality) and they lived on my relative’s street. This store had a variety of items – things a bit different than what you’d find at other dollar type stores. The owners must have had special contacts for buying products from Asia. I appreciated their stationery/office supply isle.
Think there are no such stores in your area? Are you sure? For example, a friend told me there were no used book stores in her area. I looked, and yes, there were a couple. Are you just driving to and from the nearest chain shopping plaza? Stop it! (haha) Get off the beaten path. Ask around. Use the internet to locate shops in your area.
And while I am not a fan of chain stores, I have found unique stationery products in Marshall Home Goods and TJ Maxx. Their stock changes, but for awhile I was finding Punch Studio stationery products. Don’t know Punch Studio? They make colorful note cards featuring butterflies, birds, flowers, etc. I love their stuff! See this ebay listing for some examples. However, I paid much less than the ebay prices! I don’t remember paying more than the $3-$6 range for anything.
By the way, I have rarely (if ever?) bought stationery products online.
In close, an example of finding stationery when I least expect it. This was at least a dozen years ago, but I was at a local indoor shopping plaza that was struggling to make it (the plaza is now closed) and someone had rented a little space, short-term, to sell Diddl products! Diddl is the cute little mouse from Germany. You can google it if you don’t know Diddl. I was surprised and happy to find Diddl in the US! And, of course, I stocked up, and bought a bunch of Diddl stationery pads…only a little remains.