It is no secret that I love stationery – I love the feeling of writing by hand with a nice pen on crisp paper. For me it is therapeutic, relaxing and I know the information will stay there until I choose to remove it.
I do buy writing implements and refills from Pendemonium and Andy’s pens and have always received fantastic service. Some of my pencils are from the 1800s and these sites have rare refills and strange sizes of lead which are no longer available anywhere else. Some of my pencils are below. I use them all daily. I love the idea of holding in my hands a piece of history and wondering who else used them and what they wrote.
However, my favourite place for lead pointers, leads, pens and all things writing is Cult Pens. Their service is excellent. I can really recommend them.
Here is an article about them from the Telegraph. The source is at the bottom.
Writing was on the wall for Cult Pens’ success
By Wendy Grossman
People talk snobbishly about the “green ink brigade” as cranks, but there’s a bit of the glittery pink ink in all of us.
At least, that’s what Simon Walker and his wife, Amanda, discovered when they sold up their London lives for a stationery shop in Dartmouth.
“We were both in the City in IT doing support and management consultancy type stuff and not enjoying it a great deal,” says Walker.
In 2001, they went travelling for a year to figure out a new path. “We wanted to do something vaguely sensible,” says Simon.
A small shop in Dartmouth, where Walker’s family lives, sounded like fun. “We bought a going concern that was particularly well stocked with a wide range of weird and wonderful styles of pens. Tourists who came to Dartmouth seemed to be the sort who would hunt for independent stationery shops for their favourite pen they didn’t have in London, Manchester or Birmingham. We thought there must be a website in it.”
And there was. They launched Cult Pens at Christmas 2004. The start-up costs for hosting Actinic’s ecommerce software were about £2,000, plus stock from the shop. They had the skills to build the site themselves.
“It would have cost a fortune to hire,” says Walker. What they didn’t know about both IT and business they were able to find out from the technically skilled and experienced users of the Surbiton-based online conferencing system CIX, where Walker is a long-time member.
“We saw it as a little extra bolt-on to the shop, but to our huge surprise it really snowballed. Within six months we were planning to sell the shop to concentrate on the site,” says Walker.
They have since done exactly that. For the first couple of years they ploughed profits from the shop back into new stock, infrastructure and staff. This year, they expect to double last year’s £500,000 turnover.
Walker says they concentrate on inexpensive pens. Fancy, high-end fountain pens from Parker and Pelikan were already being done. So were the mass-market best-sellers. But in between there was a gap: supplying office pens in a specialist way.
Cult Pens stocks 3,600 types of pen of an estimated 10,000 available. “We wanted to be an end-user specialist as if you went into our shop. There was no one doing that on the internet for low-end pens, and we never figured there would be an enormous market for this. We’re gobsmacked where we are now.”
Founders Simon and Amanda Walker
Founded 2004, Tiverton, Devon
Start-up funds £4,000
Total staff 3