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2511 East 6th St, Bldg 4 Unit A
Austin, TX 78702

Austin's favorite stationery shop and workshop studio.

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The Paper + Craft Pantry blog is home to our latest DIY projects, current inspiration sources, and small business advice. 

Small Business School: Shopping For The Store

Pei Sim


There are SO many talented stationery and paper designers out there, y'all. It's overwhelming in the very best sense because there are so many great folks to work with! When I first started The Paper + Craft Pantry, I knew I wanted to build very intentional relationships with each and every single stationer we had in the shopI wanted to grow alongside the designers I worked with as I grew The Paper + Craft Pantry.

As the business grew, so did the amount of mail we received in our physical mailboxes as well as email inboxes. If there was one thing I wanted to tell every single person who reached out about their product line, it would be that I take the time to go through everything we receive. I personally have experienced being on the other side of things, where I was reaching out to shops and stores I loved, in the hopes of getting to work with them. Thus, I truly value and feel so honored that folks think of The Paper + Craft Pantry in the same way.

I suppose there really is no right or wrong way to purchase product for your business. There aren't any fast and hard rules to follow. I trust my gut by working with folks I organically connect withfolks who have incredible, relatable designs that I know our community here in Austin will love.

One of the reasons why I might choose not to work with someone is simply because I try to make sure there aren't any product overlaps with the current stationers we work with in our shop, and it can even be simply because I just finished placing a bunch of orders (and my accountant would probably shake her finger at me if I didn't clear it in the budget with her). There are a lot of good designers and stationers out there, but I really appreciate when someone has invested the time to ensure their designs aren't similar to anything else out there. And trust me, I know that can be really hard!

If I had to narrow down the criteria for why and how I buy (from a small business, retailer's perspective), it would loosely be based off the following list:

  • Does this business have a cohesive branding story? Does its brand align with The Paper + Craft Pantry?
  • Would this interest the guests who walk through our doors? 
  • Does this look like anything else we currently carry in the store?
  • Does this product line offer variety? Is it priced at market value?
  • Are the designs a little too trendy/seasonal?
  • Would I personally ever use/send out this product?
  • Is this brand a business I can see The Paper + Craft Pantry growing alongside? Is the person behind the brand a person I can see growing a working relationship with?

One of my priorities as a shopkeeper here at The Paper + Craft Pantry is communicating information and feedback to the designers I work with. I love sharing a stationer's story and process with guests in our shop as much as I love sharing feedback from customers about product. Knowing that these tidbits of information can help the stationers I work with to improve anything from their current and future designs to final product packing or even their wholesale policies and catalogs is something I really find joy in.

We opened our doors with 16 stationery brands, and we are currently at 40 and counting. I can't wait to invite new designers into our shop, and I look forward to discovering new up-and-coming designers!

I truly hope this really transparent post was insightful :) Any other questions? Leave a comment and let me know!

xoxo

Pei