My trip to North America in January presented an opportunity to visit New York City, and I couldn’t say no. Amongst other things, I spent a wonderful hour perusing pencils in Caroline Weaver’s lovely new space on Orchard Street.
I’m lucky enough to have visited CW Pencil Enterprise twice, once at its old location on Forsyth Street and now at its new spot on Orchard Street. The two stores are a stone’s throw away from each other, in a fascinating area of the city. I’ve been to New York four times now, but never really explored this area much before. Orchard Street is a long, straight, Manhattan street with a mix of interesting frontages – fabric stores, Chinese restaurants and even the wonderful Tenement Museum all rub shoulders with a shop dedicated to pencils. I popped in on a freezing cold Saturday afternoon and it was buzzing. People familiar with the store and newbies alike seemed to be browsing the jars of pencils.
There seems like more stock in the shop – more paper products on show, a variety of pencil cases, more collections of little tools like sharpeners and erasers. It’s markedly larger than CWPE’s former home; this new space can handle a large central table covered in pencils and related goodies.
All of the new space also allows for a couple of new uses for surfaces – I found a little sharpening box and testing pencils to check out the point and reliability of the sharpener in practice. The Pencil Ladies’ desk at the front of the store has a backdrop of posters, sketches, notes and ephemera forming a giant scrapbook.
I really enjoy the whole look of the place. It’s mostly clean white, with bright red on the wall and the velvet curtain that divides the store between pencils and, well, boxes of pencils presumably. Also, bright yellow desk mats splash colourfully against the dark parquet floor. It’s a lovely store – an Instagram dream – and it is filled with warmth. Alyx and Meredith were there on the day I went, welcoming customers, talking pencils and writing and drawing, and generally being delightful. There’s a neighbourhood map to which Meredith is adding tiny sketches of the Pencil Ladies’ favourite places. CWPE just started the Orchard Street Reading Society (I’m hoping to follow along online). It’s like the store is a little community hub, connecting people through something as simple as the pencil.
Even in this new, larger space, the store still feels familiar. The orderly jars of pencils, the pencil testing station and pencil vending machine are all still there. But one big new addition to the store is the CW Sticker Emporium. At the back, a secret little room has walls covered in stickers. There’s all sorts, from sets of tiny stickers for scheduling and decorating diaries, and large, bright, statement stickers to adorn notebook covers. My favourites were by a designer called Uijung Kim, whose stickers are incredibly cute.
In my shopping bag
And what did I come away with? Well, I had preordered some personalised pencils to add to the ones I picked up in 2016. It’s going to be a tradition from now on that my New York souvenirs tell a story of wood and graphite. I picked up some practical items: some new KUM Masterpiece blades, some 2018 CWPE patches and some colourful pencil caps. I chose some pencils that I’d been heartily admiring from my desk across the pond: some beautiful CWPE x Moon Products Futura pencils, a Tombow 6B, an Apsara Absolute Pencil (which seems to be a favourite of the Erasable Podcast Facebook Community), a Caran d’Ache HB Natura (I love Caran d’Ache pencils) and a couple of Handy Jankens (you can only get them in store, and all of the “scissors” ones were sold out because apparently people think they look like peace signs). I also got a Hinodewashi Matomaru-kun eraser and a vintage style pencil clip.
I also bought some delightful stickers from the Sticker Emporium – too many to note. But in particular, I love these scratch’n’sniff “Tally Me Banana” stickers and these positivity stickers.
I’m very lucky to have visited the new CW Pencil Enterprise and it was a really fun experience. Practically, there are a huge array of high-quality brands in stock, and while there aren’t any pens for sale, you could furnish your desk handsomely at CW Pencil Enterprise. Caroline’s paper offerings are great – pocket notebooks, hardbacked notebooks, composition books, spiral-bound reporters notebooks and more all sit side by side with pencils to suit everyone’s taste. There are so many American pencils that I don’t have access to in the UK to try out and add to my collection. The store itself is beautiful and is made even better by Alyx and Meredith’s company. I’m going to carry on stocking up my pencil supplies from across the pond, but I’m so glad I got this spontaneous opportunity to visit a store that I think any stationery fan needs to go to in person.