Yes, this is yet another blog talking about pens, pencils, paper, fountain pen ink and stationery accessories. You have to ask: Why?
Pens, Pencils, and Paper in Canada
As a Canadian, living in the Vancouver, BC area, I am often frustrated by the lack of quality stationery tools available to Canadians in a cost effective way. Vancouver is one of the larger cities in Canada, and I am fortunate to have four quality stationery stores within a 45-minute driving distance, and access to an excellent Canadian-based mail-order store only 2,000 miles away to help me spend my wonderfully coloured money (Wonderpens, I am looking at you!!). However, there are still many brands that these stores don’t carry, or are not regularly in stock, or are prohibitively expensive - particularly when looking at the choices available to the US market.
Also, in Canada, we have a limited selection of big-box stores compared with our friends to the south. A smaller market and surprising cultural gap have become a barrier to entry for some of the big retail brands, failure point for some, and the few stores we carry a more limited selection of quality stationery products. Target, for example, lost Billions of dollars with a failed attempt to enter the Canadian market and quickly closed down operations a couple of years ago.
Online Shopping for Stationery Products
Online e-commerce would appear to be a solution. However, this still has many challenges to Canadians. Large purchases often get flagged by Canada Customs to collect sales taxes (which in my Province are 12% of the total landed cost and some provinces are even higher!), duties and fees for processing through customs by the freight carrier or postal service. The extra unknown - which could add 20-30% to the cost of the item can put a barrier on foreign purchases.
[Amazon Canada](https://www.amazon.ca) is woefully understocked and has a very limited selection - and many of the items on Amazon US do not ship into Canada. For some reason, Amazon Canada has many \off-shore sellers with marginal customer service, at best. Amazon in Canada is very much like eBay once you get away from the limited Amazon Prime stocks. Several months delivery times, poor packaging and quality and authenticity issues are not uncommon!
eBay is always an option - but one that often comes with risks - both for quality and costs. Slow shipping times from outside Canada may delay a damaged product until after any chance of recourse expires. And of course, most of us have been ripped off at some point by counterfeit goods. Still the wild west of the internet, except perhaps for AliExpress!
For some of my favourite stationery products, the best option would be to buy directly from US online retailers or directly from the manufacturer of niche products and have them ship to Canada. US shipping lately has become very expensive - especially when US retailers will only ship with insured and tracked options. As stationery products are traditionally inexpensive, the shipping cost quickly becomes prohibitive. I love products from Palomino, Baron Fig, Write Notepads and other quality manufacturers that are releasing great products. Often thought, these companies have prohibitive shipping costs. An annual Blackwing pencil subscription to Canada, for example, adds another USD$60 to the $100 price. A lot of mone for four boxes of pencils! A pack of three pocket notebooks from Write Notepads, with a price of $9.99 USD garnered a whopping $20 USD shipping charge to Canada! Both brilliant products, but OUCH on getting them to me!
So why this stationery blog?
And so, dear reader, to answer the question of why we need another stationery product blog, let me answer by explaining the focus of this blog. It is to review pens, pencils, paper, fountain pens and inks and other stationery accessories from the viewpoint of a Canadian - focusing on the products easily available to Canadian stationery aficionados. I will include items available through retail, online and occasionally cost-effective international purchases - with open discussion of both the costs (and risks) with these acquisitions. Hopefully, a discussion of the qualities of the reviewed products will help you make educated and informed buying decisions.
There are some great choices in the Canadian market - but finding them is much more challenging than other geographical areas, and this blog will help fellow Canadians (or budget conscious US followers) find the best stationery within the Canada.
I hope you enjoy the blog and appreciate your feedback!