For the Love of Good Stationery

With goods sourced from around the world, our little shop (with a big heart) provides a connection to analog goods and handmade products to many a stationary enthusiast. Our carefully collected and curated goods are meant to run counter to the digital lifestyles we have become accustomed to; stationery is deliberate, slow, and deeply personal. 

Upon moving to Princess Street, in the heart of Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District, our now street-level store allows us to be more accessible to our community and for new customers to discover us and what brings us joy. Andrew Rampton is one such customer.

Living in the neighbourhood, Andrew passes by 26 Market on his way to and from home. An ardent collector and daily user of our analog tools along with being a deft writer, Andrew felt like the perfect choice to help us to reintroduce our Market blog to the masses. He is a frequent shopper of the market, a supporter of our cause, and an increasingly close friend.

My love affair with stationery began early in adulthood. I grew up taking notes and writing with pens and paper, before laptops and smart devices were ubiquitous. In my early 20s I realized that, like anything else, the tools one used to accomplish a task made a difference. Even if the task was something as simple and everyday as a grocery list, the pen and paper that the list is written with can help to shape the motivation and enjoyment of that experience. On realizing this, I began looking for the tools that would make my writing a pleasure to do, whether it was appointments in a calendar or my personal journal or outlining an academic article.

My first encounter with a pen that was a pleasure to use was a pale green LAMY Al-Star that I picked up while in Ottawa on a business trip. I filled it with green ink—my favourite colour is no mystery—and began to look forward to writing in new ways. Now it was not only for the creative act of writing, but the pleasure of a well-made, beautiful, reliable tool helping me to be creative. Of course, once one has a taste of the world of beautiful stationery, one goes looking for more.

I have had the blessing in my life of opportunities for several kinds of education and work. I am a classically-trained singer and organist, have worked many years in non-profit administration, have studied history, theology, and liturgy, and today work as an Anglican priest at Holy Trinity Church in downtown Winnipeg. In each of these roles, stationery has been a constant and important companion: Countless hours sharpening pencils and looking for good manuscript paper for music homework and composition. Thank you, Palomino Blackwing, for soft-but-sturdy pencil leads that make noteheads and all of those curved lines on a sheet of music a pleasure to draw with minimal effort.

Filling out reams of paperwork for grant applications and donor reports, often printed on paper not of my choosing. As most lovers of fountain pens know, you will be confronted with institutional paperwork that needs to be completed and signed; the paper is usual chosen for economic priorities, rather than aesthetic or functional ones. A fountain pen leaves a blotted, feathered, soggy mess of a signature line. Thank you to Caran d’Ache and Penco for making beautiful, reliable ballpoint and rollerball pens to get us through even the longest of loan applications with dignity and style. 

Working as a priest includes everything from prayer, study, sermon-writing, and heady conversations about God and the meaning of life, to visiting people in hospitals, to making arrangements with plumbers to find out why that toilet in the parish hall won’t stop running. It is critical to be able to keep track of the details and to stay organized. Thank you to Traveler’s Notebook for making a simple, durable, reliable notebook system that can change to travel with me as my needs evolve. Over the years my Traveler’s Notebooks have been everything from wallets to journals to project management binders to day-planners to receipt and paperwork files. But the leather book in my hand has been the same one the whole time. No matter what it’s carrying and organizing for me, my constant companion is that same dark green book with a brightly-coloured elastic and all of the bumps, scratches, and patina that remind me of what we’ve been through together.

This introduction, which is really a love letter to some of my favourite stationery, isn’t meant to suggest that everyone needs to buy a collection of Traveler’s Notebooks, LAMY pens, and Palomino Blackwing pencils. For lots of folks, as long as the tool serves the purpose and gets the job done, that’s all they need and that’s great. There is no judgement of tools like the classic BIC Cristal here.

But if you’re a person for whom the experience of doing the job is a priority, for whom the aesthetic and longevity of your tools matters, for whom intention and relationship with your process helps you do better work, then perhaps some of this specialized stationery is for you. I know the folks at 26 Market would love to find out if their passion for these tools can help meet a need in your life.