Five years ago on Nov. 17, 2009 my wife and I received our first shipment of Rhodia, Clairefontaine, and J. Herbin products from Exaclair to sell on our website, GouletPens.com. This was our first foray into fountain pen retailing, and we had a whole new world to discover.
We were new to online retailing, and brand new to the fountain pen world. We had our website that we’d been using to sell our hand-turned wood pens for the previous three years, in a failed former version of our business. We’d devoted three years of our lives trying to build up our company with wood pens, and we simply treaded water.
It wasn’t until I’d discovered fountain pens and the amazing community of folks that are into them that I found my new home. Attending the DC Fountain Pen Supershow in 2009 opened up my eyes to the fact that people are actually into this fountain pen thing, and my discovery of online communities like the Fountain Pen Network showed me that the internet was bringing us together in a way that wasn’t possible even just a few years before. Fountain pen users were no longer isolated from each other. Yes, maybe geographically we are spread out, but online we’re all together sharing with each other. I immediately recognized that this is what had been missing from my wood pen experience, and I dove in head-first to learn everything I possibly could about fountain pens and then turn it around and immediately share it back out freely on my own blog and in my YouTube videos. This laid the groundwork for my company today, and I’ve put out well over 1,000 blog posts and 600 videos with many more to come.
It’s very appropriate that the GouletPens anniversary falls right around Thanksgiving every year, because each year I’m thankful to have spent yet another year doing what I love. The pens, ink, and paper that make up this hobby are great. Though for me they’re not the most satisfying part of being “in the fountain pen business” after five years. It’s the people. Those of us who are into fountain pens have a connection with each other, one that’s hard to explain and even harder to find outside of this community. Because of the internet, blogging, and social media, we are able to find each other and share our knowledge and passion with one another in a way that was difficult to do even ten years ago. I consider myself to be unbelievably fortunate to have discovered fountain pens when I did, with the opportunity that was there for me to participate in the writing community like I do.
It’s no longer just about me and my wife, either. We have had two children since starting our company and been able to build a future for them. We have a team of amazing people that help us do what we do every day, twenty-four of us all working hard to share the fountain pen love. This is something I could not possibly have conceived when I wrote on my first Rhodia pad in 2009, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the community that has taught me so much.
I’m thankful for Exaclair, for allowing a once no-name online retailer like me to start to carry their products and represent their brands. I’m thankful to Stephanie Smith here at RhodiaDrive for blogging passionately and being a resource for me as a fountain pen newbie. I’m thankful for manufacturers like Rhodia who make consistent and reliable fountain-pen friendly products that greatly enhance our writing experience. And most of all I’m thankful for you as a reader of RhodiaDrive for reading and sharing your own knowledge of this writing lifestyle. Your passion and generosity of your knowledge is what drew me in to fountain pens five years ago, and that continues to inspire me to this day.
Boulder Colorado based online retailer European Paper Company is now stocking the Ltd. Edition Rhodia ICE products and is offering a coupon for $5 off an $85 purchase by using the coupon code ICE5 before 10/15.
Five sizes are available in this special edition of a customer favorite:
Look at all that Rhodia in the beautiful new showcases at the Fountain Pen Hospital, located at 10 Warren Street, New York, NY 10007. The Fountain Pen Hospital is a retailer of fine writing instruments, ink & stationery and has also been repairing pens since 1946- an era when the only types of pens being used were fountain pens!
FOUNTAIN PEN HOSPITAL was founded in 1946 by Phil Wiederlight and Al Wiederlight (the father and grandfather, respectively, of today’s proprietors – Terry and Steve Wiederlight). Terry and Steve have a combined 60 years experience in all phases of vintage and modern writing instruments. Joining them in January of 1997 as Director of Operations, was Ed Fingerman who brought an additional 20+ years experience in fine writing instruments to the firm. Ed is a former President of Pen Collectors of America, a regular contributor to The Pennant, and has contributed to Pen World and numerous vintage pen books. (from the Fountain Pen Hospital website. Be sure to check them out online as well as in person when visiting the city.)
Everyone, at some point, will need to write down a note to themselves. Whether it’s a shopping list or lecture notes, we all have to write things down to help jog our memories later on.
If your notes are usually two or three words scribbled in a dying pen, then you’ll know full well that bad notes are tricky business. Here are some tips on making notes for yourself, so that your ideas are as clear and inviting as the gorgeous Rhodia notebook that they’re written in. Continue Readering »
Stationery stores, art stores and book stores are a few of the more popular types of brick and mortar stores where you may discover a selection of Rhodia products available for purchase.
Click here to find a local retailer in your state or here for retailers with multiple locations. Product availability may vary and if you are looking for a specific Rhodia or Exaclair product, it might be best to call ahead.
The image above was taken at a D&R Music and Book Store in Turkey. Where do you buy your Rhodia?
I could be wrong, but that sure looks like a Pilot Varsity in the above photo. The Varsity was technically my first fountain pen though I usually don’t credit it as such since it is a disposable pen. Karen Doherty, Exaclair’s VP of Marketing who knows I have a love for all things purple, recently sent me a Varsity with purple ink and it made me think of the store where I bought my first one – a local art and stationery store which has since gone out of business.
It’s sad reality that brick and mortar specialty stores are becoming harder and harder to come by – especially when huge iconic stores such as Art Brown International are forced to close their doors after almost *nine* decades of serving their customers.
To look on the bright side of things, many local businesses are looking for ways to grow with the times and can often be found serving a different kind of “local” community by focusing on online sales. (There once was a time when most people bought what they needed to live from a single mail order catalog...) No, it’s not the same as being able to walk in and touch things and try them, but I’d rather be able to buy what I want or need rather than not at all. Online retailers such as Goulet Pens, JetPens, these I believe are the *New* breed of Mom & Pop shops which I am happy to support and I hope you will too.
How about you? Do you shop the Mom & Pop online shops for your specialty goods? Which are your favorites? If no, why not?
Find online or local retailers for Rhodia and other Exaclair products here.
Image courtesy of marchedees on Instagram.
The other day I was Googling around trying to see if I could find a some place where I could buy a single 602 Palomino Blackwing pencil (I just wanted to try one) and ended up finding the coolest site: Hand-Eye Supply – and they also happen to be an Exaclair retailer. This Portland, OR company has both an online store and a retail location and unfortunately, now I want to buy EVERYTHING they carry.
11 days until Christmas and you could use a few more Rhodia products for under the tree? Meeting Book for Uncle Harry, #8 Shopping List notepads for Mom, Rhodia pencils for your little sister the artist? Check out our list of online retailers on Rhodia-Pads.com. Some of these retailers offer expedited shipping options so you should be able to get everything you need in time for Santa to come down the chimney.
PS: Don’t forget to leave out a treat (typically carrots) for Santa’s reindeer.
Image courtesy of Alejandro C Finy. Follow acfiny on Instagram.
Thank you all for your comments about selling on Amazon. They are interesting to read – pro and con. Thank you so much to the person who originally wrote to us asking to sell on Amazon – it got a good conversation going. Click here to read the original post.
To give you some background: we have been approached by Amazon multiple times through calls, email messages and visits at trade shows. We were getting several calls a month from various Amazon employees who wanted to do business.
Amazon was eager to take our entire line of Rhodia products–something none of our current retailers does. That in itself was appealing, because we always get calls and emails requesting references online retailers don’t stock. Like any other stores, online retailers tend to cherry-pick what their customers want or what they think will sell. That makes sense for them, but sometimes presents issues for us and the random consumer who can’t find what they want.
The Amazon representatives wanted Rhodia, but also expressed interest in Clairefontaine. I have to say it is an intriguing prospect – it would make it very easy for consumers to find us and buy. It will also give our brands exposure to potentially millions of new customers. Several of our retailers sell product on Amazon, including Rhodia, Quo Vadis and others. It seems they do pretty well, but I also know Amazon isn’t their only outlet. Other than their own prospecting via the web and shows, I suspect Amazon buyers called us because “Rhodia” or “Rhodia notepads” appeared enough in their Search bar to prompt the contact.
We ultimately decided not to sell on Amazon for these reasons:
1) It would severely impact our online retailers–especially those who market and support us with their customers
2) Since Amazon is driven on lowest price – ultimately we may not be able to sell them them (and survive) on the price they demand
3) We will not agree to Amazon’s returns policy
The door to selling on Amazon is not nailed shut, since we don’t know what the future will hold. But we are not contemplating selling through them at this time.
Thank you again for your thoughtful and sincere comments, which I have passed along through Exaclair and onto France as well.
Holiday shopping is almost at hand…Black Friday, Cyber Monday, here we go!
For those paper-lovers in your life (including you!) we would like to pass along places we hear of that are offering great holiday shopping and specials for Rhodia gifts.
Please let us know if you would like to recommend a retailer or special website. If you are a retailer, please let us know about any special holiday sales or promotions.
For example, until 11/27 The European Paper Company is including some FREE Rhodia pads with every purchase over $50. http://europeanpaper.com/. We encourage you to hurry on over to their site for some good holiday shopping!
Thank you, and to our US readers, warm wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Image courtesy of acouni on Instagram
It’s been a while since I’ve put a call out for photos of where you buy your Rhodia. Whether it’s your local art supply store, a Mom & Pop stationery store, or your favorite gift shop, we’d love to see & share. Feel free to include yourself in the pictures, or the shop owners (with their permission.) We enjoy seeing interesting Rhodia displays in your favorite stores from all over the world. Send them to: Stephanie at RhodiaDrive dot com with “Where I buy My Rhodia” in the subject line.
This image was taken at Dymocks, in Brisbane City, Australia by Stephanie Jowett. Follow her as stephaniejowett on Instagram.
If you’ve ever wanted to view all of the Rhodia products currently available in the US, be sure to visit rhodiapads.com where you can also search for a local or online retailer.
Located in New York City, Exaclair is the exclusive US distributor for Rhodia products and also the other brands under the Clairefontaine umbrella which include: Clairefontaine, Quo Vadis, J. Herbin, Exacompta, G. Lalo, Brause, Mignon and Decopatch.
If you have questions concerning product availability in the US, you can submit your question here.
If you have questions about Rhodia products outside the US, please submit your question here.
This Friday October 28th, you can win a Rhodia Treasure Box on the new European Paper Company Blog.
Who is European Paper Company?
“European Paper Company is dedicated to not only offer a distinct international selection of paper-related goods, but to do so with eco-friendly practices and choices. As an online retailer, we take pride in our efficient packing and quick shipping, as well as enhancing your experience via our customer service. Our mission is to provide an exciting resource for sustainable paper choices at great prices.
Based in Boulder, Colo., we are fortunate to be inspired by our surroundings each and every day, and we use the products on our site to capture moods, notes and bits of life just like you.
Known for our quality service and high environmental standards, we believe in choosing quality brands that align with our ideals to offer the best products for the everyday user.”
While I wasn’t able to make the NSS (National Stationery Show) this year, a few of our blogger friends did! The image above is from Diane over at Pocket Blonde. She seemed to be quite pleased by the new dotWebbies, the new soft covered “R” premium line featuring 90g ivory paper and also the new Unlimited books. (Which I can’t wait to check out!) Vist her blog if you’d like to see more pictures of What’s New at Rhodia.
Brian from Office Supply Geek also perused the show, and in his recent post he also mentioned admiring the R pads and the Unlimited Pocket book.
Have you seen all of the new products in the 2011 Exaclair catalog yet? Which items are you eagerly anticipating?
Though Exaclair is the US distributor for Rhodia products, we often receive requests via e-mail and on our Facebook Fan Page from people outside the US looking to find a local retailer selling Rhodia. While we would love to help you, it would be much faster if you sent your request directly to Clairefontaine by filling out this form.
Feel free to request retailer information for Rhodia, Clairefontaine, J. Herbin, Quo Vadis, Exacompta, Brause, and all of the other Clairefontaine brands via that form.