STORES Magazine - September 2017 - 18
authenticity and keeps
customers coming back
for advice again and
again. Recently we
helped a dentist pick
out a purple copying
pencil for his office
- they are apparently
perfect for marking
dental molds while the
mold is still wet.
Tell us more about
finding items to stock.
involves a lot
of research and
relationship building. We often work with
collectors directly, or spend hours scouring
the internet for vintage finds. For our regular
collection, we've worked hard to build an authentic
identity as pencil experts ... . We're always on the
lookout for new and interesting items. A recent
favorite find was a box of early 1900s Venus Velvet
pencils in perfect condition. They were old enough
to be graded "BB" instead of "2B" because they
were made before the HB (hardness and blackness)
scale had been globally standardized.
Aside from having to close the bricks-andmortar store, what else has changed since
The closure of our bricks-and-mortar has helped
us to re-imagine all that CW Pencil Enterprise can
be, and our next location will be even better than
before. Of course, we've learned a lot over the
last two years, particularly that running a small
business can be really unpredictable. You can make
all the preparations in the world, and still upsets
can happen. But each one has taught us something
new, so we are constantly evolving the way we
process orders, how we work with our vendors,
even how we describe pencils on our website.
Have you found unexpected
pockets of pencil enthusiasts?
We ship orders and interact with customers all
over the world. We get a lot of online traffic from
South Korea and Italy in particular. There was one
blogger that got us a lot of traffic in Argentina.
And we have a regular who is in the Faroe Islands
- since they've begun ordering from us, we've sort
of become obsessed with visiting that place.
There's not necessarily a concentration of
customers in one place, but we do have a really
STORES September 2017
of customers in a
Facebook group, the
Erasable Podcast Pencil
community is over 1,000
members, mainly across
the United States, and
members gather and
share their pencil finds,
debate new releases and
generally just talk about
all things graphite. The
group contains some of
our most regular, most
What are bestsellers and cult favorites?
One of our bestselling pencils actually is popular
because it's a cult favorite. The Palomino Blackwing
602 is a reproduction of a very famous pencil.
Originally, the Blackwing 602 was made by Eberhard
Faber back in the 1940s, and it was one of the world's
first really premium writing pencils. It gained a
stellar reputation amongst authors and artists and
musicians, so much so that when they went out of
product in the '90s, people began to hoard them.
Palomino began making reproductions in the
2000s, and people are still drawn to the 602s by
their reputation. We like to joke that they're the
"gateway pencil" because people have either heard
of them by this reputation, or they are drawn to
the unusual beauty of the flat ferrule (metal band)
on the end of the pencil. We often stock originals
in whatever era we can find, currently from the
1950s and the 1970s. Pricing varies based on
how old or rare the version is. We also stock the
currently manufactured reproductions. It can get a
little confusing, but we try to make sure there's a
distinction between the Palomino reproduction and
the original Eberhard Faber pencil.
You've experienced a lot of pencils. Do you
have a personal favorite?
Picking a favorite pencil is like picking a favorite
child! I tend not to play favorites, and instead
I'm always picking up a different pencil to work
through. Currently, it's a Swiss Wood pencil from
Caran d'Ache - they're these gorgeous highquality HB pencils that are scented like brown
sugar. They're a shop favorite.
Janet Groeber has covered all aspects of the retail industry
for more than 20 years. Her reporting has appeared in
AdWeek and DDI Magazine, among others.