November 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
The retail sector is very tight with high street retailers offering significant discounts to entice customers to spend. Very often the offers are on either stock items or special purchases and if you are prepared to compromise on model or brand you can grab a real bargain.
The pen market is even tighter both online and in the retail sector. There are bargains available at present but if you fancy a flutter on whether prices will take a further plunge in the final run-up to the big Day, be careful! Speciality lines such as pens, are being short stocked by both retailers and their suppliers. At PenFountain.com we have already experienced some surprising lines being placed onto back-order with our wholesalers because of stock optimisation and, as Christmas draws closer, the chances of replenishing supplies will become more precarious.
At PenFountain.com we will be removing our usual alternative nib options on our fountain pen ordering in the run-up to Christmas purely on the basis of it being difficult to maintain stock levels in the high volumes of pre-Christams sales. Therefore, if you want a specific pen with a specific nib, we would recommend buying sooner not later and it is highly unlikely there will be a sudden unloading of stock just before Christmas!
August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Mail on Sunday ‘You’ Magazine of 31/7/11 featured the Parker Sonnet Pearl and Metal ballpoint pen. In the covering circulation from Parker, the range of Sonnets featured is described as ‘The Feminine Range’. However, in our coverage we have tended to describe them as ‘Art Deco’. The difference raises the question: Who decides what is masculine and feminine in pens. Even Mrs Pen and I don’t agree on this one!
My view is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder with regard to pen choice and gender and in determining the collection as ‘feminine’ you are effectively alienating 50% of your potential audience, whereas the Art Deco description clearly tags the pens as a sexually-neutral fashion style. Conversely, Mrs Pen proposes that the ‘Feminine Collection’ title positively focuses the product towards the female market, potentially creating demand for customers undecided in their choice because of gender.
While the pens are particularly attractive, the nomenclature continues to be controversial here at PenFountain.com. Any votes, please?
July 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
Rhodia, the French paper and pad producer, is making significant strides in its campaign to make the brand a fashion icon on par with Moleskine. From our trials, Rhodia papers are significantly better than the Moleskine offering in terms of their fountain pen performance in that they are less prone to line-spread, spidering and show-through. However, Moleskine’s market penetration has left Rhodia a little way to go.
While challenging for the paper crown, Rhodia has looked to other areas to support their brand-building with the introduction of a range of personal luggage. Stamping their black and orange house colours from their pad range onto the new laptop bags and holdalls has made them immediately recognisable and potentially, quite iconic. Bringing their reputation for quality, presentation and performance across into the new market has been a shrewd move.
The laptop backpacks, laptop messenger bags, and holdalls are produced in a hard wearing, black brushed fabric that gives the exterior a deceptively soft feel. The stitching is in contrasting orange thread with black leather details added as subtle highlights to the black of the fabric. Although competitively priced, the quality is good with no loose, bright orange cottons whispering all over the lush, black fabric while the webbing, handles, and zips are also tidily fitted. Further practicality comes from the base of the bags where protective metal studs are fitted.
Opening the new bags requires a pair of sunglasses to be worn such is the intensity of the orange but we suspect this will tone-down quite quickly with use. The interiors are fitted with an array of pockets, straps and pen loops, all of which are well thought-out. However, unlike the Rhodia pads, we would not recommend testing for ink line-spread or show-through with the bags.
Next time you’re looking to buy a trendy, new bag for business or college, we would recommend looking at the Rhodia range to match your stationery!
July 7, 2011 § 3 Comments
At PenFountain.com we promote our retail business in Cranleigh and the surrounding towns by supplying a pen to The Challenger, a local free publication, as the prize for the best letter, poem or other piece of prose each month. Winner in the July issue of the magazine was Wendy Strohm of Dorking with her poem, Bookham Common.
Wendy was delighted to receive her prize of a Parker Urban Premium Matt Black fountain pen with a leather case and kindly wrote an email of thanks – in verse, of course.
A thank you note to Bob & Susan
Now just imagine my sheer delight
At returning home from work last night
A better note I have not read
Than the Challenger email that said –
My little poem was just the best
And had beaten all the rest!
And thanks to you – a prize to be had
Oh yes, I am, extremely glad!
Thank you very much indeed
This is the rewarding side of running a business like ours.
July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
Why do pen manufacturers insist on introducing new models instead of launching them? Not for them the conventional marketing wisdom of getting a few journos together and extolling the virtues of the new product, its marketing campaign and target audience. No, the new product is here, hidden among the price increases and, by the way, we don’t have any stock available anyway!
In this category is a nearly missed style gem, the new Parker Sonnet Pearl and Metal range. This has art deco styling in spades with just enough colour and chintz to make it different but not too much to make it exclusively feminine territory. At its core is the tried and tested high-end Sonnet product with its all-metal base with decoration in lacquers, metallics and PVD.
On the Sonnet Pearl and Metal, the deep gloss lacquered barrel section with an iridescent mother-of-pearl finish lifts this pen out of the melee of the current white and chrome effect pens. A broad, rose gold band punctuates the bright cleanliness of the mother of pearl and the bright, stainless cap with chased geometric patterns.
The Sonnet is a medium-sized pen with relatively light-weight. The fountain pen is supplied with the proven 18ct rhodium plated gold nib that offers a writing experience very much in keeping with quality of the pen’s appearance. Offering either cartridge or converter filling, the art deco Sonnet is available with a choice of 8 different nib widths. The ball pens all use the conventional, if unexciting Parker refills.
At PenFountain.com we have recently taken the Monteverde Parker/G2 style ballpoint refills. These use Monteverde’s Soft Touch technology on their ballpoints offering near-rollerball smoothness without the short life-expectancy or extended drying times and also offer a range of 6 colours.
The question still remains, why haven’t Parker told more people about this delightful pen range themselves?
June 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Running a website like PenFountain.com is like the proverbial Forth Bridge paint job. You just think things are about right when you find that you need to start again. Sometimes it’s adjusting copy or content to meet new demands from the search engine gnomes and other times, you find a product description requiring revision because it was introduced in the early days when the priority was getting product onto the website and being Google friendly wasn’t so important. Falling into the latter category, one of my favourite Lamy pens, outside the Safari and Studio ranges, is the Logo model 6. Searching on this, I was slightly horrified to see inadequate descriptions of a very worthy pen range. Work was duly started, including new descriptions and images.
The Logo is a budget-range pen but moves into something a little more sophisticated in appearance than the slightly bulky Safari but at a price significantly below the Studio. The range is based around a slim, brushed stainless steel barrel with deep- machined ribs forming an extended grip. The fountain pen weighs-in below 20grams and with the options of either cartridge or supplied converter, offer the full range of ink colours and nib widths right through to the italic stub type nib, up to 1.9mm. With the nibs being common to the Safari and many other Lamy pens, the writing experience is well documented. The choice of Logo 06 fountain pen becomes a question of whether the user prefers a more slender pen and finds the grip comfortable.
The Logo 6 series is available in fountain pen, ballpoint, twin-pen with ballpoint and pencil, and rollerball formats. The design synergy of the Logo is complete and allows the creation of sets for gifts without spending excessive amounts of money. However, the disappointment from our perspective is the quality of presentation options offered by Lamy, allegedly driven by environmental considerations. As an example, the transit cases offered with the Safari were originally designed to have a central diagonal piece of cardboard to which the pen could be located using its clip. Even this has been discontinued and now the pen rattles about in an over-sized box. With the slightly more expensive products, there is a couple of options available which allow the retailer to supply a slightly improved presentation and offer sets in a Lamy branded package.