Discount Gambling for Christmas

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 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 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!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

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!

Parker Sonnet Pearl Pink fountain and rollerball pens

Parker Sonnet Pearl Pink fountain and rollerball pens

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  Any votes, please?

Rhodia goes for brand extension

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.

Rhodia Laptop Backback

Rhodia Laptop Backpack quality with style.

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!

The rewarding side of business

July 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

At 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.

Parker Urban Premium fountain prize in The Challenger magazine

Click and scoll to the foot of The Challenger page

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

Wendy Strohm

This is the rewarding side of running a business like ours.

Parker introduces Art Deco Sonnet

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.

Parker Sonnet Metal & Pearl Fountain Pen Detail

Parker Sonnet Metal & Pearl Fountain Pen Detail

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.

Parker Sonnet Pearl & Metal fountain pen and ballpoint

Parker Sonnet Pearl & Metal fountain pen and ballpoint

At 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?

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