NATICK – In a world where there are days when local yarn shops, comic shops and other independent stores are celebrated, there was none for stores selling stationery
So Kristina Burkey, owner of Calliope Paperie in downtown Natick, decided to start one.
Earlier: Calliope Paperie is preparing to move to a bigger place
“I think the problem with people liking paper and stationery is that we like analog,” Burkey said. “It goes hand in hand with wanting to be in a store – and that’s why I started National Stationery Day.”
As to whether the written word remains popular enough to warrant a brick-and-mortar operation, the lively outlet last Saturday spoke about the enduring popularity of pen, paper, stickers and washi tape – the colorful masking tape that sticks to almost any surface, but can also be easily removed. It’s perfect for attaching photographs and other sentimental items to notebooks and walls.
Burkey is a splash of color in an already colorful store, with candy pink hair and a dazzling smile.
“I’m a 90s kid, we all love stickers,” she joked. “I loved all kinds of stationery and buying notebooks and never using them and collecting pens.”
Burkey always knew she wanted a store, she says. It started selling cards as a side business in open markets, online, and then, finally, in a downtown store in 2016. Calliope Paperie moved to a larger location earlier this year – Burkey said that about five of its old stores could fit into the new space.
The new location has over three racks of greeting cards, well beyond the stereotypical congratulations or offers of forgiveness for your loss.
There’s everything from a congratulations card for a new job that says “Enjoy the next few months before you fully understand all the problems you’ve just inherited,” to a teacher’s cheeky appreciation card that says “Thank you for being an amazing teacher and putting up with my *** kid’s bulls” – profanity not redacted on the actual card – to the generally supportive “everything is a lot right now”.
There are also plenty of personal touches throughout the store, with handwritten signs affixed to displays and sticking out of bins. In the section of the store dedicated to pens and highlighters in every color of the rainbow, a small card points out that a few of the pen varieties are ideal for left-handed writers; another sign states that the washi tape dispensers are stackable, in case one has more than the handle the dispenser can hold.
Burkey said she’s heard from stores as far afield as Australia and France talking about promoting their own stores for the celebration day.
And on Saturday, it went mostly without a hitch – a “Dead Inside” tombstone sticker was affixed to the main credit card reader. Fortunately, there was a backup.
There are dozens of other stickers to choose from, many of which feature younger generations’ favorite brand of dark humor with vivid colors and graphics: a chubby ghost says “cute on the outside, dead on the inside” , another reads “always overthinking,” “Honestly, I’ve been better off,” or “stay away from me,” plus brightly colored Natick accessories.
During the pandemic, Burkey offered packages of hand-selected stickers and stationery, sent wrapped in patterned tissue paper with a handwritten note and a free click pen — the personal touches shoppers appreciate.
Although this is the first year that the stationers have been celebrated in this way, it probably won’t be the last.
“People who make cards and people who have stationery are in the business of kindness,” Burkey said. “That’s pretty much what we do: we keep people connected. There aren’t a lot of stationery stores there… I wanted something for us all to get together and do and celebrate.