Sunday, July 25, 2021

Pens With Customer Service

As we all know the world changes and the term “New and Improved” drives me crazy because as we get older, we often crave what we had in the past, e.g. I collect fountain pens.

I have written twice before about this passion of mine. In those postings in 2014 and 2016, which you can find by going to Missives from the Art World and putting Fountain Pens in the search box, I wrote about Santa Fe’s local pen shop, called as you would expect, Santa Fe Pens. I am happy to report it survived the Pandemic and is still functioning.

As I have learned different fountain pens write differently on different kinds of paper, and different nibs help you write differently, I started to collect more and more pens! As nice as Santa Fe Pens is they have a limited selection and I wanted to learn and see more.

A friend who also collects pens suggested that I focus on one area. I love wood so I particularly enjoy wood fountain pens and found online, Lanier pens. Jim Lanier is a wood worker who loves pens. From his home workshop in Washington state, he started a company in 2005 handmaking signature pens. He has a nice choice of different woods but in the end it is the same pen with a different shell. Aside from wood he answers any enquiries personally.

Still there are so many other types of pens that I cannot resist. Several pen stores have come to me through the post or email. One which had an incredible choice of pens was very unresponsive to me and gave me a hard time, so I forgot about it. Just like a bad meal at a restaurant you won’t go back to, although the chef may have changed three times in the interim.

Another email was from a pen store in Columbia, Maryland called appropriately enough “Pen Boutique”. It is both, small in size, and 20 miles from Baltimore … a far piece to go, just to look at pens, but through the internet I learned about the company owner, Leena Shrestha-Menon. In 2004, she had the idea to start a business in a field she was passionate about. … She just loved pens and found it was easy and enjoyable to speak to people about them. She was particularly fond of fountain pens which “glide on the paper”. According to Leena opening her shop, “was not as easy as I thought. Distributors were skeptical, mall management was not swayed by beautiful pens, and financiers thought I was out of my mind.” but she persevered

Leena says, and I believe her, that Pen Boutique’s most important asset is her belief in Customer Service. Once on the mailing list you will certainly get ads telling you about the newest hot pen or ink available, but you also will often see a personal story from Leena about her kids or an illness in the family. When she wrote that she was the victim of a hate crime, she got so many responses she could not handle them all and wrote a general thank you. I have asked her some personal questions a while back like, like where she was from, and learned that she is from Nepal. This is not just a hobby, and she is a businesswoman, so her emails often end, “Keep on Writing” with a selection of pens and ink etc. In this day and age, to feel so close to a business, particularly one online, is incredible. An email that came in recently: 

To prove again my point about Customer Service, I forgot which pens I had bought from Pen Boutique, I wrote, not having much hope of receiving an answer. But sure enough, and to my pleasant surprise, by that afternoon one of Leena’s employees sent me the list. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have such a personal relationship with more businesses that we interact with? I believe it would make for a much more copacetic world.

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