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Don't ask me why, I wouldn't be able to tell you, but I've always had a passion for stationary, in particular cute girley notebooks with vibrant patterns and smooth-writing pens in a variety of colours.
With Woolworths now out the window, there's not many places to purchase nice stationary from, apart from WH Smiths, but they tend to sell more basic than attractive stuff.
I first discovered Paperchase whilst on a school trip to London, and walking through Covent Garden I spied this fantastic looking little shop, begging my friends to go in with me. Once inside, I felt I had died and gone to heaven. They had walls lined with greetings cards, wrapping paper and photo albums. Stacks of notebooks greeted me at the door, each with cute patterns and symbols on, luring me to spend all my hard-earned pocket money. Bundles of pens and pencils of a rainbow of colours begged me to try them out.
The shop in Covent Garden is nicely placed, right near a beautiful cafe and a market place (at least it was the last time I visited!). The layout of the shop makes it easy to browse, moving from section to section (new stock at front, pens and gifts in the middle, with photo albums, notebooks, calendars and a variety of diaries near the back). Although it was only a small shop, I spent, much to my friend's dislike, almost an hour in there, looking through everything, deciding which notebook satisfied me the most to spend my measley budget on!
In the end I purchased a thick, glossy pad, with a funny spiral pen that wrote in pink (I was young...) and a rubber. I don't know why I brought a rubber, as I don't ever use pencils, but at the time I was lost in the sea of stationary.
Another Paperchase I adore is the one in Liverpool Street station. This shop is event smaller and even more particular about their stock, all on a much smaller scale compared to the variety of the Covent Garden branch.
Recently, a Paperchase opened up in my hometown of Colchester. It's fairly big, bigger than the previous two I've mentioned, and has a very similar layout to the one in Covent Garden. Each item is easy to see. I think this is a feature in particular that makes Paperchase so popular is that they only show a minimal amount of stock on their shop floor, and the staff replace items when you buy them, whereas in places like WH Smiths and how Woolworths used to be, the stock would be crammed in, constantly falling off shelves and making mess creating stationary chaos! The staff look after the shop well and make sure it is neat and tidy and a friendly place to be.
I have found that the staff have always been nice and polite in Paperchase. Most seem to be fairly young, but perhaps that's because I normally only go at weekends and quite a lot of retail places employ school pupils/students for weekend shifts. Either way, they are friendly and at the till always ask if there's anything else you need.
Prices are a bit high in Paperchase, with notebooks costing up to £8.50, photo albums around £15-£20, pens sometimes being as much as £4. But the price you pay, you get a high amount of quality. The notepads are always really thick and the paper is well made... no chance of the ink leaking through onto the next page. They also come in so many unique designs that it is highly unlikely you'll end up in the same class or workplace with the same notepad! From the amount of pens I've purchased in one of their stores, probably in the 30s range now, not one of them has ever broken down on me. Even one of the pens that I brought over 4 years ago is still working, I haven't even had to replace the ink!
Overall I think Paperchase is a beautiful little chain of high street stores, each personalised with unique bits and bobs of stationary. Every item in Paperchase could be given as a gift, i.e. a cute little pink notebook for a young girl, a stylish photo album for your best friend, a pretty photoframe for grandma, the list is endless. And they make it so easy to 'gift shop' in there, as they also sell thousands of cards, all unique with either funny jokes or beautiful poems/sayings, wrapping paper to suit all, gift bags, gift tags... you'll never need to spend hours confusedly shopping for birthday presents again!