Paper, Paper, Everywhere
By Rebecca Wheeler
Everyone knows that shopping for birthday presents can be a painless event, as easy as clicking a mouse and waiting three days for shipping; however, finding the perfect gift for someone you love (that’s both thoughtful and affordable) is seldom as simple as browsing the web.
Fretfully searching the streets of Old Town last weekend, consumed by the dilemma of my sister’s rapidly approaching special day, I discovered the Holy Grail of thoughtful gifting. Nestled between Pizza Paradiso and a vintage furniture store, Paper Source, the arts, crafts, and quirky gifts emporium, radiates warmth and hope to the confused buyer.
On the sign above the door, the store’s motto advises passersby to “do something creative every day:” a positive indication, in my eyes. Visible through the large wall of windows that makes up the entire front of the building, the colorful, organized interior looks nothing short of inspiring—and that’s just the layout, I haven’t even begun to survey their products yet.
Inside, the entire right wall is lined, from floor to lofted ceiling, with endless scrolls of paper in every color and pattern imaginable. The intimidating display is coordinated, ivory through charcoal, and creates a rainbow of columns that almost overwhelms the eye. At the top of the sloping entryway, a large table features Halloween themed crafting How-To books, scrapbook decorating ideas, and personal organizers. A little further in, I discover an alcove reserved for calendars and planners, in expensive varieties of leather and moleskin.
An expansive stretch of wall highlights the store’s massive collection of greeting cards for every occasion—the largest category being birthdays. The rest of the large room, converted from a Discovery store, consists of a series of sectioned-off areas for scrapbooking materials, invitations, stationary, office supplies, and event planning, naturally illuminated by the floor length windows. The middle of the room is broken up by bookshelves of food, arts, crafts, and DIY books, as well as, tables laden with quirky objects and gifts.
The selection is endless—and I thought my shopping problems were solved…
The product offerings have not always been so diverse, however; founded by a woman “delightfully obsessed with paper,” Paper Source began in 1983 as a paperie in Chicago. The store expanded its product offerings over the years, from international handcrafted paper alone to “exclusive new kits, stationary, gift wrap and invitation designs,” in addition to many others. Today, the Old Town location is just one of 32 stores generously offering “inspiration, materials for creativity,” and a birthday present for Lyndsey.
In an age of online invitations, facebook events, Kindles, and internet libraries, it is possible (for the unimaginative) to question the necessity of a store like Paper Source; however, Paper Source’s operation provides a viable case for a dying appreciation for aesthetics in a modern technological world: “at Paper Source, our mission is… to spark ideas and provide materials to celebrate life moments with beauty, humor, originality, and personal expression. A funny card, a lovely invitation, a beautifully bound album, a wrapped gift – we believe that each offers a unique opportunity for creative expression in everyday life. At Paper Source, we are committed to innovation and original design, offering an assortment that allows our customers to express themselves through inspired creativity.”
A valiant undertaking, if you ask me.
As I browse the cards section, I notice the store’s signature logo pressed on the back of every item, a wasp enclosed in a circular seal. According to a sales associate, this wasp has a special significance to Paper Source. The “diligent paper wasp” creates its nest by chewing bark and leaves into a paper-like pulp and is thus designated the original paper maker: “in tribute to our fellow paper aficionado, fold yourself an origami cup and offer a papery toast to the insect who started it all,” encourages the Paper Source team from their quaint website.