Rating Which Stores Have the Best Stationary Products for Writers: Who Would You Choose?
Rating Stores Based on Their Stationary Inventory
A few months ago, while lying in bed thinking about writing, an idea popped into my head. How fun would it be to go around town and rate stores based on their stationary supplies for writers? We used to watch people like Guy Fieri or Adam Richman traveling the country rating the best restaurants so why couldn't we do something for writers? For some, this might not sound like a fun day, but for me, I knew it would be a blast.
I couldn't do it on my own, so I recruited my friend Killian, a stationary enthusiast, to come along for the ride. Knowing I would be biased toward stores who were more aesthetically pleasing verses rating the actual product, I decided it would be best for Killian to rate our experience considering she knew more about the ins and outs of stationary products.
So, the night before, I planned our day. We would hit an array of 5 stores who supplied stationary products to customers around town. To ensure Killian rated each store accordingly, I wrote a list of 6 factors for her to judge from.
1. Pricing: Does pricing match the quality of the product?
2. Quality: How low or high quality is the product?
3. Quantity: How much does the store carry?
4. Aesthetics: Is the store pleasing to shop in?
5. Cuteness: plan/boring or good assortment on design
6. Usability: would you actually use the products
Then for an extra level of interest we would see which notebook and pen was the best in the store along with an overall review.
Our first stop, Staples, was an easy 2 minute drive down the road. Staples carries all things stationary including notebooks, pens, binders, post its, etc. It was no wonder why it took us 45 minutes to get through the shop looking for the best pen and notebook.
As we wandered through the store we talked about our past experience along with the current one. The first and most important was location. Centered right in the middle of a shopping center it made it easy to access along with being right next to PetSmart where we were able to see cute puppies before going in.
Even though in the middle of a shopping center, Staples was never filled to the brim with people so there was always a quick and easy shopping experience. The best part, the employees were always available and willing to help when needed.
Besides stationary products Staples also carries computer accessories, has a fast and affordable printing center located inside, and is the only store to carry glitter highlighters. A win in Killian's book!
So that leaves the best notebook and pen. What did Killian pick?
After much debate, due to the large pen selection to choose from, Killian finally landed on the Pilot G2 Premium Gel Roller pack. Her reasoning? Not only do the pens glide across the paper, but for the price of $7.99 you get 5 pens in total coming in an array of colors.
The notebook was also difficult to choose but not for the same reason as the pen. In fact, there was only a small selection of notebooks to choose from compared to normal. We thought this may be due to current supply chains being backed up because of covid. Either way Killian was able to find her favorite notebook from the bunch which included the Model JD80 for $14.99.
Killian chose this notebook in particular due to the fact it would work as a journal or as a general notebook. It also as a fun feature of the month and dates at the top to easily circle along with a solid binding and elastic closure. Killian's favorite part was the notebook didn't have a title such as 'notes' or 'journal' written on the cover which would confine it to only that kind of notebook.
Overall, we had a great time at Staples especially considering the overhead music was bumpin'. Here's how Killian rated our experience.
Overall score: 4.2
For our next stop, we didn't have to go far, in fact, only across the parking lot to head into the local craft store, Michaels. Even though Michaels specializes in crafts they also carry a selection of stationary for writers.
When we arrived, we were shocked to see how little of a selection there was when it came to stationary products in general but noticed a large supply of happy planners or stationary products only related to art supplies. We spoke about past experiences and noticed a large drop in item selections probably due to the supply chain as well.
Even though lacking in variety, we did notice the items they did carry were very cute and had matching pencil pouches and journals making it easy to remember whose stuff was who's if in school.
Besides those few things, Killian pointed out certain items such as the Happy Planners tend to have restrictions on certain brands meaning you have to stick with Michaels or that particular product moving forward if wanting to change items out.
Even though there was a large selection of pens including pen packs and also solo pens one could purchase, there wasn't any normal writing pens to choose from. In the end, Killian choose the Gelly Roll Moonlight 10 pack for $16.99. Why?
According to Killian these pens are not only affordable for the quality and amount included in the pack, but they write smoothly on both black and white paper while having a good color selection to choose from.
We could not believe the very small notebook section they had. In fact, it was only 3 partial shelves not including the art journals they were mixed in with. Killian finally decided on the blank AL 6X8 journal for $6.99 due to good binding, quality, and the fact it had lined paper. It was also small enough to take on the go!
Even though our experience was okay at Michaels, we made a note there was always a long line at the checkout station and it was always impossible to find a staff member to help when needed. But they always had coupons which Killian used to by a beautiful gold pen while we were there.
Overall score: 3.5
Our next destination was not found in the same shopping center as Staples or Michaels, but instead was located in the heart of downtown. We were surprisingly shocked at how slow it was for a Sunday afternoon.
Once we made it inside our destination, Heyday, we were hit with a wall of people in the store. It seemed everyone decided to be in Heyday all at once. Even though the store is a good size, it was hard to navigate through or stand for very long in one place to see all the product. Even so, we were still able to make our way slowly through the store.
After searching and searching we found 1 pen. You read that correctly...1 pen! Usually because this is a boutique store they have journals and pens galore but not this day. So, making Killian's job easy, she chose the only one available, the Rifle Paper Co. for $12.99. Besides the pen having a cute pattern, Killian didn't have much to say about the pen overall.
There was a slightly larger notebook selection to choose from though. She chose the matching Rifle Paper Co. notebook based on the nice size and texture of the pages. Killian also noticed a back pocket to place loose papers in and that the notebook was easy to flip meaning it would be harder to accidentally rip out the pages.
Even though the store is aesthetically cute and smelled great, overall pricing is very high. This is due to carrying local artists while also beginning located in downtown which is known for its high pricing. Like I mentioned above, the store is always packed making it difficult to walk around and enjoy the shopping experience. If you need help you will have to get in line as the staff only stay behind the checkout counter. Heyday is one of those shops where you don't ever need anything, but you want to buy it all for your home. Always a great place to shop for a gift as they have a huge selection of items.
Overall score: 4
4. Dollar Tree
After spending some time in Heyday, we drove to our next spot located on the other side of town, the Dollar Tree. Not only did I include this for the stationary experience, but I also needed to get some Christmas items while we were there. So, before we hit the stationary aisle, Killian and I grabbed what we needed.
Unlike the other stores we had shopped at, we knew the quality of the stationary product would not be close in comparison to the others as most items found in the Dollar Tree are considered disposable and not meant for long time use. Killian and I agreed this was the place to shop when you needed last minute supplies for a project you didn't want to spend tons of money on.
All the stationary products are easy to find as they are located in one aisle. Even though the selection is small they had a good choice of pens to choose from even some fun and silly ones. Killian had never used any of the brand types before so her choice was based on past experiences with pens from similar brands. In the end, she chose the ClipClicks 8 Ball Point Pen Pack. For only $1, I would say that's a steal!
There was a good handful of notebooks to choose from, but Killian kept it old school with the 70-page wide ruled notebook almost all kids use for school. During back-to-school season you can get these anywhere from $0.10 to $0.30 so it's probably best to wait until then to stock up. But for now, Killian went with this notebook as there is always a basic supply of these which are easy to flip through while also being sturdy but not overly stiff.
The best part about the Dollar Tree is not having to worry about how much you are spending. Each item is the same price of $1 and most of the time you can find what you are looking for. With items being so cheap the store is not necessarily kept up. This can be seen in the gross and unorganized aisles where the backstock is left overflowing and unpacked. Most often times the people who shop there are rude and because they are often unstaffed the staff always seem tired and sick of their job.
I ended up getting a few packs of sticky notes which I'm currently using a for a project coming up.
Overall score: 3.5
5. Barnes and Noble
On to our final destination, Barnes and Noble! Barnes and Noble is known for its large selection of books, games, and, of course, the coffee shop inside. But they also carry a selection of stationary. It can be found usually in the back of the store next to the tarot cards and cookbooks.
This Barnes and Noble is usually busy as it's one of the main entrances into the mall it resides in, but because of its size everyone is able to spread out and enjoy the shopping experience.
The notebook and pen selection were slim and almost an afterthought for Barnes and Noble. Most of the pens were considered more collectible which meant they were higher priced than normal. Eventually Killian landed on the 2-in-1 Retro Pen+Stylus for $7.95. Based on pricing and the fact it had two purposes was the reason Killian chose this pen. She wished she had been able to open the boxed pens to test them out.
From afar it seems like there was a large selection of notebooks, but once you get a closer look you realize most of them are journals. In this case, beautiful leather journals you don't really want to write or draw in because you are afraid of ruining it. Even so, Killian was able to pick the Fringe "Let's Hear It For The Girls" notebook for $16.99.
This, out of the other notebooks, had nice texture and flipped without there being a chance of ripping the pages. The sizing was nice and the seemed versatile in use.
Overall, Barnes and Noble is always a fun store to go to whether it be for stationary or books in general. The staff are always friendly and willing to help you find what you are looking for while the smell of coffee wafting through the air makes for a comfortable atmosphere. You can often find yourself staying here for hours as it's catered for a wide array of audience.
But if you go for stationary products, you most likely won't find what you are looking for as they tend to land on the more expensive side and act as collectibles over anything else.
Overall score: 3.8
After a quick break in the mall courtyard to eat a slice of pizza, Killian and I made our way back home. We talked about the fun day we had window shopping which isn't something I do very often.
When it came down to our experiences, we both agreed Staples seemed like the place to go if you were needing the best stationary, quick service, and good pricing for the quality of product you were getting. This is way it received the highest score of 4.2 out of 5 compared to the others.
Not only did it win best place to shop for stationary supplies, Staples also won the best notebook! Out of all the notebooks we went through that day, the Model JD80 for $14.99, was the best choice.
Michaels on the other hand carried the best pen with the Gelly Roll Moonlight 10 pack for $16.99. Due to the variety in colors, quality, and pricing, along with the pens being able to write on both black and white paper made this pen pack stand out compared to the rest.
I want to say thanks to Killian for coming along on the experience! It was a blast that I hope to do again with her soon. Check out Killian's website, Events by Killian, if you need to plan an event! She helped me plan my book launch party which turned out awesome.
Let me know in the comments below what book and notebook are your favorite. Would you pick the same stores to shop at as we did? What shops do you have that we might have missed?