I was recently in New York City on vacation! Having only seen the city via movies and tv shows, I was really excited for my first trip to the Big Apple.
Alongside the usual tourist destinations like Times Square and Central Park, I knew I wanted to visit some highly regarded stationery shops. I wasn’t able to visit every location on my bucket list, but I’d say this was a good start.
I hope you enjoy this mini tour of NYC stationery attractions!
CW Pencil Enterprise
This adorable little pencil shop has been featured on so many podcasts and blogs that I follow. It was exactly what I had hoped, and more! Though smaller than I imagined, the coziness of the space just adds to the whimsy of having a shop in busy Manhattan that is entirely dedicated to humble woodcased instruments.
I was able to meet Caitlin (who I had met informally via a postcard exchange) and Caroline Weaver herself — luckily both were in the shop that day. We chatted about our favorite pencils, small business, museums, and life in New York City.
The way that Caroline styled the shop is so charming — from the bright yellow accents to the black-and-white tiled floor, the entire space just draws you in and wraps you up in nostalgia. It was a delightful first stop on my NYC stationery tour, and I hope to be back!
No lettered signage — just look for the giant yellow pencil!
The testing station, where you can scribble to your heart’s content
Colorful cases and notebooks on display in the front window
View to the left when you first walk in
A case of valuable antique pencils, including vintage Blackwings!
Pencil poster and some matching notebooks
The famous wall of pencils!
Closer up, checking out these colorful picks
Got a kick out of these funny pencils that leave rainbow pencil shavings
Unintentionally color-coordinating with the lovely ladies of CW Pencils!
Even the floor of CWP is stylish and photo-worthy
Excited about my pencil purchase!
My pencil haul consisted of a Blackwing Pearl, the much-praised Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood (which really does smell like a chocolate forest!), and some natural finish pencils. I also custom ordered two souvenir pencils to commemorate my trip to NYC, as well as some Owl Ink pencils!
The Strand Bookstore
The Strand is an absolute must-visit for any book nerd. This legendary NYC bookstore boasts having “18 miles of books” within its walls, which seems like a hefty claim until you actually set foot inside.
There are literally books as far as the eye can see- row after row, stacks on stacks… shelves up to the ceiling… turn a corner, and there are even more books to be found!
I enjoyed the thoughtfully curated center displays (with various themes like Short Stories, Vegetarian Cookbooks, and Adult Coloring Books), and the shelf of beautiful vintage hardcovers.
A selection of books on graphic design
Vintage books! Look at those spines…
I was tempted by a few short story anthologies, but had to dial back as I was restricted by a small suitcase. My mini haul consisted of an Ursula K. Le Guin book that I’ve had on my wish list for a while — I hadn’t seen it at any bookstore until now! Le Guin is one of my favorite authors, and I am on a quest to collect all of her works.
Kinokuniya is the New Yorker’s destination for all things Japan! We have Kinokuniya here in San Francisco, but I still wanted to check out the Manhattan location. It’s very conveniently located — just a short walk from Grand Central Station, right across from the NY Public Library. I think the best way to sum it up is by floor, and this is the order that I explored in:
Ground floor: English books — fiction, nonfiction, and bestsellers that you’d find in an American bookstore. There was an entire wall dedicated to New York — recipe books from famous NY restaurants, NY photographers, etc.
Second floor: A mix of Japanese and English books and manga, anime-related novelties, and a small cafe that was pretty crowded for a Monday afternoon
Basement floor: Japanese magazines and reference books, greeting cards, and — the most exciting part to me — a wonderful stationery section of pens, notebooks, folders, and art supplies!
I spent quite a lot of time in the basement floor, perusing the aisles and trying to spot brush pens or calligraphy supplies that I don’t already own.
The second floor had lots of anime-related toys and figurines
The basement housed an impressive selection of Japanese gel pens and ballpoints
Nice pencil section, including singles of the popular Blackwings!
A glorious wall of washi tape!
Found a book relevant to my interests :D
My Kinokuniya haul consisted of a gold ink brush pen, a super cute pencil stamp, and some New York-related souvenir items that I’ll use in my scrapbook.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A fine art museum of staggering size, the Met has something for everyone’s interest — including stationery nerds. While wandering around the museum, I happened upon a exhibit of drawings and prints, which included some pieces on handwriting and calligraphy!
A primer on penmanship and a book of calligraphic works!
Absolutely stunning to see it lit up at night
Additional stationery-related highlights:
Posman Books: A small yet cozy bookstore nestled inside the super-hip Chelsea Market
USPS James Farley Post Office: For those into snail mail, you must walk by this gargantuan post office. It has the famous postal carrier’s creed chiseled across the entire building — “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. It’s pretty mind-blowing if you just stop and think about how many pieces of mail have come through this historic place.
Moleskine Store inside Grand Central Terminal: I didn’t know this was here, I just happened across it while exploring Grand Central– it’s located in a hallway of stores leading out toward the main concourse. Inside, you’ll find various Moleskine notebooks of all sizes, including some of the newest limited editions.
Ed Jelley: I would definitely count Ed himself as a NYC stationery highlight. I’ve followed his fantastic blog and photography for quite some time now, so it was great to finally meet him in person! We chatted over coffee (of course) about pens, notebooks, calligraphy, mechanical keyboards, raw denim, and various other tactile fascinations/expensive hobbies/niche interests.
Thanks for taking the time to hang out and chat!
For even more NYC stationery tour stops, be sure to check out these resources:
The Pen Addict Episode 189: Guest host June Thomas takes Brad and Myke on an NYC Stationery Tour, which covers the above destinations and many more
Top Five Stationery Stores in New York City: A great roundup that includes art stores, by The Gentleman Stationer