Friday, 7 May 2010

Paper View: London Love for Stationer's Flagship Store

There are many things I love about working in Fitzrovia - the smorgasboard of great restaurants, bars and lunch places, the relative quiet, villagey feel compared to neighbouring Soho, hidden gems like the Movie Poster Gallery, proximity to the best homeware retailers and boutiques like Almost Famous, Bang Bang (vintage) Clothing and Heaven + Earth in the 20/20 Optical Store... But there is one place I literally cannot walk past without going in. With its' giant glass frontage, filled enticingly with bits and bobs I rarely need but almost always want, Paperchase gets me every time.

I've had an obsession with stationery, or - more precisely - notebooks, from an early age; I still remember getting in a whole world of trouble in junior school for spending the money I'd been given to pay a long overdue library book fine on stickers and pretty paper in the local stationer's sale which I'd happened upon en route, so being based so close to the HQ of these stationery dons is a real treat.

Not for me, their @Amazon online store - Paperchase's Tottenham Court Road branch, at the Goodge Street end of things, is a three storey flagship and is basically my idea of an affordable stationery heaven.

While the ground floor is dedicated to the more traditional stationery items (eg. greetings cards, gift wrap and packaging, every shape, size and colour of paper, notebooks, envelopes and writing instruments) as well as a few tote bags, photo albums and quirky gifts from cool product designers like SuckUK and the brilliant Fred & Friends, the second floor has recently been revamped.

This light and breezy, serene space now houses an array of small (although not all inexpensive) items, perfect for gifting, from both established and newer designers - from Comme des Garcons and Mandarina Duck to Tina Lilienthal and Susan Bradley - alongside a wonderful design bookstore and homeware section. Luckily they've kept the Caffe Nero concession for when it all gets too much.

The third floor (which is often relatively empty and has the most helpful, relaxed staff - top tip for lunchtime queue avoidance, particularly around Valentine's and Christmas) is for the hardcore arty types with every kind of paint, glue and art and craft paper known to man on show. That said, tucked away in the far left corner, there is also a small sale section where previous lines from across the store are sold off at greatly reduced prices. This can be anything from ribbons and birthday cards to door mats or full length mirrors. Be warned though - you will find things you never knew you needed - which is why I have two cut glass cupcake stands despite having a wheat allergy - and when you add all those 50p's etc up, you could be in for a surprise at the till! To be fair, that applies to the whole store though really. For the price of all my half-used, impulse bought Paperchase notebooks, I could easily have purchased some far more substantial, sophisticated stationery from a luxury brand such as Smythson... but where's the fun in that??

Above and below, Second Floorfillers: CDG and Tina Lilienthal accessories and the design bookshop.

Ground floor: Stationery collections so comprehensive (and gorgeously irresistible) that you can make sure your umbrella and water bottle match your notepads. You know, if you want to...

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