“The word that is heard perishes, but the letter that is written remains.” -Anonymous
It’s the time of year when chocolate and roses replace eggnog and pine needles. Grade-schoolers are giving empty shoe boxes second life, sprucing them up with glitter, stickers and cutout hearts. This cardboard box becomes a whimsical vessel carrying notes more precious than any pair of patent leather Mary Janes.
Handwritten notes and letters have become rare objects in the 21st century. But old and young, regardless of race or nationality, enjoy being on the receiving end of a letter. Thankfully, Austin is home to Paper Place, a local institution since 1979. Inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of pulp to satisfy those who appreciate the art of letters.
Paper Place owners Molly Smith and Suzy Ranney are as happy and approachable as their first names suggest. Their passion for paper is obvious, as they eagerly scurry to a filing cabinet to retrieve a ziplock bag containing remnants of times past. One piece of parchment is cream with a black border from 1903. Inside the baggie is another tiny envelope with a stork carrying the announcement of a baby girl, from 1930.
Smith and Ranney are quick to share memorable moments that have transpired over paper. Ranney smiles recalling the day a young customer came into the store and shared a new goal. She wanted to begin sending her father a handwritten letter every month. Smith’s eyes grow bright and her smile widens as she remembers an afternoon of laughter with her son, when he stumbled upon a collection of old love letters she had saved from previous boyfriends. The two laughed themselves silly reading the terms of endearment from Smith’s past.
Smith and Ranney are paper peddlers who understand the value of letters. Letters are artifacts capable of causing a mixed cocktail of emotions: laughter, joy, regret, melancholy and nostalgia. These tangible objects are snapshots of our history. For such lightweights, letters carry a significant and powerful purpose, to let the receiver know they’re not forgotten.
Something for Everyone at Paper Place
If your heart swoons hearing the words postal carrier, gel pens, parchment and mailboxes, you’ll be delighted to know Paper Place lives up to its name. It’s a pulp utopia that knows the express route to your heart’s delight. And they’re ready to sign, seal and deliver happiness to the heartbeats who cherish the art of letters.
In addition to stationery, Paper Place sells journals, unique puzzles, fiction and nonfiction books, party supplies, picture frames, soaps and fragrances…and everything you need to decorate that shoe box!
“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.” -Lord Byron
4001 N. Lamar Blvd. #540 – Website
@judymerhar wants to know:
How often do you send handwritten letters or cards?
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!