Stockist Spotlight Series: Penny Post

Penny Post is a serious paper store for serious paper people who don’t take themselves so seriously.” 

Do you ever wonder how your favorite local stationery shop picks out new products, stays inspired, or keeps a small business thriving? In our Stockist Spotlight series, we explore the day-in and day-out of your favorite small shop owners.

What better way to start this series off than with a store right around the corner from our founding city of DCPenny Post located in Alexandria, VA. Penny Post is a paper goods store that offers high quality stationery, office supplies, and other beautiful items from all over the world. We interviewed the shop’s founder and owner, Amy, to learn more about Penny Post and her love for all things paper and gifts. 



Walk us through a typical work day.

Oh my gosh, what is a typical work day? As an entrepreneur, especially one with three different concept stores, I don’t have a typical day. Or that might be the ADHD. I guess there are some things that are typical. I’m a night owl so I don’t see 5am or even 6am if I can help it. Midnight or 1am are my witching hours. In the morning, I am usually awakened by my dog jumping on the bed and licking my face. She then immediately curls up at the foot of the bed and falls back to sleep. I don’t really need the wake up call, but it is a lovely way to start the day. Next, I reach for the iPad and glasses next to my bed and check emails. This is totally unhealthy and goes against all work/life balance expert advice, but my work is a joy for me so technically this is balance. The rest of the day just depends on where I’m needed most.


What is your favorite part about being a shop owner?

I love being a shop owner. It is a natural fit for me in many ways. Folks often ask me if this was something I always wanted to do. I don’t think I knew it was, but somehow everything I did was directing me to this place. It was meant for me, and I was meant for service. At Penny Post, Red Barn Mercantile, and now Pippin Toy Co. we believe in helping our customers solve their problems. Everyone comes to us looking for something. Usually, an answer they can’t figure out on their own. We are here to save the day. As a people pleaser at heart, the joy is seeing folks leave happy, seen, and whole.



How do you decide what to stock? What qualities do you look for in stationery and paper goods?

Great design is one of our pillars at our stores. For us, design is essential to everyday life, and we believe form and function can and should coexist. There is absolutely no reason a stapler has to be ugly, or a notebook has to be boring. As for the curation, we are always on the lookout for nuance. In our cards we look for clever vs. crass to be crass. Office supplies are spare and sleek and sometimes steeped in nostalgia. Words matter and often fewer is better. The right typeface makes the difference between sophisticated and plebeian. It’s amazing how hard nuance is to make and to find. We agonize over everything we bring in; scouring the world looking for just the right thing our customers deserve. As we like to say, Penny Post is a serious paper store for serious paper people who don’t take themselves so seriously.


Do you have a go-to Appointed product?

I’ve been an Appointed user since the original Kickstarter campaign. From 2015 to today the Oxford Lined Notebook has been my go-to for everything—list making, planning, idea generating, and so much more. I’m a diehard fan. The color is spot on and the rule is perfect for my big, sloppy handwriting. My favorite part is that I can monogram them. The fact that my name is only three letters makes it even sweeter!


What advice would you give to your younger self just starting your business?

For any business: Be patient. Meteoric rises are anomalies so don’t expect them.  Growth comes slowly and, frankly, that’s healthy for you and your business. It is often fraught with setbacks that you can’t plan for, but you can pivot against. With each year in business, you and your team will grow stronger. Slow and steady really does win the race.

For retail specifically: Manage your inventory with real data not your gut. I cannot tell you how important it is to know what is selling and how much you need to make your sales. It’s truly essential.


What is inspiring you right now?

It might be the election year or the fact that we live in a company town and the industry is politics, but I’m so inspired by the stationery community’s willingness to speak truth to power. Increasingly, makers are living their values of equity and equality for all by expressing them through their work which in turn allows us to do the same. They are fearless and I find that incredibly inspiring.


Want to see more from Penny Post? Check out their Instagram @shoppennypost or visit their storefront if you are in the DMV area—1201 King St. Alexandria, VA 22314.

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