"Why are fountain pen sales rising?"

This article was recently posted to our Facebook page.  This was a great read for any fountain pen lover!  I hope you all enjoy the article as much as we did.  Keep using these “simple and honest” tools in this “world governed by ubiquitous modern computer technology.”  To read the article, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18071830

Salon-Showroom

If you have been missing the ready availability of Sign With Prestige, you’re not alone.  But not to worry, because we have an answer for that!

During our period of transition, we have been notably silent on our blog and social media, but no more!  Now that we have not only moved out of our store, but also our house, we are now in a new home that is conveniently zoned for in-home business.  Our new home has client parking and a great showroom for wedding invitation/personalized stationery consultations, handwriting/calligraphy/Zentangle classes, and best of all, show off beautiful pens!  The new showroom is available by appointment only, which provides a private, personalized experience for your stationery consultation or your pen viewing. 

Now, before you get too excited and start scheduling your time to come visit the new showroom, we are still getting set up.  But, when we are officially set up and ready to go, you will all be the first to know.  We have certainly missed our loyal customers, and we can’t wait to have you over to the new Salon-Showroom. 

P.S. Pictures to come, soon!

The Power of the Letter

Throughout my time at Sign With Prestige I have had the privilege of meeting a variety of people, and each one is remarkably different than the last.  If there is one thing I have learned from these individuals (from all of you) it is that we all see things differently, and we all have our own unique strengths and weaknesses. 

I admit that there are people in my life that possess strengths I do not, and at times they challenge me, sometimes in ways I do not wish to be challenged.  While I may not always desire these…shall we call them “growth opportunities”?… from those I love, I have to be honest enough to tell you all that these situations make me a better, stronger person.  So, how do you thank someone for all that they have done for you, especially when the impact they have made is not necessarily tangible or even apparent?  This is where the power of the handwritten letter is made clear!

By writing a letter to someone, it allows you the opportunity to sit down and truly think through all they have done and all the ways they have influenced your life.  Think about these five key points (taken from an article in the Wall Street Journal) in order to gain a thorough understanding of your feelings for the person who has positively influenced your life.

  • What did the person do to help/challenge you?
  • How do you know that their help was intentional?
  • What did it cost that person to help you? (e.g. time, money, effort?)
  • How were you benefited by this person?
  • How did this person make you feel?

Once you have successfully answered all five of these questions it makes it very easy to put your answers into a letter format.  In your letter, acknowledge what this person did to help/challenge you.  Express your understanding that it cost them something to help you.  Then explain how you have benefited from their assistance.  If you are anything like 99% of the world, and there are times you don’t respond well to “growth opportunities” this is an appropriate place to insert an apology for any poor behavior you may have exhibited during your opportunity for growth.  Personally, I like to wrap up a letter with some of the specific attributes that I really appreciate about the recipient and how those attributes have helped me become a better person. 

By expressing your gratitude to someone else, research suggests that it can positively impact your psychological, emotional and physical well-being.  If your expression of gratitude can do all this for you, just imagine the impact it will have on the recipient of your letter!  You may just turn a mediocre, mundane, or even bad day into a great day for someone else.  Who knows, you may just be on the receiving end of one of these letters in the future.  It is interesting, when one notes the potential benefits from simply writing a letter, that the school systems seem to think there is no relevance in handwriting these days.  That’s a completely different topic though, and one that we shall save for another day.  Until then, have a very Merry Christmas season and be sure to take the time during this season of giving to send a letter to someone you care about. 

"Why You Should Shop at Small Businesses Online"

I was perusing through the Wall Street Journal’s small business page on Facebook earlier today, and I came across an article about shopping at small/local e-businesses for the holidays.  The title of the article was Why You Should Shop at Small Businesses Online.  The main points of the article relate to why shopping at e-boutiques is a win-win, and the authors points are: 

  1. Avoid crowded malls, especially during peak sale days
  2. Avoid sweaty, lipstick-stained clothes
  3. Avoid being an unintentional twin (encourages individuality and self-expression)
  4. More opportunities for interaction with your UPS guy/gal
  5. Friendly and responsive customer service
  6. Customization
  7. More time to spend with friends and family

Certainly, there are a number of benefits to shopping online, especially during the holiday season.  However, in defense of brick-and-mortar retailers everywhere, I have to give a plug to shopping at the stores. 

  1. Christmas Decorations/Music:  Maybe I’m just the sentimental type, but I love going out to do my Christmas shopping and seeing all the decorations and hearing my favorite Christmas songs playing in the stores.  Sure, I could just push play on my iTunes library and listen to those songs while I sit at home and do my shopping, but there’s just something about being out in the cold weather, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays that I really love.  
  2. Saying “Merry Christmas”/”Happy Holidays”:  Personally, I love being out at the local stores, or even some of the big box retailers, and taking the opportunity to say “Merry Christmas” to the check-out clerk, staff, or store owner.  Going out to the stores provides an opportunity that I otherwise miss during the holidays to spread some Christmas cheer.  Sure, things can be stressful between searching for a parking spot, braving the crowds, and searching for that specific gift that you know your loved one really wants, but isn’t it great to brighten up someone’s stressful day with a simple “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?
  3. Exercise:  So maybe there are better ways to accomplish this, but I think getting out to walk around the malls or the streets of Old Town (our downtown here in Fort Collins) is a great way to burn off some of those holiday calories.  My house is usually filled with delicious Christmas cookies and other treats, and with work schedules and other demands it’s hard to make it to the gym.  I guess, I love to take the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and get some Christmas shopping done as well as get out into the fresh air and go for a walk for an hour or so.  The last thing I need during the holidays is one more excuse to stay home, sitting around eating cookies.
  4. Window Shopping:  I know, I know…you can “window” shop online too, but to me it’s never quite like seeing the item up, close, and personal.  Whether I’m looking at clothes, books, pens ;) or anything else, I really want to see it and feel it before I put my money down.  I also enjoy just looking at things that I may want to ask for.  I realize that not everyone may have this problem, but there aren’t a lot of things I really want (at least not for a reasonable price) so when my siblings ask me about what they could get me for Christmas, I always have to respond with, “Let me think about it and I’ll let you know.”  Going out to do my shopping for everyone else allows me the opportunity to find some inexpensive things that I could put on my Christmas list so my siblings don’t have to settle for getting me another gift card.  

There are definitely pros and cons to any method of shopping that we could utilize.  I think the most important thing is to do whatever works best for your lifestyle, and helps reduce your holiday stress.  While I love going out to do my Christmas shopping, I do purchase some items online as well.  The number one take-away I got from the article (link posted below) is to support local and/or small businesses no matter how you decide to shop.  There are huge benefits to supporting your local businesses such as tax revenue for your town or state, it helps stimulate the local economy, encourages job growth, and many more.  As you begin preparations for your holiday plans, please keep us small-business, local folks in mind.  Come on by and wish us a “Merry Christmas” or send us a holiday message in via our website if you decide to shop online.  Thanks for your support, and have a happy holiday season!

link to article: http://hiddendarlings.com/2011/11/11/why-you-should-shop-at-small-businesses-online/

"Is Penmanship Being Written Off?"

I sat down this morning with a hot cup of coffee to watch my favorite weekend news show, “CBS Sunday Morning”.  I watch this show on a regular basis, and I always enjoy the variety of stories and correspondents, but this morning was different.  I had no idea that the story I was about to watch would so perfectly fit with my life, and the very heart of Sign With Prestige.  

The story that aired, originally on January 23rd, 2011 was “Is Penmanship Being Written Off?” and covers the decline in penmanship in schools as well as the affects on childrens’ ability to learn to speak and read. Several experts are interviewed in the piece, and they all seem quite knowledgeable.  However, I do disagree with one gentleman’s assertion that children would probably be no worse off if they were only taught to type instead of write.  

Having previously worked in a bank, I have seen the increased wait time that customers had to go through when they did not have a valid signature.  As a teller, we were required to have a valid signature on all checks/documents being submitted to us and block print is not considered to be a valid signature.  A great deal of time and effort, compared to running a regular transaction with a valid signature, had to be devoted to ensure that all documents were valid and to confirm that the person in front of us was legitimately unable to sign their name.  

Additionally, we are judged on our handwriting.  Consider the section of the piece on Sunday Morning that reviews when former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, wrote a letter to a mother of deceased soldier killed in Afghanistan.  Poor handwriting caused quite the uproar and a great deal of embarrassment for the Prime Minister.  If handwriting really doesn’t matter, then why is it that such a simple gesture was turned into a focal issue for the former prime minister?  Furthermore, why couldn’t the prime minister have simply typed his letter instead of writing it by hand?  

I would suggest that it is because handwriting does matter.  Sending a letter in one’s own handwriting adds a personal touch that cannot be duplicated by any computer font, and a sense of closeness that cannot be matched even by the greatest speed of e-mail.  Can you imagine if the letters that your father/grandfather sent your mother/grandmother during World War II had been typed?  Would those letters still be something that had been kept for over half a century?  I highly doubt that those letters would have reached through time and space in quite the same way.  Recipients of those letters would not have felt the presence of their loved ones, even in their absence, nor been able to hear their words written on the page as if spoken from their very mouth.  

Handwriting isn’t just a functional experience meant to transmit data from one person to another.  It is self-expression in it’s truest form, a way to distinguish oneself from the rest of humanity, and one of the best ways to impact those around you.  At Sign With Prestige, we always say “The worst handwritten note trumps e-mail any day.” and that remains true.  But why settle for writing “the worst handwritten note”?  

To view the story from CBS Sunday Morning, click on this link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/01/23/sunday/main7274525.shtml