Monday, May 1, 2017

Phil's Stationery

I like paper. I like pretty much anything on paper. I like how it looks, feels, and smells.

Some people go around smelling old books. Lagerfeld makes a perfume that mimics the odor of books, called Paper Passion. Book smell, say researchers at the University College London’s Centre for Sustainable Heritage, is “a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.” It is the smell of decay.

Stationery stores don't have the full-bodied aroma of a used bookshop, but they're a close second, especially an old, cluttered stationery store like Phil's on E. 47th Street.

"One of the last old fashioned stationery stores," as they say on their site, Phil's carries vintage stationery supplies: "Airmail envelopes. Onion skin paper. Many Boorum & Pease record and columnar books. Old typewriter and printer ribbons. Rolodexes. And more!"

Genuine means product from the original manufacturer!
When Phil's says original -- It's original!
When Phil's says genuine -- It's genuine!
When Phil's says authentic -- It's authentic!
Everything is original and never used before!

Buy Real! Buy Phil's!"

And here's the latest Yelp review:

"If you're a New Yorker who, like me, grew up idolizing the New York of the pre-Giuliani age you owe it to yourself to make a pilgrimage to Phil's and buy yourself a pen or notebook. If you want a spic'n'span experience where you are waited on like a princess (I'm looking at you, 3 star Georgina!), go to Staples."


Scout said...

Paper is nice, I agree, I would rather read a physical book than an e-book; however, it should be noted, quoting the World Wildlife Fund (and other environmental organizations): "Unsustainable logging by businesses in the paper industry degrades forests, accelerates climate change, and drives wildlife to extinction." Many global paper producers prefer to locate operations in developing nations because it's cheaper to produce paper from forests there than to use recycled material.

If you care about the environment, when championing paper products, it's advisable to also call for legislation reducing wasteful consumption of wood and paper, and advocating for sustainable forestry, clean pulp and paper manufacturing, and responsible paper consumption.

Michael Leddy said...

It's an incredible store. I went in hoping to find an Ace hard rubber comb (they used to have them) and ended up buying old pencils for a friend about to retire.

How does this store stay in business? One clue is the question the owner asked my wife and me: "Are you from a production company?" They furnish authentic old stuff for movies and TV shows.

Blondbluey said...

A well deserved profile. Also noteworthy: Phil's sells its own house line of accounting books which are used by the paper-centric diamond dealers, nearby.

Flynn said...

Thank you for posting I miss "OLD" New York City and anything I can do to keep the mom & pop stores going is my goal even if it is just a few dollars.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

I wouldn't push my luck smelling books in a used book store.
Someone's liable to freak out and call the cops on me.
A lot of folks are too hidebound and don't like "weird" or "freaky".

Unknown said...

Wow thanks for this feature JM. I miss old New York. Have to visit this store on my next trip back home.

Brian said...

Makes you wonder. Who is buying the typewriter ribbon? How does he stay in business? Is this a dream, a time machine?

Pat said...

There was something on the television news last night where they said sales of physical books are up and sales of e-books are down. They interviewed someone at Shakespeare & Co. I'm all for sustainable forestry but when it comes to vintage paperbacks, and I have some from the 60's, that ship has sailed, hasn't it?

Unknown said...

I visited this store yesterday, with the hope of purchasing a couple of Clairefontaine french-ruled notebooks (Phil's is apparently one of the few dealers in the city). It was rush hour in midtown, not long after 5 o'clock, so the sidewalks were overflowing with hurried pedestrians.

But when I entered the store, there was very little sign of human life. The only evidence I could tell that it had any human occupant were several opened boxes lain about in various places on the floor, which left the suggestion that some kind of restocking effort had recently taken place. I walked around the store for a few minutes, not encountering a single worker. I flipped through a few notebooks on the shelves. To see if anyone was home, I meagerly called out "hello" through the open door leading to what looked like a storage basement, to no response.

The store is definitely a throwback with a lot of unique supplies. I was kind of worried about the health of the place and whoever runs it. I could have easily walked off with a load of notebooks, pens, etc. without anyone even noticing I was there.

I'm going to go back, fingers crossed that I have a different experience and this visit was just a fluke.