My trip to New York Central Art Supply
I have just completed the first half of my summer vacation. I won’t bore you with the details, other than to let you in on something valuable I learned during my travels – it is quite possible to lose your passport within 1 hour of landing at your destination. And your cell phone. And your husband’s passport. Enough said.
So here I am in Holyoke, MA – the night before day 1 of my Julie Chen class. As I sit here on my lappy, the Tour de France is playing on the television. Life is good.
While in NYC during the past few days, I was fortunate enough to achieve one of my paper geek goals – I made a visit to New York Central Art Supply. I had been hearing about this place for years – lots and lots and lots and lots of paper. Just when I feared that I had finally hit a vacation without a possible paper purchase (no paper in the Virgin Islands, meh), my streak remains intact (you can read more about my vacation paper streak in this post).
I was prepared to do some very unnecessary spending. I had great hopes as I walked up the narrow staircase to the second floor where their paper department was located.
Once I got upstairs, I was greeted by very loud Sex Pistols music. There were three sales staff located behind a desk, talking amongst themselves. No one said hello to me. This is one of my biggest peeves. While I do prefer to shop without being pestered, I like to be acknowledged upon entering a store. It’s good manners.
I don’t like to be cranky when I shop for paper. This makes the spendy feelings go away. It makes me even sadder when I lose an opportunity to get paper geeky with someone else. I was forced to browse their paper selection in silence. Meh.
[wipes a tear away]
Then I saw the sign that said something along the lines of the following:
We only take out paper for people making purchases and not for those who just wish to view it.
HUH??? So I can only look at it if I agree to buy it?
Then I saw the next sign:
Go ahead and talk on your phone in here. It’s not rude.
Now I’m not a fan of people talking on phones in stores, but geez. If you’re going to say that, you might as well put up a sign that says: Just put your money on the counter and go home.
So, on to the details. Prices are a bit less than what you’d pay at Kate’s Paperie (which is within walking distance from this location) and the selection is bigger. They claim that if they don’t have the paper, then it doesn’t exist. Well, I did find a number of papers at Kate’s that weren’t at NY Central.
Their paper samples are attached to large moving panels on the wall – they’re basically mounted like a big book and you turn the pages to see the samples (like those poster display thingies). This setup makes it hard if more than one person wants to look through the samples. When you move one of the panels, you risk smacking someone further down the wall.
They also sell bookcloth, but you have to ask to see the sample book because it’s not out on display. Their bookcloth prices compare to Hiromi Paper and their selections are almost identical.
I finally walked out with some paper and 2 yards of gold Japanese bookcloth. As I made my purchase, I got no smiles from the woman who helped me. Another peeve.
To sum it up: if you are in NYC and are dying to see the place, go for it. If my visit was typical, then do not expect any assistance while in the store. I did hear them answer questions from some shoppers, but they weren’t exactly friendly. You’re best off knowing what you’re looking for in advance. If you’re someone who needs a lot of hand-holding, then this is not the place for you.
Would I go back there? Probably not. And I like to shop at independent businesses. But if you can’t give me a reason to come back (good customer service), then I’d rather shop online.