Let me start by saying that I love beautiful stationery. Small sheets, folded notes, correspondence cards, calling cards – you name it, I love it. Engraved? Even better.
Imagine my delight then in finding the Scriptorium in Old Town Alexandria. Tucked away in Norford Court off Cameron Street (just behind City Hall), the Scriptorium is a destination shop for anyone who wants expert advice, personal service, quality materials and a beautiful, beautiful product.
The Scriptorium is also one of the oldest independently owned businesses in Old Town.
Proprietor Judy Shavin opened her store in 1976 after her presidential candidate lost and dashed her plans to work in the White House.
Casting about for an entrepreneurial opportunity, Judy was encouraged to open a cigar store, a children’s clothing store or a store for fine writing papers. The first two options held no appeal but the third suggestion was right on the mark.
Judy did her homework, took classes at the Small Business Administration, made friends with savvy retailers and, although she lives in the District, cast her lot in Alexandria.
When asked about the biggest change in the past 35 years, the answer was easy – the use of reply cards and envelopes with wedding invitations rather than the expectation of a handwritten response.
What about etiquette questions around the proliferation of blended families and ‘interesting’ family dynamics? Judy modestly says she is still learning and sensitive questions see her through.
Her best seller? Anything by Crane. Why? Because Crane is 100% rag content. In other words, the paper is not made from trees but from cotton fibers. Wonderfully heavy, ecologically friendly and simply classic.
Judy’s infallible reference is Crane’s Book of Etiquette and her business philosophy is to treat her customers the same way she would like to be treated.
Having gone in for a box of Crane’s envelopes and walked out with an order for engraved correspondence cards, I would say that Judy’s philosophy is working just fine.
So whether you need wedding invitations, save the date cards, birth announcements, party invitations, guest books or personal stationery, the Scriptorium should be your destination.
Expect understated, elegant and tasteful, just like Judy herself. In the all too frequent world of email invites or worse, the Scriptorium is a beacon of light.