3 Stationery Stores To Get Lost In For Hours

We all have our shopping guilty pleasures. Certain boutiques, aisles, and racks catch our eye—suddenly, we're hooked for hours. And nothing sucks us in quite like a stationery store, with cute, quirky, inviting tchotchkes and cards at every turn.
Chicago's stationery and gift spots are some of the best (maybe we're biased), and today, we're taking you on a visual tour of three of our faves. Explore Greer, Inkling, and The Paper Doll, and chat with the owners about the most charming perks of working in this world of wonder. The best part? At the root of every trip to a stationery store is a gift or card for someone special. Selfless shopping plus eye candy everywhere you look? There is no better equation for warm fuzzies.
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Paper Doll, owned by Stacy & Kelly Swett

When did you open your store?
"We opened in September of 2000."

What are some of the best-sellers in your store?
"Sassy letterpress cards by Greenwich Letterpress, Dude and Chick, and A. Favorite. Also, painted bike bells, drumming squirrel T-shirts, and Chicago-themed items like soap, dish towels, and map photo albums."

Paper Doll, 2027 West Division Street (between Damen and Hoyne Avenues); 773-227-6950.

Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
2 of 15
What is your personal favorite item for sale right now?
Stacy: "Die-cut animal cards from Blackbird Letterpress."
Kelly: "World's Smallest Post Service Kit."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
3 of 15
What stationery item do you wish people would buy/use more often?
"We love thank-you notes. Our mom taught us well! We wish people sent more, but we are working on it one customer at a time...and we think it is working."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
4 of 15
What the coolest sale that you've ever made (if you had to pick just one)?
"Our favorite sales are the little everyday ones, where a customer tells us how happy our store made them. That is the best feeling."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
5 of 15
What made you want to open a stationery store?
"I, Stacy, always wanted to have a shop of my own and I finally decided I was ready. I was ecstatic when my sister said she would love to do it with me! Being sisters, we've alway enjoyed staying in touch through cards, so it just seemed like a perfect fit. We also felt like a stationery store was something that was missing in Wicker Park at the time — now we've been on Division Street for 12 years."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
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Greer, Owned by Chandra Greer

When did you open your store?
"Greer Chicago opened in September of 2005."

What are some of the best-sellers in your store?
"We're always a little stunned by how many greeting cards we sell. Right now our customers are loving anything from Oddball Press, Snow & Graham, Dee & Lala, Fugu Fugu, Dude and Chick, Blue Barnhouse, Elum, and The Social Type. Pencils and pens are particularly hot. People are snapping up the sexy Palomino Blackwing, The New Black pencil set (imprinted with ironic sayings on what represents 'the new black'), artist-quality colored pencils, and Kaweco Sport fountain pens. And, any cool little gift item like Set Editions' Tiebreakers doesn't stay around for long. Our number-one-selling thank-you note is by Paper Tiger, it has a drawing of Tom Hanks and says 'T. Hanks.'"

Greer, 1657 North Wells Street (at West Eugene Street); 312-337-8000.

Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
7 of 15
What is your top item for sale right now?
"My personal favorite is a product line we created called Civilettes. They're little cards that allow you to spontaneously express things like appreciation, love, regret, etc. I think the best one is the original version which just says 'Thank You.' We love selling them and we love using them, too."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
8 of 15
What stationery item do you wish people would buy/use more often?
"It's not so much a particular item but a frame of mind I'd like to see more of. Occasionally we'll hear customers commenting that our stationery is 'too nice to use.' My thought is 'Helloooo, what better 'frame' for your thoughts than FABULOUS?'"


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
9 of 15
What was the greatest sale you ever made?
"Toughest question ever because a big reason I love what I do is that we are kindness and happiness enablers and almost all our sales have that element. But if I had to pick one it would be the man who came in to purchase a Mother's Day card. As he placed it on the counter we remarked, 'This is beautiful, is it for your wife or mother?' He responded, 'Actually, it's for my ex-wife.' When the person he was with shot him some serious eyebrow raise he looked at them and said 'She's still the mother of my children.' That's the class, grace, and civility we preach about every day."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
10 of 15
What made you want to open a stationery store?
"Because I wanted a career filled with beautiful things that have the power to make people laugh, cry, and feel."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
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Inkling, owned by Stephanie Keller

When did you open your store?
"Inkling opened in June 2010."

What are some of the best-sellers in your store?
"Greeting cards, art prints, and jewelry."

Inkling, 2917 1/2 North Broadway Street (at West Oakdale Avenue); 773-248-8004.

Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
12 of 15
What are you eyeing in the store right now?
"Soy candles hand-poured into reclaimed liquor bottles; Orange/Vanilla is my favorite — it's soft, sweet scent is amazing. I like the fact that they pick up bottles from a local bar (that otherwise wouldn't get recycled) and repurpose them into something functional."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
13 of 15
What stationery item do you wish people would buy/use more often?
"There doesn't have to be an occasion like a birthday or Christmas to send a card. It's such a lovely surprise to find a hand-written note in your mail box, at your desk, or on the kitchen table. It's letting people know that they're in your thoughts and you took the time to write them down. It may be hard to express, but sometimes there's a perfect card that does it for you, like the one I mentioned above, 'I'd hug you if I could reach.'"


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
14 of 15
Favorite sale that you've ever made?
"One of my customers brought her niece in and she spent all of her allowance on stationery, scented pencils, and tiny animal-shaped erasers. Her friend was moving away and the gifts were for her, to keep in touch. Her aunt was explaining to her what a pen pal was: 'A letter is like a gift sent through the mail only better. It connects you to your friend even though you're miles apart.'"


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
15 of 15
What made you want to open a stationery store?
"Before opening Inkling I spent a few years working at stationery stores and selling my own stationery at art and craft fairs. I met many talented illustrators, designers, and letterpress artists. These artists have created greeting cards reflecting their unique design aesthetic. I wanted to open a stationery store to showcase their talents and am fortunate to witness the joy their products bring to my customers."


Photographed by Stephanie Bassos
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