We were smitten by Paper + Craft Pantry’s Instagram posts showing a sweet loft-like interior (an old medical supply warehouse) filled with beautifully crafted cards and stationery, all merchandised adoringly. Even better, the shop lived up to the pictures and then some when we walked through its mint-colored doorway to learn this inspiring space is also a community-building, woman-owned business.
Owner Pei Sim, a life-long paper lover, has crafted a thoughtful mission statement, not unlike a caring nonprofit organization: “Austin’s first and only locally-owned retail paper shop and full service workshop studio with a goal of creating an inclusive and creative space in the community.” Not only does she sell items made by US-based small-business partners (including numerous Austin designers), but she is also passionate about the empowerment of others through workshops for small business owners to develop marketing, financial, and goal-setting skills. There are book club nights and artist workshops too, including a shibori indigo dyeing session that sounds heavenly. And, she opens her doors to co-working by donation, and money raised is funneled to a different nonprofit each quarter (the current quarter’s donations will go to Open Arms, which helps refugee women). We’re not sure how she does it all, but we’re glad she does!
Some of the lovely paper and paper accessories you can peruse/covet/buy here are swan scissors, unicorn scissors, old-timey scissors, and fold-up scissors, making us realize we could easily become a hoarder of scissors. Letter-press cards, notepaper, recipe cards, and notepads abound, and range from cheeky to sophisticated. Thoughtfully, the shop sells postage, so you can enjoy this peaceful space to write that thank you card that you’ve been meaning to send.
Should you need extra incentive to wander over to the shop, there’s a collection of businesses surrounding it that are really special too!
· Mitscoots aims to clothe and employ the transitioning homeless through its business model of “get+give+employ.” Buy their clothing and gear, and the same items will be given to a transitioning homeless person. Sales also translate into jobs for the transitioning homeless, who package the US-made Miscoots merch and staff the shop.
· Reclaimed Wood ATX salvages old barns and trees to design and build furniture, and they share their space with the public for pop-up art shows, workshops, and other community events. They’ll also sell you just the salvaged materials, so you can create your own project.
· Hideout Studios, the eastern outpost of Hideout Theatre, not only offers performances and classes for adults, but is also guided by a licensed social worker to curate classes for at-risk youth and Autism spectrum youth.
· Speaking of helping people, next door to the paper shop is The Austin Art Therapy Collective, which has workshops and group sessions for adults and youth, as well as training for nonprofits and other organizations who wish to use art therapy practices in their work.
It’s hard not to feel good about the 2500 block of E Sixth Street. And, as an extra bonus, our favorite Salvadoran restaurant, El Sunzal, is just around the corner!