Marked by a simple pencil sign over the door, Caroline Weaver’s store is an oddity in a city known for its, well, oddities.
What makes C.W Pencil Enterprise, so unique? It exclusively sells pencils and pencil accessories.
“I’ve asked around and I’ve asked the other pencil people I know and as far as I know there isn’t a single shop in the entire world that sells only wood case pencils. I think this is the only one,” said Weaver. “It’s really weird to be like, the only person doing it- who knew that was possible in todays world?”
Walking into Weaver’s store makes one wonder how something like that could be profitable in today’s world of text messaging, emails, and social media.
Neatly organized pencils decorate the shelves; a wide array of colors adding life to the small store (except for purple, Weaver only has one vintage purple pencil- nobody makes purple pencils, she said).
A white desk full of freshly sharpened pencils sits in the corner for patrons to test out the tools and find the perfect pencil for their needs, even the most outlandish of needs.
“I had somebody ask me once ‘which pencils are most conductive?’ like electrically,” Weaver said.
Weaver herself is a store fixture worth noting- with her pencil mug, pencil stickers and pencil tattoo that takes her entire forearm- she is as interesting as her store.
Weaver admits she has a unique interest in pencils, but she isn’t the only one.
“I forget sometimes that I live in a really bizarre universe. Yeah, there are a lot of pencil people. There’s like this huge online community of people who are like obsessed with pencils,” she said.
In her world of pencil people, Weaver and her shop reign supreme.
“I like to think maybe I am like the pencil queen, I don’t know. I forget how wide of a reach things like social media and just media in general have in this day and age. I am just always astounded at the number of people who know about this place and who know about me. Almost everybody who comes into this shop already knows who I am, they always want to see the pencil tattoo on my arm,” said Weaver.
Her customers, and fellow “pencil people” are what Weaver considers the best part of her job.
“I have the best customers. I am so lucky I run such a niche shop that it attracts just the nicest most excited people,” she said. “I think nostalgia has a lot to do with it. People see pictures of this shop on Instagram or somewhere and they see a pencil and they’re like ‘oh my God that’s the pencil I used when I was in kindergarten’ and they are really excited about things like that. I feel like coming here is almost like reliving back to school shopping, which is something that every kid looks forward to. I think because of that my customers are always really happy, they are always really nice, they are always just like really excited because it’s something so simple but it’s something that means something different to everybody.”
With her sweet disposition, its hard to imagine anyone being unhappy around her- just don’t tell her that people think the pencil is obsolete.
“All I have to say is that they are not using the right pencil. That’s really it,” she said. “I think people kind of just forget how nice it is to write with a good pencil that’s really sharp and I kind of equate hand writing to reading. You know like when you haven’t read a book for a long time you kind of forget how great that sensation is, how wonderful it is. It’s just when you get out of the habit of doing something you forget how nice it can be but then the minute you pick up a book and you start reading it you realize this is really great and then it becomes a habit again. I feel like writing like by hand is sort of the same thing.”
Weaver says that pencils have been her first love since an early age- the result of her mother bringing home a gift from Italy of beautiful colored pencils. Pencils that to this day Weaver still cherishes.
Her love of pencils as a child carried with her through college.
“People would always ask ‘Oh what are you going to do when you graduate?’ and I always had my practical answer then I had my ‘if I could do anything in the whole world’ answer and that was always to open a pencil shop.”
Her brick- and mortar store opened just 4 months after Weaver started her online shop, She says she still can’t believe her dream is a reality.
“I still come to work everyday and don’t really realize that this is mine,” she said. “It feels like it’s just a place I go to work. And I’m really happy working here but I don’t really believe that this is my shop and I made it and that it’s entirely mine.”
The biggest challenge Weaver faces with her store she notes, keeping track of the pencils.
-by Audrey DuVall