Fountain Pens on Broad St.
And more Dexter marketplace changes
Published in November, 2019
Jim Evers and his family have quietly run their online-only fountain pen business, iPenstore, out of a small building on Broad St. for the last eight years. In September they decided it was time to open a walk-in showroom.
"People would place orders and say, 'Can we pick it up?'" says Evers. "And then they'd come in and say 'Can we look at a [specific] fountain pen?' Because there's no place in the state to look at fountain pens!" Even when they didn't have a sign on the building, he says, people would knock on the door hoping to shop in person.
iPenstore's new front showroom features several tall shelves filled with colorful ink and a large glass display case showcasing pens from Japan, Germany, France, and Evers' own brand, Rosetta, which he bought when the Italian manufacturer was about to go out of business. His reasons were simple: "I was selling their pens and I liked them a lot," says Evers.
In the back, Evers, his wife, Paula, and son, Ryan, fulfill online orders, carefully packaging pens and ink into padded envelopes. Evers says customers can buy anything from their online store in person and vice-versa-it's all the same stock.
The store carries a large range of fountain pens and inks-from $5 brightly colored children's (or beginner's) pens, to streamlined $300 pens with solid gold nibs, $1,000 vintage pens from the 1930s ("those, we generally order in as we sell them," qualifies Evers).
Who's buying them? Evers says recent customers include a grandmother buying a pen for an interested grandson, a chemistry professor with a penchant for inks, and quite a few U-M doctors who like to tuck the pens into their lab coats.
What's the appeal? "It's supposed to improve your handwriting," says Evers. "You slow down because the ink is actually flowing, so you kind of develop a relationship with the writing, and that's why there's so much journaling done with fountain pens."
stocks a selection of fountain pen-safe notebooks, whose thicker paper can properly absorb the liquid ink strokes without blotting or leaking. Bullet journals, lined paper, and a special type of ruled paper used by French schoolchildren specifically for penmanship are also available.
iPenstore has its origins in the 1930s, when Evers' grandfather opened a chain in Chicago called Evers Office Supply. Eventually Evers and his father took over the business, and Evers became the buyer for the stores' pen counters. When they sold the business in the 90s, he went to work for Ann Arbor-based home-services franchisor Service Brands International, but fountain pens remained an active, and profitable, hobby.
Eight years ago, "my son came to me because I was selling so many out of my basement and said 'Hey, I would like to leave the corporate world and join you and make that work,'" says Evers. "So it just started growing."
Evers considers himself retired already, and says soon he'll leave his son in charge. As for future expansion, he's leaving that up to Ryan. "He has a lot of ideas," he says. "But we want to have fun doing it. That's rule number one."
iPenstore, 3238 Broad St. (888) 747-7367. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Closed Sat. & Sun. ipenstore.com
Only a few months after the Dexter Pharmacy closed its doors, Steve Jensen announced plans for a second Jensen's Community Pharmacy in the Dexter Crossing shopping mall.
Jensen, whose original store is in Saline, says he never planned to open a secondary location-but seeing his hometown bereft of its only pharmacy convinced him to give it a try. The new Jensen's will offer the same delivery and compounding services as the original, plus a few medical and health supplies, and a prescription synchronization option that gives patients their pills sorted by day.
"I'm excited to be two minutes from my house," says Jensen. "It'll be fun to build similar relationships in Dexter to the ones I have in Saline."
Jensen's Community Pharmacy, 7067 Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. Opening early 2020. jensenscommunitypharmacy.com
[Originally published in November, 2019.]
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