Not long ago I posed a question to the Erasable Podcast Pencil Community (EPPC) about how the members would describe themselves in terms of their stationery use: hoarder (for future stockpiler), user, collector, or some combination in between. I then asked them to really think about why they use their stationery goods in the manner they do. The results were, at least to me, fascinating. Not only in terms of stationery use and purchasing patterns* but also the deeper psychological reasons people collect, stockpile, and use the products they love. From this brief online exchange I think a deeper survey could be created and interesting research paper written. But I might be too deep into my thesis to think clearly and everything might look like a possible research study.
To begin, let me discuss my own stationery journey. I started journaling way back in the late 80s in a cheap but very cool to my young mind 5 year diary with a lock, when I hit high school I decided I would only journal in the Mead 5-Star 6×9 inch 5 subject notebooks. The reasons were, to my 13 year old mind, well reasoned. I liked the size and the paper did well with the pens I used for journaling. Also the paperboard cover accepted the glue I used to collage the covers. I filled one for each year of high school. When I went to college, I could not find the same notebooks. They had changed the covers, so I decided to switch to something a little more adult. This is how I began my journey into finding the “perfect” sketchbook.
This is a process that came up often in the EPPC responses. Many of the members were searching for the “perfect” pencil, pen, notebook or combination, this process seemed to lead to an initial flurry of purchases to test out all the things. Some people solve the stockpiling problem through gifting pencils they don’t like as much to others who might like them more. Others added the excess to their hoard of supplies.
At this point in my own use and stockpiling of supplies I began to evaluate my constant influx of more supplies. For quite awhile I was able to justify my accumulation by writing reviews of various items for my blog. At one point I was buying items faster than I could possibly review them. I had a running list in one of my notebooks labeled, “Shit to Review.” Eventually I did review some of those items, but I also realized that there was no way I was going to be able to review everything that came across my desk, especially since I don’t tend to review stuff I dislike**. I took the gifting approach. I boxed up a bunch of the pencils that I knew I’d never use again and gave them to a classroom in need***. I still have a box of sketchbooks and pencils that I intend to test and review, or have tested and will review.
This leads to the second point that seemed to be common, that people would find an item that they liked, and like myself with my Mead 5-Star and EF ECOwriter, find that it would disappear or undergo change. This seems to lead to stockpiling of a favorite item(s). In my case, I have a half gross each of General’s Cedar Pointe #1 and Vintage EF ECOWriters. Why? Both of these items have disappeared on me in the past and been impossible to find. Fortunately, the CP#1 is back on shelves, but the ECOWriter is gone for good and is only available on eBay. Almost every person who stated that they stockpile a favorite item said that another favorite has disappeared on them in the past. I think this is clearly an important motivator and point of change in the stationery journey.
I have to wonder if I would stockpile**** pencils, notebooks, and sketchbooks if in my early years of stationery love a favorite notebook and pencil hadn’t drastically changed or disappeared?
Consider this part one in a multi part series that muses on the thought process between using, collecting, and stockpiling.
*As a former retail buyer this stuff fascinates me
**This statement can be contested by the next 2 reviews that are going up on the site, but in all fairness, both products could be amazing through either better attention to designing for actual use or better production values.
*** There are classrooms in need all over the place, I happen to have family members who are teachers, so my excess purchases go to their classrooms. However, all you need to do is look for a school near you, and drop off a box of supplies. They will get used.
****I’m going to use the term stockpiling from here on out due to the implied message of hoarding, and that I believe I’m misusing it. I don’t want to contribute to the misuse of a medical term. So stockpiling.