Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Keeping focus on people and doing one thing well keeps a local small business going

A tribute to a small local businessIt looks shabby and neglected, the street the little store stands on. So narrow, it could easily be mistaken for an alleyway, the street runs perpendicular between two bustling roads, Tremont Street above and Washington Street below. Boarded up store fronts, trash the wind wraps around your ankles, and pedestrians hurrying through with their collars turned up against the chill, make it seem unwelcoming and a little sad.

It's the kind of street you might understandably avoid or easily miss. Which would be a shame, because you'd miss out on an other-century treasure--the Bromfield Pen Shop, a store that remains devoted to analog in a digital age.

There are still enough people who appreciate the feel of a pen in their hands, who take pleasure in watching ink flow across creamy paper, to keep the doors of this extraordinary little store open. And pen lovers are drawn there not only by its old-world charm but also by its tradition of excellent customer service. Those of you who shun the big-box stores and patronize your town's corner bookshop or the locally owned hardware store will understand.

Unlike its closest competitors Staples and OfficeMax, the store is on a human scale. Everything is within reach. It is quiet, too, in the way in which libraries and museums are quiet. There is a sense of reverence for both the goods on sale and for the people who will use them. I used to go there between classes at law school for its contemplative silence and for the beauty of the pens gleaming softly in the glass cases.

I was therefore pleased to see that Sam Allis, columnist for the Boston Globe, has published "The Write Stuff", a delightful little valentine to this old-fashioned store where people still count. And if you're ever in Boston, you'll have to be sure to drop in.