The Papery in Clarendon: Back from the Near-Dead

by ARLnow.com October 21, 2011 at 11:22 am 6,401 30 Comments

Earlier this year, all signs pointed to The Papery (2871 Clarendon Blvd) going out of business. The high-end Clarendon stationery store was perpetually low on stock, the entire inventory was 50 percent off, the landlord had the Papery’s space listed for lease and the store’s website was no longer functional.

Well, what a difference a couple of months make. The store was recently restocked and, as of this morning, its website is back up.

“We’re a family-owned business and for awhile we had a very, very rough period,” admitted Shana, a store manager. But the family has now recommitted to the store — the last of what were once five D.C.-area Papery stores.

“They all pulled together their resources and they’re going to make this store work,” Shana said. “We’ve been part of this community for a long time, and we intend to stay here.”

The Papery’s offerings include custom stationery, custom wedding invitations, business cards, baby announcements, greeting cards, paper goods and gifts.

  • Sam

    As a small business owner I say “Great Job!” It’s near impossible to get any kind of loan for a small business right now from banks (all sizes) unless you use your house as collateral (yes, even with an SBA guarantee). Retail has been hit very hard in the last couple of years – so for a local small business owner to be able to find the resources to stay in business and not give up is GREAT!

    Good luck and we’ll let people know to come in and shop!

  • Arlington Native

    This is great news! I hope they are able to make their business work.

    Written correspondence isn’t dead yet!

  • Steve Carrell

    Dunder Mifflin?

    Do they sell rolls of fresh newsprint? Since I now read the Post on my iPad, i no longer have old newspapers to use for crab feasts, painting, puppy training, or recycling.

    • drax

      Did you send your wedding invitations on Facebook?

      Yeah, didn’t think so.

      • Steve Carrell

        i used newsprint

  • LuvDusty

    I’ve lived in Clarendon since 2001 and have lived 1/2 blk from this store since 2008. I have never once gone inside since I have absolutely no use for any paper products other than TP and paper towels.

    BUT, am happy for them and hope they can keep their Mom & Pop shop going. As Clarendon develops more and more it will probably be very difficult for them to stay afloat.

  • KARLington

    I want to like the Papery and have benefited from their perpetual 50% off sales but it seems difficult to find a basic birthday card among all the glitter notepads. The staff isn’t particularly smiley, but if my job had been in limbo for this long, I wouldn’t be either.

  • MeeGoreng

    Speaking of non-functioning websites, what happened to Cafe Asia’s? I tried looking at it in July and it was gone and I figured they were gone or going under. Then I read about the fire a couple of weeks ago, but tried the site and it still didn’t work and couldn’t find another (except for the one in DC which seems to be totally separate). It was always pretty annoying but I’d be more inclined to go if I could at least see their menu online and call in a takeout order on the way home.

  • Arlingtonian

    Has anyone here gotten their wedding invitations done at the Papery? What did you think?

    • Jillian

      I got my wedding invitations at this store and everything went perfectly. Shana spent hours working with me until we were happy with the font, paper, liner and colors. We were emailed a proof and got our invitations weeks later. My invitations were one of my favorite parts of my wedding. I highly recommend the Papery and Shana. You won’t be disappointed!!

      • Michelle

        Thanks, Shana!

      • CW

        Wow, from your statements, I’d be willing to bet your husband’s favorite part of the wedding was when it was finally over with…

        • madisonmanor

          actually, based on the statements, I’m not sure it IS over yet – don’t forget the shopping for the ‘thank you for sending a thank you for me thanking you for the gift’ notes. They had to spend hours working on that to ensure that they chose a different font, paper, liner and colors than they used for the invitations and the first set of ‘thank you’ notes.

  • CSEM

    I am very fond of this place…we did our Save the Date and Wedding invitations with The Papery and they were just awesome about both (and classy). Really lovely people with a great hometown manner. Wonderful to hear they have managed to stay.

  • Wine

    I wish Best Cellars next door would have had the same fate. Oh how I miss you Best Cellars. Good for you though Papery, maybe I’ll stop in for some stationery some day.

  • BrownClown

    I popped in there to get a birthday card for my wife recently and they literally had 2 cards to choose from – the only thing longer than my visit was the walk around the corner to Walgreens.

    Now if The Papery took a chance and started selling high end toilet paper, I might give it another shot. Lavender? Rosemary? Lotion-infused? You never know – after froyo, cupcakes, and food trucks, it could just be the next big thing.

    • BrownClown

      Correction – “shorter” than my visit… And I meant Lemon-Sage – Lavender gives me allergies…

    • KARLington

      that’s what I’m saying….they have almost everything but useful everyday birthday cards.

    • Clarendon

      Last time I bought a card there they had a modest selection of cards from the typical categories. I was able to find a Bat Mitzvah card (had a couple to choose from) which I’m guessing isn’t the most common type of card.

      But, they would probably do better if they had an eclectic/current section. Maybe their business is mostly weddings and other special order stuff.

  • Wish them the best. I enjoy visiting this store and buying stationary. Hope they make it.

    Didn’t they also own the shop two doors down with the French kitchen/household goods? When I realized they had closed, I was disappointed because it was another of my favorite stops.

    • LoveNotes


      I think you’re remembering the store in Shirlington, which is still there, but Le Village Marche moved down into the paper store and they share the same space.

      Anyone know what’s going on in the old Le Village Marche space? I could see bright paint colors and that’s about it.

      If the employees at the Papery were anywhere near as friendly as those at the paper store in Shirlington, they’d be well off. Maybe an earlier commenter was right — I’d be bitter too if I thought the owners had just given up and I was soon to be unemployed.

  • Kate

    When this store is fully stocked, it’s great. I’ve gotten thank you notes here, as well as birthday, anniversary, new baby cards, etc. They have a decent selection of higher end paper products, which in my opinion beats the card and gift wrap selection at any of the nearby CVS and Walgreens locations. I do love Papyrus and Paper Source, but neither of those shops have locations in Arlington.

  • NorthArlMom

    I’m thrilled to hear that this store has been restocked! It was my ‘go to’ place for wedding, engagement, and shower cards. They had such a unique selection of cards, it was one of my favorites–especially after shopping for those gifts across the street at Crate & Barrel, etc. Great news!

  • Arlington Mrs.

    When I first entered The Papery, I thought I was making a mistake. It looked as if the store was going down the tubes. I am so glad that I took a chance and ordered my wedding invitations with Shana. She is so delightful–professional, knowledgeable, very creative and sweet, with a great aesthetic sensibility. She was an absolute pleasure to work with, and my invitations were exquisite! She was there to guide me every step of the way. I honestly could not have been happier with my invitations or the experience. I am happy to hear the good news and can’t wait to see the restocked store.

  • R. Griffon

    Really glad to hear that they’re staying. Stores like this are exactly the kind of unique, locally-owned flair that the strip needs. Good for them.

  • Dia

    Please support the Papery and all other locally owned businesses!

    Remember when you shop locally, 68% of the money stays local, go to a big box, 15% of the money stays local, and finally, buy on-line and NONE of the money stays local.

    Shopping locally helps with employment and county/city revenue. Revenue that would be taken away by shopping on-line. Revenue that pays for county/city services, roads, and other needs.

    Also, most people are unaware of one uneasy fact… Even when people buy on-line, they are still responsible for paying sales tax to Virginia in the form of Use Tax.

    One day in the near future, the big on-line companies will have to turn over tax information to the states, and the states will bill those who order on-line. May people will say non-sense to this idea, but do not be sure that it will not happen.

    • yeah but

      i believe sales tax is only due if the store has a brick-and-mortar presence in the state.

      As to buying things in local stores because it’s the right thing to do, i think the trick for local businesses is to provide a service/good/experience that can’t be duplicated or bettered on line. Ayres Hardware does it, and some others, but other times buying online just makes so much sense and saves so much time and driving around. On Amazon, I can look at a bunch of different products right from my desk that I might have to go to three stores to comparison shop. Who has the time for that or the patience to deal w/ NoVA traffic.

  • Tabby

    Glad to hear they are back on track. I always buy my Christmas gift bags there. (Too lazy to wrap.)

  • STee

    Interesting – This is an interesting story; the other side of the story is that the customer service level in this establishment is near the bottom. That’s my guess on why the store was nearly closed – I hope the owners and management figure out it’s not only about product and place – it’s more about how you take care of customers.

    • CW

      Interesting, isn’t it? On one hand, a lot of the “small business” pushers who tell us to buy local for everything run in the same circles as the folks touting the power of the free market. Here’s a hint – “small businesses” that sell a needed good or service at a competitive price and treat their customers well tend to stay in operation.


Subscribe to our mailing list