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Friday, September 2, 2016

Goulet Q&A Episode 136, Open Forum


Goulet Q&A is now available as an audio podcast! Click here  for the RSS feed to use in your podcast app of choice, or click here for a direct download.

In this episode, I have a guest! We're going to talk about knock-offs, waffling, a Goulet Pens app.

This week: - (1:55)


Pens/Writing - (8:53)

1) Adam Marcucci- YouTube - (8:55)
Are you aware of any fountain pens which are made from turned metal and are NOT converter or cartridge design? I am specifically looking for something which is a little less than the $600 the Lamy 2000 special edition is. I have always loved the way metals such as copper, brass, titanium, etc. wear but I prefer integrated filling mechanisms.

  • The Lamy 2000 Stainless Steel is $300
  • Pelikan, Montblanc and Omas have done them in sterling silver, but they're going to cost a lot more
  • The TWSBI 850 will be this, but it's been in development for probably 4 years now and we still haven't seen it, don't know when we will if at all
  • Ink corrodes most metals, so unless it's a precious metal overlay with a resin body (such as the Visconti Watermark) or completely ink resistant like stainless steel or titanium, it wouldn't work
  • One option could be the all stainless steel or titanium, eyedropper converted (if you buy direct)

2) Kong Urous- YouTube - (12:36)
What is special about ebonite that makes it desirable for using in a nib feed?

  • it's hygroscopic so it assists with capillary action (helps ink flow)
  • easy to heat-set, so it often fits better to the nib (to provide more consistent flow)
  • can be customized easier, if you want to widen the ink channel (to increase flow)
  • Noodler's pens have ebonite feeds, so does the Aurora Optima, Omas did, there are likely others I'm just unaware

3) Brian T.- Facebook - (16:32)
I purchased a TWSBI VAC700 because it made the most sense for travelling on an airplane as you can seal the flow to the nib by screwing the plunger down. The question I have is there any reason to screw the plunger down when not travelling or using the pen. If I am going to be at my desk for a few days (I work from home), and not mobile, can I leave the plunger loose in "extended writing" mode. Seems like this may be better for the seal as it is not in compression most of the time and more likely to seal when you need it to seal.

  • You can totally do this, it shouldn't hurt a thing
  • The alternative would be if you want to actually remove that o-ring, then you don't even have to unscrew it (you'd just have to keep track of it)

4) Melanie M.- Facebook - (18:52)
Can you help me choose between a Bronze Age and a Dark Ages? I keep waffling. Please help me stop the waffle!

  • this is a toughie! Both are great, I personally got the bronze age
  • it all depends how "clean" you want it to look

Ink - (22:28)

5) Tiffany Z.- Facebook - (22:29)
Hi there, I'm looking to send out bottles of Sailor ink to a few people in the CONUS, and never having sent bottles before, I'm pretty nervous about it. I've read that any potentially liquid "must be presented to a Postal Service employee for acceptance." Is this true? How do you manage this?

  • the USPS definitely doesn't want you mailing liquids that you're unsure about, mainly hazardous ones (chemicals and flammables like alcohol)
  • I've clearly shipped a lot of ink, and talked to a lot of USPS reps about it
  • you're just fine, I wouldn't even sweat it
  • just make sure you protect it well so it doesn't break

Business - (25:32)

6) Altha C.- Facebook - (25:33)
I was wondering about look alike/knockoff designs in fountain pens. And what were your thoughts on this.
  • It's not a black and white issue sometimes, so there's room for debate here
  • It's tough because there are honestly only so many things you can do to make a pen different
  • Clear knockoffs are not cool (trying to say you're something you're not)
  • It gets sticky with something like the Lamy Safari and Jinhao 599, because the price difference is not super great, and the pen is so clearly a knockoff (which is why we don't carry the 599)
  • Other pens are close or "inspired by" others, but are clearly different
  • Jinhao 159/MB 149
  • $12.50 vs. $900+ pen
  • C/C with steel nib vs piston with gold nib
  • not a direct copy, but somewhat close
  • if the original manufacturer is upset about it, then it's probably not okay, otherwise it's usually acceptable

7) penzealot- Instagram - (33:24)
For the pics on your website and Instagram, the ones that have props (ballet slippers, teacups, shells, etc.), do you go out and buy the props, or just use whatever is on hand?

  • a lot of that is Sarah's doing
  • she's a thrifty lady
  • she has a lot of the props personally, borrows from friends/co-workers
  • will go on intentionally trips for props every few months

8) fp.geek- Instagram - (35:22)
Do you see fountain pens ever making a full comeback in the future?

  • realistically? no
  • when does this ever actually happen?
  • they had their hayday, just like the typewriter and the abacus
  • they are niche, and I like it that way
  • the people that use them are the people that WANT to use them, that love them

9) Dalton C.- Facebook - (42:10)
Recently I've been thinking about the 'rewards' program idea, and while I disagree with the general idea (since you offer prices much lower than many places, especially B&M stores), a tangent of it does interest me - the infamous referral program. Do you feel that rewarding loyal Goulet customers who actively expand the FP community (and follow the GPC mission statement ourselves!) is more in-line with something you would consider? Or is this just as distasteful as simply providing a lower price to people who buy more?

  • I wouldn't say it's distasteful, really
  • Referral programs can be really good, and honestly we do rely a lot on referrals since this is such a niche community
  • What I typically see working with referrals are larger, less frequent purchases for more commoditizes products or services
  • Things like custom homebuilding, realtor services, landscaping, doctor's offices, etc
  • the difficulty with us is that it's not always clear when someone has been referred, and even if it is, the value of that referral is so variable and inconsistent it's really hard to incentivize based on that
  • There's a concept called the Overjustification Effect, where getting paid to do something actually decreases your internal satisfaction
  • I feel like this is what would happen, that we'd actually decrease our referrals if we started paying for them, because you wouldn't feel as good about the referral
  • Instead, what I do is put all of that focused time, money, and effort into proactively adding value to you and the whole community through educational content like this
  • You find value in it, and naturally want to share it because it has brought you value and you want others to feel the same value as you

10) gaylegabe_- Instagram - (54:13)
Since Goulet Pens is a pretty established online store, would you ever consider crossing over into the app world and creating a Goulet Pens app so that customers have that as a purchasing/resource option?

  • the world is definitely going mobile
  • this isn't in the 2016 plans, but we're certainly talking about it
  • we'd want it to integrate with our store, with the tools (Nib Nook, Swab Shop, etc)
  • what would you want to see? What other shopping apps do you use? 

QOTW: What would you want to see in a GouletPens native app? - (57:34)


Thanks so much for joining us this week! You can catch up on any old Q&A videos you missed here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet


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