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In this episode, I talk about how I use my inks, choosing between a Pilot Custom 74 and Vanishing Point, and the future of online retail…
This week:
  • Election
  • Thanksgiveaway going strong
  • Goulet Chili Cookoff this weekend
New/Upcoming Products – (2:53)
Pens/Writing – (6:38)
1) Kevin G.- Facebook – (6:41)
Is there a fountain pen that’s “spin-friendly”? I subconsciously spin my pens and it’s not the first time that I “decorated” my classmates’ dresses with my favorite inks of the week… what feed design you find keeps ink in the pen, in general?
  • you’re taking a calculated risk, my friend!
  • physics is working against you here
  • the smooth flowing action that allows it to write so well is what makes the ink fling out of the pen when you spin it
  • going with a hooded nib would be your best bet, like a Lamy 2000 or Pilot Vanishing Point
  • something with a nib and feed that isn’t exposed very much
  • definitely don’t do it with wet writing flex pens like Noodler’s or anything
  • if you can, spin it with the cap closed!
2) adorkelble- Instagram – (10:04)
I’m debating between a Pilot custom 74 or a vanishing point. Either one with a fine nib. Any thoughts other than flipping a coin?
  • these are both VERY solid pens that write well
  • the VP outsells the Custom 74 by a good bit
  • I personally use the Custom 74 more
  • VP has replaceable nib units, more nib size options, more color options
  • the VP is slightly more practical and is probably the way I’d urge you to go, though the Custom 74 definitely has a special place in my heart
3) hellomattmoreau- Instagram – (14:06)
Story time: a few years ago, my mom was in a car accident that shattered her writing arm. She recovered mostly, but writing was a strain with her muscles fighting against the plates holding her arm together. Recently I bought her a lamy al-star and it’s made a world of difference. She doesn’t have to squeeze the grip or press on the paper, so this pen effectively saved her handwriting. My question is: are there any other fountain pens that have an ergonomic grip similar to the al-star, where my mom wouldn’t have to constantly readjust her hand position, or have to squeeze it to keep it in place?
  • She may actually want to try some pens made for kids, if she’s not turned off by the idea
  • Lamy ABC, Pelikan Twist, Pelikan Pelikano Jr, Pilot Kakuno
  • These are all pens that have larger, triangular grips that are made to be easy to hold
  • Aside from kid pens, go with something large and light
  • Conklin All American, Edison Collier are great examples of these
  • Check out Technical Specs, go with pens with grip diameters above 9mm, made of resin or rubber
  • Check out the Pen Plaza too, to compare grip sizes

4) Robbie H.- Facebook – (19:56)

I have been researching the Visconti Homo Sapien for months now and today I came across your blog where you compare the Edison 18kt nib and the Visconti 23kt Pd dream touch. All it said was they were comparable or similar. Can you expand on this comparison? I am trying to decide if $500+ is worth spending on the Visconti.
  • the nibs themselves do write pretty similarly, very wet, very springy, very smooth
  • both are fantastic
  • the price gap is in practicality closer to $300, because the Edison 18k nib has an uncharge and the Homo Sapiens is a lower than MSRP when you log into GouletPens.com
  • part of what you’re paying for is the other aspects of the pen, like it’s made in Italy vs US, it’s made of lava rock, power (vacuum) filler, spring clip, hook safe lock cap…
  • honestly, both are great writers, they’re just different styles
  • the higher cost of the HS doesn’t mean it writes twice as good as the Edison though, there’s a law of diminishing returns
Ink – (25:08)
5) d_dante03- Instagram – (25:11)
Where’re you using ink colors like orange, purple, brown? I’m about to buy a bottle of Sailor Apricot (I found some of them in a local shop), but I don’t know where can I use it. I use blues, black and red ink. And I’ve a bottle if brown ink, but don’t know where to use it too. Thanks fit your help! :-)
  • well…I use them whenever I darn well feel like it
  • I don’t sign a ton of legal documents and stuff, for those I’ll use black or blue
  • otherwise, I’m using crazy colors all the time, taking my own notes, writing thank you notes to people, to do lists, journaling, you name it
  • the beauty of using fun colors is just using them! Go nuts
  • you’ll probably find once you start to use them more for daily writing, the less weird it will become
6) Andrew T.- Facebook – (29:47)
I know you have a lot of inks. Have you written with all of the ones that you own? Do you set inks aside for special occasions? Do you collect ink for the sake of the collection or do you always intend to write with it?
  • No, I haven’t used everything I own
  • I definitely stash aside any LE or discontinued ink I can
  • I do usually try to use them in some capacity, but I certainly have some that I haven’t gotten to
  • I have several hundred bottles of ink personally
  • I don’t really have “special occasion” inks, unless I have someone that I know particularly loves a certain color or specific ink I’ll bust it out
Business – (35:33)
7) Wendy L.- Facebook – (35:26)
This is more a question for your customer care group. Have they ever gotten to work and changed the color of ink in their pens simply because they were not in the mood to write out a long ink name on all the personal notes they send with the orders? An example would be choosing Noodlers Blue over Noodlers Black Swan in Australian Roses. Love your company.
  • haha, oh sure
  • they do like to try a LOT of different inks, and they’ll use ones with long or crazy names to get to know the ink
  • there are definitely crunch times like when they’re trying to catch up from orders coming in over the weekend, after holidays, or during major product releases
  • when it’s Threat Level Midnight, they’ll go to Noodler’s Red, Lamy Blue, or something like that to really crank them out ;)
  • they’ve experimented with abbreviations, like using the initial of the brand (N for Noodler’s) or BSAR for Black Swan in Australian Roses
  • that is often confusing, so they are strategic about their abbreves!
  • bottom line is they want to get to know the inks and show what they can, but it’s only one of the many ways they’re serving you as a customer, so they have to be smart about it

8) Travis W.- Facebook – (39:00)

Some questions about products: What happened to bottled Kaweco ink and Banditapple Notebooks? And do you ever plan to carry more Pelikan pens?
  • these are products that fall into oblivion when there isn’t demand for them
  • Kaweco ink was pretty pricey and not that unique, we carried it for a while and barely sold any
  • we used to offer EVERY ink we could get our hands on, but we literally had some inks where we sold no bottles, at all, and we’re like “would anyone even care if this was gone? nope!”
  • Banditapple was a little different
  • it sold okay, but they underwent a redesign and were going to be out of the notebooks for about a year (or two, they weren’t specific)
  • we took them off our site, most people forgot about them
  • other products came out, more Leuchtturm options, our Goulet notebooks, more Midori stuff, and there just wasn’t a big demand for Banditapple so we just haven’t brought them back
  • it’s a TON of work to carry new paper lines
  • Pelikan pens are odd for us, very elusive
  • we get asked about them a lot, we used to special order but we’d get probably 30 inquiries for everyone one person that would actually order one
  • there are SO many SKU’s for Pelikan, that we’d really have to be intentional about carrying the line
  • we’ve offered various pens at various times, and it’s really hit or miss for us
  • there are stock availability issues for certain lines, certain nibs, etc
  • I would love to carry more Pelikan in the future, we are offering more as LE pens come out (those do okay) and certain others
  • it remains elusive for now

9) 1shubh- Instagram – (48:48)

With online retail becoming stronger in the fountain pen and stationary universe and with a growing set of users across the world, what do you think are the next set of challenges for Goulet Pens/ online retail as well as the manufacturers? Will being more “local” become a priority or is being “global” the way to go?
  • um YEAH online is becoming stronger!
  • there are a lot of advantages to being a local store, especially when it comes to testing, repair, etc
  • the reality is that the vast majority of pen users aren’t fountain pen people, and having any kind of niche local store is going to be really tough
  • What I’ve always said is that we’re a local store that brings that personal feel like the mom and pop in your town, but the locality is based on your interest, not your geography
  • online caters a LOT more to niche interests like fountain pens, especially with social media, online education, communities, etc
  • there are some very real challenges with online, too, no doubt! I live it!
  • challenges for online are things like troubleshooting and communicating without physically seeing the pen, growing expectations for faster and free shipping (which is REALLY expensive!!)
  • globalization and speed of information is a challenge, especially when we can instantly see products that are designed/released in other countries but may not be available in ours
  • there are laws, taxes, shipping, and a host of other logistics that just haven’t caught up to the speed of the internet that frustrate shoppers globally, and thus online retailers
  • manufacturers have an increasingly difficult time with grey market, fakes, unpredictable global demand that wreaks havoc on their production demand, and and increasingly intertwined global supply chain with a string of events that could affect any number of components for their materials
  • especially niche manufacturers like fountain pens, there may be one or two global suppliers for key random components, and if they disappear, the whole thing has to be redesigned or discontinued
  • despite all these challenges, it’s not anything that can’t be overcome
  • this is just business, and its exciting for those that are in it for the long haul
  • the pace at which change is happening is faster than ever before, and that’s really just the biggest challenge
QOTW: What is your “special occasion” ink? – (01:04:39)

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