In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about fancy pens, which brands have the best QC, and what pen trend Brian sees on the horizon…

This week:


1) Meto N.- Facebook (14:20)
What do you think the next fountain pen trend will be?

  • it’s really impossible to tell! honestly, the fountain pen world just moves a lot slower than other retail industries
  • I see more manufacturers going towards smaller batches, not LE necessarily but more seasonal or special editions
  • bolder colors or patterns
  • manufacturers are trying to understand where the shift is right now in the market, some just don’t have a handle on it yet
  • testing
  • combining ink launches with pens
  • more affordable pens, though this is tricky to really pan out

2) Mike F.- Facebook (22:30)
Brian, is it possible to spray paint a nib?

  • possible? Sure, you can spray paint dang near anything
  • functional? Not really
  • spray paint is way too thick to coat a nib and still function properly
  • it honestly wouldn’t be durable enough either
  • electroplating, PVD, black oxide are the methods used currently to coat nibs
  • these are more involved, and will hold up way better

3) nick_conkling- Instagram (25:48)
In the pen community, we often seem to talk about quality control only if it’s poor. Flipping this on its head, what brand would you praise for excellent QC? Could you give an example of a company that typically sells pens under $100 and another typically over $100 that you feel deserves praise on the nib QC? Thank you!

  • this gives a nod back to the question in Q&A 187 about Visconti nibs
  • people have a tendency to want to spread negative information far more than positive information
  • I think the is and excellent question
  • there’s no question that the Japanese brands lead the way in terms of quality, it is woven deep into their culture and they take it very, very seriously
  • Pilot QC is phenomenal…not perfect, but given the amount they produce it’s pretty amazing
  • they cover the full range of prices, but their nib quality on the low end pens is particularly impressive
  • Platinum also deserves a nod, especially for the Preppy
  • German brands also take consistency and quality very seriously
  • Lamy is pretty dang consistent, they do get some flak for their steel nibs at times, but this is a very small percentage of their overall pens
  • Pelikan gets very high marks for quality, too, especially in the higher price ranges
  • Pilot/Namiki has to get a mention here in the $100+ range

4) @KayteeHello- Twitter (32:13)
What kind of fine nib pen is good for beginners?

  • getting something that slightly on the finer side is usually more ideal
  • for beginners who are likely using absorbent inkjet or legal paper
  • you want something that puts down a little less ink
  • none of these will be a huge shocker, because many of our “top pens for newbies” are there because they have great fine nibs for beginners
  • huge fan of the Pilot Metropolitan, Kakuno
  • Platinum Preppy fine for sure, very worthy pen
  • Goulet fine nibs, not just bias here, but we’re really proud of them (on a Jinhao, Ahab)
  • Lamy Safari fine…I’m a fan of the EF, but there is a little more variability in the line width of the EF

5) theflamedeluge- Instagram (36:11)
What’s the best starter “fancy” pen?


6) Daniel D.- Facebook (40:58)
I really enjoyed your breakdown of the Namiki Emperor Toryumon. In the video, you handled the pen with white gloves, since the pen is so expensive and was on loan to you from Pilot USA. So, my question is, if you owned this pen (or one or similar value), would you ever ink it up and write with it? Personally, I could not imagine buying a pen just to sit in a box or a display case, since even pens that double as works of art (like this Namiki Emperor) are still functional writing instruments. If the answer to the question is “no,” what’s the most expensive pen you could see yourself using?

  • oh, I’d 100% ink it up and write with it, no question
  • I don’t buy pens that I refuse to ink up
  • some I may wait a while and be conscientious of what I ink it with, but I never just story something in the box or display it
  • there’s no limit to the cost of a pen I’d use….if I could actually afford it and purchase it, I’d write with it


7) sketch.stack- Instagram (45:32)
I have a business question: What are some reasons you’ve decided *not* to carry a product? In the past we’ve heard about “complicated” business relationships that eventually sour —but are there other reasons? Not enough room in your warehouse? Trying to avoid redundancies in your offerings? Concerns about vendor supply (as in, they won’t be able to provide enough to match sales volume)? Etc. Or to put the question another way: Why doesn’t the Goulet Pen Company carry every single ink/paper/pen under the sun?

  • I’ve talked about this before when the question was phrased in the opposite way, about how I decide what to carry
  • I’ll focus on the follow up questions
  • the #1 thing going through my mind when deciding to carry a product or not is will our customers want this thing?
  • we’re a retailer, and at the end of the day, you vote with your dollars and we pay our team and keep our lights on when you buy stuff from us, so that has to be our #1 concern
  • demand is only part of the equation, and you touch on the other part, supply
  • demand has to be there, if there’s none, then there’s no point in even existing as a company
  • without natural demand it must be created, and that’s REALLY tough in a niche market like this
  • to match that, there has to be supply, and without adequate supply we’re scrambling
  • we often end up asking ourselves questions about both supply and demand when vetting our products to carry
  • we do frequently run into concerns about supply, but that’s not always a reason not to carry a particular product (especially if it’s a seasonal or limited production)
  • if an entire manufacturer or brand has limited capacity and we have concerns there, we’ll be hesitant
  • this is typically with startups and smaller brands
  • we don’t carry everything under the sun because not everything under the sun is in demand for our customers
  • the world is a very big place, and there are a lot of fountain pen products out there
  • logistics of acquiring/distributing certain products are cost-prohibitive
  • branding, education, product awareness takes an incredible amount of time and effort, and we don’t have the resources to carry everything, nor would everything sell
  • Pareto’s Principle comes into play, or the 80/20 rule as it’s known
  • the top 20% of our products will have 80% of the demand
  • likewise, the bottom 80% of our offering will only have 20% of the demand
  • the more and more and more products we carry, the more we’re putting disproportionately into that bottom 80%, which drains our cash and jeopardizes our health
  • plus, more is not always better, we essentially curate the products we carry, and constantly reevaluate them based on both supply and demand

QOTW: What kind of fountain pen gifts do you like to give around the holidays? (1:00:14)

Write On,
Brian Goulet