The other day, I visited the new Lamy store in New York City. Copied below are my impressions as recorded in Yelp
Below the quote are some pictures I took of the trip.
Outside of the stationery-loving community in the US, the German fine-writing brand LAMY is not well known. Therefore, I'm happy to review the LAMY store which has recently (late May, 2018) established a presence in the SoHo neighborhood of lower Manhattan.
The store, both inside and out, reflect bauhaus design philosophy: clean and simple lines, forms that follow readily accessible functionality. The architectural vocabulary: tall, white storefront and partial glass curtain wall, follow inside to the displays and floorplan and to the products themselves. LAMY, as a whole, is decidedly modern. But, colorful banners hanging from the ceiling contrast all that and announce that something creative (almost magical?) is occurring inside.
Within, walls on either side hold product display cases: locked glass cases as you might find in jewelry boutiques as well as unique-looking open cases. The latter allows you to handle and choose from Lamy's spectrum of offerings. One of these walls holds shelves of ink bottles and cartridges. The middle of the floor provides tables where you can test-drive their product lines of pens and inks and the back wall is the Point-of-Sale. Behind it hangs a large flatscreen TV looping colorful swirls of ink - my wife found it mesmerizing. It's not a large store - you can see the whole of it from the street - but that's ok.
I hate to make such a comparison, but perhaps LAMY took a page from Apple when designing this place (perhaps not so surprising since Apple, too, has "borrowed" inspiration from bauhaus design).
The day I visited, the store was busy. Employees were buzzing around the cashier, helping customers at the display cases, and fetching floor model pens for customers to test at the tables.
The architecture, the layout, the Apple-esque familiarity, the movement inside, all create a certain impact on a viewer. I observed, as I was taking the above picture of the storefront, this phenomenon: a shopping-bag-laden passer-by, who apparently had no intention of shopping for a pen, rubber-necked, turned and paused for a moment. She stared with curiosity and then walked right in. After a few moments, she came out, perhaps realizing that it was not what she assumed it to be, but that is the effect on the casual pedestrian.
I'll skip over a review of their products. If you're here reading this, it's likely that you already know their reputation. If you don't, my opinion is that they're very good. You can find reviews on any of them (like the black Safari and a bottle of blue-black ink I picked up the day I visited) all over the Internet.
The employees, as they are for any store, are what really make the experience. I found all the staff that I encountered at the LAMY store to be very friendly, informed and knowledgeable about the products, quick to accommodate and most importantly, enthusiastic about these writing instruments (Sam and Bryan stand out here). Like you and I, they are fans of the brand and it was wonderful talking to them.
Also, what strikes me -in a good way- is that all of the employees are young people. It's cool that these guys, along with LAMY's modern design, are not only helping out the Old Guard, but bringing the writing experience to the younger generation.
As for cons, I must say that price-points there are a little inflated, which is the sole reason why I don't give it all 5 stars, but hey - this is New York, that's to be expected. You're paying for the exorbitant rent and the "experience".
But, I think there's value in being able to go in the store, talk to the staff, and try the products before buying. Especially when it comes to fountain pens. Writing with one is a tactile, visceral experience. If anything, the LAMY SoHo store can provide a space to test-drive an instrument and then purchase it cheaper from a reputable online dealer. Also, I like LAMY products and it's nice to shop in a place where its staff and other customers share that enthusiasm.
And it's nice to have another stationery destination when visiting NYC besides Fountain Pen Hospital, Goods for the Study, and New University Pen and Stationery. I intend to visit again when I'm in town and would definitely recommend a visit to this store.
Edited by richofthetower, 19 June 2018 - 21:06.