WHAT WE LOVE: An enchanting stationery shop honoring the lost arts and trades of paper and related crafts. It’s possible to spend hours browsing Parcel’s beautiful, eclectic assortment of unique papers, packaging and crafting materials, and one-of-a-kind vintage and handmade objects. Parcel is one of The Shopkeepers Best Stationery Shops.
WHO: Former fashion editor and stylist, Nancy Laboz.
WHERE: Montclair, New Jersey
Why did you choose the name Parcel? The dictionary definition of Parcel is ‘a package; a present; a collection of things.’ Parcel seemed like a fitting name for the combination of our goods, services and vast collections.
Who designed the shop? Both our original shop of twelve years, and our current space of nearly five, was designed by myself, with the help of my dad’s custom-built shelving and the extensive accumulation of vintage shop fixtures.
What is Parcel best known for? We are known locally for our unique offering of our own designed greeting cards, printed and foil pressed stationery and our renowned gift wrapping service. Customers travel any distance for our vintage oddities and materials, our elaborate handmade crowns, and hard-to-find vintage party decorations.
Where do you source products for Parcel? Most of the products we sell are handmade in-house using vintage materials or are actually vintage. We also sell internationally sourced papers and other small objects. Additionally, we sell a line of candles with Parcel branding that we obtain from a small batch domestic candle company.
What makes Parcel unique? We have been told that there is nothing quite like Parcel. We are inspired by a smattering of beautiful shops across the world, but have a completely unique take on a stationery boutique. Our shopping experience is like getting lost in a faraway magical land of little things. We focus on creating a sensory and tactile environment with appealing visuals, signature scents and inspirational musical sounds.
Who are your customers? Folks young and old, and somewhere in between. We mainly cater to those with a deep imagination, but work with every customer to find their own imagination from within. It’s exciting to introduce our younger customers to the world of stationery, which can be a completely foreign subject to many of them. Our male customers love the quirkiness of some of our collections and our gift wrapping, and have become some of our biggest supporters.
How has the internet impacted your business? I’d be lying if I said we are not impacted by online business. Mainly it is in the category of custom invitations, where customers do a great deal of price comparison. When it comes to the small goods, however, we don’t have as much competition. People appreciate the tactile experience and close personal interaction, which keeps them coming back.
Nancy Laboz, shopkeeper at Parcel
Who inspires you? People who follow their passions and lead an uncompromised creative and imaginative life.
What inspires you? Beautifully made old things, both decorative and utilitarian/things that sparkle and shimmer, swag and festoon/ simply and intricately wrapped packages/folk art/Georges Melies movies/Wes Anderson movies/tattered old party decorations/beautifully-presented food/colorful décor from India, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal/Japan…the list is too long…
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. worked in the fashion and publishing industries, ranging from store window display to designer, public relations and as a fashion and accessories editor. Each experience, though diverse, held a common thread that lead me to having the desire and courage to open my own retail business. The dream of owning a shop lay dormant in me for so many years since my young childhood of playing store and housing tiny collections in boxes and containers.
Why did you open your Parcel? Being closer to home after my daughter was born was important to me, as I had been commuting into NYC for so many years. I felt the desire to build my own creative brand and space after working for so many creatives my whole career. I wanted to showcase my artistic abilities without following other’s rules or guidelines, and having your own retail shop is the ultimate form of creative expression.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? Realizing that you can’t be everything to everyone. You have to learn how to say no to things that aren’t on brand, not just to follow the $$. Rarely is that kind of job or assignment worth it. I’m still learning that after 16 years.
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? I love the ritual of coming in every morning, turning on the twinkling lights, playing a favorite soundtrack, burning a candle and getting ready for the day. For me, it is about the everyday satisfaction of knowing that I built a beautiful space and brand for others to enjoy.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? If you have the idea and passion to open a shop, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. There are a million reasons why it is a risk, but so is having any job. Most importantly, you must know that YOU need to be there, not having someone else mind the store. You are the face of your business and who your customers will want to see each day. That is how to build a consistent and loyal following.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? bored, but rested. Or a world traveler.
I wish I could… enjoy and indulge in my shop fully without the considering the financial burden of owning a small business. I also wish I could clone myself so that I could open more locations to spread the love.
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
“I wholeheartedly believe in the power of brick and mortar shopping. I’ve spent the past 16 years devoted to nurturing and building a retail business, and believe that Parcel is still standing because of the ability it has to morph and change with the times. I am hoping that the need for immediate and instant gratification that online shopping offers will settle over time. The result would be that shoppers would support small brick and mortar businesses, appreciating all of their efforts to create a tangible shopping space and encouraging more in-person interaction. What a lovely thought!”
608 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair NJ