Cedar Rapids Scribe Stationer Fire Station includes fountain pens and tablets
Nikki Kettelkamp, owner of Scribe Stationer, organizes inventory at her stationery in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Colored pens at Nikki Kettelkamp Scribe Stationer’s stationery store, 1111 Third St. SE, in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Limited-edition pencils and other writing supplies are available for Nikki Kettelkamp, owner of Scribe Stationer, 1111 Third St. SE, shop in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Scribe Stationer, 1111 Third St. SE, in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Nikki Kettelkamp, owner of Scribe Stationer, 1111 Third St. SE, bought used or had many shelves and displays built at her store in Southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. This shelf cubby came from an online marketplace and was originally in a post office somewhere. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Nikki Kettelkamp, owner of Scribe Stationer, 1111 Third St. SE, completes orders at her store in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Australian-made double-sided wrapping paper is seen in the shop of Nikki Kettelkamp, owner of Scribe Stationer, 1111 Third St. SE in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Tuesday, February 15, 2022. ( Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
When “written” communication takes the form of short, rambling text messages or emails, who needs a pen and paper?
“I’ve had people say things to me like, ‘God, everyone’s texting now, who still writes a letter? “, Nikki Kettelkamp said one morning last week. “I think COVID has brought people back to the things that really matter, and to be more intentional and to be in the moment and to express things from more authentic way.
“When you write a letter, that’s what it is, as opposed to a text or an email. It was actually perfect timing, I think.
Kettelkamp is encouraged by the response to Scribe Stationerywhich it opened last Thanksgiving weekend.
The shop on the ground floor of the 1916 former Hose Co. 4 fire station in the New Bohemia neighborhood offers fountain pens, stationery and tablets, journals, greeting cards and stationery. other supplies for those looking to personalize their communications.
“Even being open for this short time, it’s so refreshing that a lot of people are sharing this and coming here,” she said.
“What is also exciting is the number of young people who come to buy cards and pens. There is a kind of renaissance of returning to a very authentic way of communicating.
Kettelkamp sees Scribe as a natural fit for Scout, the store she opened in Marion in 2018. She noted that Scout’s small selection of journals and writing supplies sold well.
“A bit like a modern merchant or a lifestyle store,” is how Kettelkamp describes Scout. “All sorts of things from pantry items to apothecary, babies and gifts, etc.”
Kettelkamp, who grew up in the region, drew on more than 30 years of retail experience, including for French luxury fashion house Chanel in New York.
She and her family moved back to the Cedar Rapids area in 2011.
“I traveled a lot,” she says. “I really wanted to bring something to the community that wasn’t there. That’s how Scout was born, and it’s an extension of that.
Ongoing supply chain issues forced Kettelkamp to scramble to equip and stock the new store.
“We kind of hit the ground running,” she said. “We opened without a sign, we opened without a lot of lighting, but that was kind of the nature of the time frame, in terms of being in a pandemic and having to wait so much for everything.”
Unable to find displays and counters through the usual channels, Kettelkamp turned to online markets and local vintage shops.
One wall is occupied by a post office mail sorting station in northeastern Iowa, its slots still marked with regional town names and ZIP codes.
“We outfitted the whole place and repurposed things that probably could have ended up in a landfill,” she said.
Kettelkamp’s love of writing – or typing on an old royal typewriter she kept in her childhood bedroom – is reflected in Scribe’s inventory.
“We sold a ton of journals and notebooks,” she said. “Bullet journals are very important right now.
“It’s like writing your own book. It’s a kind of journal, but you also put illustrations. And we have a lot of journals and incited journals, which talk about mindfulness and gratitude and things that I think are quite old fashioned but should never go out of fashion.
“We’re really going to respond to what the public wants.”
The “Scribe” that is the store’s logo is in Kettelkamp’s own handwriting in Palmer’s cursive style, another local historical link. The style was developed by Austin Palmer, a Cedar Rapids trade school owner at the turn of the last century.
His most influential textbook, “The Palmer Method of Business Writing,” was published in 1901 and remains a seminal work of American calligraphy—for those who practice calligraphy, at least.
Kettelkamp is still working through delays in the product pipeline. She plans to offer personalized stationery when a supply becomes more reliable.
“We can come back and start working with custom companies,” she said.
“We would love to partner with people who do things like calligraphy and bookbinding. Really anything to bring back that handwriting mentality.
The manual typewriters displayed at Scribe are for display only – so far.
“I had so many questions about them,” Kettelkamp said.
“Maybe there’s someone in town who restores them?” I have some in the basement.
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Owner: Nikki Kettelkamp
Address: 1111 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
Call: (319) 200-1762