Why I’m A Loyal Goulet Pens Customer

Are you loyal to ANY store?  I don’t mean that it’s the first place you go to buy something because they have a large selection.  I mean, are you loyal enough to a store that you go out of your way to buy from them because you want them to grow and be successful?

I’ve watched as the retail industry has become more and more nonchalant about customer service.  I’m regularly frustrated by stores with clerks who know nothing of the products they sell, online sellers who charge outrageous amounts for shipping and won’t answer emails.  I had a local bookstore owner tell me he had to let one of his favorite (among customers) clerks go because ‘she spent too much time talking with customers.’

And that’s why I’m so loyal to Brian and Rachel Goulet of Goulet Pens.  They’re SO different in this regard.  I thought I’d tell you about an email dialog I just had with Brian as just one example of how different they are from the rest.

I wanted a bottle of Platinum Carbon Black ink.  Goulet Pens indicates on their website that they are out of stock and so I wrote to Brian (who doesn’t know me at all) and asked, “Will you be getting any PCB in stock anytime soon?”

He wrote back, knowing it would not make him a sale because he had to say, “Our order has been back ordered for a loooonng time….”  He went on to say “You should buy it wherever you can find it as PCB is in short supply right now.”  I thanked him for his quick response, which had come within an hour or two of my email.

He wrote back later telling me that they had one “sample” left in stock.  One of the great things GP does is make samples of all their inks available.   Now you could interpret this as him taking an opportunity to sell me something.  This sample sells for the vast sum of $1.75 and I’m sure most of that goes into the labor of creating the sample.  No, he was just trying to be helpful.

But, that’s not all.  Even later he wrote back to me and said, “I just got notice that our order has been back-ordered yet again.  I thought you should know.”  Again, no potential for a sale of any kind but he took the time to write and tell me that.  Do you know any other business who would do this sort of thing?  I sure don’t.

So, what did I do.   I ordered that sample, and two pens.  Thanks Brian and Rachel.  You’re the best.  Oh…before I go I should mention that all this occurred one day before Rachel gave birth to the cutest little girl you’d ever want to meet.  Her name is Ellie.  Visit her here.

 

What’s an Eye-dropper Pen?

Several people have asked, in response to my post titled My Ideal Idea Book: What’s Yours post, what an eye-dropper pen was and how to make one.  I dropped the reference into that post without realizing that I was talking to people who don’t hang out in the fountain pen world and I apologize for not providing a more complete explanation.

The typical, modern fountain pen uses an ink cartridge.  These are convenient, but they do have a few drawbacks.  They contain very little ink, typically half a milliliter or less.  You are also limited by the colors and kinds of ink available in cartridge form.  Cartridges are also the most expensive way to feed a fountain pen.

So, many people replace the cartridge with a converter that allows you to suck up ink from a bottle and so your choices improve and your costs drop considerably.

What is not solved by this approach is the amount of ink stored in the pen.  But, what if you could fill up the entire barrel of the pen with ink?  A $3-4 Preppy pen barrel will hold 4-4.5 milliliters, or about nine times as much ink as is contained in a cartridge.

And so the “eyedropper pen” is born, taking its name from the way you fill the barrel of the pen – with an eyedropper.  Here is my editing pen.  Everyone knows that editors use a lot of red ink so it’s a natural for eyedropper pen conversion.

To do the conversion you need several things:

1) A pen that has no holes in its barrel.

The popular Lamy Safari is an example of a pen that won’t work without modification as there are large holes so you can see how much ink is left in your cartridge.

2) small rubber washers

You can buy these at Home Depot but what they have available are thicker than is generally desireable.  While they will work, they create an unsightly lump along the body of the pen.  I bought a bunch of proper-size washers from Goulet Pens for a buck.  These are very thin and don’t protrude once you close up the pen.

3) silicone grease

Some say you don’t need this.  When it comes to ink I want everything I can get  between it and my fingers.  This grease comes from Goulet Pens as well.  Might cost $1.50 for a lifetime supply of the stuff.

4) a few seconds of your time

I mention this only to emphasize how easy it is.  Here’s what you do:

1) open up the pen, discarding the cartridge

2) slide a washer onto the threaded portion of the pen, seating it where the barrel and pen head come together.

3) coat the threads with a small amount of silicone grease.  Less is more in this case.

4) fill the barrel with your favorite ink.

5) Put the pen down so you don’t poke yourself when you pat yourself on the back.

It’s quite likely that you’ll have to wait a bit for the ink to find its way up the feed and to the nib.  If you need to write immediately you can just dip the nib into the ink bottle to get things started.

 

My Ideal Idea Book – What’s Yours?

Most writers have some method for recording ideas, making location notes, or maybe even sketching out a scene.  What’s yours? Mine must be portable as I never know when a good idea will start rattling around in my head.  I go for walks and just think about my current project.  Scene ideas will pop into my head, a whole new story idea might come up, or maybe I’ll have a great dialog idea.  I’ve got to write it down.

For most, the tools are a notebook and ball-point pen, though I’m not alone in being particular about my writing utensils.  What makes me anguish a bit more than most over this idea is that in addition to being a writer, I’ve got a fountain pen fetish.  If I’m going to put ink to paper; it’s got to be done with a fountain pen.

Fountain pens generate special challenges.  Those of us afflicted refer to the perfect triad of paper, pen and ink as though it were some magic potion, and I suppose it is, as a great pen only writes well with the proper ink on the proper paper and finding this combination is much of the fun of writing with fountain pens.

I’ve tried many combinations and I’ve found the ideal combination for my needs.  The goal is actually more complicated than just finding pen, ink, and paper that work together as I’m a guy.  I have no purse.  Some might say I have no brain.  So in addition to the general need for pen/ink/paper compatibility, I need:

1) The pen needs to be cheap because I’m prone to losing them.

2) The notebook must be small enough to fit in my back pocket.

3) The ink needs to dry quickly as I need to be able to make notes and shove the notebook back in my pocket without smearing.

Here’s my solution.  All of this stuff, except for the Moleskine notebook, is available from my favorite fountain pen store, Goulet Pens.   Nicest people on the planet and they provide a fantastic online shopping experience.

Cheap Pen & Quick-Drying Ink

Platinum Preppy pens are simply the best bargain ever.  With a street price around four bucks, they provide a smooth-writing pen and a natural for a portable, cheap pen system.   If you lose one it’s not a burden to replace it.

Platinum cartridges have a small ball inside them that help to keep ink flow even when the pen hangs out in my pockets for long periods of time.  The problem is the ink, which isn’t bad, but I’m fussy about my ink.  Goulet Pens has a tutorial that talks about converting a Preppy to an eye-dropper pen (you fill the entire barrel with ink) and I’ve done that.  While I’ve never had one leak, I don’t like the idea of carrying them in my pants pocket and elimination of the cartridges also means elimination of the small ball in the cartridge.

But it’s easy enough to use a syringe to fill any cartridge and that’s the approach I use.  My ink of choice for portability is Noodler’s Bernanke Blue (also comes in black).  It flows well from Preppies and it dries almost as quickly as I can lay it down.

Small Notebook size

The critical dimension for my portable notebook is that it must fit in my back pocket.  Thus, Levis determines my notebook size.  I use a Moleskine notebook as it fits well.  I have tried a Rhodia Webnotebook as the paper is superior but it’s just enough larger that it’s uncomfortable to carry on my butt.  If that’s not a problem for you, I highly recommend this notebook.  So, for me, Moleskine it is and my ideas are captured and I get to enjoy writing with a fountain pen.  What do you use to record your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

Do You Know About Goulet Pens?

I live in the frozen north – in Quebec.  But my favorite place to shop for pens and paper is in Virginia.  If not for the Internet, it would be a long walk.  The place is Goulet Pens.

They stock my favorite Rhodia and Clairfontaine journals and notepads.  They stock a wide array of fountain pens, though mostly those that are reasonably priced.  Oh…and the array of inks they sell is to die for.  I sometimes play with their “Swab Shop” which is an online facility that lets me compare colors of all of their inks even though I tell myself I don’t need any new ink.  It’s just fun.  And, of course, one can never have too many inks.

But it’s not their products that excite me about Goulet Pens. It’s Rachel and Brian Goulet and their approach to business.  They’re not just selling pens and paper.  They LOVE pens and paper and they LOVE their customers.  Well, maybe that last thing is a bit strong but they sure act like they like them.

Each week they conduct “Write Time”, which is a live-streamed video and associated chat room. They discuss new products, answer questions, and laugh and joke with their customers.  It’s a hoot.

Brian and Rachel also produce a great blog called Ink Nouveau where they provide a lot of great information about fountain pens, and the various paper products they sell.  They have a YouTube channel where you can access a growing catalog of videos (currently 87 of them), and each provides valuable information about paper and pen products, tricks for maintaining and improving pens, etc.  In short, they work hard for their customers and regularly bring a couple of bright-eyed smiles to our computer screens.  We all smile back.

I’m having one small problem with one of their products, though.  I just received an order and they included a freebie.  It was one of their new Goulet Pens bookmarks.  Just the thing, they say, for marking your place in a book.  I guess it works ok but I’m having trouble getting used to using it.

Cheers — Larry

larry@larrydmarshall.com