Post Script: Needle in a Haystack’s Yash Parmar

NeedleinaHaystack-006

Everything is bigger in Texas. And that includes the stationery business. Catering to Dallas’s finest, Needle in a Haystack has been a purveyor of exquisitely printed paper for more than two decades. Here, co-owner Yash Parmar — who runs the boutique with his wife, Bhavna and daughter, Krishna (pictured above right and left, respectively) — talks to us about the power of pen pals, to whom he writes most and how he may not have been where he is today without sewing.

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
Writing handwritten letters to my pen pals in various countries.

What’s the story behind your store’s name?
Needle in a Haystack started off as a needlepoint store in 1971 – hence the name.  In the 70’s and 80’s there was strong interest in needlepoint. The previous owners of Needle in a Haystack were avid needlepointers.  They gradually introduced gifts and stationery in the 80’s. We bought the store in 1989, when it was about 80% needlepoint and 20% “other.”  

What inspired you to open a stationery boutique?
Emphasis on stationery was dictated by the market and our interest in paper. Our customers demanded greater variety of stationery. This matched our interest.

Why do you enjoy sending letters and/or correspondence?
It is great to put your thoughts on paper. I had pen pals as a teenager and loved writing and receiving letters.

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
Mahatma Gandhi. I have so many questions that I could ask. There is so much that one can learn from his life and experience.

Gandhi

To whom do you most often write?
Customers!

Describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received.
As a student in England, my grandfather wrote to me regularly from India. I loved receiving his letters with all his grandfatherly advice.

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
Handwritten letter on personal stationery.

Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
Scenic American Landscapes series of stamps.  Some of these, such as Yosemite National Park, Glacier National Park are just beautiful!

Glacier-park-slideshow

What is your favorite product created by Crane & Co.?
The Black Label album (that has long been retired) had some fabulous engraved stationery with wonderful motifs and liners.

palmetto engraved black label red cards

What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
I think the classic correspondence in a decade or two will remain classic: handwritten note on engraved stationery.

Have a question for Yash? Email our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com.

From the Archives: Vintage Crane & Co. Advertisements

Being around for more than 200 years will build quite an archive. It’s an absolute delight to sift through old engraving dies, ledgers and, our favorite, advertisements. We had advertisements geared toward the “Business Man,” the “Presidents of Savings Banks” and, of course, brides. Ones highlighting the fact that our paper is made from cotton rags. Ones highlighting how great it is to use with a typewriter. And ones about what using Crane says about you (hint: really good things).

Below are some of our favorites…

1. For your paper trousseau: This ad from the 50′s spoke to the classic bride, suggesting the kinds of papers she should use for her wedding and beyond. “Assures correctness… confers distinction” is the tagline, assuring her that choosing Crane is both proper and special.

vintage wedding stationery advertisement
2. Wedding gifts by telephone: This print ad from 1924 plays to the aspirational woman and her desire to make the most proper impression. No well-bred girl would do such a thing, the ad suggests of acknowledging wedding gifts by telephone. She also wouldn’t type her wedding invitations, send a “dowdy letter of acceptance” for a party or write a letter on “the only paper you could find,” and instead lives by this ad’s tagline: “Style is a greater social asset than beauty.”


3. What does the letter say, Jean? The dialog in this ad — printed in The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1921 — is between two girlfriends or sisters, discussing a letter the one has just received. When asked what the letter said, the recipient’s response is that the letter says the writer has “good taste” and “a fine appreciation of what is correct.” Of course, the punchline is that the recipient is referring to what the paper (Crane, of course) says about the sender, ending with this mantra: “Writing paper tells much more than many people think.”


4. Stationery should reflect station: We love the angle this 1926 ad takes when appealing to the “Business Man.” The copy sets the scene, a meeting between the Business Man and his lithographer. The latter suggests Crane, suggesting that one’s stationery should reflect one’s station in life. The former balks at paying more for his letterhead. The lithographer’s pitch: A company should take its paper “out of the classification of office expense and put it in the advertising and selling budget.”

business stationery letterhead advertisement
5. To the Presidents of Savings Banks: This ad from 1936 is one of our favorites because of how well it represents a time very much in the past — a time when relationship between banker and bank account customer was more than just the Customer Service contact on a website. The ad suggests using Crane to send letters of welcome to “new depositors” as well as to keep in touch with old customers, as “no other paper lends so much dignity and distinction to correspondence.”

banking stationery advertisementCare to see more of our vintage advertisements? They’re all available to peruse on our Pinterest board!

In Celebration Of: The Pen

Antony and Cleopatra. Romeo and Juliet. Scarlett and Rhett.

We love a good love story.

But our favorite is that of Pen and Paper.

Thus, we were delighted to pick the brain of Rick Propas — a specialist for Swann Auction Galleries, where he directs the newly created Department of Fine and Vintage Writing Instruments — whose first pen was given to him more than 50 years ago.

Rick Propas, lefty.

“In the Jewish tradition, it’s customary to give a boy a fountain pen at his bar mitzvah,” Propas explained. “I didn’t get one, and when I complained to my dad, he pulled out his own pen and gave it to me.”

Propas has been collecting vintage pens ever since.

Continue reading

Etiquette: How to Use QR Codes on Your Stationery

letterpress bar mitzvah invitation with qr codeRecently at the 2012 National Stationery Show, we dedicated one of our storefront windows (prime real estate!) to QR Codes and how to incorporate them into social stationery. Wedding invitations, letterhead, business cards: Why yes, there is a way to include one and still keep that classic aesthetic & craftsmanship Crane & Co. is known for.

In case you’re curious how to do so, we’ve put together this handy QR Code Etiquette Guide. Technology never looked so luxurious.

Have more questions about stationery etiquette & style? Email our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com. 

Etiquette: How to Write a Post-Interview Email & Thank You Note

Navy Blue Thank You Note with Fashion LinerThey liked your resume enough to call you in for an interview: Congratulations! We’re sure you nailed it, but your work isn’t quite done yet. Now, it’s time to follow up.

The Follow-up Email

Follow-up email(s) should be sent the same day to your interviewer and anyone else who was involved in the process (we hope you took everyone’s business card while you were there), from the secretary who scheduled the interview and brought you a glass of water to prospective co-workers who may have popped in to ask a few questions.

  1. This email should be brief: One sentence thanking so-and-so for taking the time out of his/her day to meet with you. Include a detail or two that refreshes his/her memory about the conversation (chances are they had several applicants walk through the doors that day) — a shared alma mater or a shared affinity for U2, for example.  Continue reading