Stores of Note - Great Pens Stores
Mont Blanc Boutique
439 1/2 Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills, California
The staff in this store are very knowledgeable on. The store's policy on exchange, repair and/or adjustments generous. Good stock. Ask for Janice Ward. (Thanks D. Sternlight)
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The Pleasure of Writing
Ocean Avenue & San Carlos
Carmel, California 93921
Tel: (831) 626-8828
In December 2016 on a trip to California I had the pleasure of meeting Detlef Bittner at his elegant pen store, Bittner, in Carmel. Carmel is a beautiful town on the coast, well worth the drive to see, and having the Bittner Store makes it all the more worth your while.
I enjoyed meeting Detlef and his partner Cindy. Detlef background was originally in steel die engraving printing. When he came to the US, at the age of 22, his original plan was to to be involved in design, and logos. His first venture created a variety of emblems and corporate logos - including the official County Seal for the County of Santa Clara - which is commonly known as the now famous Silicon Valley. While fine stationary has been part of his background, his passion for pens very nicely incorporated into what is now the Bittner store. Detlef told me that he received his first fountain pen from his father when he was fourteen years old. That helped the fuel in interest and passion in writing.
While his first store was a Gazebo in Carmel, he worked with a local architect, John Thodos, in the design of his current store located on Ocean Avenue. (There are no street numbers in Carmel. The store is located just past the corner of Ocean Avenue and San Carlos. Walking up Ocean Avenue, when you see the "Bell" in the centre boulevard, the store is a few feet further on the right. Look for the bright yellow door!
Inside I found a very elegant but comfortable store. All the fixtures and decor were designed specifically for the store. That induces the rich look decorative concrete trim which forms an elegant molding to the ceiling. Rubber molds were made of the detail work of a castle in Germany, then from the rubber molds, the concrete pieces created for the store. The beautiful wooden shelving displays are made from Curly Maple Wood and have such a rich and inviting feel.
In side the large wall showcases, the rear cement wall has bronzed signature of famous "patrons" such as Ernest Hemingway or Leonardo da Vinci to name just a few.
Bittner carries pens are a variety of price points. These include Faber-Castell, Pilot, Lamy, Pelikan, Graf Von Faber-Castell, Delta, David Oscarson, Namiki, Montegrappa, Visconti and Whal-Eversharp to mention some of the lines. The store carries the Namiki Iroshizuku and Private Reserve line of inks.
A variety of quality writing papers are available. These include the Bittner Journals in various sizes, and extensive selection of Rhodia paper products as well as other Amalfi papers.
I was able to see first hand one of the 25th Anniversary Decoband in Citrine Sunet. This beautiful pen is a bold yellow, the Bittner store colour, with 25 pieces in yellow gold trim and 25 pieces with rhodium trim. The pens are available in February 2017 and by contacting Detlef pens can be ordered and if possible particular pen numbers reserved. The fountain pens come with a superflex or semiflex nib.
LA Fountain Pen Shop
2640 South Myrtle, Unit 12
Monrovia, CA 91016-8204
Tel: (626) 294-9974
The store moved out of the downtown area and recently one of the readers noted that it is well out of town, in a little warehouse area of a fairly small one-story building. The store is located in one of the "bays' of the warehouse building. This is a great shop with a good selection of vintage pens and a lot of new stuff also. Don't give up, as the store can be a little hard to find.
1078 Gaylay Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90024
Toll Free: 866.514.3529 Telephone: 310.208-3529
No longer an art supply/pen store but a pen store with some other assessories. I hear from readers on an ongoing basis with positive things to say about this store. Reviews for visitors say it is one of top pen stores in Los Angeles. (Web Site)
695 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
The store includes a good selection of pens from Montlanc, Waterman, Cross, Visconti, Lamy to name some of the brands. So thisis one more store to consider when in LA.
Flax Art and Design
1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Oakland, California 946612
Flax which used to be located in San Francisco has moved to a location in Oakland. I am told they continue to carry fountain pens and ink, but have a much smaller selection. (Thanks Klara)
267 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Tel: (650) 328-3500
Fax: (650) 328-0784
Jan Hunter is the store manager and pen buyer. He's wonderful to work with: helpful, knowledgeable and personable... all great qualities for a pen store person! Always eager to give advice and let you try out the various pens. (Thanks: K. Groves)
Vroman's Fine Writing, Gifts & stationery
695 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, California 91101
Tel: (626) 449-5320
They closed their former free-standing pen location and moved the business into their main store. The pens are located on the ground floor, in the back. Despite the move, I am told they have a good selection. Brands include Montblanc, Lamy, Waterman and Cross to mention some of the lines. (Thanks, C. Curtis)
Fashion Valley Mall
San Diego, CA
This store has been noted for its knowledgeable and friendly staff. You'll find good customer service here. (Thanks B. Winkelmann)
Note, Flax has moved from San Francisco to across the Bay in Oakland.
(Westfield Mall 4th floor)
845 Market St San Francisco, CA 94103
Telephone: (415) 227-4338
George wrote and described Maido as a "Japanophiles paradise". `So, this is not your average pen store! The store carries a selection of high-end japanese pens from the major Japanese manufacturers. The selection includes various consumer level pens in just about every conceivable style and colour. In addition, you will find fine Japanese papers. Think of what you would want and they probably have it. Maido Stationery is one of the finest Japanese stationery store outside of Japan. They have everything you could imagine and it is displayed beautifully and everything is maintained in pristine condition. The sales staff are very helpful and have the finest manners of any store in the city. This store is a joy to visit and is run by someone who really cares! This is a special place! [Thanks George]
2010 - John wrote of his visit, the store definitly stocks higher priced fountain pens but also noted a wide range of ballpoint and rollerball pens in a full price point spectrum. [Thanks, J. Hubbard]
San Francisco Bay Area
This is not a pen store that you can just stroll by and visit, it is a pen store that offers a unique pen experience. This is more of a show room by invitation only. Once there, enjoy sitting at the pen bar. There are over 2,000 vintage and new pens. They have pens, they have ink and they also do pen repairs.
Their motto mirrors what I tell many people: "It is the nib that makes the pen". Oh a point that is so often missed as folks miss out the real experience in buying a fountain pen, trying it out and finding the right nib. So, if you are planning to be in the San Francisco Bay Area a booking to visit Penopoly may be just what you need.