Happy Halloween - Special Weekend Treat

Happy Halloween from your friendly pen purveyors at Goldspot Pens!

Our E-mail Newsletter Subscribers had the first crack at this week's special promotion, but now we are opening it up to everyone, young and old, to come knocking on our virtual door to Trick or Treat. (Tip : the promo is also on the banner for this weekend only). This special ends on November 1st, so get working on filling your pillow cases and plastic jack-o-lantern pails.


You Design the Next Filofax Organizer for 2011

Calling all Entries! Filofax USA is challenging its fans to create an organizer design that will be produced in 2011. That's right, see your very own homegrown design in the hands of thousands. The Filofax Designers Challenge is open from October 28th to January 15th 2011. They are looking for creative minds to produce an organizer that continues Filofax's long line of success by dreaming up an exciting design that is fashionable, functional, aspirational and affordable.

Winners of the contest will be picked by a panel of judges with the prizes as follows (posted from Filofax USA's website)

  • First Prize (1) : -  U.S. $2,500,  production and international distribution of your design*, and inclusion in Filofax's ‘Winner’s Circle’ promotions!
  • Second Prize (1) : U.S. $1,000 and inclusion in Filofax's ‘Winner’s Circle’ promotions.
  • Third Prize (1):  U.S.  $500 and inclusion in Filofax's ‘Winner’s Circle’ promotions.
  • 5 Honorable Mention Prizes will each receive a U.S. $100 gift certificate redeemable at www.filofaxusa.com and inclusion in Filofax's ‘Winner’s Circle’ promotions.
This is an exciting opportunity for people who are Filofax fans and very handy or crafty. Personally, I would like to see a Filofax that can accept Rhodia paper and had pages that can be interchangeable without opening & closing the rings. I know, sounds a lot like a Circa. A leather embossed outer cover would be pretty sweet as well.

Between this an the Parker Write Big contest we posted about yesterday, are we starting to see a trend develop?




The Parker Write Big Contest - Register to Win a Pen or Trip to NYC

Hey Pen People,

The prestigious Parker Pen company has announced the "Write Big" contest. There are 41 chances to win and 3 sets of prizes. Winners will be selected randomly and from around the globe. One lucky winner will receive a trip to NYC and a Parker gift set including one Parker Premier Special Edition Black Fountain Pen (Retail Value $375), 1 pen pouch, 1 key chain and 1 travel bag. 10 winners will receive a Parker Premier Black Edition Fountain Pen. And 30 winners, selected by a Parker jury, will have their "Write Big" sentences projected in 3D on the front of the Museum of Art and Design in NYC on December 7th, plus they win 1 Parker IM Premium Gunmetal Rollerball.

To Enter, simply visit Parker's Write Big Contest Submission Page and write a sentence beginning with "What if". Share your message with the world! Be wildly creative and say something poignant and defining of our society. Your participation offers one chance of winning. If you invite a friend, it gives you two chances. If the friend registers and enters the contest, then you get another FIVE chances to win. You can check out the entries on the Parker Contest Message Gallery. Good luck, everyone!

Please be advised that this is not a contest held by Goldspot Pens and we accept no liability for the prize offerings or the contest rules that are put forth by the Parker Pen company.


List of 2010 New Pen Releases

Earlier this week, we sent out a call for entries to the 2010 Goldspot Readers Pen of the Year and so far we've seen a vigorous response on the topic posted on fountainpennetwork. The overwhelming choice has been the TWSBI Diamond 530 Piston filling fountain pen, but there has been some interest in seeing a list of the pens released this year for people to mull over in providing their nomination. It was argued that, if you haven't heard of the pen before and needed to be reminded of its existence, then it really shouldn't be a nominee. I agree, but to further the discussion and get people talking about the all the pens released this year, here is a running list of the new pens that we've seen come across our desk this year:
  • Visconti Homo Sapiens
  • Visconti Rembrandt Eco Roller
  • Cross Torero
  • Cross Edge
  • Parker Premier Stealth Black Special Edition
  • Pilot Vanishing Point Ice Green
  • Montegrappa Icons Muhammad Ali
  • Aurora Alpha
  • Aurora Tu
  • Libelle Chromatic Speed
  • Libelle Siena
  • Conklin Limited Edition Deco Crest
  • Delta Italiana
  • Delta Titanio
  • Monteverde Invincia Color Fusion
  • Monteverde for Goldspot Exclusive Formula Red (*shameless plug*)
  • Waterman Carene Contemporary Collection
  • Sheaffer Intensity
  • Pelikan m205 Duo
  • Aurora Cube Firma
  • Retro 51 (numerous lines) Tornado Monochrome, Exotic, Kalligraphiti, etc.
  • Taccia Staccato SE
I know I'm probably leaving several pens out, but this is just to get folks current on what has debuted in the pen market this year. We'll leave this discussion fairly open-ended and the ballot that comes out on November 2nd will be diverse, unlike the "real" elections that only have a few choices.


Call for Nominations - 2010 Pen of the Year

It's that time of year again! While the political pundits are posturing themselves for polls this November, pen people can voice their point by picking the Pen of the Year for 2010. We need nominees from you, the pen-loving public, for your favorite choice of pen that was released in 2010. That could also include new finishes or colors of a pen model that has been around longer than the last year.

We'll sort through your comments and also post the same question on Fountain Pen Network to get more answers so we can compile the most complete list of nominees to vote on starting Tuesday, November 2nd (Election Day). Voting will last one week and will conclude with the official crowning of this year's winner and a special discount on that pen for a limited time.

Past winners include:


Pen Spotlight - Nice and Crap Notebooks

Yes, this is a "pen spotlight" post, but I just happened to find a few blogs that were talking about notebooks in the last few weeks that I found interesting to share with our pen crowd. Most notably, Notebook Stories sparked a discussion about the importance of having a crap notebook. Especially check out the comments below the post. Seems that most people have both nice & crap notebooks, each with their own intended uses.

I nearly squee'd when I saw that Moleskine was coming out with new covers for the iPhone and iPad that have notebooks attached to them. These hybrid tools are fantastic for those who straddle the line of tech and old-fashioned pen & paper tasking. They are taking pre-orders on Amazon, but one would assume that the covers will hit the US market shortly before the Holiday Season in the next month or so.

For our long-term Filofax fans out there who stumble across their beat up, old leather cover organizer, there is still hope yet to restore it! Philofaxy has a great how-to article on restoring a leather Filofax cover. Pictures included.

Rhodia recently sponsored an event called Two Night Stand, which according to Rhodia Drive :
[Two Night Stand] was planned as a weekend-long collaborative event where 20 creatives (designers, bloggers, photographers, coders, illustrators, video artists, etc.) would converge to tackle a mystery project together.  The entire creative process was to be cataloged online via the website and through social media.
You can see it here at http://www.thetwonightstand.com/feed
Creative collaboration, especially when done under a time constraint, is always a fun time, provided there is enough caffeine (or beer, in this case) to go around. The Rhodia pads they used were probably a great asset as they needed to sketch, design and draw out their concept from start to completion. One other writing escapade that will commence shortly is NaNoWriMo, which is a yearly event that takes place the entire month of November. The goal is to write an entire draft of a novel during the span of the month. Having tried and failed last year, I can tell you that it is no small feat.


Goldspot Pen Trunk Show Recap

Hey All,

Its been very busy with getting everything straightened out after the show. Had a lot of inventory to sort through and orders to process from over the weekend. Add to that the normal internet orders that come in 24/7 and you've got yourself quite a full plate. We just contacted the raffle prize winners. Congrats to all of you! Since we had such a variety of gifts to give out that could be for men or women, we gave our raffle winners the choice of picking on a first-come, first-serve basis.

While we are sharing a couple of pictures from the show on the blog, the full album can be found on Goldspot's Facebook Page. We had a fun time and hosting our own show was definitely a learning experience. Thanks to everyone for stopping by, even the people who may have never heard of us (or knew that expensive, fine pens existed) who happened to be in the mall that weekend. And special thanks to Wolf Fine Jewelers, who were gracious enough to share the store with us during the weekend and co-host the event.

And who could forget our sales reps that drove up to 3 hours out of their way to come out and support us? Big thanks goes out to Marty K., Dick K., and Ken for bringing their full lines of Aurora, Montegrappa, Delta, Filofax organizers, Lamy, Monteverde and Omas pens for everyone (including us) to drool over.

As far as doing another one of these in the near future, there may be a possibility, although very remote considering that our busiest time of year is coming up and we will be working some weekends just to fulfill everyone's orders for the Holidays. If anyone has a particular venue that they believe would be a great place to set up a pen show in New Jersey, please let us know and we will certainly consider it.


See Your Decisions Through

An article by Clive Thompson in the most recent issue of Wired Magazine inspired this post. In his article, titled "Think Visual," he explains that our society hangs its hat on using words to describe complex topics and decisions when it really should be drawing pictures.

He writes that "dynamic, complicated problems - like global warming and economic reform - often can't be boiled down to simple narratives." Since there are so many factors that effect / may effect the system, the explanation of the problem is not as simple as putting two dots and drawing a line between them. For someone to comprehend such a multi-faceted issue, the fastest way is a picture.

First thing that came to mind after reading the article was the expression, "should I draw you a picture?" I imagine someone turning around in frustration after verbally explaining a dire situation to the dolt walking behind them and berating them with that facetious, condescending question. Yes, drawing pictures is addressing the lowest common denominator. Think of airports. How many pictures do you see there that point you in the right direction of the baggage claim, taxis and to the nearest Starbucks?

True, it does seem childish to be drawing your ideas on paper. Example:  Jay & Silent Bob's plan to take down the stage in Mallrats (left). The example that Thompson used in his article shows how visual thinking can be applied in a much broader sense. He cites President Obama's inability to effectively communicate his ideas in the health care debate. I remember in the election, one of his criticisms was that he sounded too "professorial." Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin, drew a series of napkin pictures that visually explained the proposed models of healthcare. These pictures were wildly popular on the 'Net and he was even tapped by the Obama administration for help with their future public communications.

So, how does this apply to writing and pens? Well, the keyboard is still quite a "wordy" device, only capable of expressing ideas through prose and ASCII character art, if need be. Pen and paper is still the standard. After all, how did Dan write on all those napkins? I really enjoy Levenger's annotation notepaper because they give you ruled paper covering 3/4's of the page while the other part is plain, giving you scratch room for small sketches, notes and other nebulous ideas that don't fit in with the narrative structure next door. Notebook companies are also early adopters of this idea, offering not only lined, but gridded and plain versions of Moleskine and Rhodia papers in order to give the flexibility of describing your idea.

So, next time you have a big decision or a project to undertake, get yourself a plain piece of paper, a pen, a cup of joe and go for it. Get visual. See the final outcome you'd like to achieve and conceive all the steps to get there. Anyone out there have a similar process for planning and explaining things?


Pen Show Giveaway Raffle Prizes

Did you know we are having a pen trunk show this weekend? If not, check the info at the end of this post.
If so, did you also know that we are giving away free pen prizes in a huge raffle at the show?

That's right. And we have so many goodies that anyone has a great chance of winning. For example :
  • 8 Blue Waterman Men's Ties
  • 4 Gold Parker Pen Letter Openers
  • 3 Gold Paper Weight Desk Rulers
  • 2 Waterman Blue Leatherette Card Holders
  • 2 Waterman Polishing Cloths
  • 2 Parker Polishing Cloths
  • 1 Waterman Silk Women's Scarf
  • Special Give Away Pen from our Representing Manufacturers (yet to be determined exactly which models)
The only way to enter is to visit our show this weekend, Oct 9th & 10th and fill out a raffle ticket. We will pick the winners and mail them their prizes on Monday.

Goldspot Pens Trunk Show
Oct 9th - 10th 11am - 5pm
Wolf Fine Jewelers @ Monmouth Mall
180 Route 35, Eatontown, NJ 07724
Map to Pen Show


Poll : Are Paper Catalogs Preferred Over Shopping Online?

] I recently took a poll over at Fountain Pen Network, which is probably the most active discussion board about fountain pens there is, about the validity of paper catalogs versus shopping online when it comes to buying a new pen. The result was a small, but effective sampling with comments that I found to be very thought provoking and back up the evidence shown in the results.


The question I posed :
As an internet savvy person who loves to slow down the pace of life by writing with a good fountain pen, I often find myself living in a juxtaposition. I work for a company that sells writing instruments online, which is a communications platform build out of 1's and 0's, not paper and ink. The proliferation of the internet threatens the validity of the products we sell.

As an internet marketer and a fountain pen enthusiast, I find myself asking whether a paper catalog's validity is sliding due to the rapid rise of user feedback and reviews that can be found on nearly every item on the internet. I know there are a lot of folks out there that can appreciate turning the computer off and sitting down to enjoy page-flipping a real book in front of them. But is that where you really make your decision when it comes to shopping for a new pen? Or do you merely get the idea of what you would want to buy from a physical catalog, and THEN research it on the internet for reviews?
 Of course, to some degree, I am preaching to the choir. I have to know, asking an online community of pen lovers, that I was going to get an internet-friendly response. However, given that we are a pen store that exists in the same online ether, I have to take the results with a grain of salt.

My impressions from the results and comments:
  • We already get a lot of catalogs and other unsolicited marketing material in the mail.
  • Yet they are more pleasant to browse and absorb than the overwhelming internet.
  • However, when it comes to the final purchase, no one buys directly from a paper catalog.
Psychologically, I believe it comes down to getting a second opinion. When we know that we can research the company, the product and the service online and get other opinions before we pull the trigger, we believe that the best decision will be made, given the circumstances. I totally agree. The internet has given us the ability to prevent a lot of bad decisions. When we chalk things up to experience, we can let others know of our criticisms and inform future generations of shoppers before they make the same mistake. But how do we make a print catalog, which is a great format to relax, curl up with, bring to the john and doggy-ear, as informative as digging through the 'Net?

Anyone? Bueller?


New Pen Buying Guide

With our Pen Trunk Show weekend coming up next week (Oct 9th & 10th), we thought it would be helpful for those attending to get a few pointers from the experts when it comes to buying a new pen. Even the connoisseurs might pick up a tip or two when coming in to search for the perfect pen.

We here at Goldspot like for our customers to have the most knowledge up front so they can make an informed decision when it comes to investing in a new writing instrument. I couldn't tell you how many times I've made runs into the stock room to take a specific measurement for a client who wanted to know if the pen would be a good fit for their hand. So, with the selection of writing instruments that we will bring to the show, you can touch, feel and scribble with a number of pens that may be a great fit for you or a loved one.

Here are a few things you should take into consideration when shopping for a new pen:
  • Style - First and foremost, your eyes will experience a pen far before your hand will. If the aesthetic attraction is not there, then most likely, you'll never feel the urge to pursue it any further. If you like the overall shape and model of the pen, but the color doesn't sit well with you, most likely, we'll have that same pen in multiple colors. Ask us if it does come in any other finishes.
  • Pen Type - Ballpoint, Rollerball and Fountain Pen are your typical three choices. Of course, there are mechanical pencils, multi-pens and other variations, but the chief question to ask yourself is, "what am I using this pen for?" If you're out on a job site all-day or going door-to-door with a clipboard, you would want to consider the convenience of not having a cap. If you prefer a more fluid line or a more traditional pen to address invitations, journal or write the great American novel, you can easily consider a rollerball or fountain pen.
  • Weight & Size - Putting the pen in your hand, you need to imagine the scenario that you have a blue exam book in front of you and two hours to complete the Final Essay question. How is your hand going to feel lugging around a heavy metal pen as opposed to a lightweight resin? Increased weight and size are also indications of a more luxurious feel, which may benefit you more if you are giving it to someone whom you want to impress with your gift.
  • Writing Quality - Do you have to press hard to write with the tip? Does the ink flow nicely without skipping or smearing? Do you grip the pen uncomfortably, or feel that your grip is sliding as you write? Writing quality is a big make-or-break and don't be surprised if some less expensive pens write better than their luxury counterparts. By writing about a paragraph's worth of words, you can quickly get a feel for the tip or nib.
  • Refills - Are the refills for this pen going to be easy to get? Well, if you would like to get them through Goldspot they would be. But if you have a Staples close by, you would want to know what you can find easily there. Cross, Parker and Waterman are commonly found there, but their selection is shrinking and they don't tend to carry all the colors. For a fountain pen, you would want to consider your preference in filling system. Do you prefer disposable ink cartridges or would like filling your pen from a bottle?
  • Price - OF COURSE! How could I not mention this earlier. Searching for a new $20 pen offers a much different selection than if you have a $200 budget.  We'll have a large cross-section of pens on display that give you options at nearly every price point (even in the $1,000's!).  We want to make sure you'll get the most "bang for your buck," which is why we sent our invites to the show with a special coupon that you can use on your purchase.
The above guide should give you a good starting point to do your research and come ready to try out a few pens to make your decision. If there are any other pointers that I may have forgotten to mention which may be helpful for shoppers, please feel free to comment!