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Some stores in the Village and East Village are so small that you can pretty much walk by and blink and you might miss it. Open for 19 years, The Ink Pad is one of those places, but missing it would be your loss. The store stocks every inch with unique crafting supplies and rubber stamps, and according to one Business of the Month nomination we received “they have the best demonstrations and classes around.” That’s just one of many reasons why the store, located at 37 7th Avenue just south of 13th Street, is our October Business of the Month.
Proprietor Anna Chiang worked at another store before opening The Ink Pad in 1998. A resident of the West Village when she opened the store, she started by stocking just wooden rubber stamps, ink, and paper.
Gradually she has filled out and curated a modestly sized craft shop that is listed as a destination in guidebooks from Sweden to Japan and beyond. It’s laid out very well so you never feel cramped inside, and it’s always clean, neat and organized. How has she made it for almost two decades? “Just keeping on!,” she says, and coming up with new and exciting things to carry. Anna notes the walkable character of the neighborhood as being good for her business; unlike Midtown, people walk around here looking to discover things.
Anna expanded her range of items at The Ink Pad as her loyal customers and visitors started asking her about things like kid’s crafts or glitter or scrapbooking materials, and her stock gradually filled out in response to her customer’s requests. Now she orders from a selection of 100 stamp makers. She has customers that once shopped for items for their young children now coming in for journals or sketchbooks for them while they are at college.
Custom stamps are popular, as businesses and artists like to have their logo to mark original art or envelops. Fashion week parties and events also they have their signature stamp to mark attendees. She has elementary pencils and markers all the way to fine pens and calligraphy supplies for hand lettering wedding invitations and holiday cards.
The Ink Pad may seem anachronistic in an era increasingly dominated by technology, but Anna says people like bits of hand-made art. They walk in and ask what are these things, of the rubber stamps for example, unfamiliar to many in this day and age. They may buy one and never even use it just because they like the tiger stamp, for example. There are intricate tree rings and leaves and portrait stamps too, from Kahlo to Poe.
Besides the fabulous array of crafting items, The Ink Pad hosts workshops and classes with known experts in their fields. October has classes include “Multi-Surfaced Journal Exploration with Dina Wakley.” November they host book signings by the likes of MaryBeth Shaw, Pam Carriker & Seth Apter. MaryBeth is the author of “Stencil Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for Making & Using Stencils.” Some classes are large enough for them to use the community space at Westbeth.
While some visitors may say they are not creative in any way, Anna says “yes you are!” She has a wide selection of items and tools to help you make just about anything. So before the year is over, take a class and get all your card and art-making supplies at The Ink Pad.
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc