Boasting glass windows and beautiful displays visible from outside the store, the new location of Archer Paper Goods on East Clayton Street is a haven for stationery nerds and Athens locals alike.
Shop owner Dan Collier, who already manages and oversees all purchases for two Archer locations in Atlanta, recently opened another stationery store in Athens and takes pride in both his business and his merchandise.
“We started with a general gift store, The Merchant, and that’s our big store. We do big vintage pieces and lots of gifts, décor, and we do greeting cards,” Collier said. “But my real business is that I own a firm – we’re wholesale, stationery gift reps.”
Collier has been in the business for a good amount of time. His experience in both marketing and stationery shines through his multiple stores and endless products.
“We’ve been selling stationery wholesale for the last 18 years,” said Collier. “So we have a good working knowledge of greeting cards, planners, journals, agendas and that kind of stuff.”
It is precisely these featured products that draw in University of Georgia students.
Celia Clark, a sophomore majoring in history, admits that the greeting cards Archer Paper has on display are very tempting to buy.
“I like to go to stores and buy unique cards for someone’s birthday or for Christmas,” she said. “I would definitely buy some of the fancy cards they have there.”
Clark also mentioned that the stationery store offered some products that she has not seen anywhere else.
“They had children’s books that were based on classic literature. I thought that was really cool.” Clark said.
Sophomore Tina Tran, an exercise and sports science major, also appreciated the numerous products offered and said she has always appreciated stationery.
“I think [stationery] is really aesthetically pleasing and whenever you send gifts, it’s so much better to have that [firm], professional feeling in your hands rather than that flimsy paper.” Tran said.
She expressed gratitude at the fact that the store appeals to such a diverse consumer base despite being located in a college town.
“I thought [Archer] was really cute. It’s really cool to have a place downtown that caters to all generations,” Tran said. “When [I] first walked in, there were grandparents, families, little kids… rather than in a store that’s just dedicated to college students because Athens is so much more than that.”
However, Collier did not always plan to open an Archer Paper Goods location in Athens. After all, he already maintained so many other stores in the Atlanta area.
“We had about half a dozen stores in Atlanta already so we said, ‘You know, we’re a little saturated in this market’ and we knew that we wanted to take one of our brands bigger – we have a pet store, we have a candy store, the gift store, a book store and a coffee shop and all that kind of stuff,” Collier said. “We [had] opened Archer at Ponce City Market because we were looking for a spot to put a stationery store in Atlanta and the store there has been very successful.”
Perhaps the success of Archer was precisely helped motivate Collier into setting up shop in the Classic City. The Ponce City Market location won best stationery store of 2016 and was “making a good profit.” Collier wanted to grow that success elsewhere.
“We wanted to go out-of-state, like to Nashville or Birmingham or Charlotte but we thought, ‘Let’s just try another city in [Georgia].’ Athens is relatively close and it has a great atmosphere,” said Collier. “A lot of the employees that work for me went to UGA and we liked it.”
For Collier, Athens just appeared to be the perfect fit.
“We just liked the area. [It’s] very charming.” he said.
He did however notice a few differences between the Archer Paper locations in Atlanta when compared to Athens.
“The main difference between the Athens and Atlanta stores is that we try to do regional stuff. We have glasses that have ‘Athens, GA’ on the glass,” Collier said. “We also do custom baseball caps for Athens and postcards that are vintage, just for the Athens store.”
Despite selling so many products, Collier’s store has been described as very orderly and clean. Tran can attest to this and mentioned that the store’s layout was very neat.
“Overall it was really cute. Everything was laid out neatly, the lighting was really great, the music was really calming – it was very welcoming. I really enjoyed it.” she said.
Clark also had the same impression of the store, finding it very orderly and organized.
“When I [first] went in, I was just amazing at the way the store itself was just so clean and organized—the aesthetic of it,” she said. “They just have so many different stationery options.”
Though Collier has locations in two cities, he explained that for the most part, the locations are pretty similar, especially in regards to the products, particularly the stationery. Collier for one is not a paper novice; he has been in the stationery business for quite some time.
“We just have a passion for paper. We’ve been selling it for a really long time,” Collier said. “We have a really good working knowledge of that industry and we really like the market and the turns—paper turns quicker.”
Turns, a reference to the inventory turnover ratio, is in the simplest terms, the extent of how often a store sells and receives new inventory.
“[Because] we have a good turn, [stationery] has a good profit and market.” Collier said.