Saturday, November 05, 2005

How the Palomino Escaped the Corral


Wow. Hard to believe a full month has passed since my last post. I have been quite busy with annual budget planning process, a trip to our China facility, board meeting preparation and such that Timberlines has fallen down the priority list. Of course as is typically the case I still have a heavy weekend of preparation prior to our board meeting Monday and find myself spending a few hours last night listing some new items in the Pencil World Creativity Store. Now here I am, back at it too early this morning without enough sleep feeling like I really want to focus first on this long overdue Timberlines post. I wonder is there some correlation between sleep deprivation, work avoidance and blogging? I guess some times your brain just needs to take a break and focus on something a bit more creative.

I'm appreciative of the developing support we seem to be getting with our "experiment" at the Pencil World site on eBay. This has been an effort to make some of our fledgling California Republic Stationers brand range available to pencil enthusiasts on a limited basis here in the US. I really must thank John over at the Pencil Revolution for his encouragement and support. His review of our ForestChoice graphite item got things started, Frank C. Became the first to purchase pencils as a result of John's initial Revolutionary Review and the Revolution was underway. In fact Frank seems to be the earliest adopter in the pencil arena as he buys every item from every Revolutionary Review. I have visions of Frank at a desk surrounded by hundreds of different pencils, a hand sharpener, pencil shavings and a Moleskine scribbling and sketching away.

After that initial ForestChoice review I sent some samples to him with a few Palomino pencils and some other items from our California Republic range which we only had introduced formally in the Russian market of all places (that's another story). John loved them so much he pressed me to make the Palomino HB available somehow even if it was just as an auction item on eBay. Anyway, the Pencil Revolutionary had recently gone viral thanks to Armand's support at Moleskinerie, his simple post at Metafilter and some other links from some other blogs.

So with a sum total of 15 purchases and no selling experience on eBay I decided to give it a go and launch the Pencil World store mainly as a creative outlet to compliment my Timberlines effort and just to see what might happen. No business plan. No strategic analysis. Definitely not typical me. Also not the easiest route since I could have simply added the one Palomino item to our ForestChoice sales site and been done with it. Of course, after about 10 sleepless nights since you can't have a store without multiple items and a promotional You Can Create! Program and a bunch of other support pages and I told John we were up and running.

The Revolutionary Review of Palomino graphite HB pencils came out at September 16th and that same day who else but Frank C. Became the first Palomino pencil customer that very same day along with five or six other revolutionaries through that first weekend. The Palomino was now lose and running free and we've developed a small but growing group of fans for our Palomino graphite writing and drawing pencils. You've provided some wonderful feedback on the extremely smooth finish and writing performance. John described the product as "smooth as a new Mustang" and some have even compared the Palomino HB favorably to the famous Blackwing 602. Now Ninth Wave Designs has even become our first US dealer for Palomino and will soon be offering some Palomino and ForestChoice items as gift set combinations with various Moleskines. We look forward to seeing those offerings.

Thanks to all you Pencil Revolutionaries for your support so far and especially to John for your encouragement and continued leadership of the revolution. Of course in the big picture of our overall business and the industry this whole Pencil World thing is the proverbial "ant on the elephant's arse" with a sum total of 40-50 sales so far but it's been fun and I'll continue as time permits to press forward with new items and posts and hope you'll continue to spread the word. We have several new items I listed last night and more on the way in the next week or two. If you'd like to be kept up to date with new items or promotions as they are added I now have an email Newsletter list you can sign up for on the sidebar to the store site

So back to the original purpose of this post. A number of you have been asking about additional graphite grades to complement the Palomino HB. I had not planned to introduce these until seeing how things go with the HB item given costs of having carrying additional inventory, etc. However, during a recent inventory review I found that we did indeed have a small initial run of several other grades produced which were not showing on our reports properly. These additional grades include 2H, H, B and 2B. So I now have a small sample shipment in and have been able to list a new item the Palomino Graphite Mixed Grade 6 pack. Hope you like it.

Sorry for all the historical rambling as this post went a totally different direction than I had originally planned. I even had to change the title of the post. I guess each revolution needs it's historian though.

9 comments:

pencils said...

Well thank you for your contributions, Woodchuck. (I wish I could buy some of these products in Canada.) I don't think there is just one source of this pencil enthusiasm - pencilpages.com was the first pencil website I found, and remains great. But I like both woodcase and mechanical pencils, and leadholder.com
remains for me one of the ultimate labours of love I've seen on the internet devoted to our subject.

But interest in quality pencils - I first observed it in a fancy stationery shop where the Grip 2001 became the first "lowly" woodcase pencil to occupy the rarified retail space of the fountain pen. (And almost immediately, there was an accompanying mechanical pencil revival.)

Now blogs and websites devoted to stationery, pens, pencils - I just decided to try my hand at this - are very interesting as well. I guess we'll see where it all leads in the years ahead. Few of us are anti-digital, but I think we acknowledge the pencil has certain intrinsic capabilities that remain valuable in this era. In fact, some digital tablets follow pencil methods, where turning the stylus upside-down is required to erase text, in a faux-eraser style.

Thanks for sharing some insights about the pencil industry. Your considerable contributions are appreciated.

WoodChuck said...

Good luck with your Pencils & Paper site. We'll be following it. Send us an email at crs@calcedar.com and we'll see what we can do about making some product available there in Canada.

Pencil Revolution said...

I'm very very glad to hear that there are new Palomino items coming in! I'm always happy when I get to be the messenger and announce new goodies, especially from California Republic:) They are wonderful pencils, and it's great to be able to help spread the word anyway I can. I think they have become the un-official pencil of the Revolution!

frank c. said...

Woodchuck,

Thank you for mentioning me. Your comments are spot on except for the one about sketching--I can't draw at all.

I just picked up a set of the new Palominos at your ebay store. The Palominos are great pencils, and they are as close to the Blackwing as anything you can find.

Keep 'em coming--I am always willing to try one of your new offerings!

Nita said...

Look for an email from me with a new order for 24 colored pencils and two of the 6 packs. Looking forward to gifting the worthy :-)

humdog said...

i love the palomino. i am afraid to love it, thinking as i do that the minute i say i love it, it will immediately cease to exist, but i do love it. i want to be able to buy a dozen Bs in a little box that says: the palomino pencil -- the best rants start here.

Anonymous said...

Palomino HB is great -- but I find it a bit soft for writing -- how about the H with an eraser? Can we get that happening?

Frank Ladner said...

Just purchased 36 of the 2B Palominos, after reading all the favorable comments it has been receiving. Just sketched with one for the first time recently. It lays down a dark, rich line and glides smoothly across the paper. I am very pleased with the Palomino. It certainly replaces my Ebony, Turquoise 4B & 9B, etc, etc.

The only pencil I have that I may still use beside the Palomino is the not-commonly-mentioned Faber-Castell Goldfaber. Not sure why that pencil hasn't been used in reviews or comparisons, but the 6B grade of this pencil is remarkable in terms of lead formulation.

Anyhow, it'll be the Palomino and the Goldfaber in my tackle box from now on. :)

Dabnis Brickey said...

Hi!

I wanted to echo the comment above me. The Faber-Castell Goldfaber (particularly 6B lead) is fantastic in terms of Blackwing 602 lead similarities! I would encourage anyone to give it a try!