10 A+ Mom and Pop Shops for Back to School Shopping

Posted inDesign Resources

Back to school season is officially upon us, and with it comes a medley of emotions: stress, excitement, nerves. One buoy to cling to while navigating the many unknowns of a new grade, new class, or even an entirely new school is the thrill of starting fresh with new school supplies. Instead of blindly turning to big chain pencil-pushing conglomerates this year, we’ve rounded up a list of ten art supply and stationery store small businesses around the US to check out in-person and online!

A town or city’s local art supply and stationery shop have long-served as important hubs for creativity and art to flourish in a community, and the start of the school year is the perfect time to show them some love.

1. Shorthand — Los Angeles, CA

We’ve already mentioned our love for Shorthand, a color-blocked dreamland of stationery goods laid out with an infectious love and care in LA’s groovy Highland Park. Since 2016, Shorthand has been sourcing products from places like Germany, Tokyo, Belgium as well as designing and producing on-site in their letterpress studio that operates from the back of the store.

2. Ziegler Art and Frame — Tulsa, OK

For 50 years and counting, Ziegler Art and Frame has offered all manner of art supplies, custom framing services, and even art classes in Tulsa’s historic Kendall-Whittier neighborhood. Whether you’re looking for high-quality tools or quirky, old-fashioned gifts, it’s easy to get lost in this lovingly preserved, deceptively massive space.

3. Hull’s Art Supply + Framing — New Haven, CT

Located in the heart of Yale’s campus, Hull’s has been slinging art supplies and providing custom framing since 1947. Hull’s is a critical institution within the small, yet lively New England city, serving the Ivy League elite and local New Haven creatives alike.

4. Dromgoole’s Fine Writing Instruments — Houston, TX

Family owned and operated since 1961, Dromgoole’s is a stationery store that specializes in luxurious writing implements and tools, from collectible fountain pens to everyone’s favorite pencil brand, Blackwings.

5. Ladyfingers Letterpress — Colorado Springs, CO

While this queer and trans-owned-and-operated shop was originally founded in Pawtucket, RI, Ladyfingers Letterpress relocated to Colorado Springs in 2016, where they’ve been printing their own line of greeting cards ever since. Central to the brand’s mission is promoting the rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community, BIPOC, and immigrants through their products and press.

6. The Waste Shed — Chicago, IL

The Wasteshed is a nonprofit in Illinois that collects reusable art and school supplies and then redistributes them into the community. With a 25% discount for educators and a “Free To Teachers” section, The Wasteshed is committed to supporting those inspiring the next generation of artists and ensuring creative resources are accessible to all.

7. Baum-kuchen — Altadena, CA

Founded by a husband and wife duo from Germany and Japan respectively, Baum-kuchen is a studio, shop, and lifestyle brand committed to creating thoughtful stationery accessories. The shop and products are infused with an old-world charm that celebrates analog living, and they specialize in designing and hand-crafting leather pouches and notebook covers.

8. Binders Art Supplies and Frames — Atlanta, GA

Art supply and custom frame shop Binders has been a mainstay in the Atlanta art scene for decades that offers in-person workshops and online classes. Local artists can also rent out space at Binders’ Limelight Gallery for group and solo shows as part of the shop’s primary goal of supporting the city’s vibrant artist community.

9. Kremer Pigments — New York, NY

New York City’s Kremer Pigments is a uniquely important shop for their dedication to keeping the traditional craft of paint manufacturing alive by selling products for preservation and restoration. Vermilion, Smalt, Lapis Lazuli, Bone Black, and Madder Lake are just a few of the many pigments Kremer has revived and offers in their shop, which has a location in Germany as well.

10. collage — Portland, OR

You’ll find unique, quality art supplies for artists of all ages in collage‘s three locations. This colorful, charismatic shop honors Portland’s indie spirit with unintimidating tools and projects likely to appeal to punks, witches, and the bustling queer community. collage is also committed to giving back to the city with a fund that supports a different local organization each month.