I used to try to do reviews quite often, but I haven’t done any for awhile. So today I’ll dust off my reviewer hat and offer my review of an awesome company that has left me very happy in all my interactions with them. I started thinking about them last night when I pulled out pen, paper, and ink to write some long-suffering friends reply letters (they are coming, I promise).
First off, the Goulet Pen Company has the most amazing website for fountain pen and ink knowledge and comparison that I’ve come across. As a relative newbie to nice pens and inks, I honestly can’t do without all their comparison tools.
The Swab Shop is both useful and fun. Since the multitude of fountain pen inks available were what first drew me to fountain pens, having a way to compare (with reasonable accuracy) a large number of different colors is vital. Of course you can’t tell everything about an ink from a swab sample, but you can narrow it down to what colors you really like, and then order a little sample so you don’t pay out for an entire bottle right away.
Their Nib Nook is yet another brilliant comparison tool. For those of us who can’t just randomly dish out for all the pens we would love to try, we can at least see something of how they write. Because no matter how beautiful a pen is, if it only writes broad and I hate anything wider than fine…we will be very sad. The designations different companies give their nibs are not always similar, so examples are great. Personally, I have my heart set on a Namiki Falcon with a Soft Fine nib thanks to this tool. Sigh.
The most recent of the Goulets’ interactive tools is the Pen Plaza, which is yet again, amazing and helpful in every way. The amount of detail they put into measuring the pens they sell is already astounding. Now they’re compiling that and images of the pens so that we can see the differences as well as read them. Since most people have a decided preference for the larger or smaller (me!) pens, this is also incredibly helpful for internet buyers.
Goulet Pens keeps a large assortment of brands of pens, inks, and papers/notebooks. While I don’t see many of the more expensive fountain pens listed on their site, there are several other brands listed in their special order section. Since I’m far from being independantly wealthy, I love that most of their pens are within my “affordable” range even if some of them are still a definite splurge.
Ordering from Goulet is quick and painless – they accept Paypal as well as other forms of online payment. Their shipping is lightening fast. I do live in the same state, so that may make them a little quicker for me than for others, but everything is shipped Priority Mail so it’s still very quick. The packaging is superb and something they’ve obviously put a lot of time into, considering the fragile nature of a lot of the items they ship. I wish I’d taken a picture before I unwrapped everything, but I was in too much of a hurry to see my new pretties.
Everything arrives wrapped in Goulet blue plastic wrap. And I mean wrapped. Sometimes I think I need a blowtorch. Then inside, anything particularly fragile is wrapped again. Inks samples are in their own bag. Ink bottles are wrapped again. I know Brian mentioned on their blog that they were experimenting with some different, more environmentally friendly packing options (and I did get packing peanuts in mine – but they were in bags, so easily reusable), but I am not aware if any permanent change has been made yet. Nothing I’ve ordered has ever been broken or damaged or leaked, so I hope they keep it that way!
Speaking of their blog, Brian Goulet keeps a very fun and informative blog, Ink Nouveau. While keeping readers up to date with happenings in the store, he also regularly posts how-to and informational videos, like the wonderful Fountain Pen 101 series. I’d like to just issue a general thank-you for explaining some of the very basic fountain pen terminology and issues without making us newbies feel like idiots.
The Goulet Pen Company is a pleasure to buy from, and I think they give much back to their customers – not just merchandise, but knowledge and service. I certainly hope they are around for a lot longer and I will happily continue to patronize them.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated or otherwise influenced by the company or others in the writing of this post. All opinions are mine.