Amidst a colorful backdrop of paper products, the staff of a small stationary store in Cinco Ranch will not hesitate to discuss the value of a handwritten note.
"My kids always wrote thank-you notes," said Lisa Cunningham, store manager at Paper Lane Stationery and Gifts, a retail space stocked with cards, invitations, notes and gifts. "They don't even teach penmanship in school any more. Writing is sort of a lost art—but a teachable one."
The value of the handwritten note or engraved invitation is not lost here, where brides-to-be fuss over invitations and passersby within LaCenterra stop in to browse.
When the doors first opened in 2010, the family owned store saw its initial success from the steady stream of foot traffic in LaCenterra.
Three years later, Paper Lane is drawing repeats and referrals for its customized invitation business. Now with a loyal customer base and an expansion of LaCenterra under way, Paper Lane co-owner Chris Therrien said she believes her business is in a good place.
Having left the corporate scene to stay at home with her three children, Chris said she had talked often about opening a family business. After kicking around a variety of ideas, both would-be entrepreneurs were drawn to the same retail concept.
"It was around that time that one of my kids had a birthday, and I was trying to do invitations," Chris said.
She wanted high-quality invitations, and the one stationary shop she knew of had recently closed. The Therriens felt that Katy, ripe with new development and population growth, would provide a market for their venture.
"I didn't tell a lot of my friends and family for a long time," Chris said. "I didn't want to hear someone tell me it wouldn't or couldn't work. We just really thought that Katy was the happening place. Once we signed the contract on the space, we let the cat out of the bag so to speak."
Word spread quickly. In fact, store manager Lisa Cunningham heard of the new stationery store before it actually opened and, intrigued by a small store catering to a niche market, contacted the Therriens.
"I've always wanted to work in a store like this," said Cunningham, a 12-year Katy resident who had customer service experience with larger companies. "These days, you have technology and you are inundated with emails—it's just really nice to get a handwritten note. Sometimes, the simple way is best. You get your invitation in the mail and you put it on your refrigerator and you see it every day."
The invitation printing business, in general, was crippled by customers' ability to create and order them online. Even so, Paper Lane has a very tangible advantage, Chris said.
"Our biggest competition is the Internet," she said. "We can't compete with their prices, but we do get people who aren't happy with what they've gotten. They end up saying, 'I just can't send these out.' Here, they can touch the paper. They can feel the thickness and see the dimensions. I know it sounds like a clich, but everybody here cares. We take it personally if there's a problem, and we go to the ends of the earth to make it right."
Paper Lane Stationary offers an array of gift items, many that can be personalized. The list includes notepads, recipe cards, greeting cards, wrapping paper, folded notes, flat notes, baby books, calendars, agendas, journals and sealing wax.
Paper Lane Stationery and Gifts
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
Mon.–Wed.:10 a.m.–7 p.m., Thurs.–Sat.: 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Closed Sunday