Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Brick and Mortar: Bromfield Pen Shop

Law school is miserable.  It is the closest I have ever come to feeling like a rat in a nest.  Everyone is clawing each other to get to the top spot in hopes of landing a job at firm that can help pay off the mountain of debt they have just incurred.  I would say it is a loop of misery, but the twists and turns of the law school journey make it more a Mobius strip of Misery.  So, yeah, law school sucks.  The fact that I use exactly zero percent of what I learned there on a daily basis doesn't help either.  Being a lawyer is great, but the schooling process is awful, expensive, and irrelevant.

My law school was in downtown Boston and when the rat race got too intense, I would pop in my headphones, grab my iPod (no iPhones back then), and wander around downtown.  Boston is a perfect place to do this as there are an abundance of things to see, places to go, and stuff to eat. I could wander through the Commons and end up at the flagship Thomas Mosier store and study joinery or I could walk to Quincy Market and people watch.  On one of my many peregrinations I found the Bromfield Pen Shop.  

When I walked in the door the first time it felt like I had crossed over a portal and exited in the 1950s.  There were fountain pens everywhere.  The shop was small, crowded with things, and the counters had two people behind them. In many ways, all of those long slim boxes made me feel like I was actually in an even more unusual place--the Wand Store in Harry Potter.  And now, many years later, owning a fountain pen, I see the allusion JK Rowling was making--a pen is, in many ways, fit to the owner like wands were in Harry Potter's world.

The ethos of the Bromfield Pen Shop is magical.  They have everything a pen addict could want--nearly every brand of fountain pen at every price range, any refill you could want, all of the inks made by man.  They even offer custom engraving on site.  But all of this stuff came secondary to the staff.  As I have written before, people working retail have much less knowledge about their products than folks did in the past.  At Bromfield, the time travel effect was most powerful when talking to staff.  They didn't just know a lot about pens.  They loved the experience of writing with nice pens.  Pens were a thing of beauty and appreciation at Bromfield.  No one thought it was absurd that I was tracking down a random refill, they appreciated my commitment to something I liked. It was what motivated them to work at that store.  

So if you are in Boston and want to check out a small but awesome pen store, stop by Bromfield Pen Shop.  


  1. Changing the subject a bit in regards to going back in time. Since you are Italian I thought you would get a kick out of this grocery store in my area. Apparently it has been around since 1906. I am always amazed at the quality of the food whenever I shop there. Good times.


  2. Tony, you're making me miss Boston. But glad I dodged law school. If you haven't ever read this book, you'll love it:


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