With juggernauts, like Staples and FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos), expanding their stores and printing services for businesses, the past decade, and booming online businesses, like Vistaprint, Blue Mountain eCards and SendOutCards, allowing individuals to send Grandma a birthday card from their bedrooms, it would seem impossible for small, independent stationery stores to still survive. While Hallmarks dominate malls throughout Phoenix, there are very few stand-alone stores where people can leisurely browse through clever and unique cards and gifts, like they used to before the proliferation of Walgreens. But one such store—Write-Ons, Etc.—in central Phoenix will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in December.
In 1977, Pepper Rusnak moved from Princeton, New Jersey, to Phoenix to enjoy a different part of the country and provide a new environment for her four young children. Needing a job that would keep her in the neighborhood with her kids and liking retail, she opened a store on December 6, 1982, that specialized in stationery, cards, gift and invitations.
Like other retailers, Rusnak has been challenged by the recession. In addition to the growth of competition from online purchasing, people have cut back on entertaining and on the accessories that accompany that, and have had to reduce gift-giving.
“One key to attracting new customers and maintaining repeat customers is to keep the selection of merchandise fresh, to keep finding new and unique products,” says Rusnak, a frequent visitor to Atlanta gift shows.
“We have celebrated the circle of life with our customers,” Rusnak says, also citing the importance of customer loyalty to her sustainability. “From birth announcements through graduations, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and death announcements, Write-Ons, Etc. is here to serve generations of customers.”
Write-Ons, Etc., near Rose Lane, has long been known by its neighbors for its friendly atmosphere and outstanding customer service. But its reputation is spreading. The shop has won the “Best of Phoenix” award several times and, this summer, it won recognition as “The Best Card Shop” by AZ Central.
While one can “like” Write-Ons Etc. on Facebook, one can learn most about the shop by visiting Rusnak and her staff at 6201 N. 7th Street, selecting Halloween decorations, ordering Thanksgiving Day cards, and actually seeing and touching a gift to send Grandma for Christmas.