Featured Retailer: 56 Rosso

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Florence is one of the most magical cities in the world. The city is ripe with grand museums and architecture, exquisite art treasures and world-class eateries and shops.

The streets in Florence also stand out as places to browse and window-shop — what’s more, the store windows are nothing short of art installations — prepare to be wowed.  Over one million people annually invade the streets and squares, in every season, making it come alive.

One boutique in particular will catch your eye and that’s the stylish 56 Rosso.  Located in central Via Ricasoli and only a block away from Florence’s most famous resident, the statue of David by Michelangelo, 56 Rosso is a concept store stocked with the most famous brands in Italian design.02[1]

56 Rosso opened in mid-December 2010.  Co-owner Inge Cavalletti said:  “We opened with Rossi1931 as our only paper printer because of their exceptional designs and ability to blend the past with the future.  We felt that the traditional quality of the Florentine papers had to be displayed inside a more contemporary concept together with other designers.”  She added: “We believe in the Rossi brand and are happy to feature their products. We try to select a cross-section of their new designs that reflect their good taste.”

The idea of a concept store might be new to the US but not to Italy.  Ms. Cavalletti said, “The main difference between our Italian concept store and its US counterpart for me would be the designers themselves and our concept to have products of Italian design.  We have clearly chosen only one brand from each category of product.”

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As with any retailer, sourcing unique products is challenging, but 56 Rosso has managed to find top Italian brands.  Ms. Cavalletti says, “We selected Fabbrica Pelleteria Milano for its high quality and design for our suitcases and briefcases; we have one artist for our jewelry, Vittorio Guidi, who works out of his Milanese atelier in the trendy Brera in Milan. We also have the Vabene watches and sunglasses designed by Georgio Grimoldi .The bags of Bonfanti are made especially for us with the Tricolore italiano, the traditional red and green colors of the Italian flag.  We are always scouting for new and fun Italian products.

This week our new entry is the Tecno Chic sunglasses, which are very special and made entirely in Italy of a very light material that can float on water.  Great for the beach!”

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Ms. Cavalletti continued: “Rossi 1931 just came out with a new line of products for their beautiful stationery in cylinder boxes of the Classica Italiana collection. I believe the heart collection and their new Florentine designs will do well. In the past our best sellers were their “Moda ” collection with their handbags and their shoes,  traditional Pinocchio and “Musica.”  Also of course since we are in Florence, the traditional Florentine stationery sells very well.”

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Featured Retailer: Hollander’s

Some 1500 varieties of papers sourced from around the globe are inventoried at Hollander’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That pretty much makes it the United Nations of decorative papers.  

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Hollander’s is the kind of store you could spend hours in, getting lost among the aisles of art supplies, stationery, gifts, and most astoundingly, racks and racks of papers from every corner of the globe: Italy, India, Philippines, Japan, France, Egypt, Thailand, Korea, Nepal, Portugal, the US, and more.

There are Unryu papers, Florentine marbles, Chiyogami, Italian woodblocks, embossed and flocked papers, metallic sheets, corkskin and tissues and laces made from hemp, rayon, and kozo. Hollander’s has made decorative papers and bookbinding supplies the focus of their business, and over the years, they have built one of the largest collections of both in the country.

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Tom and Cindy Hollander began their business in 1986 selling handcrafted boxes and desk accessories from their home. They opened the retail store in downtown Ann Arbor in 1991.  An online store followed soon after.

But you might say Tom Hollander grew up in the business. As a teen, he was recruited into his mother’s home-based business of handcrafting boxes and books. What began as a cottage industry has blossomed into a thriving retail store and online business.

Hollander’s stocks about 200 of Rossi’s decorative papers occupying several racks within the store. Tom said, “When we had the opportunity to visit Italy a few years ago, we toured the Rossi operation firsthand.  After importing these decorative papers for so many years, it was quite a thrill to see them being created and produced,” he added.

Since 1994, Hollanders School of Book and Paper Arts has been nationally recognized for its workshops and high quality instructors.  Over 1000 workshops have been conducted since it opened, and they continue to be a great resource for those involved in book creation.bookbinding_supplies_new_1[1]

Kris Stewart, a bookbinder and Hollander’s customer from Washington state, agrees:  “Hollander’s is an excellent resource.  They carry a unique selection of decorative papers, some that I can’t find anywhere else, especially in the Florentine Prints and Italian Woodblock categories.  And they have a nice assortment of bookbinding and crafting tools, too.  I only wish I lived nearby!” she added.

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Hollander’s is located in the Kerrytown Mall in downtown Ann Arbor. If you’re in the area, a visit to Hollander’s is well worth it.  Just plan for a long visit!

Rossi, Rossi1931, Italian stationery, Rossi stationery, Rossi scrapbooking papers, Rossi letterpress, Italian letterpress, Italian decorative papers, Florentine stationery

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Featured Retailer: EyeItalia

First, it was annual vacations in France. Then, for a change of pace, a summer trip to the Tuscany region of Italy.  From that moment Susan Naythons was hooked.     

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Susan is the founder of EyeItalia, an online retailer of Italian handcrafted goods.  So impressed with Italy during that summer vacation, she decided to stay for a year in 2005 and help friends renovate a villa and outfit it with everything that was needed— furniture, housewares, linens, stationery—in preparation for paying guests.

But when the year was up, Susan wasn’t quite ready to give up Italy completely.  Instead, she returned to California and with the knowledge gained from her time in Italy, launched her website, EyeItalia.  “That year-long experience really helped prepare me for my next venture,” says Susan. From excursions around the Tuscan countryside and beyond, she discovered many of her product lines, including Rossi fine Italian stationery.

“Rossi is one of my anchor companies,” says Susan. “It’s a wonderful product line to carry in terms of quality and designgreat selection, and their customer service is second to none,” she adds. She stocks a full line of Rossi products and finds her best sellers are still the traditional Florentine patterns.

Equally important are Rossi’s customer policies. “They offer a real advantage for American retailers who import from Europe; you absolutely can’t beat the fact that they do business in dollars, not euros.  They also include the freight costs so there are no surprises on the bill,” Susan states.

Encouraged by her online success, in 2010 Susan opened a brick and mortar version of EyeItalia, in Sausalito, California, just north of San Francisco.  She stocks plenty of Italian fragrances and beauty items, luxury Italian linens, artisan jewelry, and a wide selection of Rossi stationery items. Now all her customers can touch and feel the Italian goodness she features on her website!    eyeitalia store

Susan’s Italian saga is still unfolding. In 2006 she purchased an abandoned farmhouse in the beautiful “comune” of Volterra (Tuscany).  Badly in need of renovation, Susan has been working diligently on the house during her twice yearly treks to Italy.

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Featured Retailer: The Paper Merchant

If the bright yellow bike parked out front at The Paper Merchant doesn’t make you smile, then what’s inside definitely will.

Along with room after room of paper, greeting cards, gifts, wrapping paper, journals, books, and calendars, you might also find a rubber chicken or two. That’s because it has become the owners Stephen and Patricia Burnham’s signature gag gift, and they sell a lot of them, along with of course, paper.

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Residing in a historic Gothic Revival house on bustling Third Street in Geneva, Illinois, this big little stationery retailer has been printing and selling fine stationery for over 30 years.  The house itself has an interesting style which seems to suit the creative atmosphere of the Paper Merchant perfectly.  Built in 1869, it was originally a summer home for a Chicago attorney and later converted into retail space.

Custom printing makes up a good portion of the Paper Merchant’s business. Equipment is housed in the store’s basement, and depending on the time of year, custom invitations can be turned around quickly, sometimes within a day.

Many a customer has come to the Paper Merchant following a disappointing experience with an online retailer.  “Buying online has its place, but this is a tactile kind of business and customers want to touch the paper, feel the weight and texture, and compare colors… in person, not on a computer screen,” said owner Steve Burnham.

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The Paper Merchant sells a steady stream of Italian designed Rossi products including wrapping papers, gift tags, albums, file folders, and notepads. Customers seem to quickly sense the difference in the quality of Rossi stationery, even its product packaging.

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Steve says: “The Rossi products are always a mark above the rest. When we tell customers they’re manufactured in Italy, they seem surprised and take a step back.”

Their best-selling Rossi design is the iconic Fashion decorative paper with its distinct mid-century vibe. “To me she represents Italian style and fashion, where it all started. Our customers love that paper,” he adds.

The Paper Merchant seems to have figured out what customers want. In today’s market, that’s unusual. But then so is the Paper Merchant, a Geneva treasure.

aSarah, owner Steve Burnham, and Dawn at The Paper Merchant, Geneva, Illinois

For more info about The Paper Merchant, visit http://www.papermerchantgeneva.com/

To view a video of the Rossi1931 collection, click here.

For more information, visit http://rossi1931.com

 

 

 

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