Residing in a historic Gothic Revival house on bustling Third Street in Geneva, Illinois, about a 45 miles from Chicago, this legendary stationery retailer features room after room of paper, greeting cards, gifts, wrapping paper, journals, books, and calendars,
With their signature bright yellow bicycle parked out front, The Paper Merchant is a stationery icon.
Stephen and Patricia Burnham started the Paper Merchant in 1981 in downtown St. Charles, Illinois.
Influenced by Stephen’s father, Joseph Burnham who had a lifelong career at Marshall Fields, the Paper Merchant carries a variety of merchandise, with stationery as its focus.
In 1990 Stephen and Patricia were looking to expand and were so attracted to the historic Loveday House on Third Street in Geneva, they moved their business to the iconic and gothic style home. Built in 1866 by lawyer Charles D.F. Smith as his summer home, the house conforms to the fashionable Gothic Revival-style with its several projecting wings, high roof dormers and the gabled ends. Purchased by William and Louisa Loveday in 1870, the house bears the family’s name.
Registered with the Geneva Historical Society, it awarded the home a bronze plaque in 1972.
Customers love that each room has a theme – bridal, wrapping papers, planners and journals, cards, paper party goods, tote bags, jewelry, day planners and file folders, unique quirky small gifts, and more.
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.
Sadly, beloved owner Steve Burnham passed away a year ago leaving Pat to carry on the legacy. Before he left us, he told us,
“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.”
“We stock, Rossi Note cards in shades of yellow, teal, grey and White. Peacock, Florentine and the beautiful ladies in black. Full sheets in cream,
Florentine, and peacock. Wrapping paper and notebooks. Our best sellers are definitely the ladies in black…. everything, stationery, journals, wrap.”
“Our customers love the Beautiful fine classical papers at a reasonable price. The touches of gold make it even more special.”
Patricia told us, “We recently had a furnace fire that closed our doors for 6 months but are up and running since September. Although we are a bit smaller, people will find most of the same products we have carried in the past plus a few more. Charlotte and Carmen are busy writing weddings and are taking classes offered by Crane Stationery to help our brides even more. “
“Roxanne, our in-house dog is here to greet our customers most days.
She has her own Instagram page… rox.paper.merchant. “
“You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook.”
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 late owner Steve Burnham.
The Paper Merchant
More than just paper.
Located in beautiful, historic downtown Geneva, Illinois, The Paper Merchant is the go-to store for local patrons and out-of-town visitors. The building’s remarkable history attracts the curiosity of visitors on a daily basis, while our wide variety of gift items has made us one of the unique gems of the downtown shopping district. It is known for unique gift wrap, boxed stationery, decorative paper plates and napkins, a fantastic selection of greeting cards and of course, rubber chickens.