Stationery shop shutters as greetings go online in the digital age

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BARRINGTON, Ill. — For 30 years, "Little Shop of Papers" has been the place where kind words and good graces collide in the form of a good old fashioned note.

This month they will close their doors, like so many other stationery shops across the country, unable to survive in a technology-driven world.

"My mother, Jean opened the shop in 1988. She was always gracious and taught me the importance of a handwritten note and proper manners," Amy Hawking said.

With texts, e-vites and Instagram, the art of communicating on paper now seems to be a dying art.

"It's sad to me," Hawking said. "If you saw what someone had for breakfast yesterday on Instagram, why would you need to send them a card? You already know what they're doing."

For decades the store was bustling, selling gorgeous Crane cardstock invitations with engraved ink and lined envelopes. They needed a staff of six to keep up with the custom orders.

"We'd have people lining up out of door for their holiday cards alone," Hawking said.

Her mother Jean Stahr passed away three years ago just as the family business was beginning to decline.

"It breaks my heart seeing the 'half off' and' final store closing' signs," customer Wendy Maland said. "It seems like we're in a moment where people don't realize how all our digital communication is disconnecting us on a personal level. There's no face-to-face conversation or personal touch in a text.'"

Little Shop of Papers will close their doors for good once the last of their inventory is sold. Amy Hawking still plans to salvage her favorite piece of the business, the custom stationery line and invitations through another local Barrington shop, The English Daisy.

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