Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Local Review: Paper Cult @ Tyson's

Never in my wildest (and I mean wildest) dreams, did I think that there would be a shop other than Williams & Sonoma that I would actually be excited about visiting within the confines of a mall. If you're not from the DC Metro area, you might think that the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN is as [terrifyingly] big as a mall can get; but while I haven't done the actual square footage measurements, I'm inclined to think that Tyson's Corner, the metropolis that has taken over McLean, VA, is a close second. Filled with every store you can imagine, from corporate to regional establishments, Tyson's Corner is a shopper's dream and a anti-consumerist's worst nightmare. Yet I found myself in that behemoth of a mall a few weeks ago, stocking up on some last minute supplies at Beadazzled for a show I was doing the next day, and Em "just really needed" to stop by Lids for a new baseball cap. We compromised and stopped by Lush and Williams & Sonoma too, because if we were going to enter the insanity that is that mall on a Saturday, we might as well make it worth our while (shut up, I can't help it!). While Em was entranced with one of those little trolley's in the middle of the walkway, I spotted something potentially amazing: Paper Cult.

I slammed my bag into Em's hand and said, "I'll be there!" while I gestured wildly and took off like a bat out of hell (or a teenager on her way to Claire's? I don't know.) for what I had already imagined to be, in my head, Stationery Nirvana. You see, when I lived in Switzerland, I made a meager 500Sfr. monthly for my nannying gig, and since I had very few expenses, the majority of my income that year was spent on stationery and postal fees for friends and family. What began as an obsession a few years earlier with fun papers and things from bookstores and Hallmark turned into an all out design hysteria when I walked the streets of my favorite European city. Chat Noir and Ordning & Reda were my frequent haunts...the latter so much that the shop girls knew me and sometimes gave me a sample or two of the latest designs. There was a portion of my suitcase reserved for the stationery I carted home after my trip too. I haven't been able to stop since.

Paper Cult provides, in the midst of consumeristic choas, a haven for people like me who cannot get enough stationery, paper, office supplies, and magazines...all with a particularly keen eye to design, function and color. While the shop is small, it is neatly organized, fairly priced and wildly inspirational. As you walk in, you're greeted with racks displaying magazines from every global locale you can imagine, especially with a heavy dose of Asian and European publications.

Much like Papyrus, Paper Cult has a number of racks displaying individual sheets of [wrapping] paper (about 2'x3'), but the distinction here is that the papers Paper Cult provides are UH-MAY-ZING. Everything from the vintage-inspired to psychedelic pop art, subdued to bright, flat to textured, serene to mind-blowing...I insisted that Em wrap a birthday present to me in a "super girl" paper and got the shop owner giggling. The walls are filled with greeting cards that you've never seen before...hilarious, simple, sarcastic, graphically astounding, inspirational and just plain beautiful. On a hefty and minimalistic table, of sorts, there is a bevy of boxes filled with more paper delights, journals, notebooks and ribbons, and in the far corner, unique desk accessories and little knick-knacks from around the globe.

Malls need stores like this, frankly. Malls need stores that inspire you, that get your creative juices flowing, and that are owned by local folks who endeavor to bring awesomeness to your hometown. People shouldn't have to travel downtown in order to find places like this, and it honestly makes me incredibly happy to see that a boutique like this can thrive in a malltroplis like Tyson's Corner. As a special treat to all local folks, Paper Cult is have a 30% OFF SALE through July 19th on EVERYTHING (except magazines) and I highly encourage you to get your fannies out there and buy yourself a stationery treat.
Or...and here is my Mister Roger's moment of the day...buy a card to send it to someone with whom you've lost touch. Write a sweet note inside, affix a stamp to the envelope and send double goodness into the universe. Stationery is a multi-fold blessing and letter writing a lost art...merge great design with the two and you have a revolution in the making.

Paper Cult is located on the lower level of Tyson's Corner Center, across from The Limited. Check their blog often for new store updates!
1961 Chain Bridge Rd
McLean, VA 22102


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  2. This is AMAZING. I avoid Tyson's like the plague, but maybe I can find an excuse to go soon... I'll miss the sale, though. :(


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