Store Feature - GREER

Greer in Old Town Chicago

Chandra Greer, the founder of Chicago-based Greer, has created a stationEry store committed to kindness, thoughtfulness and beauty

Greer is a vibrant stationery store in Chicago, SoHo and online, carrying greeting cards, pens, notebooks, office supplies, and everything else you need to share thoughtful notes with friends. 

Chandra Greer started the shop back in 1998 after leaving a career in advertising. In the years since then, the merchandise in the store has shifted, and the store has occupied several different spaces, but one thing remains consistent: Chandra’s commitment to selling products that make the world a more positive, beautiful, and thoughtful place. 

Everything about Greer is welcoming, from the cozy space it occupies, to the carefully curated collection of greeting cards, to the kindness of the associates who work there. We were so excited to speak with Chandra about how she’s succeeded in creating this positive environment in her store, how her background in advertising informs her business decisions, and how stationery has the power to create meaningful connections. 

Chandra Greer, the founder of Greer

On your website, you share that you founded Greer as “a place devoted to good feelings, intelligent thought and the celebration of beauty.” What are some small ways you create this environment at your store?

The primary way we do this is through what we select as merchandise. We are careful to choose items we feel generate positive feelings, are witty or thought-provoking, or are aesthetically pleasing. When we find an item that does all three we’re over the moon. I would say your line of puzzles attains this for us. 

Another avenue for creating this environment is the fixtures we have in our store, which we select for their visual appeal, the stories behind them or their history. We have antique inkwells, vintage mailboxes from a NYC apartment building, tons of typewriters, a huge bulletin board filled with ephemera of meaning to us and vintage card catalogs filled with stationery. We want our store to reflect what interests us but also to be interesting to those who visit. 

A third way we reflect our mission is by how we interact with our customers. We treat them with kindness and respect and try to demonstrate that we value them as individuals.

Your store mostly focuses on greeting cards, stationery, and office supplies. When you founded Greer, why did you choose to make this your focus?

It’s actually been a long road to being selective and focused when it comes to our product mix. In the past we’ve offered everything from custom invitations to personalized stationery to general gifts, even printed robes! We reached a point where we decided to focus on what most excites us, which is items that facilitate meaningful connection, whether it be between people or just to oneself, and for us that was specifically stationery and office supplies. We also decided we would be a better company if we applied ourselves to what we truly loved and did that really well.

The front counter at Greer, featuring a range of specialty pens

How does your background in advertising and design impact how you run your business and decide which products to carry? 

I definitely think because of what I learned while working in advertising, and also from my time at the University of Chicago where I earned an MBA in Marketing, that I’m more cognizant of building a cohesive brand that carries through to everything we do and how important that consistency is to being memorable and making an impact. I also became a good judge of creative having been around some seriously genius copywriters and art directors who were generous enough with their talents to teach me the elements of good design. I also had to evaluate design quickly in that environment, so I can decide in moments whether something works for Greer or not. 

Do you have any favourite designers?

I truly love every designer we carry but my personal stand-outs are the incredibly talented, thoroughly unique Mōglea, Worthwhile Paper for their intelligently touching messages and Kaweco because it’s an outstanding, well-designed range of pens with an accessible price range.

Do you design any of the cards for sale at Greer? If so, where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

At the moment we’re not designing cards although I’m currently brainstorming a line of stationery with a fellow Chicago retailer and friend, Jean Cate of Martha Mae, that will incorporate her stunning artwork as well as a line of cards with sentiments that reflect the way real people talk.

Some of the beautiful office supplies available at Greer

Do you do puzzles yourself? Do you have a recent favourite?

I do! My recent favourites are a silly little Ramen Noodles puzzle that took about two seconds to put together and the insanely challenging The Lines Puzzle from Bgraamiens.

Do you have anything new in the store, or any favourite products, that you think our customers should check out?

I’m very excited about a series of notepads by Wms & Co. that features beautifully-coloured paper with gilded edges. I also love the Paperways Wolfgang notebook with its unusual, music sheet-inspired pages and the Kokuyo card size memos, the cover patterns are too beautiful to be adequately captured in photos.

Greer’s brick-and-mortar shop is closed for browsing for now, but they offer curbside pickup for those living in Chicago, as well as nationwide shipping in the United States. If you're in New York City, Greer has a location inside Wolf & Badger. Check out Greer’s online shop to find everything from puzzles to notebooks to confetti-grams and flower-grams