I have a confession, a secret love of stationary shops – well, art supplies really. It used to be that I couldn’t get out WH Smith without raiding the bargain bin and picking up some new notepad or pen, but I’m better now – almost! One shop that I can never walk past without ending up a few pounds lighter is BAC in Berkhamsted, Bucks.
It’s one of those old family owned places that’s just chock full, floor to ceiling, with lovely goodies. What makes it special though, is that the “family owned” thing goes well beyond a marketing slogan. The shop’s been in Berkhamsted since about the time when I was able to reliably hold a pencil in 1977 and is now run by the lovely Jo.
In the world of chain stores and digitisation, this shop gives you a trip back to a time when not only did shops make an effort to stock everything you needed rather than expecting you to go and buy it on amazon, but when the team there are clearly having fun, welcome you back even if they’ve not seen you for a while, and are truly at the centre of a web of artists and crafts-people who use their shop.
My favourite visit is when we make use of a brilliant service they have: hosting childrens parties. Kids get to do whatever art’s the theme of the party (my daughters have done jewellery and decopage so far) and all the proper materials are there along with people who really know what they’re doing. Jo and the team simply treat their party guests as mini artists and seem genuinely thrilled with what the kiddies produce.
If you find yourself in Berko with a few minutes to spare, head in for a look around, but beware, you might not be able to resist, now they had some really good propelling pencils you might want to take a look at….