N. Kumar of Shopper’s Shop has brought a stellar choice of pens to Madurai

An assortment of smart gadgets and other attractive stationery items vied for space inside the new branch of Shopper’s Shop on Town Hall Road. But I lingered in front of the shelf that displayed pens. And mind you, these are no ordinary pens. When you write with these things of beauty, you scribe it with class.

Deep in my heart I knew I could not pick up the writing instrument – a Mont Blanc fountain pen costing Rs.30,000. But nobody could stop me from ogling at it. The silent admiration was curtailed by the shop owner N.Kumar, “I got it from Mumbai,” he smiled, “because I know of many pen crazy people in Madurai who go to Landmark or the exclusive Mont Blanc store at Park Sheraton in Chennai, and elsewhere in search of finest pens.”

Branded pens are like expensive pieces of jewellery which only a connoisseur can value. The new outlet is an extension of the original Shopper’s Shop established two decades ago for selling imported goods and is the only place in Madurai where you can find branded luxury pens. Within 10 months, it has become a hotspot for pen collectors.

Kumar has ensured a stunning pen repertoire in his shop. From Mont Blanc starting from Rs.13,500 to 28,000 and going up to Rs.Two Lakh each, Cross pens starting from Rs.1,500 to Rs.6,000, Sheaffer from Rs.1,100 to Rs.20,000, Waterman from Rs.1,200 to Rs.30,000 -- he has them all.

“After inking them, you will find they are as good as they look,” he says priding in the fact that he stocks some of the finest writing instruments available. Indeed. But for the ink visible on the paper, you would be left wondering whether the pen is making contact at all. That smooth the hand crafted 12k or 14k gold nibs are and the ink flow does not stutter.

When you buy an expensive pen, you make a statement. Says Kumar, “There are people willing to splurge to stand apart from the crowd. They buy for prestige and status. Majority of my customers are doctors, engineers and lawyers.” Kumar procures from official distributors in Chennai and Mumbai and at any given time stocks 15 to 20 pieces of each model. “Some customers pay a couple of visits before they take their pick. Some buy it instantly. Recently a tourist from Punjab walked in and was elated to see the Rs.10,000 worth Staedtler digital pen here. He said he did not get it in his city and bought it,” says Kumar.

Many people think these awesome writing instruments are simply meant for the super-rich and only the affluent can afford to pay a ton for the limited editions and other collections boasting of high-end craftsmanship completed with gold nibs and encrusted precious stones on the cap and the body. But the German and French pioneers and leaders in the industry have come up with these great gifts in different price ranges too and packed them in excellent styles that talk of elegance and etiquette.

“Starting from the basic range of Rs.1,000 to 3,000 and gift packing the fountain or roller pens and fine liners with pure leather wallet or credit card case, table watch or notepad,” feels Kumar, “has opened up the market for more customers, who earlier shied away.”

“The manufacturing companies uphold the standards and traditions even if they lower the cost of their products,” says Kumar. You can’t disagree. Every product combines skill, function, quality and continuity of design.

Pick any one of the highly polished platinum plated or rhodium inlaid work of art and you will find it tough to choose the words to describe your pen -- smooth, beautiful, reliable or classic! But it will give you a feeling of true luxury and convey timelessness.

Mr.Kumar allowed me to enjoy the incomparable pleasure of holding the masterpieces. They were of a perfect weight and perfect feel. I started my new year on a happy note making beautiful clean lines and taking notes for this article!

(Making a difference is a fortnightly column about ordinary people and events that leave an extraordinary impact on us. E-mail to soma.basu@thehindu.co.in to tell about someone you know who is making a difference)

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