Here’s an unconventional idea for Valentine’s Day: a handwritten love letter.
It wasn’t exactly the idea of Salvatore “Sal” Esposito or his sister Tami Tiboni, who run P.S. Fine Stationers across from the Branford Green. But it might as well have been.
That’s because if there’s one shop on the Shoreline that’s built for observing milestone events like weddings, engagements, and, yes, Valentine’s Day, with old-fashioned style and panache, it’s P.S. Fine Stationers — and not just due to its staggering selection of paper goods and fountain pens, as well as its in-store printing, gift-wrapping and calligraphy services.
Nor, for that matter, because “you’re not going to find all of this in one place anywhere outside the city,” as one long-time P.S. Fine Stationers customer put it.
Just listen to Sal, widely considered the chief arbiter on what is tasteful and where to get it, on the subject of letters written by hand.
“It’s the permanence of the ink, the commitment of pen to paper, that makes it distinctive,” said the slim, energetic 51-year-old on a recent snowy afternoon, as Luciano Pavarotti crooned “Ave Maria” and a whimsically crafted butterfly clock softly ticked, giving the well-stocked cozily-lit Main Street shop an Old World feel.
Well-stocked might be an understatement. At P.S. Fine Stationers, there is, it seems, something for everyone.
“I can walk around this store five times and feel as though I’ve been to five different shops,” said Barbara Pierce of East Haven, marveling at the eclectic array of items, from Waterford Crystal and the elegant flatware and settings of a Vera Wang tabletop collection to exquisitely packaged soaps and lotions to quirky toys.
All of which are among the reasons that P.S. Fine Stationers opened in 1999: as a literal post-script for Branford Book & Card Shoppe, owned by Sal’s father Bob, two doors down Main.
While Book & Card famously covers an abundance of essentials for daily living, P.S. Fine Stationers exists in large part for those occasions that call for enduring sophistication and style. Hence, the rich leather-bound wedding guest books, journals, and scrapbooks; the frames and boxes crafted from metal, enamel, and crystal; the screen-printed gift wrap and cards so artful they could be framed.
That P.S. Fine Stationers, in addition to its in-store services, prides itself on attention to its customers’ needs is only natural, considering Sal and Tami grew up in the 40-year-old Book & Card, learning from their father that knowledge and personal service were essential to the health and longevity of a small business.
Nor, for that matter, is it surprising that so many of the items evince quality workmanship, given that Bob and Maria Esposito taught their children that one thing made to last “is better than 10 that aren’t,” said Sal, as he opened the glass case for a customer to peruse the array of fountain pens.
Not that you need a Mont Blanc to pen a Valentine’s Day love letter. Or that the script has to rise to the level of calligraphy. Or that you need to be a writer in a formal sense.
Even so, according to Sal Esposito, in this era of instant gratification communication, “people still appreciate something tangible, something that took effort and thought, that they can cherish.”
P.S. Fine Stationers is located at 1028 Main Street, Branford 203-481-6683. Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/P-S-Fine-Stationers/164725853540695