Pictured is the interior of Atlas Stationers. In the foreground is a "testing station," or a large wooden table with wooden stools, covered with an array of notebooks and containers of pens.
The testing station at Atlas Stationers helps you find just the right notebooks and pens. Credit: Courtesy Atlas Stationers

There is something so calming about a stationery store—the colorful rows of notebooks, the tidy aisles of office gadgetry, the stacks of pens and planners. If the only stationery store you’ve set foot into is a Staples, you are missing out on a true vibe that offers a sense of space and order in an otherwise wild world.

Atlas Stationers, located right under the el at 227 W. Lake, is the premier place to inhale that woody paper smell and sample some fancy writing apparatus. The building and the signage all serve up City of Big Shoulders energy—they even have their own glittery black signature ink, called Atlas Iron Ore, paying homage to Chicago’s history.

Founded in 1939, Atlas Stationers has followed every trend in stationery, from typewriter ribbons to stocking Chicago’s own Field Notes and Japan’s wildly popular minimalist planners like Hobonichi and Midori. Retail manager and third generation Atlas employee Brendan Schmidt says, “In 2020, we relaunched and moved away from office supplies and into fine writing, stationery, and inks”—a wise move that makes the store a rival of international stationery stores. The store has also made the leap to the digital realm and does a mean business in online sales, with a huge social media following from stationery geeks around the globe.

Lucky Chicagoans can enjoy a leisurely browse before popping over to the nearby Blue Bottle Coffee to imbibe the juice of all creatives and to try out the new hands-on stationery implements.

Atlas Stationers
Mon-Fri 9 AM-5 PM, Sat 10 AM-2PM, 227 W. Lake, 312-726-5261

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