Best for paper poets
Bari Zaki Studio
3858 N. Lincoln Ave., North Center
Eye it This quaint shop mixes owner-artisan Bari Zaki’s three loves: paper, stationery, and bookbinding. With inventory from Japan, Germany, and England, she aims “to sell things you can’t get everywhere” — such as pencils she wraps in gorgeous Japanese mulberry paper.
Buy it Beautiful hand-stitched blank books (above) would make for an eye-popping wedding guest book ($125–$175). Or lure the college-bound kid to actually write home by gifting them a postcard set ($10–$15).
Best for pen lovers
227 W. Lake St., Loop
Eye it Want to dabble in calligraphy or brush lettering to up your invitation skills? This downtown destination, owned by the Schmidt family for four generations, welcomes you to test-run a variety of tools here — and is happy to offer some tricks of the trade.
Buy it Amid its aisles of ink and notebooks, Atlas also has a great range of fountain pens, including entry-level options like TWSBI’s Eco ($33) and finer instruments such as Edison Pen Co.’s Beaumont (above, $149).
Best for card gifters
Steel Petal Press
2321 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square
Eye it Made onsite on vintage presses you can watch in action, Steel Petal cards aren’t afraid to drop a celebratory f-bomb. With messages ranging from sweet and whimsical to snarky, the cards “say what people actually think,” owner-designer Shayna Norwood says with a chuckle.
Buy it Congratulate recent scholars with Graduation Fortune cards ($6; any six Steel Petal cards for $24), featuring pullout affirmations: “You are one smart cookie.”