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.

A hand-stitched blank book from Bari Zaki Studio

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

Atlas Stationers

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.

Edison Pen Co.’s Beaumont
Photograph: Atlas Stationary

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.

Graduation Fortune cards
Photograph: Steel Petal Press

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.”