Orchard Street Shop Continues Pushing Pencils During a Pandemic

Posted on: May 29th, 2020 at 5:05 am by

Photo: Apple Maps

Many independent neighborhood businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown, including CW Pencil Enterprise. Established in 2014, the pencil purveyor of Orchard Street is feeling the pains of the pandemic and adjusting as best they can during. Owner Caroline Weaver explains how they’ve been trying to keep the business afloat.

“Adapting to this new way of working has been the hardest part. 50% of our sales are in our physical shop, so having to get by just on online sales has been difficult… We’ve been trying really hard to make sure we’re in touch with our customers, and staying engaged in a way that’s sensitive to the fact that we’re experiencing a global crisis. Now is not the time to be posting a lot of sales-y content, so we’ve been spending most of our work-from-home time coming up with ways to distract and entertain our customers virtually. It’s delicate – finding a way to keep people buying things to keep everyone employed while not making them feel any pressure to do so.”

Despite the challenges, Weaver sees a silver lining wrapped within the community itself.

“I think I’ve cried at least once a day for the past seven weeks just reading emails, DMs, and letters from customers. Our community has been so supportive in ways other than just spending money on our website. They’ve made us really feel like we’re an important part their world and of the community, and have given us motivation to come back stronger, whenever that may be. I know that the New York City we’re going to come back to isn’t going to be the same one that we left, but I feel we’re all going to be a little bit more compassionate, patient and grateful on the other side.”

For now, it’s online orders. CW Pencils isn’t currently allowing in-store pick ups at 15 Orchard, and they’re shipping from the shop three days a week. Weaver assures us that only one employee is working at a time, and all surfaces and high contact areas are disinfected daily. They are also wearing masks and being careful when coming into contact with anyone delivering packages.

“Not being on Orchard Street every day has made me realize just how much I love all of my neighbors,” says Weaver. “I’m grateful to be part of such a strange and special little corner of the city. A few times, I’ve thought about what would happen if I were to decide to close the shop after all of this, but shop or no shop, I just can’t imagine spending my days anywhere else.”

Recent Stories

Cactus Store Resumes Summertime Residency on Essex Street

The Cactus Store returned to the Lower East Side this weekend for its fourth seasonal outing, and first since coronavirus ruined everything. As before, the succulents sellers plant annual roots in the lot at 5 Essex Street. Infrastructure from prior years remains in place. Saturday was opening day. The Cactus Store is a product of […]

Ludlow Street Pizzeria Hits the Open Market

La Margarita Pizza might not have much time left in Hell Square. The Ludlow Street pizzeria is now pitched on the open market. The 800 square-foot store at 268 Ludlow appeared on Craigslist in late-May for $9,000 per month in rent. The listing caps some eight years in business for the Lower East Side pizza […]

Everynight Charley Checkup: Vilray at Rockwood Music Hall

What follows is the beginning of a periodic checkup of the downtown music scene with Everynight Charley Crespo, prolific Editor of The Manhattan Beat. The vocalist, guitarist and songwriter known simply as Vilray (pronounced vill-ree) has an uncanny ability to bridge past and present. Vilray, who does not use his family name, was raised in […]

Mictlan Mexico Brings Orchard Street South of the Border

There is a new taqueria on the Lower East Side. Natalin Perez, who currently operates Haab out in Brooklyn, just lifted the curtains on her new project. The fifteen-table restaurant at 17 Orchard Street, Mictlan Mexico. It takes the reins from the Fat Radish, which spent ten years serving the neighborhood before the pandemic chased […]

The Menace of Summertime Saturday Night on Ludlow Street

With comfort levels of close-quarters partying seemingly back to pre-pandemic norms, Hell Square has rebounded in kind. Neighbors report that any quality-of-life progress gained in this sixteen square-block sector over the last few years completely evaporated. The hordes of hellraisers were out in full force again this past Saturday night. One week after a roving […]