Paper Source Opens in Coolidge Corner

at former Alden Merrell location

By Susie Davidson


When recording one's thoughts, documenting an important event, organizing addresses and phone numbers or penning that crucial letter, sometimes white-lined, 8-and-a-half-by-11 just won't do. And for those times, Paper Source is now available in Brookline.

The company opened its second Boston location Nov. 4 in the 2,100 square foot space previously, delectably occupied by Alden Merrell (whose treats can still be obtained at their stores in Salem and Newburyport, DeMoulas Supermarkets or on the net) on 1361 Beacon St. in Coolidge Corner. Offering fine photo albums, journals, pens, gift wrap and ribbons as well as unusual cards, stickers, gifts, books and, of course, great paper, Paper Source will also be offering workshops in the spring in Mail Art, Holiday Cards, bookmaking, printmaking and more. A Custom Invitation and Design Department will be unveiled at that time as well, where clients can create their own business or personal stationery, announcements, letterhead and invitations.

"Paper Source is unique in that it combines creativity and learning with great finds and some seriously fun shopping," says manager Sharon Hebenstreit, who holds a Bachelor's in Fine Art in Photography and Printmaking from Mass. College of Art and has been with the company since October of 1997, in the Kansas City and Porter Square, Cambridge (open since 1993) locations. "To manage a great staff in a beautiful new space in the stellar setting of Brookline is truly exciting."

Established in 1985, Paper Source, based in Chicago, now operates eight stores in the U.S., including locations in Minneapolis, Kansas City, San Francisco.

"In past years, I frequented the Coolidge Corner Theatre and many of the excellent restaurants and shops, particularly our our next-door neighbor, the Pear Tree, and Brookline Booksmith," says Hebenstreit, who currently lives in J.P. "It's an honor to be among so many fine places. I've considered Brookline to be more or less home.

"I'm really enjoying the customers who have been into the store. I get an sense that we are like-minded, with unusual and refined taste and a sense of humor." For their grand opening on Nov. 18, she chose wine from Best Cellars, paper provisions from Party Favors and French bread from Boston Daily Bread, "just to name a few. It's just a wonderful neighborhood.

"We looked at areas city-wide and chose Brookline, specifically Coolidge Corner, for a number of reasons," she recalls. "We already had quite a number of Brookline customers in our database, so we were almost answering a call to be closer to those people. The number of Brookline shoppers who were taking on their own projects and who enjoyed paper arts was a good indication that our venture would take off.

"I had seen a Rent/Lease sign, and saw the space. It was difficult to tell what it would look like without Alden Merrell's cakes and freezers, but I had a good feeling about it. It is an unusual shape with interesting architectural details, such as expansive, curved windows and cool detail at the top of a column that we didn't know was there until we took out the drop ceiling.

"I'd say that we've picked the right spot. The space itself has great visibility, being on the corner of Webster and Beacon Streets."

Logistics aside, employee Tenecia Marbury, a self-taught artist who lives in the North End, details its operation. "We have photo albums, address books, planners, and the tools needed to make book covers, book cloths, journals, even paper presses if one is making the paper from scratch.

"People usually come in and get the material to make their own gifts," she says. "Sometimes they'll even use the paper as gift wrap. It's not necessarily just for making books or wedding invitations. If they are not exactly sure, we have starter kits with journal-sized pages that are already bound. And people can use their own printers."

In case you were wondering, inkjet or laser? "Parchment-like or speckled paper can go on both. But if you have a glossy or matte finish, you want laser, as its heat and pressure melt the toner onto the surface of the paper without smudging. Inkjet, which sprays the ink, will smear," she deftly responds.

Paper Source will be open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Interested persons can call 617-264-2800 or visit, which features workshop schedules, photos and store locations (online ordering is not yet available).

Hebenstreit invites all to experiences the store's offerings, both tactile and fanciful. "Paper Source supplies ideas and materials to paper artists, designers, and anyone who has a curiosity for paper and all that it yields."