Store Tour: Baum-kuchen
At the end of April, I finally got the chance to visit Baum-kuchen in LA. I went there specifically to spend a gift card, which I had received for Christmast last year. Four months of waiting might seem strange to most of you (especially considering they have such a robust online store), but I already knew I would be heading down to SoCal at that point and really wanted to experience the store firsthand.
As a little bit of personal backstory, I discovered BK in July of last year when I was looking for the 2017 Traveler's Company writing board. I remember being blown away by their lovely packaging and attention to detail when I received the order, so I had been keeping my eye out ever since then. In addition to selling classic stationery items, they also do a fair number of collaboration items with brands like The Superior Labor and 1.61 Soft Goods.
BK was tucked away in a more suburban area of LA in a quieter neighborhood. It was surreal to finally see the open sign in person after seeing so many pictures of it on their blog.
The store was surprisingly small yet cozy - it definitely looked bigger in pictures, as spaces often do (for anyone who has done apartment hunting, you know what I'm talking about!). Upon taking a first look around, I immediately noticed how intricate the product displays were. I could tell that there was a lot of thought put into utilizing every corner of the shop - to both maximize space and to showcase the items in a practical way.
Opposite the entrance was an eye-catching, brightly colored world map hanging on the wall. To the right of the map were their utilitarian products and tools, like notebook covers, pouches, and bags.
On the other side of the map, I saw the classic Traveler's Notebooks and the matching refills. I enjoyed seeing that Traveler's Notebooks on display were well used and worn, with tons of scratches and patina. There was also a separate table in the middle of the shop with brass goods and pencils from Midori, and pen cases from The Superior Labor.
I walked past that table in the middle to find a whole wall of products to the right, containing washi tapes on one side, stamps and stamp ink pads in the middle, and more notebooks and notebook covers on the other side. They had most of the items shelved in unique display stands, which made picking them out much more fun. The way everything was structured made the entire space feel like a stationery playground, filled with warmth and comfort.
Of course, I was very much intent on spending away my gift card. To my delight, even their shopping bag was a gorgeous leather one! I loved carrying it around the store and stuffing it with items I wanted to buy.
I also belatedly noticed a wall right next to the door, which was full of postcards. I was told that all of them were from their customers and that they hung those up as a memoir. When I told them I would be heading to Europe soon in the summer, they encouraged me to send them one, too.
One of the highlights of the visit was this gashapon machine. For $1/play, you can receive a surprise goodie. I put in a few dollars to try it and got rubber stamps and some vintage postal stamps. Placing the quarters and turning it until an item popped out instantly brought me back to my childhood in South Korea, where I saw similar vending machines in local stores. In a hilarious and almost fated fashion, one of the stamps I got said "smirk" in Korean with a little cat's face on it. The Colosseum stamp was also incredibly timely, as I'll be heading to Rome in a month's time.
I had brought my Midori MD 10th Anniversary sketch journal with me and had the fortunate chance to use the BK store stamps on it as well. They were so kind in setting up a corner of the table for me and even let me use a bunch of the stamps that they use for their packaging. I felt like a kid in a candy store stamping page after page in varying designs and colors.
Frido, Eunice and Ame were seeing to the store that day, and they deserve a big shout out for making me feel so welcome. They chatted with me the whole time about stationery and my upcoming trip. They mentioned they have been busy preparing for the inspiration lab with The Superior Labor coming up at the end of May, which was so exciting to hear about. Although I'm not able to attend the event, I'm sure those who are going will have a memorable experience - especially if the glimpses on Instagram are of any indication!
The first item I gravitated towards was the ateliers PENELOPE square tote. I was looking for a way to organize all of the notebooks that are usually sprawled on my desk everywhere, and this was the perfect solution to keep them organized yet accessible. As you can see, the flexible canvas lets you fit a ton of things into it, but it's durable enough to hold its shape.
I also made sure to get the BK brand stickers (Journey is the Destination, Travel for Life, and Los Angeles) to decorate my journals with. So many of the quotes that they use repeatedly across their line of products ring true to my heart and I wanted to keep a few of them with me on the go. The same thought process went through my mind when I picked up the BK original "Imagination" stamp, which is a reminder for myself to never stop creating.
Last but not least, I purchased the brass charms, which I now have attached to my Midori B6 slim notebook and my olive traveler's notebook. They're one of the BK collaboration items made by The Superior Labor and I just couldn't resist the chance to jazz up my bookmarks. The combination of leather and brass never fails! I'm excited to see how they age with time.
If you couldn't tell by the amount of descriptive words used in this post, I absolutely loved visiting Baum-kuchen. When all was said and done I had spent a good hour or so in the store and I enjoyed every minute of it. From their amazing products to their kind staff, it really is a gem in the heart of LA.