Topdrawer, the American subsidiary of Japanese stationery giant Itoya, has opened at 140 N. Larchmont Blvd., just in time for holiday shopping. This latest retailer to open in the Larchmont Mercantile, formerly the Lipson Building, offers “tools for nomads,” a unique assortment of travel bags, notebooks, pens, watercolor paints and papers, photo albums, handkerchiefs and house shoes.
“We opened Monday afternoon as soon as we got the clearance to open,” Christian Cassidy, District Sales Manager – LA for Itoya Topdrawer Corporation, told the Buzz when we stopped in Wednesday afternoon. Cassidy lives in the area and has been a huge fan of Larchmont for some time. When she heard the space was available, she urged the company to take a look.
“I live in the area on Melrose and have always loved Larchmont,” said Cassidy. “I watched how Larchmont changed over the pandemic and felt like it was one of the only places that actually grew from the pandemic instead of shutting down. When we were looking for new spaces in LA and wanted to be in central LA, we came here. This has worked out perfectly. Everyone has been so welcoming. They want to get to know us and support our business.”
Larchmont is third location for Topdrawer in LA. It has two other stores, one in Studio City on Ventura Blvd., and one in Venice on Abbot Kinney Blvd. Cassidy said she loves the family, community vibe of Larchmont in contrast to the tourist feeling of Abbot Kinney.
Topdrawer is the American business name of Itoya, the high-end Japanese stationery store with roots going back to 1904. It is generally recognized as the largest and best stationery store in Japan. According to Cassidy, the company started its American operation seven years ago, opening stores in San Francisco and Boston. It now has 15 stores across the U.S., but Cassidy said it feels like a small company because the parent company in Japan is very family oriented and the U.S. corporate team has fewer than 100 people.
“We only have five to six people in each store, so it feels like a family.” said Cassidy, who has been with the company for more thanr 18 months. She started out managing the Studio City store, then she opened the Venice store, and now she’s opening Larchmont, where she plans to visit often since it’s close to home.
The colorful store inventory is stacked on darkly-painted antique metal cabinets, wooden shelves and walls. The decor is the exact opposite of the Venice store, which is all white, explained Cassidy.
“We wanted something to fit the personality of the store and fit the community,” said Cassidy. “Customers have told us they love the antique fixtures, which really make sense in this historic building.”
Cassidy also explained that the items in the store are intended to offer a “one-stop shop for the nomad, the adventurist; we wanted to great a store for someone who would grab their backpack, grab their pen and be on the road for the next six months.”
Designed to last ten years instead of just one year, said Cassidy, about 40% of the products come from the parent company in Japan. The others are sourced from around the world from small brands willing to be exclusive to Topdrawer. More than three quarters of the products are sold exclusively through Topdrawer and made by small companies. The Kolo bags, Polaroid cameras, photo albums, socks, and most of the notebooks are exclusive to Topdrawer.
“We traveled the world for you and brought it all back for you to have here,” Cassidy said.
Topdrawer is open longer hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through the holidays; then from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. after the holidays.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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