Paperchase wasn't just a card shop to me - it's the end of an era

Paperchase stores closing down has us reflecting on what we'll miss

Paperchase was more than a card shop to me: an image of a young woman sitting on the bedroom floor and opening a love letter
(Image credit: Future)

News that Tesco has bought Paperchase has come as a surprising blow to those of us of a certain age. Here’s why it matters to our Consumer Editor. 

Tesco purchased Paperchase after the iconic stationery retailer fell into administration. The deal, which saw Tesco buy the Paperchase brand and intellectual property but not any of the retailer’s 106 stores means Paperchase stores are closing down soon. But for now, the shops continue to trade as normal, with the brand continuing in Tesco stores across the UK in the forseeable future.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “Paperchase is a well-loved brand by so many, and we’re proud to bring it to Tesco stores across the UK. We have been building out plans to bring more brands and inspiration to the ranges we currently offer, and this will help us to take those plans further. We look forward to sharing more with our customers in due course.”

I look forward to that too but it doesn't stop me from feeling a tad sad about the demise of one of my favourite high street stores. It's especially sad, of course, for all those Paperchase workers wondering what will become of their jobs and waiting for more news.

And I'm not alone. The news that Paperchase stores are closing has ruffled feathers on social media too. 

'Nothing in my life will ever be as wonderful as Paperchase on Tottenham Court Rd to me as a little girl,' wrote one Twitter user. 'I can't tell you how magical it was: Iridescent pink pearl sheeting, rolls of stickers, exotic graph exercise books, floors of wildly coloured pens and paper...'

So, here are ten reasons why we'll miss Paperchase stores when they shut their doors and move to Tesco. 

1. A Paperchase fix can lift your spirits

Since my first foray into my local Paperchase store as a kid, I’ve held the belief that a new notebook was the answer to so many of life’s questions. Yes, other stationers sell notebooks. And yes, I should use the 8 notebooks I have on my desk before I even think about buying another one. But the point is that for many of us Paperchase, launched by a pair of art and design students in the 1960s, will forever be linked to our love of writing letters, of sending cards, and of eternally attempting to wrestle life’s chaos into lists written neatly inside a nice notebook.

2. The flagship store was my spiritual home

The flagship store on Tottenham Court Road was my local branch for many years and I’ve spent many happy afternoons browsing the card racks and meeting friends for coffee in the cafe. The thought of it closing reminds me of when Top Shop shut its Oxford Street branch. It’s the end of an era.

3. Photo albums from Paperchase were a thing

Back in the days when filling albums with your precious photos was a thing, rather than keeping them on your phone or ordering photobooks, I used to buy my photo albums from Paperchase. It started with a trip to buy one for my wedding album and then matching albums were needed for each of my three children’s baby snaps. Sob.

Thank you cards from Paperchase

(Image credit: Paperchase)

4. Paperchase did the best thank you cards

 When I got hitched we spent the afternoon arguing in Habitat on Tottenham Court Road (also no longer there…) over what items to include in our wedding list. Afterwards I bought thank you cards from Paperchase to send to our wedding guests.  

5. Wait, they did the best cards full stop

I have shoeboxes full of cards received during my Uni days. So many of them are Paperchase classics. The joy of writing ‘I saw this and thought of you’ inside a Paperchase card never faded. I also have piles of Valentine’s cards that my now-husband and I sent each other when we lived at opposite ends of the country. Yes, cards are cheaper elsewhere and I’m as much a fan of the 29p card from Asda as the next person but I’ll miss popping into Paperchase for a special card that I know the recipient will probably keep forever. Sorry, but cheap, flimsy cards can’t compete.

6. Fancy paper

The wrapping paper! The writing paper in every colour conceivable with matching envelopes! The fluorescent writing paper! If you know, you know.

7. Coffee at Paperchase

Meeting mates in Paperchase for coffee and then wandering around the store showing each other all the funny cards and fancy bits we couldn’t afford may well have something to do with why the brand’s sales have struggled. Nearly as good as reading books over a latte in Borders back in the day. But I still wish the magic could continue.

8. Christmas decorations

If my memory serves, at some point the whole third floor of the Tottenham Court Rd branch of Paperchase was a Christmas shop - I remember a riot of colour, kitsch, and irreverence the likes of which my friends and I had never seen before. You couldn’t do Christmas shopping in London without nipping in to pick out all the tree decorations you’d buy one glorious day in the future when your budget wasn't limited to your Saturday job wages.  

A5 Vinyl Bright Yellow Amazing Things Daily 2023 Diary

(Image credit: Paperchase)

9. The annual diary shopping trip

I have been on a lifelong quest to find the perfect diary - it has to start in September, not January - and Paperchase has never, ever let me down. Of course, I can still buy one from a Tesco store but chucking one in my basket with my cat food and bin liners will never match the annual diary shopping trip that has come to mean so much to me.  

The classic Paperchase Fountain Pen

(Image credit: Paperchase)

10. Choosing the perfect pen

Lest you think I’m being daft and making a silly fuss about yet another retailer biting the dust, I asked my husband what he’d miss about Paperchase stores. He didn’t miss a beat - shopping for the perfect pen - proving I’m not alone in mourning the end of Paperchase’s bricks-and-mortar days. 

Yes, you can still buy his favourite Paperchase fountain pen online but it’s not the same as testing out all the nibs by writing your name over and over again on the little bits of paper by the pens.

It will never be the same.

Still, there's always the Paperchase sale to cheer me up... 

Heidi Scrimgeour
Deputy Editor

As a parenting specialist for more than 15 years, Heidi has written for most national newspapers and for a wide range of consumer magazines, including Mother & Baby where she was the Shopping Editor for six years, looking after regular consumer features including buying guides and gift roundups.