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New business preserves the art of writing

In the age of digital communications, hand-written letters, diaries and thank you cards are increasingly becoming something of a lost art. For those who still cherish these personalized and the heartfelt means of communication, and those who might want to try an unplugged approach to writing, a new store in Downtown Washington is offering the means to do so.

First opened in June, The Purple Plume is the newest business to occupy The Suites at 158, a multi-business retail space on West Main Street. Stocked to the brim with pens, stationary, writing tablets, cards, day planners and journals, the store also has a variety of unique gifts for any occasion.

For business owner Janette Crabtree, knowledge of letterheads and stationary comes from more than two decades of experience working in law offices.

“It was kind of a dream of mine to have a small shop for a long time,” Crabtree said. “I was a legal assistant for over 20 years. I got kind of burned out on that, so I took this as an opportunity to start a little shop. I thought ‘downtown is really nice, but it needs a little stationary shop.’”

In addition to those who write for sheer enjoyment, Crabtree also hopes to draw businesses from professional services that utilize products like hers on a daily basis.

“There are a lot of businesses downtown like insurance and law offices, and we’re so close to the courthouse,” Crabtree said.

Whether a gift for a special occasion, or a means of expressing one’s thoughts on paper, The Purple Plume offers items that might be used to record the meaningful moments of one’s life for posterity.

“It becomes a part of history for each and every one of us,” Crabtree said. “When we get letters from parents or grandparents, it’s something we cherish. As the years go on and they are no longer with us, we still have a little bit of them with us. It’s a physical thing.”

In addition to the items for sale in the shop, The Purple Plume also offers free giftwrapping for purchases over $50, and can wrap other gifts for a fee. Crabtree also says that in cases where her shop doesn’t have specific items in stock, she is willing to work with customers to find them.

“I like to do the personal part of it, because you don’t see that in business anymore,” Crabtree said.

The Purple Plume is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. To see the latest items in stock and follow the business’ progress, visit @purpleplumeinc on Facebook.