PRINTtEXT is finally open and I am absolutely thrilled! And not just because its owners Benjamin and Janneane Blevins are dear friends and Pattern co-conspirators. It is the nature of this unique retail spot, innocuously parked on 52nd street right across from So-Bro cafe, that’s got me and other lovers of print, design, fashion and culture breathing just a bit faster.
When I ask Benjamin Blevins to describe this new venture, he smiles and pulls up a Facebook post from a few weeks ago that says: “Stocking a space that exists somewhere between salon & saloon. Force-feeding ideologies & aesthetics.” He’s joking, of course, but only partially. While no one will be force-fed anything when they visit PRINTtEXT, the shop is stocked with magazines and books showcasing fashion, design, interiors and periodicals dense with articles on such varied and obscure topics as Drone Philosophy, Sadomodernism, Googlebang, A Theory of Tight Suits, and the like. Some of the publications I spy cannot be found in any other bookstore or news stand in the city; Elephant, Eye, Flaunt, GARAGE, Grey and n+1. (A full listing of publications currently available at PRINTtEXT can be viewed HERE.) Don’t see what you like on that long list? Blevins is more than happy to special order any publication you can conceive of. I’ve requested ACNE PAPER (the publication that inspired Pattern Magazine), but that’s printed in Sweden and takes a while to ship in. I’m willing to wait!
Since Northside News Cafe closed closed its doors about 3 years ago, lovers of foreign & esoteric periodicals have had to rely on local Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million stores to feed their print fetishes. But sadly, offerings have been steadily dwindling at both companies. Not to mention that neither brand has any stores in the mid or downtown areas – the very places where unique, uncensored, image and pop culture driven publications can do really well.
A lover of all things print, a self-confessed hoarder of newspapers and a prolific maker of notebook-journals, Benjamin had not been planning on opening a store. But, when Indie Bike, now around the corner, moved in October (with National Moto+Cycle), an idea was born, the timing was right and the project went from concept to reality at mach speed. With the help of designer friend Stephen Garstang, the Blevinses have turned the 1200 square foot storefront into a cosy space, not unlike someone’s living room. Tolix chairs surround a large Karl Springer table, a slightly beat up, but comfy Erwin Lambeth couch is hugging one of the walls, a Thonet table, a Milo Baughman chair, a Russell Wright Lamp and Colonial-style, antique lamps with repurposed globes all somehow work together to create a warm, informal atmosphere. The tail-wagging presence of the couple’s labrador retriever, Huckleberry, further augments the vibe that you’re visiting a good friend’s home. There is a deliberate absence of the typical bookstore shelves, with the magazines set out on tabletops and industrial carts in colorful stacks. Spare yet functional, the space invites visitors to linger, to grab a stack of photo-filled eye candy, kick back on the couch and soak in all the inspiration and knowledge held within. With its doors opening for the very first time just yesterday, the interior is not yet complete, with plans to hang wall art and to provide additional space in the form of benches, tables and carts to display all the printed treasures that PRINTtEXT has to offer.
Blevins sees PRINTtEXT becoming not just a source of hard to find publications, but also a connection hub for like-minded individuals. Interested customers will be offered personal recommendations about which other publications they might enjoy, which local groups they should consider becoming a part of or which upcoming events they may want to attend. Blevins is willing to experiment with how the space is used and what it should stock – open to adjusting his inventory based on demand. Garstang, who has a studio in Broad Ripple and specializes in producing high-end events believes that the shop is going to bridge a significant inspiration gap for area creatives. “We suffer a lack of resources,” he tells me and I heartily agree, recalling hauling home over thirty pounds of fashion magazines from New York during a recent visit. We discuss how the digital platform, while providing access to far-flung publications from the comfort of your own home, cannot possibly replace the tactile, physical experience of handling and experiencing a print publication. PRINtTEXT honors this belief.
It’s either good planning, or simply good Karma that PRINtTEXT has opened for business the day before Small Business Saturday. Open today from 10a-10p, I suggest that anyone with even a passing interest in beautiful print media, and especially those who love fashion and design, should stop by and support this great new addition to the city’s small landscape of indie bookstores.
The implications of having such a store in Indianapolis, for it to thrive and grow, are quite significant. I truly hope to be stocking up at PRINtTEXT on my monthly fix of beautiful printed matter for many years to come!