Miranda Jessop stocks up on supplies at Star Print, Twickenham’s family-run independent stationery and artistic materials shop.
Ever since I moved to Twickenham, I have been a regular at local independent stationer’s, Star Print whether it’s buying craft materials for holiday projects, specialist paints and paintbrushes for GCSE art or pens, pencil cases and sticky back plastic for the new school term. Anyone who has set foot in this Aladdin’s cave of stationery will know it is very much a family-run business and, today, Ravi and his nephew, Poonit are outside the front of the shop in the glorious Twickenham sunshine, waiting to greet me. We walk past Ravi’s wife and sister-in-law in their usual positions behind the till and take a seat in the back office where Ravi’s daughter, Sonal also joins us.
It is thirty-three years since Star Print first opened its doors at 8, Heath Road. Ravi had come over from Malawi in the late 60s to study at Kingston Polytechnic where he qualified as a chartered secretary, working first for an accountancy firm in Staines and then in the finance department of RCA Records in Sunbury. Ravi was living in Twickenham with his wife and children when he had the opportunity to open his own shop in 1984.
When Star Print first started up, it was primarily a printing company but, listening to the needs of their customers, the stationery side quickly grew. “Our customers would tell us what they wanted and we would source it for them. There was never a time when anyone went away without getting what they were after,” remembers Ravi who is now in his 70s but still insists on coming to work every day.
Star Print moved to its existing premises at 20, Heath Road in 1994 and today the family are proud of their status as an independent ‘old school’ stationer’s. Their stock is ever evolving as they are constantly looking at the market, finding out what is available and making sure they stay on top of new trends and product development. In addition to the vast array of stationery and art materials including Winsor & Newton, Caran d’Ache and Lamy to name but a few, they also provide a number of services such as USB printing, binding, laminating as well as scan and send. I am surprised to hear they even have a fax machine, the services of which are still occasionally in demand. As well as a loyal following of customers who regularly pop in for a chat and sometimes even a cup of coffee, they offer a complimentary delivery service to local businesses in Twickenham, Hampton, Teddington, Isleworth and Whitton.
The team at Star Print enjoy being a part of Twickenham’s tight-knit community. “We are all passionate about the area and this is what drives us on. We are so happy to be able to serve the local community and, as long as people keep coming in, we will continue to be here,” says Poonit.
Star Print pride themselves on going above and beyond, regarding many of their regular customers as family and friends. “We have one lady who has shopped with us forever but she doesn’t find it so easy to get in these days. She now rings us and asks us to drop her stationery off and we are more than happy to do that. A man also came in recently for a shredder which was too heavy for him to carry, so again, we were delighted to be able to deliver it to his home.”
Sonal tells me that, ever since the shop first opened, their ethos has always been the same. “If someone is looking for an item of stationery, we will probably have it and, if they can’t find it, we will order it in for them.” And I can certainly vouch for this as, on my way back through the shop, I find exactly what I am looking for in the form of a special left-handed pencil for my daughter while Ravi insists on replacing my own rather tatty pen with a far superior one. There goes another satisfied customer!
Star Print, 20 Heath Road
020 8744 9755