As an avid journaller, I am proud to say that Malaysia has some of the best stationery stores and supplies in the world! Having travelled and visited many beautiful stationery stores from London to Tokyo and Paris, I am continuously surprised when the journalling community from around the globe convey their envy of how accessible specialty and designer stationeries are in Malaysia. Malaysia betul-betul boleh? This to me is a small, but thrilling win!
Upon reflection, I realise that their feeling of FOMO-ness might hold some weight. As not only do we have access to amazing Malaysian-made stationery brands, but we also have popular products from across Asia, Europe, and America, making our local stationery scene one of the best stocked in the world, and a one-stop shop, so to speak.
While the market is somewhat niche, according to Statisca market research, the global Arts and Crafts market is anticipated to rise in the next six years, reaching a value of USD50.9 billion (approximately RM211 billion) by 2024. Perhaps the popularity of stationery is gaining traction due to the pandemic, as people in lockdown and isolation are picking up new hobbies – from candle making to scrapbooking, memory keeping, watercolour painting, and so on.
Fortunately, despite the pandemic, we are still able to shop from these stores online, but as convenient as it may be, I can’t wait to physically visit one the many beautiful stationery stores peppered across Malaysia! After all, nothing beats the sensory experience of first-hand retail therapy – especially when there’s coffee and cake involved!
1. WRITER Stationery Store | Penang
Strategically located in UNESCO Heritage site in George Town, WRITER opened their second outlet in Gurney Plaza, a popular shopping mall in the heart of Penang. Both outlets are equally well-stocked, but we recommend visiting the one on Lebuh Campbell for that Old World charm!
Here, you will find a wide array of craft supplies from around the world, such as from cult brands like Superior Labor from Japan to Korean specialty stationery, and an entire selection dedicated to local Malaysian makers!
2. Kasa Suasa | Petaling Jaya
Kasa Suasa is a cosy nook filled with carefully curated keepsakes and gifts, like crafts, art prints, stamp sets, design magazines, candle jars, illustrated books, and lifestyle pieces for your home.
There are many choices of writing and reading materials to help you practice mindfulness too, be it a guided journal for mindful eating or a book for perennial happiness. It is also the perfect place to browse if you are looking for a nice gift. Make sure you put the ‘i’ in gift, and treat yourself too!
3. Tabiyo Shop | Seremban
The art of preserving memories is alive and well in this boutique store. Located in a double-storey terrace house, you’ll feel right at home in this open concept store, equipped with a cafe to provide you some beverages and nibbles while you browse the day away!
Walking into Tabiyo Shop is like visiting a quaint little shophouse in Tokyo, decorated with minimalistic displays sitting atop antique wooden shelves and cabinets. It seems apt to wind down in this store, tucked in the chilled out vibes of Seremban – an underrated foodie paradise rich with culture and heritage sites. Definitely a recommended pit-stop for analogue lovers!
4. Smidapaper Ikigai Shop | Penang
Ikigai is a Japanese concept referring to having a direction or purpose in life, providing a sense of fulfilment towards a sense of satisfaction and meaning. This store lives up to its profound name with over 100 stationery brands to nurture the art of planning, recording, and documenting.
The owners of the store are passionate advocates for the art of gifting handwritten cards and handmade gifts. This is a shop that is full of heart, and has everything you need to to capture memories beautifully and meaningfully.
5. Stickerrific | Petaling Jaya
Are you a watercolourist? Bullet journaller? Sketch artist? Diary keeper? Paper crafter? Calligrapher? Check check check! There’s a workshop space, rows and shelves of stationery literally filled to the brim. You will be stunned upon entering, where your eyes will set on hundreds of washi rolls from the shelves up to the wall. There’s stacks of notebooks, cups filled with brushes, rubber stamps galore, and just about everything you’ll ever need, whether you’re a a beginner or seasoned crafter.
Fret not about feeling overwhelmed, the friendly shopkeepers are as knowledgeable as they are passionate about the products they sell. Don’t be surprised if a simple question about what ink is best for calligraphy can result in a basket full of goodies! One thing leads to another and no one ever leaves with only what is on their shopping list at Stickerrific. Though I personally don’t see this as a problem!
Aside from the wide array of supplies, one of the main attractions here are the cats, known endearingly as the store’s ‘paw keepers’. They are often seen sitting atop the tables or sunning by the window. So sit back, take a ‘paws’, and order a cup of coffee while you journal.
6. ana tomy | Kampung Attap, KL
It’s hard to miss the storefront of ana tomy located in the hip art commune of Zhong Shan building; the ground floor-facing store will lure in curious passers by. Upon entering, you will immediately get a sense of the aesthetics behind the award-winning stationery brand – clean, minimalistic, and refreshing with an acute attention to detail.
Their curated products go beyond stationery (everyday carry, brass goods, candles, and more) and they will even guide you on how to create your own personalised notebook on the spot. Within the open space, there is a standalone cafe that specialises in tea, and a sitting area at the back that can also be used as a rental space for workshops.
7. CzipLee | Johor Bahru
CzipLee is no stranger to the art community in Kuala Lumpur, having served over 50 years as the go-to destination for school art projects, office supplies, luxury fountain pens, printing services, and even a literature section.
The family-owned business have diversified and opened a flagship store in Southkey, Johor with an impressive and extensive retail space, equipped with a vibrant ink bar, craft workshop area, educational toys, decoupage section, clothing retail by Nala designs, and more!
It is a different experience from their Bangsar outlet, (which will still send stationery lovers aflutter), and has even attracted neighbouring Singaporeans. Trust me, it will be worth your while.
8. Ninth Gallery | Mont Kiara, KL
Perhaps Ninth Gallery is named after cloud nine, because this haven is an emporium filled with premium lifestyle products! This is not just a stationery store, although they do carry quite a variety that will delight any pen and paper enthusiast.
You will find much more than desk accessories as you browse through nifty gadgets, leather goods, cologne, classy decor, household accessories, and even outdoor gear. If you are looking to shop for specialty items, then look no further!
9. Ilaika | Petaling Jaya
This multi-label lifestyle store is one half hand brewed cafe and one half store of pure aesthetics! Filled with seemingly random, but highly curated niche items (many of which are locally sourced and made), this is a place that will delight plant enthusiasts, fashionistas, coffee lovers, homebodies, and stationery seekers alike.
If you get lost looking for this store amidst the rows of shop lots, lookout for the whimsical life-sized shopping cart hanging above the storefront. You will know you have found a gem of a place that is as unique as your own taste and interest!
10. MUCCA | Penang
Stay organised with the many accessories and planners offered at MUCCA. Think pastel-coloured, waterproof journals – this homegrown brand is reimagining the conventional practice of note-taking to a new level with their unique and refillable journal designs.
From vibrant and illustrated covers to minimalistic with function centric features, there is truly a notebook for every personality offered at MUCCA! It is within walking distance to the UNESCO World Heritage site in George Town too, so you will have plenty to see after customising your own notebook!
11. Phavourite | Shah Alam
Time to slow down at Phavourite, a cosy Japanese-inspired store promoting slow living, through living goods. Founded by a popular diarist in the journalling and stationery community, Pooi Chin has an eye for bringing together visually pleasing objects that serve as more than display novelties.
Together with her partner, she has created a relaxing space, serving beverages amongst pressed flowers, little brass items, vintage finds, rubber stamps, ceramic dolls, craft supplies, and more!
12. Mano Plus | Penang
Beautiful everyday projects in a spectacular white colonial building, Mano Plus is a lifestyle concept store that has an extensive range of cleverly designed products; from music to gourmet, and trendy wearables to good reads. You can spend hours on end browning in this light and airy, high ceiling store.
There’s much to discover in the double storey shop, and if you get a little tired on your feet, take a seat at their cafe set within an artistic and open space. Don’t be surprised to see Instagrammers and selfie seekers posing with a cup of coffee or book, as Mano Plus has become a popular haunt not just for their product offering, but for the store’s aesthetic backdrop. Make sure your phone is fully charged for picture taking.
13. Salt x Paper | Kota Kinabalu
Welcome to the preserver of stories! Salt x Paper is an unexpected delight in the tropical paradise of Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, or as I like to call it – the Hawaii of Malaysia! The store’s name is probably inspired by the ocean, where it is close enough to smell the salt in the air.
Tucked within a row of mom-and-pop stores, this quaint shop will have you retracing your footsteps thrice over in fear of missing out on camouflaged goodies amongst the plethora of stickers, rubber stamps, globes, notebooks, and cards. You name it, they probably have it in every single colour and then some!
This is a great gift shop too, with novelty items and locally-crafted decorative pieces. There’s truly something for everybody here.
Tercia is a Digital Strategist by profession and a Scrapbook Journal-er by passion. Said to have a knack for locating a café or bar within a 10-foot radius, she spends most of her spare time scouring flea markets and stationery stores during her travels. You can follow her journaling journey on Instagram at @Skybambi.
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