Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Palm Beach Postcard

This week the doorbell at Vivi's Stationery rings for the last time when the 40-year Worth Avenue landmark closes forevermore, as much a casualty from the loss of yesterday's decorum as today's pervasive virtual e-mail-text-tweet universe. Thanks to being alerted by an NYSD reader, I dropped by on Tuesday for a last look at Vivi's, a shop that in 1987 was one of the largest distributors of Crane stationery in the world.
Disappearing Ink on Worth Avenue: Vivi's Stationery (1972-2012)
Text & Photographs by Augustus Mayhew

Tim Carew can't remember when he sold the last package of Thank You notes.

"The social niceties aren't what they used to be," said Carew, who on May 31 will close Vivi's Inc., the fine stationary shop first opened by his parents Vivi and Steve Carew in 1972. "The Internet killed me," he surmised. "And, things haven't really been the same since the Madoff episode," added Alison Murphy, who has worked at Vivi's for the past 17 years. "Big entertaining died down," she said.
"Vivi's opened quietly in 1972 and we will close quietly," said Tim Carew, pictured above at his Via Parigi specialty shop. "Our biggest client was a royal wedding in Kuwait, 6,000 invitations. But, I don't like to name any names," said Carew, a St. Louis native who lives on Jupiter Island.
3 Via Parigi. "First, the shop was on Via de Mario in a second floor ten-by-ten space before moving downstairs to a larger space," said Carew who joined his parents in the business venture a few years after it opened. "Then, two years later, we settled into 3 Via Parigi in 1974. Lilly Pulitzer's shop was across the via and Lilly was a friend of my mother's. When this space opened up, she told my mother it would be the best spot for the shop and we've been here ever since. Then, people were really entertaining, both at home and at the clubs with large dinner-dances and enjoyed the details. Now, they have PR agents," he added.
With handwriting rapidly becoming extinct, it may be doubtful whether a 50 percent reduction will be enough to clear the shelves of the remaining paper note cards and stationery. Names like Crane, The Wren Press, and William Arthur have little meaning in a world dominated by Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
"Was it myth or reality that one could determine the social calendar, including weddings and births, simply by stopping by Vivi's – it was a venerable institution, a reflection on the style and gentility of a small town that had a larger than life presence on the world stage," said Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce.
"Ubique patriam reminisce," Trans., Wherever you go, remember your homeland, reads this coat-of-arms, one of the many custom engravings that Vivi's specialized in for many years. Carew has made arrangements for the shop's various engraving dyes and records to be on file at the Stationer on Sunrise. "A presence for 20 years, I acquired the shop three years ago and we've just completed a renovation," said Liz Quinn, owner of the Stationer on Sunrise.
Vivi's carried a line of whimsical pillows, for many years a ubiquitous presence on Palm Beach sofas and chairs.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.
Click here for NYSD Contents