This is the paper store at Wipplingerstrasse Nr. 15. It has existed in this historical downtown location of Vienna since 1906, specialising in paper and writing utensils. This paper store and the pharmacy across the road are the two oldest shops remaining along the Wipplinger Street.
“Papier Hager” it says in big letters above the entrance, although the owner’s name has changed decades ago.
The paper store at No. 15 used to have famous neighbours:
Wipplingerstrasse Nr. 14 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived here in 1782/1783.
Wipplingerstrasse Nr. 17 Franz Schubert lived here in 1818.
Wipplingerstrasse Nr. 19 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived here in 1768 and 1782 and composed the Mass in G-Major.
This is a view of Wipplinger Street towards the Schottenring. A huge chimney sweeper is dominating the scene.
Back at the paper store I find a young Lady carefully looking at the show-windows, chosing a photo album. In a few months time from now, this shop will also be a matter of the past.
Mrs. Eva, the present owner lady says she is ready for retirement. I came to meet her in December 2016.
“This store is where my heart is”, she says with a smile. “I was born in 1944 and grew up in here. As a child I used to help my grandma and my ma. I was so small, I could barely look over this counter.”
“I have an old photograph of the store. It shows what it looked like before my family took it over. I don‘t know about the date though!” Mrs. Eva tells me. “The bus stop used to be right in front of the shop. It was Bus Nr. 7, running up and down this road. Traffic used to flow in both directions on Wipplingerstraße. Now it is a one-way street.”
In Mrs. Eva‘s store the notebooks are all placed in a neat wooden shelf.
“In a paper store there is a lot to know”, says Mrs. Eva. “I have piles of paper in a large variety of qualities. Today there is not much demand for this kind of paper any more. Everything has switched to computers. ”
“There used to be three schools in the neighbourhood, and kids would come running, asking for a certain pencil or notebook. We still have the pencils in these boxes of twelve, and we sell them one by one. I was so proud helping out, managing all those little sales activities back then.”
“Look at this chart. It shows the varied pencil qualities.”
These boxes contain refills for water-color cartridges.
Candles, candles, candles. These twisted ones have a firm place in my personal memory. We had them in my grandma‘a house and at our home.
“Hofer Kerzen” will celebrate its 600th anniversary in two years, as I just found out.
Here is Mrs. Eva, adding up the long list of purchases without a calculator.
At Eva‘s store I find a box of writing paper with a fine silky texture. While gently going over the satin paper with the tip of my fingers, images of handwritten letters begin crossing my mind. Messages in royal dark blue ink, sealed, and delivered by knights, who rode their horses for days, to hand over the precious lines that tell of a princess‘ love. And I wonder, are we indeed ready to let go of our small paper stores? How can our senses be inspired without actually feeling paper on our skin? Can our hearts and minds be touched in a remotely similar way, when we order a paper-box online? Progress of course, will always prevail. What is your opinion?
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