It wasn’t too long ago that sending letters by post was the only way to communicate with your loved ones. These days writing to a friend usually means typing an e-mail, thumbing a text or sending a Facebook message, but Brandy Fedoruk and Rebecca Dolen, self-confessed letter writers and owners of The Regional Assembly of Text, an offbeat, vintage-inspired stationery shop in Vancouver, have set out to bring back the almighty printed word. "Someone can shoot off an e-mail in a couple of seconds," says Brandy, "but to get a letter in the mail… you know someone was really thinking about you, and took the time to sit and write."
The two friends met and discovered their mutual love of printing and type while studying fine art at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. "We did some printmaking and collaborated on one-of-a-kind artist books and little handmade zines," says Brandy. "We loved them so much we kept making and collecting them after we graduated—we have well over a thousand now." They continued to make their books, as well as other handmade wares like screen-printed bags, journals, stationery sets and greeting cards to sell at craft fairs. "We always talked about having a little studio with a storefront, and finally we just took the plunge!"
Reminiscent of an old school-room or 1950s office, the shop is filled with vintage finds discovered either at flea markets, garage sales or at a nearby government surplus auction (where Brandy and Rebecca snatched up many of their countless vintage filing cabinets, as well as the blue-legged tables and school chairs that give the room its nostalgic appeal). Tucked away in their lowercase reading room, visitors will discover row upon row of the whimsical handmade books and zines, which still hold a special place in Brandy's and Rebecca's hearts.
But perhaps the most evocative symbol of the owners' passion lies in an extensive display of vintage typewriters found at thrift shops. "We've always had typewriters of our own, but since we started our letter writing nights, people have been donating their old typewriters to the shop." Once
a month, Brandy and Rebecca set out typewriters, sheets of paper and envelopes, and invite like-minded letter writers to type, chat and go back to another time. "A real letter is so much more personal and nuanced—you can't go back and erase things on a typewriter, so your note contains so much more of you, your thought process, everything," says Brandy. "It's nice to do things in a meaningful way."
The Regional Assembly of Text, 3934 Main St., Vancouver, B.C.