In the Utopia Center, tucked away in , there is a man and a business from an earlier time. A man who believes in etiquette and the hand-written note, instead of the 140-character tweet, a man who believes in a time when things were done simply because they were the right thing to do.
“I realize I’m a dinosaur,” Richard Mehlman said. “My 32-year-old son, I think he still uses his correspondence cards, but I’m sure the number (of times he's used them) is under 10.”
Mehlman has owned Everything But The Stamp, his custom stationery business, for the past 28 years, and it once thrived in downtown Mystic when Pfizer was his best customer. But he has since left Mystic, and then left New London, the Pfizer business dried up and for the past year or so, he has sat in the Waterford jewelry store, eager to please his next client.
“It’s service,” Mehlman said about his business. “It’s a service.”
Mehlman, who lives in New London, specializes in all kinds of customary stationery, from wedding invitations to playing cards to thank you notes. When asked why somebody should send an invitation, a thank you note or a condolence card on paper, instead of electronically, he said it's the thought that counts.
“It is much more meaningful than a friend or relative getting a ‘sorry your parent died’ note electronically,” Mehlman said. “It would be much more appreciated to get a note in your penmanship, good or bad.”
Mehlman originally opened Everything But the Stamp in 1984, where it thrived in downtown Mystic. However in 2009, he had to move his business after the economy crashed and his landlord tripled his rent. He then moved to New London into J. Solomon Inc Office Supply, but that was sold in 2011, and Mehlman was left without a home.
That changed when he talked with his old friends, the Malloves, and they allowed him to set up shop right in their Waterford store. He has been there since late last fall, at a table along the side of the store.
“I’m getting a very good deal,” Mehlman said. “And I’m extremely grateful.”
Mehlman still sells more wedding invitations than anything else, although he has done everything from koozies to business cards. He has sold stationery to celebrities as well, including Frank Gifford, Rebecca Lobo and Keith Olbermann.
He doesn’t make the custom stationery, but instead works with a customer to pick out what works for them. His prices are the same as if somebody were to buy the stationery themselves online, and he provides 28 years of experience to ensure they get the right stationery for the money they are willing to spend, he said.
Mehlman is also passionate about the stationery he sells, showing Patch some of the finest stationery he offers. He showed one, a card with an engraved Japanese koi fish, that could only be described as a work of art.
“It's something I enjoy,” he said. “Most people probably don’t even realize what’s in it. But it is really something special.”