Nora Fleming makes serving pieces and home décor products that can be accessorized with “minis,” decorative add-ons made for different seasons and occasions. Big O key rings, designed by a couple of Highland Park women, are the second-most-popular purchases. These are followed by Nest candles, Peepers glasses and Karen Adams calendars.
Paper Affair closed for about two months when the pandemic started. Wayte knew she had to come up with a way to open her business again, so her daughter helped create a website that allowed people to shop online.
“I’m a big believer in brick-and-mortar stores in a community, and I’ve never had a website to sell because I didn’t want to be an internet seller,” she says.
The store also started offering home deliveries and curbside pick-up.
During the pandemic, many couples canceled or postponed weddings, and large gatherings weren’t common. But eventually, lovebirds started celebrating again. Over the past year, Paper Affair has created products for three to four times the typical number of couples. Along with the increased demand has come problems with the supply chain. Certain products aren’t available, and Wayte, like many others, can’t say when they’ll be back in stock.
“Being open 12 years and always being able to get whatever I wanted to have in the store, it’s been a weird time,” Wayte says. “I have to bring in whatever I can get, and it may not be what I want, but it’s what’s available.”
It’s not just wedding-related business that has picked up; the past two years have been the store’s busiest.
Wayte says she knows it’s cliche for a retail store to say it prioritizes customer service above all else. But Paper Affair’s business model creates long-term relationships between the store’s employees — most of them 10-year veterans of the company — and its customers.
“It is kind of like a family business where we’re involved in their lives for every event,” she says. “The paper side keeps us actively involved in our customers’ lives.”