Lost Crates: The Monthly Mystery Box for Stationery Lovers

July 29, 2011

11:30 am

If you’re a stationery lover hoping to spice things up—or a 100-wpm typer whose elegant cursive is going to waste—look no further than Lost Crates, a Chicago startup that will ship you surprise packages of notebooks, pens, and desk accessories.

“We see this as a monthly present to yourself,” explains founder Danny Levi, who works out of Chicago’s Sandbox Industries incubator. “We target people who already really love their Moleskine notebook and people who just like nice things.”

Beyond paper and pens, those nice things might include a retro tape dispenser or an eco-friendly pencil case, from large brands or local Chicago stores. Lost Crates’s third monthly shipment will arrive at the doorsteps of around 225 subscribers in August.

To understand your personal scribal style, Lost Crates offers a quiz on your preferred TV shows, cars, food, fabrics, and clothing. But stationery aficionados seem skeptical. On a fountain pen forum, one erudite commenter found the quiz “insipid,” a second “got turned off” by it, and a third wished it was “cleverer.” Yet most appreciated the possibility to discover new items through Lost Crates. “What interested me [was] the chance to try products I wouldn’t otherwise consider,” wrote one user. Levi himself has heard that receiving their packages is like Christmas.

Going forward, Levi will edit this first draft of Lost Crates to incorporate feedback, such as requests for cheaper alternatives to the $38/month subscription fee. Like Silkweaver’s Fabric of the Month and Goulet Pens’s Ink Drop, which deliver surprise shipments of fabrics and ink, Lost Crates has the advantage of targeting a loyal community–they just have to cater to its discerning tastes.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact