By Gus Herrera
The Fountain Pen Shop Inc. has been repairing and selling pens since 1922. A true family operation, owner and president Fred Krinke’s grandfather started the business with a partner after moving to Southern California from New Jersey. Krinke’s father took over the business in 1940, retired in 1975, and since then Krinke has been at the helm.
Although today it may seem as if Krinke was destined to fill this role, he did not always have pens on his mind, “I was really into music, I was going to Pasadena Junior College and then during World War II my folks said, ‘hey, we need somebody to come down and do some pen repairs because we’re so back-logged.’” So Krinke would attend school in the morning and then take the Pacific Electric Red Car downtown in the afternoon to help out around the store. This continued until the conclusion of the war when Krinke was drafted and subsequently served a year and a half in the US Air Force as a member of the postwar “Army of Occupation.”
“When I got out of the service my dad said, ‘well, you want to go to college or you want to repair pens?’” revealed Krinke, “I said, ‘well I’m having a good time repairing pens,’” and the rest was history.
Since then Krinke has honed his craft and today he is a master of what has become a lost art in this digital age. The Fountain Pen Shop is one of the few brick and mortar locations of its kind left and, in the words of Krinke, he is “the last of a dying breed.”
The shop’s path to its current Monrovia location has been a long one. Originally located at Sixth and Spring in downtown Los Angeles, the business began as primarily a pen repair shop. At the time, before the introduction of the ball-point pen, fountain pens were the writing instrument of choice and business was booming as they helped service everything from college book stores to large department stores. Eventually they moved to Fifth and Broadway in the jewelry district when their original building was demolished to make way for a new wave of high-rises. The store thrived at this new location until 1994 when the Northridge earthquake devastated their building. After moving across Pershing Square to Sixth and Olive for a few years, the San Gabriel Valley family finally decided in 1999 that the business would move one final time to Monrovia in order to avoid the downtown chaos and long daily commute.
Today, the Fountain Pen Shop still offers all the high quality repair services that have earned customer’s loyalty and appreciation for over 90 years. Krinke’s years of expertise have forged his great reputation and customers send in pens from all across the country.
In addition to their huge selection of newer, high-quality pens that range in price from under $20, well into the hundreds, the store also has a unique collection of vintage, fully-restored writing instruments, which they occasionally provide to Hollywood studios as props. The store also carries vintage desk pen sets, a vast selection of inks, and even Krinke’s own line of pen cleaning solution called Fred’s Secret Sauce.
Every November the store holds a special invite-only Pen Fair where you can browse new products and be treated to special deals and drawings, so swing by to get your name on the list.
The Fountain Pen Shop is located at 2640 S. Myrtle Ave., unit 12, in Monrovia. For more information, call (626) 294-9974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.