Walking down Monterey Street, you’ll stumble upon the clear windows of a new shop with a teal colored sign. Entering Pipsticks induces what owner and founder Maureen Vázquez describes as childhood adrenaline.
“There’s something pretty awesome about seeing people freak out when they walk in the store, and that’s the positive feedback we’ve seen so far,” she said.
Customers are taken back to another time when kids spent hours in sticker stores, agonizing over what type of foil or brightly colored heart would best match their folder.
The shop is decorated with color that pops from every corner, from a wall of stickers that you can pull by the roll, to a section dedicated to every color of washi tape. To say the least, it’s a candy store for crafters and sticker lovers alike.
- PHOTO BY KAREN GARCIA
- CHEEKY: Pipsticks is filled wall to wall with all the stickers you could dream of, thanks to Maureen Vázquez, who turned a childhood pastime into a store on Monterey Street in SLO.
With a shade of pink lipstick and shoes to match, Vázquez herself is a pop of color. She started Pipsticks in 2014, between a move from New York City to Paris, as a sticker subscription club for kids.
“The idea was for kids to have mail and for it to be super exciting,” she said.
She found out very quickly that most of her subscribers were adults—craft lovers and people reminiscing about their youthful days of sticker collecting.
“Some of our American wholesalers that have been in this business for years tell me that stickers are dying, and I always say, ‘No way, we’re bringing it back,” Vázquez said. “It’s a sticker revolution, I’m telling you.”
Customers can apply for two types of subscriptions, and each comes with stickers specifically chosen for the month, usually following a theme Vázquez has set up.
Whether it’s brightly colored lemons with sour lips or sumo wrestlers with serious expressions cuddling up to cats, she’s sifting through new samples every month and hand picking what goes in each envelope. Parents can choose a subscription specifically for kids, or one they can indulge in themselves.
As the company began to expand, Vázquez, her husband, Nathan, and a growing family of four decided they needed a steady place to build a headquarters for the company and, ultimately, to be a brick-and-mortar shop.
“We kind of make the perfect team in that I have the creative graphic design background to do the product development, marketing, and the visual stuff,” she said. “And he can do all the not-so-fun stuff.”
She remembered her time in California and her college days spent in sunny San Luis Obispo, and that’s where the family decided to plant their roots.
With clouds dangling from the ceiling, the shop is a rainbow of stickers, washi tape, crafting paper, and other goodies to sift through. The best part for Vázquez is the sticker wall that gives kids the chance to tear off as much or as little as a they want at an affordable price.
“I love the idea that a kid can come in with a dollar and still walk out with a sticker sheet,” she said. “To have that power as a kid, that’s amazing.”
San Luis Obispo has seen many local shops come and go in the past couple of years with chain stores taking over, but Vázquez said she’s optimistic that her shop will thrive. It’s something that almost doesn’t exist anymore, so she’s excited to bring this new product to the area.
Along with products in store and online, Vázquez is also hoping to work with the community through the shop’s crafting room that can be utilized by customers at any time. She is also working on curating crafting events for kids and adults alike.
“I would have wet my pants as an 8-year-old if I had known this was going to be my job,” she said.
Visit pipsticks.com to find out more or swing by the store at 1239 Monterey St. in downtown SLO.
Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) invites you and your dad to build a race car in celebration of Father’s Day. Materials and tools will be supplied to kids of all ages. This free event will take place June 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at both the Pismo Beach and Paso Robles OSH stores.
Staff writer Karen Garcia wrote this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.