Mr. Cai Cing-zai Brings Back the Fountain Pen Trend
【◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting
◎Photos courtesy of CHSG STUDIO】
Established in 1955 and situated in Yancheng District, Parker Fountain Pens is known for its high quality products and excellent customer service. Mr. Cai Cing-zai is the second-generation proprietor to be running his family's business. He enjoys making presentations about all the brands that the store offers, including Parker, Montblanc, Cross, Waterman, Sheaffer, Pelikan, Lamy, Kaweco, Platinum and TWSBI, etc.
Mr. Cai grew up in the Yacheng District, and over the years he has observed how local businesses have had to change with technology. This has had a tremendous impact on the fountain pen business. He reminisces on how the fountain pen business was once an important part of the local economy. Thirty years ago, Parker Fountain Pens was built on reclaimed land in the Yanchengpu area, which was near what in those days was a prosperous port. Taiwan's economy was booming, and people of middle to high incomes often enjoyed spending money on imports. This created a lot of opportunity for stores in the area. The flourishing economy also created a surge in property prices, and many affluent residents became landowners in Yanchengpu. The largest department store in southern Taiwan, the Dasin was also located there. Back in those days, people would dress up to go shopping and line up to get into the mall.
Yanchengpu's prosperity lasted for about 30 years, until the commercial center shifted. Mr. Cai points out there had once been more than 100 stores in Taiwan with each carrying more than 100 variations of fountain pens. At that time Parker Fountain Pens also suffered from the slowing economy. As the industry hit rock-bottom, Parker Fountain Pens was only one of ten lucky fountain pen stores to survive.
Three years ago, there was resurgence in creative industries. With this came a new found passion for penmanship, a surge in fountain pens sales and greater variety of products. Fountain pens became fashionable again, especially with the younger generation. Bookstores and e-shopping sites also began to carry them.
In his store, Mr. Cai works hard to create a customer-friendly environment. He offers extensive knowledge about the various pens and even offers a pen repairing service. He also maintains a file in which he has used his products to scribe all the basic information about them. He has been practicing his penmanship every day for the past 35 years, and his beautiful skill always wins him much applause with his clientele.
Today, most high-end fountain pens are dominated by western brands. Mr. Cai believes the his most trusted pens, Parker, come from American brands, which continue to be popular amongst the older generation. There is also Montblanc from Germany, which has also established itself as a popular premium brand. The Montblanc's Art Edition Louis XIV is Mr. Cai's top of the line fountain pen, which costs NT$ 500,000 to purchase. However, Japan's Platinum and Taiwan's TWSBI have also emerged and are doing well internationally. These have become well known for their high quality and fine craftsmanship. Mr. Cai keeps several of these local brands in stock.
Mr. Cai has been in the fountain pen business for thirty-five years. He believes his pens have made their mark both in history and within the local culture. He points out that in Europe fountain pens are given as a coming-of-age gift. With this as an inspiration, he hopes to promote the concept of fountain pens being a thing of heritage that should be passed down from one generation to the next.
Parker Fountain Pens Company
Address：No.105, Wufu 4th Rd., Yancheng Dist., Kaohsiung City
Operation hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.