Your Neighborhood Pen Shop: How Phidon Pens & Shopify Capital Take a Local Favorite to The Next Level

Your Neighborhood Pen Shop: How Phidon Pens & Shopify Capital Take a Local Favorite to The Next Level

People who have left their homes know the importance of a strong community better than anyone else. Baldeep and Mano Duggal immigrated half a globe away from India in 1988 with $300.

Although it was difficult to find their niche in the community at first, they eventually accepted their new country and home. Baldeep eventually started his own accounting firm, but felt that there was still something missing. Baldeep, after visiting a pen show in 2007, came home one day and told Mano that he wanted to open a pen shop.


The result was Phidon Pens. Although the store is still thriving, 2007 was a difficult year to start a new career. Mano says that the Duggals paid for their daughter’s college education. However, market research was not possible because there were “no numbers”. “There wasn’t any data for a pen shop.”

The Duggals knew that they wanted more than just a pen shop. The Duggals knew they wanted to create a community hub and give back.

Mano will likely tell you what products the couple sells. Mano states, “The joy that has come out of this business over the past 13 years…the clientele, the community we are a part of, and the things we have done through Phidon in the community does not equate with a bonus check.” It’s a beautiful business.

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Phidon was much more than a shop. It was a popular destination. It was a place to visit old friends. They built the business together with their passion and money. No startup capital was needed.

In 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic struck and shut downs threatened to end it all.

It’s possible to scale a traditional stationery business while keeping its charm.

It can be dangerous to tie a business to the community. Phidon Pens attracted new customers and made them friends. This strategy helped to create repeat business and loyal clients.

Customers have been married, had children, and dated. We have seen people lose a parent or their dog. I feel honored to be a part of their stories. Now, we are trying to make the same connection with our online customers.

Mano Duggal

Problem is, traditionally, this type of business has a low revenue ceiling. Local appeal is not always translated online.

Baldeep and Mano Duggal in front of Phidon Pens in Cambridge, Ontario.

Inventory was often limited to two pen models at a given time by the Duggals. Mano discovered that she didn’t require more than two pen models in her physical shop. Customers simply couldn’t find a pen if it wasn’t in stock. Online, however, customers would be able to quickly find out-of-stock pen items.

Baldeep and Mano had been building a legacy for the community that went far beyond business success, before COVID-19. The pandemic put a wrench in everything. If their shop was closed, how could they achieve financial success and community success? How could they solve their inventory problems?

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At scale, the small-town touch

After just two weeks of hard work, Phidon Pens launched its online store on April 2, 2020. Mano says that Shopify made it easy to move online. “I am such an analog person. It was easy to learn Shopify. Shopify was always there to help us with any problems. She was always on the first-name basis with Shopify reps.

I don’t believe I sell pens. I have always believed that I sell experiences. It’s my hope that people will feel the same way when shopping online with me.

Mano Duggal

The online store was easy to set up. To Mano’s delight, the online store retained all the personal touches that made Phidon Pens such a success. She still sends thank you notes to online orders and even writes them. She says, “I want someone to feel good when a parcel arrives, regardless of whether they have made a $50 or $500 purchase.”

This approach works. Reddit helped to make the package more visible. Customers can now send her messages asking about the colors she used for writing the thank-you notes.

Shopify’s scale was a surprise success. Instead of making the store less personal it made Phidon’s approach to more customers.

It had a lasting impact when a new customer purchased a Mother’s Day gift from Mano after speaking to him on the phone. Mano received a call from the wife who said that it was important to her that this gift came from your store. Mano was amazed at the new connections she made online. She says, “I don’t know her!” “I have never met her.”

Phidon Pens is not only known for its beautiful pens and stationery, but it’s also the reason why they are so unique. Arman duggal
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You can cruise through capital without worrying

The Duggals had a difficult time in the beginning, adjusting to new countries, finding work, and starting businesses. It seemed impossible to secure capital for their store at that time.

Shopify’s success changed everything. Shopify Capital granted funding to them after their sales grew. Mano and Baldeep were taken by surprise, but they saw this as a vote in confidence for their business. They knew immediately how the funding would help them scale their business and felt confident they could repay it.

Two days later, the funds were in bank. Phidon was able to increase their inventory and get a boost from the capital. With the Shopify Capital funding, they were able buy more inventory and solved the problem of out-of stock alerts. The Duggals were on an order frenzy, increasing supplies to meet greater demand.

Phidon was pleasantly surprised by the personal attention Mano showed to each order and found itself in a new market: business at scale.

New opportunities with new capital

The Duggals were able to solve their inventory issues with new capital. However, they did not lose the community-level charm that made Phidon so special.

Even more important, Phidon Pens now has the capital to scale up to meet new demand. Mano said that they were both impressed by the response to their online presence and decided to change their attitude. “OK, let’s go!” “We can scale up.”

They were able to pay back the Shopify funding without any problems, as their cash flow was increasing at an equal rate. They were soon eligible for another round of funding, which offered more. Mano says, “When we took second round capital, we were ready to it.”

The past year has seen significant sales growth, thanks to Shopify and the capital needed to meet the inventory demand. Mano and Baldeep maintained their business, grew the online collection and kept their mission in mind.


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We want Phidon to be able to do well in sales so that we can continue to serve the community. Without Shopify Capital, I couldn’t do what I wanted.

Mano Duggal