Embracing Old-School Ways – Uruguay
I get it – first impressions matter, but whenever someone asks me what I do for work, I flop. Eight years in and I still struggle to explain what I do, what RAD AND HUNGRY be.
Yes, RAH is an online shop selling lo-fi office supplies that I’ve traveled the world to hunt down. But that’s just the surface. It’s the life of an office supplies archeologist unearthing history. It’s sharing stories through daily-diet objects, mundane shit holding forgotten truths of years past – Franco-era pencils from a town whose name has been erased, notebooks providing a glimpse of frozen-in-time-80’s Korea.
It’s supporting local economies – working with a craftsman, enablin’ him to pass down his trade to his children, collabing with independent designers, allowin’ them to chase their dreams, buying from mom-and-pop shops, helpin’ them provide for their family.
In Uruguay, my world made sense. It’s a country that chooses to move slow yet they’re totally ahead of the game. Institutin’ a single set of rules for all people of any orientation, the first country to legalize marijuana, and holy cow… 95 percent of its electricity is from renewable sources! They embrace old-school ways. They put pencil to paper and translate phrases instead of recommending Google Translate. It’s not some hipster revival – it’s their way.
This laidback attitude led to a sourcing trip highlight. I discovered a small family-run company bangin’ out office supplies for over 70 years! One phone call and minutes later... BOOM M’THR F’IN private tour with the owner that included watchin’ how they make crayons and hand assemble packaging the old-school way.
There’s no way the day could get any better, right? BUT HOLY M’THR F’IN OMFG I HIT THE MOTHERLOAD OF VINTAGE OFFICE SUPPLIES! Who knew that a nondescript corner shop would be a RAH goldmine?! In my broken Spanish, I asked an employee if they had any old notebooks. A sharp nod yes and with expert moves, she turned, flipped back around then slapped down a phat stack like they be domino tiles. BAM!
Someone behind me asked if I needed help. It was the shop owner! Heart racing and barely breathing from all the freakin’ – I gushed a sloppy introduction, I asked for more. Gustavo listened intently then motioned to his gang of employees. They swiftly gathered goods from one shelf to the next. Suddenly surrounded by towers of stationery gold, the rush of excitement both paralyzed and woke every nerve in my body! We were geeking out about pre-WW2 vintage pencils holders when Gustavo, eyes wide and shinin’ bright, exclaimed – THIS IS HISTORY. I screamed YEESSSS! MY PEOPLE!
Spent the next three days gettin’ covered in mold and dust while sorting through our massive haul and preppin’ the goods for crating and shipping. I don't sweat the back-breaking-dust-inhaling grind. It's a major part of the office supply archeologist life. The biggest reward? Speakin’ the language of vintage office supplies with locals – waxin’ and chillaxin’.