Originally from Los Angeles, Morin spent most of his formative years in New England, just outside of Boston, before he joined the Marine Corps in 1979. After meeting his wife while living in Nashville in 1986, with some stops living in Georgia and Kentucky along the way, Morin came to Northeast Tennessee in 2001, where he’s been ever since.
It wasn’t until 2014, however, that Morin discovered a new career as an artisan.
“It started with me driving a big truck throughout (the U.S. and Canada), and (my wife and I) were talking about what we’re going to do when I come off the road and my wife told me: ‘Why don’t you try making pens and selling pens?’ and I laughed at her,” Morin said with a laugh.
As Morin would find out, his wife was right, and her idea was a hit. Now, the two of them operate a handcrafted pen, pencil and cookware shop in downtown Jonesborough called “Paul’s Pens Odds and Ends.”
“I told her to give it a year,” Morin said, “and here we are on year five.”
It’s about more than just the pens to Morin though; it’s about “the people.”
“It’s been the stories that we’ve gotten from our customers (that surprised me),” Morin said. “I’ve had a lot tell us stories about the pens they purchased and some of them are very personal and emotional ... and I never would’ve thought in a million years, but I think that’s what makes it special.”
One time, Morin recalled, somebody came into his store and was instantly stuck on a fountain pen he made, but she couldn’t afford it. As she put the pen down and began to head out of the store, Morin called out to them, and asked if they liked that pen, to which they said yes, but that they didn’t have the money for it. Morin then asked how much money that person had in their pocket, and sold the pen to them for what they had.
The person left Morin’s shop in tears, he said.
“I enjoy woodworking, I enjoy turning, I enjoy (working), but the best part is the customers and hearing from them,” Morin said. “I believe everyone deserves a nice pen,” Morin said.
To say Morin only “enjoys” woodworking and crafting things might be an understatement, however.
Not only are all of his writing utensils handcrafted, but so is the furniture in the store. He made everything from the shelves that hold the pens to the register counter.
The handcrafted elements throughout the store are all part of what makes Paul’s Pens Odds and Ends one of the most unusual shops in the Tri-Cities. But don’t ask him to pick a favorite pen, or even choose between pens or pencils.
“It’s like choosing your favorite child,” Morin chuckled.