Oh My Word brings style back to snail mail

Stamps and stationary sit in neat piles atop bright-hued tables, hand-crafted cards shout out happy birthday and congratulatory messages from the shelves that line the walls and even a mailbox rests in the corner.

Though the shop’s cadre of products may be from that bygone era of handwritten notes and snail mail, downtown Sioux Falls’ Oh My Word is a paper store with a timeless purpose.

“We really wanted to create a space where people can share their stories,” co-owner Melissa Johnson said. “It’s so important to leave a legacy with our words, to pass those stories on to our children and grandchildren.”

Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter

Johnson herself is a wordsmith at heart, saying the written word was her first true passion. Cupcakes are another.

Along with Lauren Halgarson and Amanda Feldkamp, Johnson opened Oh My Cupcakes six years ago, expanding to paper in January by launching Oh My Word as its “sister company.”

The mission of the shop is simple: celebrating the lost art of handwritten encouragement. Oh My Word offers quality paper products and classes that inspire customers to do just that, taking time to write out that thank you card or graduation note in lieu of sending an email.

Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter

That personal touch comes through with the first step into the Phillips Avenue shop. Lightly stained wood floors lend a rustic, simplistic feel to a space that could easily become overcrowded with colorful cards and overenthusiastic catch phrases.

Oh My Word has elegant simplicity down to a science, something its predecessor, Engage Paperie, contradicted with its overabundance of offerings. But if Oh My Word has a drawback it’s this: losing Engage’s vast product line in favor of minimalistic ambience.

Instead of additional shelves in the shop’s street-facing window, a loveseat and chairs surround a coffee table set with a plate of cupcakes, creating a lifestyle rather than retail space. Handwritten signs and drawings adorn the chalkboard along one wall, and the whole back section of the paperie has been opened up and converted into an area for classes and socials.

Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter

Johnson said her team was excited to build upon the positive foundation Engage started, while also turning things up a notch.

“We want to offer elements that give people the opportunity to really make time to send cards and letters,” she said.

Those opportunities come in the form of calligraphy lessons, snail mail socials and Bible journaling classes offered on a weekly basis at the shop. Sometimes the classes are taught by Johnson and her team, other times local instructors like Chealsey Burtis, who designs calligraphy, come in to share their skills.

Sophomore Katie Magera, for one, loves everything the revamped shop has to offer.

“From endless cards, journals and Kate Spade accessories, Oh My Word is simply quaint,” she said. “The charismatic and welcoming atmosphere makes you feel at home in the world of cards.”

Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter

With each class offered or card sold Johnson hopes to encourage customers to put pen to paper, sharing their stories and fostering gratitude for the written word along the way.

“In a way we’re rediscovering something that a lot of people may have thought was lost,” Johnson said. “I don’t want my words to die with me, I want my kids to have that piece of me even when I’m no longer here. Taking the time to write things down preserves that—it’s not a dying art, I think now is the perfect time to create words that will last.”


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