About a week and a half ago, I needed a notebook. I was at work in downtown Austin and the nearest option for a notebook that met my demands (basically not the marbled ones from CVS), was a 2 mile round trip walk. I can’t fit that into my already too short lunch break.

And so, Stationery Cart was born – a mobile pop-up shop with notebooks, pens, pencils, small gifts and workday heroes like power banks. I had a vision in my head and I needed a way to move my cart downtown easily and store my merchandise when not in use. I did some online research, thank you Pinterest, and finally put my pencil to paper to draw up some plans.

My first step was the wheels. I hadn’t built a moving vehicle since my Lego days so the best option for me was a cargo trailer meant for a bike or a wagon. I opted for the Gorilla Cart wagon, at Home Depot or Lowe’s, and built my pop-up shop to sit on top.

Stationery Cart Plans

For the box itself I used 3/4″ plywood, which is misleading because in reality, it’s closer to 0.7″ plywood. Doesn’t sound like a big difference, but for a perfectionist, it was noticeable on the base of my cart when assembling. I did my best to recalculate on the fly but I had to focus on Minimum Viable Product here. The overall measurement is 23″ wide by 45″ long with a height of 24″. This is before it sits on the wagon. The wagon height gets it to a great height for shoppers.

Home Depot has a great DIY that helped me assemble the main box frame, but in my preferred dimensions.  I only smashed my finger once while making this but I’m still feeling the pain to this day.

Smashed finger during the process

I knew that I wanted my box to also serve as storage for inventory so I modified the Home Depot instructions and used furring strips to hold up a flat piece of wood, 6″ from the top, to hold displays. I only put the furring strips in the four corners to make sure that the shelf was level. I added two handles to the piece to lift it from the box. Handles are essential since the piece fits perfectly. I sanded this sucker by hand and you can see how red in the face I got in the celebratory selfie I took when it fit inside.

Instead of a top fitting lid that you lifted and moved away, I needed a hinged lid. I used three hinges so that my back wall could be a display of cards, notebooks, or whatever I needed.

Celebrating with wine

My next step was to add shelving for the cards on the wall that lifts up. If I had to do this all over again, I would have added this before putting hinges on the lid and attaching it to the box. I had to use wood glue, hold the shelving there, then hold it with one hand while hammering in the shelves from the back to secure them. On the first shelf, I did this alone because I’m stubborn but thank goodness my boyfriend came home to help with the second.

To keep merchandise from falling off the shelf, I glued on a round, quarter inch, oak dowel to the front. Does the job and looks sharp. This was also the moment when I realized that I needed something to hold the lid open. I went with chain that I screwed into the lid and in the base. Be careful when you’re screwing into the lid, that you can still shut your box. No I didn’t mess up, whatever gave you that idea.

Putting stickers on the stationery cart

After the box was assembled and ready to mingle, I sprayed urethane all over. I used a clear gloss that was more semi-gloss when applied on plywood but made it look so much more expensive. I had to use three cans of urethane if you’re plotting out your next move.

Finally it was time for stickers. This made it so real. I purchased the perfect fitting display baskets at Target and just like that Stationery Cart came to life.

Stationery Cart Merchandise Test

The first day with the cart, it was a windy one but I had made plans to go out and by golly, I was going to test the market. Beforehand, I stopped at REI to get elastic shock cord, i.e. bungee cord (if you’re reading this Home Depot, please start stocking this in store). About two inches above the card shelves, I stretched bungee cord across the entire shelf to hold the cards down. It worked amazingly! It was tied to chicken wire nails on each end and actually looked cute.

Stationery Cart at Hemline Austin

I want to thank my boyfriend for letting me skip the Bachelor finale to make this and for not going grocery shopping an entire week. I also want to point out that there was a lot of hard work that went into this. I glossed over the sanding of the edges and filling tiny holes before spraying urethane or getting the shelf to fit in. I learned a lot and I learned to love Gorilla Glue.

Sources –
Box supplies: Home Depot
Display baskets: Target
Bungee cord: REI (Shockingly, Amazon cancelled my order and Home Depot didn’t carry. Who knew REI was the place to go.)
Stickers: Rocket Banners (Super quick, great pricing.)
Apron: World Market

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *