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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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