BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — In the age of social media, one Brooklyn wordsmith is encouraging New Yorkers to pick up pen and paper with a new business that seeks to revive the art of letter writing.
Snail Mail Café, created by Brooklyn Heights resident Sarah Bentley, hosts pop-up writing sessions where patrons can sit down with a cup of coffee to jot notes for loved ones. Participants can buy stationery, cards and stamps, and then Bentley collects and mails out the letters after each event.
“The point is to come in and combine the live-time nature of our communication now, texting, with sitting with a blank piece of paper and mailing it right in the moment,” said Bentley, 42, who is hosting a Snail Mail Café event on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Daily Press Coffee, 505 Franklin Ave.
“It isn’t about buying stationery to stick in a drawer at home. It’s different when you’re in front of it, you’re with that person you’re speaking to in a different way and it’s almost like giving them a piece of you.”
Bentley features cards from independent Brooklyn stationery suppliers, which cost attendees $7 including stamps. She provides wax seals for a personal touch, she added, and writers can drop off their finished letters in a makeshift mailbox.
There’s a growing demand to “slow it down” when it comes to correspondence, she said, with more people looking to forgo text messages for hand-scripted correspondence. After a Feb. 8 event, Bentley mailed out 45 letters.
“I think people are really longing to get back to forms of communication that are more meaningful and special,” Bentley said. “I look at it as the slow communication movement, akin to the slow food movement. Getting a piece of handwritten mail from someone else, it’s like finding an unexpected diamond.”
Snail Mail's pop-ups also give people the option to “send a selfie," where writers can compose cards to themselves about what they are grateful for in life.
The owner also encourages participants to mail a $1 postcard to a Minneapolis resident battling Stage IV Burkitt Lymphoma, in an effort to “send some Brooklyn love from our little corner of the planet.”
Bentley is currently in the process of finding a brick-and-mortar location to open a permanent Brooklyn space.