Gary Wolin of McManus & Morgan


Words by:

Joyce Chai

Gary Wolin is the kind, passionate owner of McManus & Morgan, a paper supply shop located in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park neighborhood. A true Los Angeles gem, the shop has been been around for 100 years(!) with Gary at its helm for the past 59. I stopped in recently to peruse some samples and have a chat.

There are a myriad of reasons why a visit to McManus & Morgan is always welcome. For one, the shop is housed within a stunning 1923 Spanish Colonial Revival building located in MacArthur Park. With the onslaught of depressingly sterile apartment buildings popping up in the surrounding neighborhood, McManus & Morgan feels like a special enclave preserved from a Los Angeles past. (Tip: Visit McManus & Morgan’s neighbor, Aardvark Letterpress, to peep the building’s original hand-painted ceilings.) Top reason to visit the shop, though? Undeniably, its owner, Gary Wolin.

After gifting Gary some homemade challah11 Embracing the trend of tying everything up in a bow. and selecting samples for a client, our conversation casually segued into his own life and history of the business. Originally hailing from Detroit, Gary first moved to Los Angeles as a teenager after his father inherited McManus & Morgan (originally founded by two UCLA students, John McManus and Elder Morgan). He took to Los Angeles immediately, notably because he “had a car." Eventually inheriting the business himself, Gary has been generously guiding his customers through what’s possible in paper for the past 59 years.

It’s clear that Gary loves what he does, but he openly admits that he never had an inherent interest to work in his field. Acknowledging the serendipity of it all, he tells me “I used to be a paperboy. Now I’m a paper man.” Throughout the years, he’s acquired an incredible understanding of all things paper, a niche knowledge that he generously and excitedly shares with anyone who’s interested.

During our conversation, he scurries to the back of the shop to retrieve a pack of paper he recently ordered from Indiana-based Twinrocker. This paper is unlike any I’ve ever seen, visually resembling the tone and texture of popcorn ceilings. From there, he points out stacks of dyed paper from India with a mild frustration that the notecards are too big for the envelopes (but ultimately resigning to the fact that they’re too beautiful to care). He pulls out some samples from Lessbo Bruk, a paper company established in Sweden in 1694 but only recently made aware to him.

When I ask what excites him most about what he does, he simply gestures to the aforementioned bounty and says, “This.” Knowledge and discovery are exciting on their own, but what he loves most is being able to share this with others. His generosity of spirit is endlessly inspiring. Be sure to stop by McManus & Morgan to witness a true class act. Can't wait for our next visit.

McManus & Morgan
703 South Carondelet Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057

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