If you haven't discovered the pen community on Massdrop yet, consider this just the push you need to rush over there right now.
Massdrop is sort of a Groupon for gear. Communities form around specific enthusiasms – pens, for instance – then come to a consensus on some of the best items in that category and score awesome deals on them.
Recent pen deals have included a Lamy Safari fountain pen and mechanical pencil combo for US$33, a package of two Pilot Varsity 12-packs for US$42, and a Monteverde Invincia fountain pen for US$45. Those are discounts of up to half off the usual prices.
Group buys, called "drops," require a certain number of people to commit to buying a certain item. A few people, a small savings; a large group, a deeper discount. Drops stay open for a preset period of time. If not enough people join a drop in that time period, the deal doesn't go through and no one pays.
Even with large groups of committed buyers, the site can't always get the deals they seek. Massdrop is successful about one-third of the time, according to Forbes.
But, if the drop reaches its goal, this is what happens:
As soon as a drop ends, we collect money from all of the drop participants and place a single order with the vendor, who prepares the order and ships it to us through a freight service. Once we receive the shipment, we break down the crates of products, repackage everything, and ship out everyone’s individual orders.
The site is based in the US, but Massdrop will ship internationally via UPS. Shipping to the UK usually takes two to four weeks, according to Massdrop. US orders include a tracking number, but international orders receive only a tracking receipt in case the item is lost.
Shipping costs outside of the US can be high, so take that into account when deciding whether to join a drop.
By the way, the writing community at Massdrop doesn't just comprise pens. There are deals available on notebooks, inks and other items as well.
A heads up: Massdrop is a membership site, so that means you will have to register your email to be able to view the site. You might get some marketing emails from the site, but you can unsubscribe easily.