Alan Cohen moved to Chapel Hill in 1996 to escape the Connecticut winters he'd lived through for 45 years. When he arrived, he opened a store — Office Supplies & More, on Franklin Street.
The card, gift and office supply store is now named Crazy Alan’s Emporium, and Cohen has embraced the nickname, saying it's "a great name for the store."
“People come in and they just want to meet Crazy Alan — just to see if there is a Crazy Alan,” Cohen said.
But now, after more than 20 years in Chapel Hill, Crazy Alan's Emporium is closing on August 23 as Cohen is retiring.
He said the outpour of telling the Chapel Hill community he is retiring has been incredible.
“I am stoked with my decision of closing August 23,” Cohen said. “It's been a wonderful run."
Alina Gabitov, an employee at Crazy Alan’s Emporium, has been working for Cohen for almost two years. She said Cohen is a very caring person — from buying her lunch once a week to being almost like a "cool uncle."
“He's got so many interesting stories and he knows so many cool people,” Gabitov said. “And it's just he gets so passionate about pens too. It's very, very sweet, I just love to hear him talking to customers and tell them all about his stuff.”
In 2014, Cohen began attending pen shows in large cities across the U.S. showcasing a variety of different pens he carries in the store.