For 53 years, Village Stationers has helped Peninsula residents find gifts, cards, office supplies and more at its family-run stationery shops.
But the owner of the business says Village's two remaining locations, in Menlo Park and Los Altos, will be shuttered before the end of the summer.
Owner Kerry Hoctor has opted not to renew the leases for the two locations at the end of August, and is prepared to leave before then if the landlords find new tenants, he told The Almanac.
Escalating challenges over the years, combined with the fact that both Hoctor and his daughter, Shannon Klein, who runs the Los Altos store, have other plans for the future, mean the days of the four-generation family business are numbered.
Hoctor plans to retire, and Klein plans to go into teaching. They tried to find someone to buy the business, Hoctor said, but found no takers.
"I would say the horizon is bleak when it comes to retail business," he said. Online retailers have drawn customers away, plus the demand for stationery isn't what it used to be, with the rise of e-cards, he explained.
In addition, with young students requiring few office supplies beyond a laptop today, back-to-school sales have declined significantly, he added.
Pair declining revenue with the high costs of doing business in the Bay Area – having to pay a premium for a downtown retail space, and high wages to employees, given the competitive job market – and it was not, Hoctor said, "an attractive proposition for anybody to come and take over."
"It's something we're quite proud of, to survive all these years with all of these challenges put forward," he said.
According to Hoctor, the shop has been run by four generations of his family, with five generations involved. His parents started the store in 1966 at the Palo Alto Town and Country Village, before moving it to Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park in 1976, according to the Village Stationers website.
When his parents traveled out of town, his grandfather would step in to help run the shop, Hoctor said.
In 1996, he moved the Menlo Park shop to its current location at 719 Santa Cruz Ave. He also ran a location on University Avenue in Palo Alto starting in 1988, before moving it to California Avenue in 2002. It closed in 2016.
In addition, in 2012, he opened a location at 222 Main St. in Los Altos. And just weeks ago, he said, his young granddaughter was in the shop helping him with pricing, representing the fifth generation of the family to be involved with running the store.
He said all of the stores had great customers. "Unfortunately, there just aren't enough of them anymore to stay profitable."
They've survived so long, he said, because of their customer service, with several employees working at the Menlo Park location for 10 or more years. "It was a comfortable environment for our customers," he said.
"I'd like to think that we'll be remembered at some point," he said. "You know, we're just going to be another chapter in the book of businesses that have come and gone.
"We held out longer than most. It's time to call it a day and move on."