HIGHLAND PARK – Shortly after Stationery Station opened in 1977, the owners alternated work days so their babies could take turns sleeping in the crib upstairs.
“My daughter was five months old and my business partner at the time was pregnant, so we set up a crib in the tiny house we took over from another stationery store, Fleur Creations, and went to work,” said owner Sheryl Oberman. The house was located at 1891 Second Street in Highland Park, the current home of Wild Birds Unlimited.
“The owner was retiring and coincidentally my friend and I both liked stationery, so (the previous owner) mentored us. I took the reins from my business partner three and a half years later, and the store’s been mine ever since.”
Stationery Station moved to 640 Central Avenue for 21 years before relocating to 610 Central Avenue in Port Clinton Square in 2001.
Oberman has learned to adapt to the changing times.
“The Internet has affected us and that’s why I reduced the size of my store two years ago,” she said. “I had two huge display units that were carrying party invitations for little boys and girls and that’s what I saw going online. We were able to link up our website to a few vendors who fulfilled those needs. So now we tell people if they want to do a kid’s party they should go to our website, click on it and find the link. Luckily I was able to see the light on that in time.”
Oberman explained that people still want to do actual invitations for big events like Bar Mitzvahs and weddings.
“When people come in to buy personalized stationary they ask if they’re the only ones doing it and we explain to them that we believe and hopefully people are teaching their children to believe that a handwritten note is lovely,” she said. “It’s something that someone can hold onto and remember and it really shows that you care.”
Oberman is an English teacher by training with a minor in rhetoric, and she offers advice about creating invitations as well as writing thank-you notes: “One of the tips on my website is to first mention what you loved most about the gift, or for a wedding or special event to say it was wonderful to see him or her and then end with a thank you,” she said.
Oberman described a new way of creating invitations by combining letter pressing with foil stamping. “Jamie Ostrow is a wonderful designer who was one of the first to utilize these methods for weddings and mitzvahs at Stationery Station,” she said.
Oberman is grateful for her dedicated employees, including Marlene Dobrin (40 years on and off) Ruth Blum (over 20 years) and Ellyn Saul (21 years). And though Alyssa Mosconi, graphic designer, has only been at Stationery Station for three years, Oberman said, “she knows more than I do.”
Oberman also appreciates how hard all of her employees work and enjoys teaching even her youngest employees life skills. “Some of the kids asked me to please not let their parents know that they vacuum the store,” she said.
Oberman’s daughter Lauren Strongin practically grew up at Stationery Station, and one of her skills helped out during a college internship. “Lauren had to gift wrap about 50 packages and she completed the task in only an hour and a half,” said Oberman.
Stationery Station will celebrate its 40th anniversary April 3 to 13 with 10 days of giveaways. “We’re going to be giving away one or more gifts every day from our favorite vendors and some of the gifts are cool things from the store,” said Oberman. Gifts include a leather blotter with a pencil cup, note pads from Kate Spade, and pens and little notebooks.
People are encouraged to comment on the store’s 40th logo on the store’s website, www.stationerystation.com, or “like” Stationery Station on Facebook, and each day “we’ll randomly pull one or more winners for 10 days,” she added. On April 14, Stationery Station will have a 20-percent off stationery sale.
Oberman explained her secret to success: “I love that people come in year after year and they still love what we do and we’re able to do cool things for them,” she said. “I also love when someone says ‘my daughter’s getting married and I did a birth announcement with you.’ It’s just fun to fulfill people’s visions.”