Perham Office Supply is under new ownership
After 36 years in business, Doug and Sue Eckes have retired, turning over the reins of Perham Office Supply to a Houston-based businessman with an online presence in office supply sales through Amazon.
Levi Gottlieb, who lives in Texas with his wife and their two children, said he and a silent partner purchased the Perham store as a "pilot project," and he hopes this will lead to further brick-and-mortar store purchases in additional communities.
Gottlieb has been selling printer ink, toner cartridges and other office supplies online as an owner of SZS Solutions, Inc. since 2014. He said the company brings in millions of dollars a year in sales.
"We have a history with office supply online stores — we have a big Amazon store," Gottlieb said. "So we were looking to build on that."
Perham's a long way from Houston, but the Eckeses said Gottlieb's purchase of their business felt like it was meant to be. They started the business in 1982 as Perham Printing and Office Supply, and continued to operate as Perham Office Supply after selling the printing side of the business (Perham Printing) six years ago. Just this past summer, they sold the copy services portion of the business to Photo Magic.
"So that left the shipping and office supply store, which was exactly what (the new owners) were looking for," said Sue.
Perham Office Supply has a long history with some of the industry's biggest suppliers, and also has strong business-to-business retail relationships, said Gottlieb — both those features were attractive to him and his partner as buyers.
"We were looking to expand on business-to-business, from our current business-to-consumer model," he said.
Perham Office Supply offers mailing and shipping services through Spee-Dee Delivery Service, UPS and FedEx, which was an additional draw for the new owners.
"We do a lot of business with FedEx and UPS, so we can offer some really good pricing," Gottlieb said.
He doesn't intend to make a lot of major changes at the shop, but would like to add some new products to the inventory, such as cell phone and computer hardware and accessories, possibly including some like-new but more affordable refurbished items. He also plans to have coffee available to shoppers every day, and has instituted a new rewards system that allows customers to earn points with their purchases.
Gottlieb was in Perham for an Open House at the shop on Oct. 31, where he got to meet some of the local customers and was part of the 'goodbye' celebrations for the Eckeses. He had previously traveled here this past June to see the store and tour the town for the first time.
He said he likes the community and plans to travel up from Texas every month or so to check in on things at the store. Kim Anderson, who has worked for Perham Office Supply for several years, now serves as manager and will be the primary contact and face of the shop for customers.
"We're committed to the community," Gottlieb said. "We want to keep supporting local projects and businesses."
Born and raised in Detroit, Gottlieb attended the Michigan Jewish Institute and is an ordained rabbi. As of last week, under Gottlieb's ownership of Perham Office Supply, the store is closed on Saturdays and all major Jewish holidays. Otherwise, store hours remain the same as before.
"As we reflect on the 36 years we have operated our business in Perham, we remember the people who have been so loyal and kind to us," wrote the Eckeses in a statement to the Focus. "We truly appreciate your business and your friendship. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you and this community... The new owners plan to continue serving the Perham area and intend to add new products and services and continually improve our store to meet your needs."
The Eckeses said they plan to remain active in the community in their retirement. They also look forward to spending more time with their kids and grandkids, and are excited to do some traveling.
Perham Office Supply is located at 223 West Main Street and may be reached at 218-346-6370.