Perham Office Supply is no more: Business closes after years on Main Street
Perham Office Supply officially closed its doors on Friday, March 31.
PERHAM — If you needed anything from pencils to printer ink to office signage, all you had to do for many decades was stop inside Perham Office Supply, located right on Main Street. However, that is no longer a possibility as of Friday, March 31. After many long years of operating in town, Perham Office Supply officially closed its doors.
"I think a lot of people got used to being at home during COVID," said store manager Kimberly Andersen as she reflected on the closure. "People were home, and they couldn't go out. They got used to ordering online, more than they had before. And then we ran into issues of people aren't going into stores and not going to need office supplies. And then we came into an area in time that it was a little difficult getting items. They were three or four weeks out, or it was hard to get shipping. Last year, we started to be able to get a lot of things available, but it cost twice as much."
Andersen shared that a carton of ten reams of paper used to be $30-$40. Now, that same order costs around $60-$80. All of the aforementioned changes led to the closure of the downtown staple. During their last few weeks in operation, Andersen had many regular customers come into the shop who said they wished the store could stay. For a lot of those people, shopping locally is important. Others just don't want to order online. Andersen said many of those customers want to touch and feel what they're going to buy.
She provided a few suggestions for anyone who wants to continue buying office supplies at a physical location in the Perham area: Mark's Home and More has an office supply section. Family Dollar also carries some office supplies. She also suggested that a hardware store may have items such as staples or rulers.
Information on the location for future shipping services previously offered at the business is pending.
For many regular customers, however, Perham Office Supply closing isn't just about losing a place to shop. It's also about losing a space where so many memories were made.
"It is sad," Andersen reflected. "You put your heart and soul in something and blood, sweat and tears trying to make it a good business, and give the community service and what they need or what they want … I've had people wander for about an hour, just walking around and looking at things and talking about their memories they had. (One said), 'I remember coming here with my grandkids or my mom.' One lady said she's come here with her little ones, and now to see it close — she said, 'Those are memories.' They just love coming in. You can smell the ink in the air."
Andersen herself has many memories associated with the store. She started working in the old book section of the building in 2005, back when the business was still owned by Doug and Sue Eckes. Andersen became Perham Office Supply's store manager in 2018, right around the same time the Eckeses sold the store to Levi Gottlieb and Zalman Schapero after operating it for 36 years.
As someone who's worked in the building since 2005, Andersen saw all the changes to Perham Office Supply as they came. This change, however, has been especially hard to swallow.
"I've been here a very long time," she said. "You get more than acquaintances. You start getting friends coming in. They know you for years … It has a lot to do with the people that I've seen over the years, and some of them I've known since the mid-2000s. So it's kind of sad watching the doors close. Even from 2018, since I've been store manager, you accumulate a lot of memories, and they're physical as well as emotional and mental."
Seeing the end of something that's been part of the community for so long is always sad, Andersen reflected. However, ends leave an opening for new opportunities, and the building still stands in preparation for more memories to come.
Andersen had this to say to the customers she saw throughout the years: "I want to thank them for the years and years and generations of people that have supported the business. I'm glad we were here for them to provide the service. I enjoyed their chats and their business. I just want to thank them for coming in and supporting the business."