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Village Stationers to close Menlo Park and Los Altos locations

Closure signifies end of four-generation family business

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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."


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4 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2019 at 5:41 pm

Sorry to see you go but it was predicted in Answer magazine in 1889.

Web Link

31 people like this
Posted by Mila Zelkha
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2019 at 1:21 am

Thank you for your service to our greater community all these years! You will be missed!

All of your shops have been a favorite of our family's - the California Avenue one in particular was the one closest to us and 100% of our school supplies have come from your store not to mention many of the office supplies that were needed when we were small business owners.

Since the Cal Ave closure, we've been going between Los Altos and Menlo Park with picking out our holiday gift wrapping, stocking stuffers knowing you have had the best selection of Christmas crackers. From stickers to Beanie Boos, from hard to find "old school" folders to that perfect pen that throws great ink, our whole family is going to miss the store and the wonderful staff who have greeted us over the years.

If your daughter is the person who I'm thinking of from our experience at the store, she will make an excellent teacher and my children loved how she greeted them and remembered them over the years.

Best wishes and thanks for the fond memories & great service!

12 people like this
Posted by Maureen
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Maureen is a registered user.

Noooo. So sorry to see you go, we have shopped at the Menlo Park store for so many years.Back to school shopping was always a highlight.
All the best to you and your employees.

10 people like this
Posted by JoAnn
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Apr 22, 2019 at 1:46 pm

I can't believe it (but of course given the state of retail I can) as I use Village Stationers in Menlo Park for nearly everything, with cards, paper, my professional calendar, and all kinds of office materials. You will be very missed by many of us....I hate shopping online, I like to actually hold something in my hands and talk to a real person. All the people I've dealt with at Village Stationers over the decades I've gone there has been a great experience. I'm totally bummed about it like so many others posting here.

8 people like this
Posted by PV Food Lover
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 22, 2019 at 3:37 pm

PV Food Lover is a registered user.

I will really miss your store! I always knew I could find what I wanted there. A real loss to our communities! Thanks for so many years of great service!

19 people like this
Posted by Lois Hoctor (Mom)
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2019 at 4:49 pm

When Dad retired we knew we had left the store in very capable hands...yours! You've done us and yourself proud, Kerry, so take a bow and a well-deserved retirement. Thanks also to all the employees over the years who became a part of our extended family and showed the same care for our customers that we felt--that they were friends as well as customers.
Love to all of you, Lois

3 people like this
Posted by Jim Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2019 at 7:48 pm

The Menlo Park store has been great---conveniently located with a useful variety of fairly priced, good quality stationery and related office products. Staples is no substitute. The loss of Village Stationers reflects the continued failure of Menlo Park to retain, let alone attract needed retail services. We taxpayers should not be paying for such a useless business development function at City Hall

8 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2019 at 8:45 pm

pearl is a registered user.

As has been observed, more and more people are shopping online these days, which is causing businesses to down-size, or close altogether.

I moved from Menlo Park many years ago, but while a resident, I loved going into Village Stationers to look at their great selection of greeting cards...I always found something I liked. And Kerry and his staff were always so nice and helpful. It was such a pleasure to shop there.

Thanks to Kerry and his family for giving so much to our community over these many years. I hope Kerry enjoys his well-earned retirement!

6 people like this
Posted by Diana B.
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 22, 2019 at 9:34 pm

I am in your store two to three times a week! I cannot imagine Menlo Park without you. From
All of the women who work there and have over the years, you’re not just familiar faces but “ family”. This is a very sad day for my family to hear you are closing!!!
I only shop local so thank you for keeping this family business alive!

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Perez (Owner-QWERTY Education Services)
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 23, 2019 at 1:06 pm

Like most here, I was saddened to learn of Kerry's decision to close his business in downtown Menlo Park. My company has had a business account with Village Stationers for over 30 years, so we feel as if we are losing an old friend.

Over the years we have resisted the convenience of the "just buy it on Amazon" impulse, preferring the "inconvenient" community connectivity that comes along with walking into the store and always being greeted warmly. The relationships we have with Kerry's "cast of characters" have always been puntuated by a delightful combination of excellent customer service and good natured humor.

I just stopped in last week after reading the news of the impending close to say hello to the staff and express my sorrow. When Kerry himself was in the store, I always enjoyed a banter with him, often alluding to the challenge of running a small business, i.e. NOT a start-up, in the climate that we have chosen for ourselves. I will miss that.

Echoing Kerry's mother's comments, you should indeed "take a bow," Kerry. Menlo Park's loss will be the Gold Country's gain.

Like this comment
Posted by RanchGal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 23, 2019 at 7:40 pm

RanchGal is a registered user.

I am shocked and saddened but it’s the way of things here it seems lately. People retiring, rising rents, sad sad sad. We will miss you. I have been shopping there since you opened.

4 people like this
Posted by tb
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 24, 2019 at 12:43 pm

tb is a registered user.

Kerry and team, this makes me so sad as your business has been here for the 27 years I have called the peninsula my home. As a fellow Menlo Park business owner, I can completely relate to the hard work and dedication it takes to run a business. We've commiserated over the years on the challenges of running a small business. I wish you the best and most of all a carefree future where you are unencumbered by the daily running of your company. Perhaps our community at large will see this as a warning that local shops need to be cherished and frequented so that our Santa Cruz Avenue landscape doesn't turn into a sea of offices and/or big corporate brands. We are really grateful for our wonderful regular clients that love shopping locally and are always mindful of the possibility that the tide could turn toward the convenience of only shopping online. Bravo to you for your longevity and making the decision to enjoy retirement. I admire you for your contribution to the community all these years.
Cheers to a bright future!
Tiger Bachler, Owner
Alys Grace

Like this comment
Posted by Steve_J
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Steve_J is a registered user.

Sad, so sad.

3 people like this
Posted by Tyra
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 24, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Ah me, this makes me sooooo sad. Where will I go to test pens, find that lovely brown ink, or quickly buy an urgently needed envelope in the exact right size, while on my way to the post office? This will be a real loss to downtown Menlo Park, whose walkabiliby to fulfill almost all of my needs has been something that I have truly cherished.

7 people like this
Posted by Kerry Hoctor
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2019 at 3:22 pm

I'm at a loss for words to express my gratitude. Thank you all for such touching comments regarding myself and Village Stationers. My brother sent me a note saying our father would have been so proud of what I was able to accomplish. I just want to say I could not have done it without you, my very loyal customers who have supported me and Village Stationers through the good times and the bad times (McWhorters). As difficult as it is to leave my home of over 43 years I leave with countless memories and friends.
Thank you to all.
Kerry Hoctor and family

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