News


Village Stationers to close Menlo Park and Los Altos locations

Closure signifies end of four-generation family business

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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Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Kate Bradshaw writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

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Comments

32 people like this
Posted by Bummed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2019 at 4:12 pm

Oh bummer. Thanks so much for the great selection and service -- I won't be able to just run down to the store anymore for my calendars. Eek, we are all the poorer for having to dispose of shipping boxes and spend so much time online shopping for things that are already curated at a wonderful store like this.

For example, I just wanted a little self-inking stamp that said "scanned" for my scanned documents -- couldn't find what I wanted from hours of looking online over months, but got exactly what I needed ordered at Village Stationers in a few minutes at a reasonable price.

I really wish the cities around here would buy the retail areas same way as they have to own the land in order to stabilize the costs and make it possible to keep civic services like retail. Like Stanford owns land and faculty just buy the houses.

Will miss you!!


43 people like this
Posted by Double Bummed
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 19, 2019 at 6:15 pm

Double Bummed is a registered user.

Ugh, I cannot believe it. Every useful store seems to be closing. First OSH, then Milk Pail, then Village Stationers. And that doesn't even count the many before these that have closed. All we have are offices, offices, restaurants, and more offices. This is truly terrible news.


21 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 19, 2019 at 7:19 pm

Aside from the need to recycle so many boxes....
My street is flooded daily with clueless app delivery drivers delivering boxes to my neighbors, stopping suddenly, inattentive, blocking driveways. I distinguish them from our excellent mail carrier and UPS delivery truck driver.

Doesn’t seem so green (I thought Palo Altans were the most “greenest of all!”)

Sorry to hear this retailer is closing.


22 people like this
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2019 at 9:38 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

I am so sad to hear this. I was just at the Menlo store yesterday buying some beautiful Crane note cards. I won't know where to shop for this type of merchandise now, once VS closes.


3 people like this
Posted by Kenny
a resident of University South
on Apr 21, 2019 at 9:44 pm

Miriam, try Letter Perfect for Crane stationery.

It's sad to see Village Stationers go. At least we had them around for a long time.


8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 21, 2019 at 10:01 pm

This one isn't all Amazon's fault. I expect that the big box office supply stores have taken more of their business over the years than Amazon, especially for school supplies and business supplies. And as the article says, our society in general is using way less pens and writing paper than 10 or 20 years ago.


7 people like this
Posted by MarjorieZ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2019 at 10:30 am

Noooo I am so saddened to read this. I will miss this business SO much. I wish all the best to Kerry and his family.


3 people like this
Posted by vini
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2019 at 10:45 am

So so sad to hear the closing of both the locations...
Your STORES were my all time favorites for the beautiful art and stationaries that you carried including Vera Bradley pieces. what a loss for the MP and LA neighborhoods and for people like me who have travelled all the way from SF to buy stuff That I just loved and knew you will have for sure!!
WILL MISS YOU...All the Best!


3 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 22, 2019 at 11:10 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

This is good time to assess the realities of "retail" and its complexities. Some retail must change.

Future of retail is challenging and uncertain. Some sectors are terminally ill; others have good futures. I hope Menlo Park and Los Altos will exercise strong stewardship over its zoning polices. Zoning is intended to preserve land use.

Thoughtless conversion of retail zoning to office use must be avoided. Today's retail includes goods and services, especially neighborhood serving uses such as medical, dental, counseling, tutoring, even "some" attorneys! Update retail zoning and maintain healthy supply of ground floor space to accommodate these neighborhood serving uses at rental rates well below commercial office space for tech companies.


3 people like this
Posted by bye
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 22, 2019 at 11:37 am

Thanks Amazon and lazy cheap consumers, one more bit of the real world gone, hope you enjoyed saving that 50 cents


3 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 22, 2019 at 11:37 am

So sad. Grew up going to the stationers to buy greeting cards, note cards, gifts that other other retailers didn't offer


1 person likes this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

They were here in my town, on Cal Ave, for many years. I shopped there a little, but maybe not enough. I shopped a lot at that location when Printers' Inc was there.

It's the sign of the times and a sad ending to what used to be a robust retail on University Ave and on Cal Ave...mom and pops, family owned stores, independent single owner stores, the friendly and easy way to shop in stores that offered real customer service, and some, free gift wrapping. Those are the stores that many of us old timers remember and loved. Flower shops, book stores, hardware stores w/lumberyards, bakeries, pet stores, shoe stores, office furniture stores, et al. Most are gone forever for many reasons which you all already know about and have heard about numerous times.

The millennials will never have that experience, or understand it, but it's a waste of time to tell them what they missed. Thirty or forty years from now they will tell their grand-kids their version of the 'good old days', their remembrance to their 'good old days'. It won't include anything about local retail stores like us old timers remember them now.

I think most of our CC members have given up hope for that kind of retail returning...at least I hope so. I might question their sanity and motive if they think they can bring back my 'good old days'...but they keep fiddling with the definition, and zoning for that new definition. That's fine...we do need dentists, medical offices, attorneys, spas, gyms, and all those other loosely connected and defined service groups.

But, with just one or two exceptions, don't expect to buy a 2"x4", pets, a good selection of affordable clothes, books, office furniture, stationery, and shoes, on those Aves anymore. You want coffee shops, overpriced restaurants, salons, no problem. There are dozens available. Asian carpets...no problem there either. They have been going out of business for 30 years. Those new enterprises are there and welcome you. Just bring a fat wallet of Benjamins.

I want to say I miss the florist on Cal Ave, but there are two still surviving in the downtown area. I used Michaela's for my wife's memorial service, but I know Mills and Michaela's both do a good job, so do your best to keep them in business. We need to support the remaining survivors.


Like this comment
Posted by Julie Armitano
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 22, 2019 at 12:54 pm

it is really sad.
I hah shop there too.


3 people like this
Posted by Local shoppers are to blame
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2019 at 1:54 pm

No outside company can force someone from shopping anywhere they want. The local consumers made their choices and these local folks decided they weren't going to go to these businesses like they used to.
Things change, and I think THAT is what some people really dread.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2019 at 2:12 pm

I think that sadly this is not due to anything other than times have changed. I can't remember the last time I received a hand written letter, a thank you note or even a card for anything other than my birthday or Christmas and then only a small number compared to what I used to receive.

It is partly due to the cost of mailing but also due to the fact that many people do not appreciate a card when one has been sent to them. I remember the time when birthday cards were displayed prominently, letters were kept in treasure boxes to be read and reread, and pretty note cards were an acceptable gift for almost anyone.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2019 at 5:31 pm

Many people tll us they enjoy our post cards....but I guess that’s not enough to keep a retailer in biz.


3 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2019 at 8:32 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!


1 person likes this
Posted by jenapa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:20 pm

jenapa is a registered user.

Alas. I really appreciated being able to buy some items individually rather than in packs of a dozen (e.g., colored pens, butterfly clips). I took advantage of the staff's willingness to place special orders. The Menlo Park store had The Best blank cards and age-specific birthday cards. This store's stock and service are irreplaceable; I literally do not know where I will go now.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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