As a partner at Cook Stationery Company, Colleen Henery has seen the birth and subsequent obsolescence of products.
She sold an 8 inch disc, which became a memory stick. She then disappeared from the shelf as the information moved to the cloud.
Now, after seeing the business through more than 40 years of technological change and taking the initiative to keep downtown Salem alive during a pandemic, Henry is saying goodbye to his longstanding family business.
Cook Stationery, which has been selling office supplies for 88 years, will close its doors for the last time on April 28th.
Henry is the third generation owner. Her maternal grandfather helped her in 1935 when she bought the JK Gill Company and moved the store to its current location at 370 State Street, formerly the White House Restaurant.
Her father, James Henry, began working in the store upon his return from military service in World War II and purchased the store in 1957.
Both buildings are on the Adolphe Block, part of the National Register of Historic Places, and are commemorated by a plaque named Cook Stationery.
The register’s 1974 nomination form lists jewelers, watchmakers, state Democratic newspapers, meat markets, and saloons as early tenants in the late 1800s, when downtown Salem still had dirt roads. I was.
James Henry died in 1987 and Colleen and his brother Kip Henry took over the store.
“He died young and it was a time of grief, like we were thrown into the fire,” she said. .
“Our employees have done a great job over the last few years. They have helped us through many changes,” she said.
On Friday, March 10th, the sales floor was filled with piles of office supplies, paper and toner, and customers browsed the products that went on sale.
One was helped by Roma Walther, a purchasing agent who started working for Cook 32 years ago.
Walther worked at another supply store in Corvallis before moving to the Salem area, but coincidentally bought the house from Colleen and Kip’s parents.
“Office supply stores are generally fun for me,” said Walther.
She makes store purchases and tracks non-computerized inventory on paper and in her head.
Talking about the owner brought Walther to tears.
“They are good people, they have good values, and the values are to be there for the community, to be there for the people who are loyal to you,” she said. “And great. Very heartwarming. Sad.”
Walther said he wanted to thank the Henrys for the opportunity to work for them. She said she appreciated her family-focused leadership and was able to take time off to support her family.When she started, her daughter was just six months old. was.
“I mean, I could have worked elsewhere and probably made more money, but nothing compares to being able to work for them,” Walther said.
Cook’s staff shone during the pandemic lockdown. When retail clerk Robin Bielefeld led an effort to create Salem His Cozy His Walk to support 25 local businesses and opened his box of free refrigerators in Salem for food donations. is.
“We were trying to do whatever we could to help restaurants and neighbors,” Henery said.
Cook remained in business, meeting customers at the door with needed supplies.
Since that lockdown, the situation has improved, but business is not what it used to be, she said.
Henery and her brother decided to close around December, she said. I was considering selling my business, but I also want to sell the building I own.
On March 1st, they sent a letter to the customer informing them of the last delivery date of March 30th and a retirement sale in April.
They meet many longtime customers every week.
“Some of them even brought their grandchildren with them. That’s what I miss the most, it’s the people,” she said.
After the lengthy closure process is complete, Henry wants to continue being involved in the community through volunteerism.
“I love downtown Salem. She said.
Henery said he was sad to leave but was looking forward to some breathing time and a trip to the coast. She also has a hobby of selling antiques and she maintains a space at her local antiques mall.
Midway through the interview, when asked about the comings and goings of technology, Henery leaps from his chair and shows off an antique typewriter sitting in the back room.
It’s a heavy black LC Smith & Bros with a red bow, which she believes was left over when the shop repaired it. She does not know her exact age, but she has stated that she predates the 1926 merger of that company with her typewriter company Corona.
Typewriters are a once obsolete item making a comeback. Excited to see that the ribbons are still for sale, more and more young children come.
Technology is advancing, she said. Blacksmiths still make horseshoes, but they aren’t as necessary on every street corner as they used to be.
“Mixed feelings. The office supply industry has really changed. Many traditional places like ours are going out of business nationwide. “I feel proud of myself,” she said. .
Customers have been calling for support, she said. She hopes her retirement sale in April will bring a sense of closure and a chance to say goodbye to everyone.
“I’m so grateful to the community for how much support and love they’ve given us. It’s been a little flowery but really sweet throughout this process,” she said .
Please contact reporter Abby McDonald. [email protected] or 503-704-0355.
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