BELLINGHAM - One of Bellingham's oldest family-owned retailers will shut down next month after 108 years in business.
Griggs Office Supply will begin a liquidation sale on Monday, June 2, with the final day of business scheduled for Wednesday, June 25. The business at 102 W. Champion St. has had quite a run keeping up with all the technological changes in the workplace over the decades.
For third-generation owner Donel Griggs, it's time to retire and do some traveling and spend time with grandchildren. Her son, Steven, has decided to try something different after working at the store much of his adult life.
Donel Griggs took over for her husband, John Griggs, in 1984 figuring she would run the store "a few more years." But fell in love with retail and enjoyed seeing her customers, she said.
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"It's been a nice ride," Donel said. "We'll miss (the customers) so much, but it is time."
Griggs is very much old-school as a retail store, harkening back to a time before big-box and online retailers by focusing on customer service and providing a wide range of hard-to-find supplies. Customers can come in for a typewriter ribbon or single selections of envelopes, pens and pencils. Even the candy company supplier it works with, Abdallah, has more than 100 years of experience.
The store also has a variety of modern supplies such as ink for today's printers, supplying product for many businesses in the downtown district.
"This is the kind of business where you have to be willing to try new things," said employee Diana Spicer. "Those big-box stores make it easy for customers, so we had to be ready to work hard (to keep customers)."
While a longtime family-owned business, Griggs is also known for its longtime employees, Spicer and Kathy VanWinkle, who have each been at the store for more than 30 years. When Donel Griggs first took over, she had an employee meeting letting them know her desire to learn from them. Her willingness to learn was something Spicer said she really appreciated.
Griggs Office Supply first started in 1906, when Horace Griggs was traveling through Bellingham and bought Boyer Printing Co. for $50. He ran it until his son, H. Humphrey Griggs, began working at the store in 1929. Humphrey Griggs operated the business for 52 years, retiring in 1981. Humphrey's son John Griggs ran the store from 1981 to 1984, then decided to pursue another career and passed the business over to his wife, Donel.
During its 100th anniversary in 2006, the business moved to its current Champion Street spot.
"It's really an end of era, having an old-fashion office supply store like this," VanWinkle said.
With a few weeks until the store closes, the employees said they hope to see customers a few more times, noting that the news has been a little tough for some of them.
"Even if it is to come in to just to say good-bye, we would love to see them," Spicer said.