As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Real Deal Road Trip No. 11: Bob Slate Stationer

Bob Slate Stationer

Three locations in Cambridge, MA.  63 Church Street is photographed.

I have been meaning to put up this post for seven months.  I just realized it is possibly very urgent. Perusing the Bob Slate company website, I learned that one of my very favorite Boston haunts is up for sale.  After 75 years of operation, Bob’s sons are ready to do something new.  That spells “threatened” to me.  I hope this little post attracts a worthy buyer, or at least a whole lot more loyal fans to keep the business as vibrant as it is today.

When I was about to leave Dublin I wrote a piece about how much I would miss the quirky, crazy nature of some of the Dublin shops.  They hadn’t been sanitized and streamlined by any bloodless MBA’s back at “HQ.”  In Dublin, “HQ” was just the owner or perhaps a team of people, including buyers who could pursue an instinct for quality, or a personal fancy for a new product.  (I’ll put up that post next–since I never put it online before.)  Bob Slate reminds me of a Dublin stationer I loved.  You can go in looking for some odd gummed paper hole reinforcer and realize there are six varieties of something like that, probably produced by an old-line company.  It’s just so darned satisfying…that thrill of both the hunt and the discovery.
But Bob Slate is also totally reliable for every pen, paper, notebook, stationery, art supply, thank-you card, ink, and printing need one might have.

Where else can you get a few varieties of sealing wax in dozens of luscious colors? I happen to care about sealing wax. But whatever you care about....toothy paper, writing instruments, art supplies....Bob Slate is the place.

The employees are a huge asset in this company: generally warm, personable, and very knowldgable. Just like "Elizabeth" who charmed me down to my toes on my last visit---just by being real and quirky.

So, pay a visit to one of the three locations.  Two are in Harvard Square.  Pass the word….someone needs to keep this local treasure alive and prospering for the next 75 years.

4 Responses to “Real Deal Road Trip No. 11: Bob Slate Stationer”

  1. Nora

    Say it ain’t so! Where will I find my funky notebooks to chronicle every project and client, excellent thank you notes that show I’m “oh so” thoughtful, a variety of pens and papers that match every grace note of expression. It will be a sad day when a small business that has stayed true to what it does best falls by the wayside or morphs into a large chain.

  2. Dan Weinreb

    Oh, no! They are the only suppliers I know of the lab notebooks that I have been using since 1980. I like them a lot, and it’s convenient that they’re all the same size. If anyone knows another source of my beloved Avery Dennison 53-110 (96 sheets, 5×5 quad, 10-18 by 7 7/8 inches, nice hard covers), please let me know. Meanwhile I’ll make haste to Slate’s and have them order me another carton (or several!). I have tried searching on the Web and getting in touch with Avery Dennison in the past, with no luck.

    Bob Slate’s is the best stationary store around, by far! They have a great line of products, and the people are very knowledgeable and friendly. I know nothing else like it.

  3. julespieri

    Dan and Nora….I don’t think we need to be writing Paeans to Bob Slate just yet….they say they are going to be patient in looking for the right buyer. But we can help by 1) Giving them our business and thereby helping assure its healthy sale, and 2) Spreading the word to attract a potential buyer or simply more customers.


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