It was April 2011 when husband and wife team Leone and Dennis Margo opened up shop with The Stationery Butler in the Village Square Shopping Centre, not knowing what to expect.
“We arrived from Joburg, and we were quite simply done with Joburg,” recalls Leone of that time. “We didn’t really know what to do here, but then we realized that there was space for a stationery store. A small store still existed in the old part of the Village, and Waltons was still going in Jeffrey’s Bay, but we had experience in the business with suppliers and others in the stationery industry, so we set about opening shop.”
It’s always stressful opening up a new business, especially in what was still a fairly small community back in 2011. Overheads creep up, you’re never sure if you’re going to be accepted by the locals, or even fulfill a need. Leone and Dennis need not have worried that much.
“We still had paper on our windows and were shop fitting, and we would have people knock on our window and ask us what we were doing, and what we were going to sell,” remembers Leone. “When we told them that it was stationery, they were all delighted, but everyone told us to please stock toys as well. They all wanted toys. This was a bit of a surprise to us.”
There were plenty of families and children around, but were there enough children to make toy selling sustainable?
“We were selling stationery all the time, so we were fine from the outset, but when our first Christmas approached and the visitors came, I was literally driving out to Port Elizabeth every second day to buy toys from suppliers to fill up our shelves. As fast as I would fill them up, they would be sold. It was quite unbelievable, but in a good way.”
Since those early days, The Stationery Butler has become part of the community, and has relationships with the local schools including Sea Vista Primary, St Francis College and the Nursery School.
The Stationery Butler has a very warm and inviting environment, and the ladies are always keen to have a chat, to see how everyone is doing, and to be involved with the community. There was great sadness when Dennis passed on in April 2018, and thereafter Leone decided to just keep the ladies working. “We are myself, Cindy and Debbie, along with Meraai, and we run it quite capably during the year, and when the season comes we employ four casual staff to help with the influx,” said Leone.
The Stationery Butler is also involved with local charity work, including supporting St Francis Animal Rescue and Talhado.
“It has been wonderful being part of the community, and trying our best to offer the best services we can,” said Leone. “It has always been great working with Capland, and Inka is very involved and interested in what we are up to, as well as our well-being.”
Being one of the longer businesses established in the Village Square Shopping Centre, the Stationery Butler is ‘part of the furniture’ now and it would be hard to imagine the shopping center without them. They receive glowing feedback on their Facebook page, and are always ready to go the extra mile should there be an unusual request. Are there any unusual requests though? Does anything out of the ordinary happen at a stationary store?
“This year during the Christmas season I had a box of Unicorn Poepsies for sale with the toys,” said Leone. “That’s unicorn poohs. I didn’t know what I was going to do with them, and they were quite expensive. Then an American lady walked into the shop and started shrieking when she saw these poohs. She told me that she had been searching for them all over America, and now she had found them in St Francis Bay, which was quite funny. Then I sold all of these poohs, even though they were quite big, and then started getting more and more requests for them during the season, which was really strange, but also pretty funny.”
The Stationery Butler is on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/statbutler