Passing the Torch at Bob Slate, Stationer

Passing the Torch at Bob Slate, Stationer

Seventy five years ago Robert Slate began selling paper and pencils at 8 Holyoke St. in Harvard Square as Bob Slate, Stationer. He persevered, survived the depression, nurtured his shop through the forties, thrived in the fifties, and unknown to himself created a legacy by orchestrating a seamless transition of responsibility to his sons Justin starting in 1963 and Mallory in 1973.

Under the Slate Brothers’ leadership, Bob Slate’s has become one of the preeminent stationery stores in the country and a “destination” as one of the centerpiece contributors to the special ambiance that is Harvard Square. In fact, one can make a good case that the term “stationery store” does not do Bob Slate’s justice. It is in reality a “country store for the artistic, academic and intellectual community”. As noted by one recent new visitor, “the variety is mind boggling, but the quality even more so”.

But now change is in the wind. Mallory and Justin intend to move on to new chapters in their lives and seek a new owner for Bob Slate’s. Knowing the special place that Bob Slate’s occupies in the day to day life of Harvard Square, they hope to find a buyer of like mind who regards quality highly, appreciates an iconic institution and will treasure the values that Bob Slate’s represents to its many thousands of committed customers.

The next owner will take over a healthy, vibrant business situation operated by a superb, dedicated staff being guided by a strong and committed management team. In 2007, the staff was rewarded by Harvard Square users, who voted, in a Harvard University survey, Bob Slate’s as the number four shop to visit in Harvard Square. There has also been continuing recognition in the annual Boston magazine’s Best of Boston Awards. In 2009 Bob Slate’s received the award for best Resource for Grownup School Supplies.

Judging from what the Brothers Slate have built, the new owner will be well attuned to the needs of those who appreciate quality, distinction and excellence in all aspects of life. As Mallory noted, “this is probably not a situation for a national chain with their homogenized approach to retailing”. When asked about timing of the transition, Justin indicated that while they have hired Ridge Hill Partners to manage the search process there is no urgency or deadline. “It’s all about finding the right buyer”.

Bob Slate, Stationer operates three stores in Cambridge, two in Harvard Square and one in Porter Square.

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