Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy 100th, A. J. Hastings!

Anyone remember small-town stationery stores? Amherst, Mass., has one that's alive, well, and celebrating 100 years. I shop at A. J. Hastings every time I visit Amherst, a home away from home, and my recent trip happily coincided with Hastings' centennial. The store is actually older, but the Hastings family bought it in 1914 and has run it since then--it's a third-generation family business.

The store's celebration included home-baked chocolate cake, display cases with artifacts, streamers across the windows, and a guest book to sign -- proof that it doesn't take much money to commemorate an important business anniversary. 

A. J. Hastings (which is not to be confused with our dear old client A. W. Hastings in Enfield, CT) sells merchandise for UMass, Amherst College and other five-towns institutions, art supplies, fun things for kids, and greeting cards in addition to office supplies. You have to love a store that has a section of sympathy cards for the loss of pets. 

Also, the map section is superb. I found a New York City subway map here that I couldn't find in Manhattan because we have no independent bookstores with maps anymore. A friend in Amherst told me that just before leaving for a trip to Russia, he found a map of Russia in stock, right in his hometown store ... and it was in Russian, which is what he wanted.

The Pioneer Valley has a Staples, sure, but Hastings is the real thing. It aptly calls itself "a small store with big ideals." That's good company storytelling.

Believe it or not, Amherst still has a typewriter store as well...but that's a story for another day.