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Business Profile
Preston's Stationery Refining a Niche
Four generations of a Bel Air family have
provided stationery supplies for Harford
County, beginning in 1926 with a store on
Main Street that offered magazines and
newspapers, along with stationery, and
other `sundries' including cigarettes, tobacco
products, guitar strings and shoelaces.
According to Rob Preston, "my grandfather
carried anything the community wanted;
during the Depression, he sold anything
he could."
The store became a
Hallmark dealer in
1934, a distinction
Preston's would continue
into the 1990s. Other greeting card lines
were added over the years and after Rob's
father Don joined the firm in 1946 (following
his military service) the firm
expanded their social stationery
to include wedding invitations.
The office stationery side of the
business was expanding as well,
with office furniture and other
supplies. Don and his father
moved the business to its present
location on South Main Street in
1968, fortuitously as it turned out
because the firm escaped the
devastation of the 1972 fire that destroyed
many of the shops on Main Street. 1972
was the year that Rob joined the firm,
following his military service. During the
1970s and 80s,
Preston's Stationery enjoyed
a period of tremendous growth providing
office machines and furniture along with
office supplies for a growing number of
businesses in the County, while maintaining
and building their niche in the community
for greeting cards, social stationery and
wedding stationery. The popularity of
the "card shop" was such that the family
expanded the building in 1976 to provide
additional space.
However, competition from national chains
challenged the store on price points for
many of the office machines, furniture and
supplies.
Preston's continued to provide the
same personal service that had earned the
loyal following of the local business
community, with the development of
online service and specialized in custom
printing and handmade stationery. That
specialization has redefined the niche
that
Preston's Stationery now enjoys.
Kim Preston Bond
(the fourth generation!)
says that she "always
loved the card shop,
ever since I was little."
After graduation from
Towson with a degree
in psychology, Kim
further developed
the firm's wedding
stationery services with her mother
Susan. "We're just about the only
place locally that you can get the
kind of custom wedding invitations
and stationery that we offer. We
have catalogs from several dozen
different companies, with different themes
and styles. We offer in-house printing as
well as handmade items. We even tie the
bows on invitations ourselves!"
Susan explained, "We take the time to
sit down with brides and their families
to select or design everything, from `save
the date' notes, to invitations, to menus
and special hand drawn insets. Wedding
stationery has come a long way from when
your choices were limited to white or
ecru now we're seeing every possible
color combination." She jokes "We're
just passionate about paper!"
That passion, combined with the personal
service that made
Preston's Stationery a
success for the last 7 decades, has refined
the firm's focus. Their shop at 319 S. Main
Street in Bel Air provides "Endless options,
exquisite papers and exceptional service"
just what you'd want to expect from four
generations of a family truly connected to
the community.
www.harfordsheart.com
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HHT-030-01 May/June 10:harford'sheart winter08 4/20/10 11:41 PM Page 51