Online retail competition forces South Bay's Village Stationers to close after 53 years

The "75 percent off" signs at the front of the store tell the whole story. Village Stationers, one of the last mom-and-pop stationery shops left in the Bay Area, is closing.

Kerry Hoctor's parents opened the first store in 1966 in Palo Alto. He was just 12-years-old when he started working there.

"A Pink Pearl eraser. It was sold for 10 cents, and that was my first sale. I still have that dime," says Hoctor.

He took over the family business in 1981 and grew it to several locations. Two stores remain: Menlo Park, which closes next week, and Los Altos which closed on Saturday.

Hoctor, now 65, says a loyal customer base kept his family in business. But when the family looked at their finances, the high cost of rent, a $15 minimum wage, the drop in foot traffic, plus the onslaught of online retailers, he says the numbers just didn't add up.

"The challenges today are no secret to anybody. For brick and mortar stores, it's just brutal," says Hoctor. "The secret to our success was people coming in. They like to touch, feel, see something. And now, the generations coming up, they don't care."

"It's a landmark in Los Altos," says Elle LaRussa, who has been shopping at Village Stationers for almost two decades. "I don't want these stores to disappear. And Los Altos is a very small town, quaint atmosphere. We want to maintain that."

For many loyal shoppers, it was more than just a store.

"It's really like the place you can go to see your old friends. People are here, (who) you know. It's really a big loss. I am so sorry about it!" says Polly Worrell, who has shopped at the store for decades.

Kerry's daughter, Shannon Klein, ran the Los Altos store. She says the decision to close was tough, but she is proud of what her family built.

"I don't like when people say we are going of business, because we are not. We are just retiring. That's important to me, because we didn't fail," says Klein.

Just like the three generations of Hoctors who ran the family business, three generations were on hand as they locked up for the last time, which includes Kerry, Shannon and her two young children.

"I'll have my silver dime from 1966. But I will have my memories from 2019," says Hoctor.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.