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Roberts Office Supply, with modest start in 1928, does big business on south side square

Bill, Mrs. Roberts and John

The following story and photo originally appeared on the front page of the Sept. 24, 1959 edition of the Farmington Press. – Editor

Roberts’ Office Supply is a business that “just grew” according to Mr. And Mrs. John Roberts and their son Bill, who has worked with them since his discharge from the Air Force, in their office at the back of the store. From this vantage point, the “goings-on” in almost the entire store can be seen.

Mr. Roberts, who was born and reared in Farmington, established The Farmington Press with his brother Cecil in 1928, in a shop over what was then McKinney’s Bakery. The Ruth Garner Insurance Agency is now in the former bakery building. The brothers ran the paper during its growth from a 9x6 sheet with only three columns to its present eight-column size.

During the time that they were engaged in the printing business, John Roberts and his brother sold fountain pens, a few typewriters, typewriter ribbons and other items from their newspaper office. From then on it was a case of “more sold, more ordered” as far as the office supplies were concerned.

In 1946, John Roberts and his wife decided to give up the printing business, in which Cecil continued, and opened Robert’s Office Supply in the building next to the Ritz Theatre, where they remained until July 1956. Tots-to-Teens Shop now occupies the space where the office supply store had its business for 10 years.

Once again, the paths of The Press and Roberts crossed as the store was moved into the building as the store was moved into the building formerly occupied by the newspaper at 14 West Columbia. The present building provides more space and is outfitted with entirely new fixtures which the Roberts bought when they moved in.

‘Roberts Has It’

The slogan “Roberts Has It” is certainly appropriate since Roberts has everything from business machines to balloons, from a large selection of bridal needs to a good line of party supplies.

Bibles are one of the big orders handled by Roberts, especially for Christmas, birthdays and weddings. Roberts also has items for just about every holiday except firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

In addition to being the agency for Remington-Rand business machines in Farmington, Roberts will take trade-ins on other makes of portable typewriters and standard Remington machines.

Did you ever count the various types of paper, pencils and such in Roberts Office Supply? Chances are you haven’t, so here are a few statistics that might be surprising: Roberts has 78 kinds of typing and mimeograph paper, 70 kinds and sizes of columnar pads, 70 kinds of envelopes, and 18 degrees of pencils. “And people still ask for paper we don’t have,” Roberts remarked.

“Whenever a new business comes to town, we meet the people first,” stated Mrs. Roberts. “That isn’t surprising considering the supply of office equipment and smaller items sold by Roberts for every type of business.

Roberts filled a large order of desks, chairs, files and other equipment for the new high school.

Mail Order Business

Roberts handles a large amount of mail-order business, with “more business coming in the back door than through the front on some days.”

Mrs. Roberts buys stationery supplies, games, and so forth to be sold, and office equipment is bought by Mr. Roberts and Bill.

Among the services offered by Roberts are engraving and gold and silver stamping on appropriate items, and typewriter repairing.

Mr. and Mrs. Roberts have had their share of hardships during the years of business both in the newspaper and the store. They combated a fire started in the newspaper shop when the linotype blew up, a fire at their home, Mr. Roberts’ illness several years ago which kept him out of the business for a year, and the depression.

Employed at Roberts are Mrs. Robert Smith, Mrs. Theodore Jones and Jim Cleveland, who works part-time. Mrs. Smith has worked for the Roberts at intervals since her graduation from high school.

While we were talking with Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, their younger daughter, Norma, arrived from her duties as teacher at the Washington Elementary School. Norma is a graduate of Southeast Missouri State College at Cape Girardeau, teachers the third grade. The Roberts have one other daughter Evelyn, who as Mrs. Bert K. Boyer of Leadwood, is the mother of three girls. Bill and his wife, the former Mary Helen Parker, have one son. All the children and grandchildren are symbolized on Mrs. Roberts’ “Grandmother” bracelet, which also includes a small heart bearing the date of her wedding to Mr. Roberts.

Mrs. Roberts was born in Madison, Indiana where she lived until her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts came back to Farmington in 1928, at the time when the county courthouse was under construction.

Active In Community

Before being involved in an automobile accident which injured several members of his family, Mr. Roberts was active in the Masons and the Memorial Methodist Men’s Club. He is a charter member of both Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, and formerly was interested in the Farmington Blues and Cubs during their time of playing in Farmington. He was also an alderman for 12 years. The Roberts are Methodists.

The family moved to their new home at 439 Taylor Street in February 1938.

As an illustration of the Roberts family’s interest in pets, especially dogs, Mrs. Roberts related the following story: When they were still in the newspaper business, Mr. Roberts took an ad from a man who wanted to give away a small bulldog. He had immediate results — Mr. Roberts took the dog home to his family.

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