#CSBASpotlight: University Stationery

In honor of Women’s History Month, it’s time for the latest #CSBASpotlight — University Stationery! This family-owned #CentralSQ business has been a go-to for office supplies in the Cambridge area for nearly 90 years and loves being involved in Central Square’s diverse and active community. Learn more about University Stationery from co-owner Gail Seidman!

“University Stationery is a family owned business that was established in 1929 by my father, Samuel Seidman, in Inman Square. After he died in 1974, I left my career in management at Honeywell and joined my mother in running the business. My mother thought I was crazy. She said she couldn’t pay me the money I was making at Honeywell, but I didn’t care. I loved the business, and the rest is history. My brother also joined us in running the business after he retired from the Air Force as a pilot, and together me and him have been partners in running the business for many years. Our store was in the same location on Mass. Ave. for seventy-five years until two and a half years ago, when we moved across the street to our current location at 296 Mass. Ave.

[University Stationery is] challenged by the changing marketplace and buying habits of the modern generation. By listening to our customers’ needs and asking a lot of questions, we supply and recommend solutions to their problems. It is so satisfying to provide them with solutions, not just off-the-shelf products. We have expanded our products and modernized our store. It is rewarding when we can offer older products such as ledger sheets, alongside newer, modern products like magnetic notebooks.

What distinguishes us from our competitors is our knowledge of our products and our dedication to providing what the customers’ needs and wants are, not what we choose to sell. The reason we’re still in business is because we take the time to talk to our customers, while some businesses may not enjoy receiving telephone calls and inquiries from their customers like we do.

Even after all the progress that has been made, the office products industry is still mostly a man’s world. To combat this, women should just be themselves and not try to emulate men. Women wanting to start their own businesses should find something that they are passionate about and then make sure that they have enough capital to adequately cover inventory and personnel.    

We love being located in Central Square because of the diversity and sense of community. There are so many resources and help groups within a two to three mile radius. We have shelters, community outreach programs, the Senior Center, Salvation Army, Transition House, along with the many programs that MIT students run in conjunction with the city schools. Not to mention, the people in Cambridge are awesome. The community bonds together and does wonderful things.”

 Gail Seidman