One of the oldest businesses in the borough is calling it quits after 124 years.
Shipman Stationary Supplies, located at 2336 Grand Concourse and founded in 1886, is liquidating all of its merchandise. Despite its longevity, it could not survive the downward spiral in the economy caused by the recession.
Owner Fyed Irfaan bought the store, one of the few in the area selling educational and art supplies, just four years ago. He said that sales during the past five months have made it impossible for him to stay open. Much of his merchandise, which includes 60,000 different items, are now at prices that are 25% to 75% off.
“We are probably the only store supplying kids with science project kits and other materials for their school projects,” Irfaan said. “We were also the only game in town when it came to artist’s supplies in the area.”
Shipman carries stationary as well as school, office, art and teacher supplies. The business also carries toys and games, models, office furniture, crafts items like yarn and beads, greeting cards, and reference books. It stocks microscopes, telescopes, and binoculars.
Irfaan said that the business was doing fine, with sales even slightly up the first few years. But overhead and rent coupled with declining sales in the midst of the worst economic downturn in a generation have made it impossible to remain open.
“Looking at the clientele and the type of money that they were spending, I thought that it would be a good idea to close up shop,” Irfaan said. “I hate to do it and wish someone would come in and take it over. But that is very hard in this type of economy because most people want to wait before investing in a business. I tried everything I could to save the store.”
Shipman also has printing, faxing, typing services, and sells all kinds of legal forms. The liquidation has already begun and sales are starting to pick up, Irfaan said. The store supplied community centers, schools, churches, and day care facilities with their stationary and office supplies for years.
“I have been a customer of Shipman for the past 15 years,” said Angel Caballero, executive director of the Davidson Community Center, and director of an effort to form a business improvement district on Burnside Avenue. “The shop changed hands, and I have worked with Fyed. He has been very community oriented and tried different methods of getting the business back to the shape it was in years ago. It has been a very challenging effort for him, and I am sorry that he will be leaving.”