School Days Supply Co. has been serving local educators for 36 years, and owner Audrey Chaplin said they’ll be there for many years to come.
“We’re the place with the experience,” she said.
The store in the Village West Shopping Center carries products ranging from stickers to office supplies to bulletin board paper, and it has online and print catalogues with even more merchandise. Chaplin and her husband, Bob, bought the business in December 1995 from Mary Moody, who started it in 1976.
Although neither one is a teacher, the Chaplins had experience with schools and teachers through their four children. They saw School Days as an established local business that they could keep going while serving an important part of the community.
“We just wanted a business of our own, and we found this and thought it would be something we could both work on,” she said.
School Days serves teachers of all kinds, from public and private schools to day cares, Sunday schools and home schools. At the beginning of every school year, the business reaches out to new teachers with goodie bags and materials. Chaplin said supporting local educators is very important to her, and is something she enjoys being able to do through the business.
“Teachers spend a lot of their own money, so we try to give as much as we can back to them,” she said.
School Days stays busy year round, but Chaplin likes to say that back-to-school season is their Christmas.
“It takes us six months to get ready for back-to-school, and six months to recover,” she said, laughing.
The store has recently started offering printing for T-shirts, pens, buttons, mugs and other promotional items.
Village West has been a great location for the store, Chaplin said, and she plans to stay there despite the construction of Goodwill’s Helms Career Institute all around the shopping center.
“This location is centrally located for just about everything,” she said.
Beverly Rushton teaches Sunday school at Langley First Baptist Church and came to the store because it’s the only place like it that she knows of.
“You have a lot more resources here, and they know what the kids like. It’s just so classroom-friendly,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anything close to this.”
Chaplin has three employees. Louise Hicks has worked there for 15 years, Nicole Marella for 13 years and Tif Chatfield is a certified teacher who has worked on and off for several years.
Other part-time employees have come and gone, Chaplin said, but having that loyal core makes her customers feel welcome when they come in the door.
“You go to a big-box store, they’re not going to walk around with you and help you pick out things,” she said. “We’re like one big happy family.”