Bob Slate Stationer To Reopen

Alumna will reopen longtime Harvard Square business this fall.

In March of this year, brothers Justin and Mallory Slate closed what was then the oldest business in Harvard Square continuously owned by the same family: Bob Slate Stationer. Their father, the eponymous Bob, opened the store in the 1930s to supply the paper needs of Cambridge residents and Harvard students and faculty. Branch shops followed. But then Staples moved into the Square and e-mails replaced notes and letters, even those written on Crane’s finest watermarked cards. Citing declining sales, their own advancing ages, and a fruitless search for a buyer for the business, the brothers held a giant inventory sale, where saddened patrons flocked to both bid the stores farewell and stock up on paper and art supplies. Then the doors to all three Slate locations were shut for good. Or so it seemed.

One of the customers most alarmed by the closings was Laura E. Donohue ’85. When she stopped by the going-out-of-business sale, she marched to the back of the store and inquired whether the business itself was still for sale. Then she bought it. With a background in finance (she is the former director of finance and operations at Harvard Business School Publishing), Donohue has leased a new space at 30 Brattle Street in the Square (the building that formerly housed WordsWorth bookstore and, coincidentally, also the site of a Slate store from 1975 to 1990), and plans to reopen Bob Slate Stationer this fall. “I have been a customer for 30 years, starting in my freshman year at Harvard,” Donohue says. “I couldn’t stand by and see another local Harvard Square business close.” 

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