On the West Side of Cleveland sits Buehner’s Office Supply, a trip back to a time when office supply stores were the cog in the wheel of business. The shop is also a window into a world where analog was king. More than that, a visit here reminds you of the not so distant past when nearly everything was made by thousands of little independent companies all over the United States. Not so much anymore.
It’s not just a place to pick up a “scratch pad” (which I actually did, made in Murica too), Buehner’s is a time machine into a world that doesn’t exist anymore. The alternative —Staples and the like — are spacious, efficient and homogenous; shopping there is an experience that parallels a lobotomy. Almost everything is unbranded, devoid of character, cheap and easy. I understand why it is what it is, but that doesn’t make me actually like it.
I’m the type of person to seek out the specific maker of envelopes and order them direct rather than buy some cheap house brand. Some people would say that makes me a hipster (yuppie) and a lot of people don’t really get my allure to the indies, but some of you certainly understand and appreciate the alternative. I’d rather pay more for something with personality. I’d rather support the small paper company that makes very specific product and I’d prefer give my money to support “know how,” rather than just perpetuate a lifetime of cheap shit. This store actually makes me think about some experiences I’ve had traveling, it’s always so disappointing to fly halfway around the world and find that everything is exactly the same. A better word for it is depressing.
Deadstock Robinson Reminders refills still actually for sale on the shelves. RR shut down a long time ago.
At Buehner’s I had a chance to talk to the owner about how the business has changed and how so much of what was a massive industry that has just been completely decimated. Think of how many printers and manufacturers are out of business. Every time I walk into Terrapin Stationers in Midtown I am happy that Ted continues to fight the good fight to keep the machines running. While the people at Buehner’s are obviously not pleased about what has happened, they were surprisingly candid about the road that led to the way things are now. Maybe that’s why this place hasn’t changed? Maybe they keep the store frozen in time so people have a better understanding of just how much the world has changed.
Buehner’s Office Supply | 5818 Detroit Ave | Cleveland, OH 44102 | (216) 651-6559
Above: I used these things like crazy delivering firewood in Cleveland growing up.