Crain’s Office Supply: Local to the Core

By Emma Margraf

(Originaly published 9/2016)

 

One of the many benefits of living in a community like ours is that we have local business people like Greg Seals, who has been in the office supplies field for 36 years. Seals started with a job at Griswold’s in downtown Olympia in 1979. He starting working for Crain’s Office Supplies when they opened in 1985, and eventually bought the business from the Crain family. His wife Mary is his business partner, and he employs eight people in the business, including his nephew. It’s safe to say that in our area, Seals is the office supply expert, and Crain’s Office Supply is a business locals count on as a result.

Greg is local, through and through. He grew up in Tumwater, and went to Tumwater public schools. His children went to Tumwater public schools, and his grandchildren go to Tumwater public schools. This year he got the idea to donate 100 backpacks full of school supplies to local kids in need, and he brought them to the Tumwater schools, because they’d reached out to him and he felt a a deep connection to them. They are part of his community. He plans to step up the backpack drive next year, and potentially have his business serve as a collection site.

Community is how Crain’s has survived and thrived even when big box office supply stores moved into town and threatened their livelihood. Crain’s responded by making sure that their prices were competitive, investing heavily in a convenient and easy website for customer ease, and doubling down on their customer service. Crain’s prides themselves on hiring knowledgeable staff that can help their customers find the right product, without any sales pressure.

And Seals knew that being a local business owner and part of the community would help him in this endeavor; Tumwater schools told him that the big box stores would maybe have donated a few backpacks, but never 100. Being a part of the community has been the foundation of his business philosophy.

Their customers are mostly locals, and mostly regulars. Many of them have become friends over the years, because Crain’s prides itself on relationship building. They deliver for free anywhere in Thurston County. This is a central aspect of the business, and they employ two full-time drivers to get the job done. They also get to give back by buying from other local businesses, which they consider rewarding because they get to get and also give. This circle of support helps them develop relationships where people get to know and trust you. It’s community. It’s local.

It was a scary time for a while, but today the big box office supply stores have closed down and left our area, and Crain’s is the only store you can walk into and get anything you need to stock in your office. Many local businesses count on them for point-of-sale supplies like cash register tape and credit card machine paper. Crain’s competed for and won the contract to supply the City of Olympia- they serve a lot of other government agencies, private businesses, and local schools.

Crain’s has seen a surge in walk in business since the box stores have closed down. They are the only stocking dealer around, where you can walk in and find hard to find items and also regular commodities. Most of their business is online, and Crain’s has been very careful to build a useful website that works well for customers. The majority of their online business comes from local customers, who find the website convenient and order for local delivery.

When asked to look into the future, Seals says he plans to continue growing Crain’s and to continue being what he calls a complete solutions provider. That means that Crain’s aims to stock everything you need to keep your office running smoothly, be it furniture, janitorial supplies, break room needs, or your regular pens, pencils, and paper.

Crain’s is in a convenient location just out of downtown with it’s own parking lot. But if you’d rather stay out of the elements, their website is http://shop.crainsofficesupply.com/, and they’ll come to you.

 

Crain’s Office Supply

1006 4th Avenue East, Olympia WA 98506

360-754-1055

Monday-Friday 8:00-5:00