Sparta Office Supplies closes its doors for last time

By | June 3, 2019 6:42 am

By Rachel Auberger

On May 31, Rita Pearson walked out of Sparta Office Supplies, which had been located on Liberty Square since 1972, for the last time.

Pearson, who owned the building and the business with her late husband Don Pearson, said the time had come to close the business.

“Don passed away last August, and I knew I couldn’t do all of this on my own,” Rita Pearson said.

She found a buyer for the building and began the process of liquidating the long-standing Sparta business.

“There was a lot of stuff in here,” Rita Pearson laughed as she looked around at the almost empty building and watched her children and grandchildren moving boxes and shelves. “We have been really busy trying to get everything out before the new owners come in.”

Sparta Office Supplies was started, in 1969, by Floyd Null, who, along with Rita Pearson’s husband, worked out of a warehouse and delivered supplies to their customers.

“Don used to work out of his car,” Pearson remembered. “He would get stuff from the warehouse and load his car down and make deliveries. He would also do maintenance on customers’ machines while he was there.”

In 1972, Don Pearson purchased the building, on Liberty Square, and moved the business out of the warehouse.

“This used to be King’s Department Store,” Rita Pearson said. “We bought the building from Mr. King so that we could have a storefront and a place for customers to come.”

Along with a physical store, the new location allowed Sparta Office Supplies to begin offering printing services.

In 1984, Rita Pearson joined her husband full time at the store, and, three years later, they purchased the building next door. According to Rita Pearson, they purchased the second building, which had previously been the Sparta Expositor, and cut a doorway into the adjoining space so they could move the print shop portion of the business into it.

“Before we had both buildings, the print shop was upstairs,” Rita Pearson said. “We had to carry cases of paper up and down two flights of stairs. This second building made printing so much easier.”

In the early 1990s, the Pearsons expanded the business again when they began making trophies. What was supposed to be a hobby for the couple quickly took off, and Doyle Trophies became a full-fledged business that the Pearsons moved into their Liberty Square building.

Pearson said she loved working with her husband and enjoyed the time they spent together at the shop.

“We were always together, and we liked it that way,” she said.

They weren’t often alone when they were at the shop, however. Pearson talked about how customers would stop in just to talk. She pointed to the front window and reminisced about her husband placing two chairs near it so that he and some of “the regulars” would have a place to sit while they shared stories.

“We have always had great customers – loyal customers – from across both White and Van Buren counties,” Pearson said. “That’s what I will miss: the people. They have become like family after all these years.”

As for what’s next, Rita Pearson said she really doesn’t know, but she does plan to spend some time visiting her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“And trophies – I’m still going to make trophies for a while,” she said.

In fact, Pearson said she plans to keep Doyle Trophies running from her home.

“I will have the calls forwarded to my home phone for a while,” she said. “If anyone needs trophies, they can just call the number they always have, and I will take their order.”

“Other than that, I really have no idea what I’m going to do,” she laughed.

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