NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Fewer things say “the town of Newton” more than trains and Anderson’s office supply store on Main Street.
The store on the corner of Main and Broadway that spans five generations of the Anderson family celebrated 125 years of business with a reception on Wednesday afternoon.
“I love that the floors still creak and I love that Phil hasn’t changed and neither has the store,” customer Janet Budde said, speaking of the third-generation store owner and manager.
Phil Anderson III has been with his grandfather’s store since 1956 after he graduated from Wichita State. KSN asked Anderson what the key was to the store’s longevity.
“Family. Family, family and good service and having a landmark building to work under,” Phil Anderson III said.
The landmark building has been on Newton’s Main Street since 1938 but founder Philip Murray Anderson was a salesman long before that, selling concessions at the famous Ragsdale Opera House in Newton and other entrepreneurial pursuits before opening the store in 1892.
“He’d probably be pretty overwhelmed but we’re having a good time,” Phil Anderson III said of his grandfather’s presumed thoughts about the quasquicentennial celebration.
The store has withstood the test of time partially due to its “evolution” with the time, according to fourth generation employee Murray Anderson.
“We’ve tried to change and adapt, we’ve started selling on eBay in the mid-2000’s…so there’s been an evolution throughout the 125 years and we’ve been a small part of that and adding the line of letter jackets and letter packets and things like that,” Murray Anderson said.
Murray Anderson has done a share of research about the store, noting they’ve sold everything from fireworks to refrigerators to office supplies and KU memorabilia. He says Joyce Hall, who began Hallmark Cards, called on his great-grandfather to carry her line of cards when she began.
The family also credits the concept of people shopping local.
“Being a downtown store, and in a small town, we do enjoy seeing a lot of the same people,” Murray Anderson said.
But for as much as things change, the more they stay the same at Anderson’s with family-owned service.
“We always put up school supplies in packets, so the customer could just come in and get them and we hear more comments about that than anything. Everybody remembers buying their school supplies here,” Phil Anderson III said.
Newton mayor Barth Hague declared June 7 to be “Phil Anderson day” at the celebration. Hague read several letters from area legislators congratulating Anderson’s as well as a letter from KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self, as Phil Anderson III is a huge basketball fan.