89.1 WEMU

creative:impact - Making Book(s) That Hollander's Will Thrive Online

Mar 3, 2020

Cindy and Tom Hollander
Credit Cindy and Tom Hollander

Change is constant, especially in retail.  After more than 30 years, Hollander’s, known for its beautiful paper, gifts, and paper and bookmaking workshops, is moving to an online format in June when it closes its Kerrytown shop.  Cindy and Tom Hollander join The Arts Alliance’s Deb Polich and WEMU’s David Fair to talk about the next page in the book of Hollander’s on this edition of “creative.impact.”


Deb Polich, President and CEO of the Arts Alliance

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

HISTORY OF HOLLANDER'S IN THE KERRYTOWN SHOPS (1986-2020)

In 1986, Tom and Cindy Hollander began a small business from their home making and selling handcrafted boxes, and desk accessories. In 1991, they opened a retail store in the Kerrytown Shops in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Gradually, the store expanded and today it occupies over 10,000 square feet, including a downstairs workshop and studio space. 

Hollander’s has become nationally recognized as a leading source for unique decorative papers (with over 2,000 in stock), as well as a major source of hand-bookbinding tools and supplies.  In addition, they have also established an extensive program of book and paper art workshops which they began in 1993.  

Along with decorative papers, bookbinding supplies, and workshops, their bricks and mortar retail store offers a large collection of general art supplies.  They are also considered Ann Arbor's premier stationery store with a large collection of greeting cards, journals, address books, gift wrap, ribbon, and unique gift items.

Hollander’s is owned by Tom and Cindy Hollander. They opened their store in 1991 and 2020  marks 30 years they have been in the Kerrytown Market & Shops, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

What follows is a brief history of their business:

  • 1960’s and 70’s – Tom learned book and box making from his mother, Annette Hollander, who developed a small craft business in Connecticut called Bookcraft.  Cindy grew up enjoying all arts and crafts and had a special passion for interior design and shopping at unique stationery stores. 
  • 1986 – Tom and Cindy, living in Ann Arbor, decided to start their own Bookcraft business out of their home, which gradually grew into a full-time job for both of them.  They mostly sold their handcrafted products at local and Midwestern art fairs. 
  • 1991 – Opened a retail store, located on the second floor in the Kerrytown Shops in downtown Ann Arbor.  From a very small (200 sf) space, they sold their hand-made boxes, journals, photo albums, and paper covered desk accessories.
  • 1992 – Expanded into a larger space across the hallway.
  • 1993 – Tom and Cindy offered store demonstrations of their craft.  They were joined by several local book and paper artists that also participated in various demos. 
  • 1994 – Began teaching one and two day workshops in their store.  Later they named it Hollander’s School of Book & Paper Arts to describe their classes.  Local instructors began teaching workshops in bookbinding, book arts, paper making, paper marbling, calligraphy, and more.
  • 1996 – Added an additional 500 square feet behind their store front.  This enabled Tom and Cindy to move their work studio, which was still based in their home, to the store location.
  • 2000 – A larger expansion grew their upstairs store to 2,500 square feet.  In the process, they continued to grow their  decorative paper collection, bookbinding supplies and stationery  products.  They also held their school’s first of six school “graduation” ceremonies.
  • 2001 – Moved their school to the 3,500 square foot basement to the Godfrey building, below where their current store is located.  Over the next few years, large bookbinding and letterpress equipment was added. More workshops were introduced with many top notch instructors coming to teach at Hollander’s.
  • 2002 – Relocated their upstairs retail store to the 5,000 square foot location on the ground floor in the Godfrey building.  It was now directly above the workshop space. The store front was modified to connect the two floors.  In the new and much larger retail store, they became recognized as one of the country’s premiere paper stores.
  • 2003 – Started and partnered with the Kerrytown District Association to help found the Kerrytown Bookfest.  This event emphasized a strong book and paper arts component.  Over the next 10 years the Bookfest grew into a major fall event in Ann Arbor and continues today, larger than ever.
  • 2005 – Formed a partnership with the American Academy of Bookbinding, a professional bookbinding school based in Telluride, Colorado.  Through AAB, Hollander’s began offering intensive one and two weeklong workshops in advanced bookbinding, book repair, and paper conservation.  Classes were taught by world renowned AAB instructors, including Don Etherington and Monique Lallier.
  • 2006 – Hollander’s school grew to where it was offering over 60 workshops a year, with about 1,000 students attending annually.  Classes filled quickly and the school attracted participants from around the country.  
  • 2009 – Tom and Cindy opened  Hollander’s Kitchen and Home store on the second floor of the Godfrey Building, directly above their paper store.  As a result , Hollander’s three floors was now close to 15,000 square feet. The kitchen store was connected to the paper store by a large interior stairway and it allowed easy access to a large selection of kitchenware, as well as a mix of home décor items.  Hollander’s ttook advantage of a beautiful existing kitchen in the space and offered weekly cooking classes.  
  • 2010 – Tom and Cindy wrote and published their first book, Constructing and Covering Boxes.  They also continued hand-crafting custom books and boxes for many customers and clients.  Over the years, among their commissioned pieces were those for Gerald Ford, Stephen M. Ross, and the Arthur Miller family.
  • 2013 – After successfully growing the kitchen and home store and after 20 years of running the workshops, Tom and Cindy decided to take a step back.  Downsizing was difficult, but it enabled them to focus on various aspects of maintaining a successful business.  This included implementing new ways to grow and enhance their store’s core offerings.  It also enabled them to work closely with staff and help develop and expand the customer service experience.  
  • 2014 – Continued to seek out new and interesting products, including a wide range of art supplies, new decorative papers, card lines, stationery, and gift items.  Emphasis was also devoted to creating attractive merchandise displays, as well as an inviting store ambiance.  The Hollander's also completely rebuilt their website, www.hollanders.com.  This made it easier for Internet customers to view and purchase decorative papers and bookbinding supplies.  Over the years, the website has played an integral role in the growth and awareness of their business.  
  • 2016 – Hollander’s celebrated its store’s 25th anniversary and announced plans to reintroduce their book and paper arts workshops in the fall.  They also began writing a second book on bookbinding and box making.  
  • 2019 – Tom and Cindy's Introduction to Bookbinding and Custom Cases was published and at the same time, they completed an updated, second edition of their original box making book.  The website was also once again rebuilt, allowing Hollander’s to continue to grow its national base.
  • 2020 – After nearly thirty years in the Kerrytown Market & Shops, Hollander’s made the most difficult decision to close its retail brick and mortar store at the end of June, 2020.  Owners Tom and Cindy Hollander plan to continue with their Internet business of selling decorative papers, bookbinding supplies, and offering custom cutting services.  Workshops may continue as well but will be put on hold for at least during the transition.

Tom and Cindy feel fortunate to have grown their business in the Kerrytown Shops since 1991.  Starting from a small shop of less than 200 square feet, they never dreamed they would become a major anchor store and achieve national recognition.  They are endlessly grateful to the local community, including the many customers, instructors, employees, and others who have supported them over the past three decades.  They are especially appreciative of the encouragement and support of Kerrytown management over the years. 

Hollander's is planning a brick and mortar store sale beginning in April to sell down their inventory as well as some fixtures and equipment.  Our tentative closing date is June 25.

"KERRYTOWN'S HOLLANDER'S PAPER SHOP TO CLOSE AFTER 30 YEARS"

By Dana Afana

ANN ARBOR, MI -- An Ann Arbor paper and bookbinding shop in Kerrytown is closing after nearly 30 years.

Hollander’s retail shop, 410 N. 4th Ave., will close on Tuesday, June 30.  Owners Tom and Cindy Hollander plan to continue a smaller online business, but want to a more relaxed schedule to spend time with family, they said.

“Our best memories are a lot of customers that have come through, whether they’ve been taking classes and we’ve gotten to know them from that, but also our regular customers that come in.  We’re going to miss that component,” Tom Hollander said.

The couple enjoyed traveling to find new sources of paper and meeting artists coming in and out of the store, Cindy Hollander said.

“We really like Kerrytown as a district ... and the people here have made it really special,” she said.  “We’ve gotten to know the owners of Kerrytown and they are just great people”

The Hollanders’ business grew from them creating decorative books that were sold in art fairs in the late ’80s.  Tom learned book and box making from his mother, who developed a craft business in Connecticut, while Cindy had a passion for arts, crafts and interior design, according to their website.

The two decided to start their own book crafting business out of their home in 1986, but it eventually became a full-time job and they opened the retail shop in Kerrytown in 1991.

What began in a 200-square-foot space expanded to more than 10,000 square feet.  The shop grew its paper collection into a 2,500 square-foot second floor in 2000 and the following year used the 3,500 square-foot basement to house its school.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu