The Orange County Chamber of Commerce and the Orange County Review are partnering to highlight a chamber business of the month. Those recognized are chamber members who demonstrate support for both the chamber and the community. Each month, a different business (selected by the chamber) will be featured with a questionnaire designed to give the community some insight into both the business and the individuals responsible for its success.
This month, the chamber recognizes Faye’s Office Supply on Byrd Street in Orange, honoring the business as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. Faye’s Office Supply will hold a customer appreciation expo event Friday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring a number of their vendors and wholesalers.
For this month’s business spotlight, we talked with Faye Gish, who founded the business, and her husband Curtis.
Describe your business:
Faye: We sell all kinds of office supplies. Everything from janitorial and safety supplies to school supplies and promotional materials. We do furniture and help with the planning, layout and installation.
How has Faye’s changed in the last 25 years?
Faye: Times have changed a lot with our phones, the Cloud. People don’t need filing cabinets like they used to.
Curtis: We’re competing against Amazon and big box stores, but we still provide that personal service. Our wholesalers really saw the way things were changing several years ago.
Faye: That helped us grow as other areas in the supply business dwindled. The supply part has gone down while the other parts of the business have gone up.
What do you think the next 25 years will look like (or the next five or 10)?
Curtis: In some ways, I see things moving back to the way they were before, in terms of having relationships with customers.
Faye: More people are wanting to interact with someone. Customer service has kept us here. We are here. We answer our phones.
How would you want someone to describe your business to someone else?
Curtis: We are knowledgeable about the products we sell and we provide good customer service. You can buy anything based on price, but do you get personal attention?
Faye: I’d want them to say we’re helpful. When you call us, you’re not just a number. You’re a valued customer.
Who is someone you really admire?
Curtis points to Faye.
Faye: My mentor was my dad. He told me I could do anything and I believed him.
Is there an early memory of the business that stands out?
Faye: Clyde Johnson at Johnson Funeral Home was one of my first customers. He wanted these old, tiny record books and I found them.
Ever have a time when you wondered if this was going to work out? Was there a turning point?
Curtis: She’s from a family of entrepreneurs, but even when she first started in 1994, we had friends who said, “It’ll never fly.” I thought, “She’ll make it work.” Ten years later, I quit driving a truck and went to work for her.
Faye: Seven years after I got into business, I thought, “I got this.” When I came to Orange from the eastern end of the county, I was worried if my customers from that end of the county would come to Orange. But they all said they had to come for their banking.
Is there a funny or odd story from the last 25 years you could share? Maybe an unusual request or order?
Curtis: We do a lot of business with state agencies; some are required to buy from small vendors, or women-owned or minority-owned businesses. One day, we got a call from a correctional center asking us if we could get them diapers.
This is your third location in 25 years. How is it working out?
Curtis: When we were on Main Street, I’d be there and need something from the warehouse (behind Copy Stop/Garnett Accounting). Or, if I was in the warehouse, I’d need something from the store. Being under one room has been awesome.
Best business advice you could offer?
Curtis: Believe in yourself. Believe in your people.
Faye: Keep your financials straight. Don’t overdo it.