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Back to school, without the hassle

Local mom takes away the stress of last-minute school supply shopping


When Paige Bell became a business owner in 2012, she didn’t picture quite this level of success.

The company she bought two years ago, School Supplies Delivered, had an established business plan and room to expand. Still, the busy West Linn mother of five thought that owning a small, local business would be more like a seasonal hobby than a full-time job.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Paige and David Bell are making a success of their homegrown business, School Supplies Delivered.“This was just going to be a little thing I did,” she said. “I thought I’d maybe have a small warehouse I could pop in and out of.”

Instead, she has found herself at the head of a company expecting to take in $300,000 in revenue this year — and she is fielding calls from interested school districts as far away as Miami, Florida.

School Supplies Delivered has found success in making parents’ lives easier. Instead of watching the ads and shopping several stores’ specials, customers can go to one web page and order school supply kits for all their students, customized according to schools’ and grade-level requirements.

“It saves a lot of time. We’re buying in such volume, we’re usually very close or under retail,” Paige’s husband, Business Manager David Bell, said.

Schools and parents have responded so enthusiastically that sales have skyrocketed along with the list of schools the company serves. To date, the company has sold more than 5,500 school supply kits — and the August 10 ordering deadline leaves plenty of time for that number to rise.

“We just had more and more interest and schools contacting us,” Paige said.

The company’s growth has led to one especially big change. Instead of packing supply kits, as before, in the family garage, the Bells have contracted with a fulfillment house this year.

“We interviewed four local companies that do this — kitting — where they put together packets or kits with multiple items. We buy the inventory and they get the lists, assemble the kits and get them out the door,” David said.

Besides convenience and competitive pricing, School Supplies Delivered also offers parents a way to support their local schools. Each year, the company donates 5 percent of its net proceeds back to schools that participate. A new focus this year is on trying to line up community donors and local businesses to help SSD return cash to participating schools.

“The idea of us being the primary catalyst is very exciting,” David said. “Our mission is to make them money. Our 5 percent is in materials. Teachers spend a lot of their money. This is one small way to give materials, so they don’t have to spend their money.”

The back-to-school supply kit is School Supplies Delivered’s signature offering. But as of this year, it’s not the only thing parents can order online.

“We’re also offering refill kits. It’s the stuff kids use most,” David said. “We offer those around Christmas and also at spring break. There’s also the option for parents to buy gift cards for teachers, in $25, $50 or $100 amounts.”

Parents can even personalize the message when they purchase.

“It fits the businesses of education. Back to school is a very important thing, but it doesn’t end there. We’re filling more of the need,” David said.

With the number of satisfied customers growing and more schools interested in participating, the company has nothing but growth opportunity on its horizon. School Supplies Delivered has expanded to one of Oregon’s largest primary schools this year, Beaver Acres Elementary in Beaverton, where more than 900 students attend.

“We’re in discussion with Miami-Dade schools. We’ve gotten calls from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana ... there’s been a lot of interest,” David said. “When mom’s happy with anything, the word of mouth is so powerful.”

School Supplies Delivered was recently certified as an Oregon minority/woman owned business. It’s a formality that could open doors for the company, including opportunities for Oregon Department of Education grants. The Bells are pursuing similar certification on a federal level; that could open opportunities for the company to market itself internationally as a community development partner for overseas aid projects.

“We’ve doubled our volume every year we’ve done this,” David said. “We expect volume to be double again. This would be the third double year.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Paige and David Bell's company, School Supplies Delivered, offers parents the chance to take the hassle out of searching for back-to-school supplies. Two additional changes are making life even easier for parents, the Bells said, from ordering to receiving supply kits.

“All schools have a passcode that takes them right to their web page. It’s very easy for them to buy,” David said. “We can process orders so much faster.”

“This year, we’re shipping to the schools,” Paige said. “We also have the option to ship to your home.”

“Parents love us for convenience. PTAs love us for the revenue. Teachers love us because they get the materials they want,” David said.

School Supplies Delivered has partnered with multiple schools in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. Check with your school’s office to obtain your school’s order code, the log on to schoolsupps.com to view your list and pricing. The deadline for ordering is Aug. 10.


By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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