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Much more than a stationery supplier

Think of School and Office Supplies – S.O.S – as a just a stationery supplier and you will be surprised. It is in fact four businesses servicing stationery to schools and wholesale but also with a scrapbooking service ‘Papertrenz’. A wholesale craft distribution business, Crafts R Us Australia supplying craft business around the country is part of the mix, and to cap off the quartet is a tutoring business, the Australian Academy of Maths and English.

S.O.S is proudly Wynnum-based with 2013 marking their 10th anniversary in the area. Their origins lie in the Old Glenora Street Newsagency which they acquired in 2003 and renamed Bayside News.

Director Lois Toop explains the development, “My husband Phil and I looked at opportunities for servicing both commercial stationery and the back to cchool market, as we realised schools wanted a specialist supplier. We moved to 74 Tingal Road to start up what was then Bayside School Supplies, and expanded to the adjacent building in 2012.”

Despite the growth in online competition and price being a factor, Lois finds both local businesses and schools like to have a local supplier, “Although we are competitive, it’s not just price driven. Customers like to have someone to talk with. Parents can get individual service with our knowledge of stationery and local school book lists, rather than deal with some remote call centre. Plus we offer a free delivery service to all our commercial and bookpack order clients.”

November to February is their busiest time with the back to school orders they service to the majority of local schools and further afield. That time and the rest of the year are filled up with their other business arms such as Papertrenz. As Lois points out “It is more than a scrapbooking service.”

One popular product is the Becky Higgins Project Life range, which is a system of recording day to day family life. Lois explains that “It’s an ongoing journal that may involve taking a photo each day or compiling a journal and adding this to an album.”

They have many dedicated customers for their scrapbooking service. As Lois says “It becomes an addiction for some… but a healthy one at that”! She enjoys the scrapbooking clientele who bring an element of colour to the more dry world of stationery.

Papertrenz runs over 25 classes a month teaching all sorts of techniques and papercrafting projects. They have recently added a regular class for children from 13 years and upwards learning everything from making popup boxes to their own journals.

And they do get some odd requests from customers popping in wanting everything from vacuum cleaner bags to print cartridges. Life is never dull!

Lois is proud of her Wynnum roots, having attended the original Moreton Bay College on Bay Terrace and now residing locally with her family in an iconic restored church. She and her husband Phil are both committed to being involved in the community, often donating prizes to local groups.

And their generosity extends further with $1 for every schoolbook pack going to support orphanages in Burma. That is something Lois is very passionate about and she visited the country with her young daughter in 2011 to see the work being done at the orphanages S.O.S is supporting. Passion for her business is very evident when you meet Lois and hear the story of what has been achieved at S.O.S.

S.O.S are members of WynnumCentral.

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