Ben F. Stinson Jr. grew up in Bakersfield, the second oldest of five children. After graduating from Kern County Union High School and Bakersfield College, Stinson Jr. moved on to UC Berkeley where he would graduate with a degree in business. His goal was to become a teacher with the Kern High School District and while he began teaching at the “new” high school in East Bakersfield upon returning home, World War II interrupted his teaching career.
After a distinguished and decorated service to our country, Ben Jr. married Mary Miller, a school teacher. The year their first daughter, Sally, was born, Mary decided that Ben needed to put his business degree to better use. After a lot of research, they decided to open an office products company. Stinson Stationers opened in 1947. They were the first tenants in the Lemucchi family’s new Tejon Theater building on Baker Street in Old Town Kern. The business took off and, after a short time, Ben Sr. came into the business to help customers on the retail floor.
By 1952, the business had outgrown the building so Stinson’s relocated to the corner of Baker and Kentucky where there was three-times the square footage. Ben Jr. created a warehouse and distribution space and, for the first time, began official delivery service to offices around town. Prior to this move, he would deliver on his lunch break or on his way home.
The year 1954 was a big year for Stinson’s. Ben and Mary had a second daughter, Liz, and Ben purchased his first delivery wagon, a 1954 Chevy. It was christened “Honeybun.”
The business continued to grow, as did the family. In 1956, Ben III was born. While in second grade, Ben III predicted his future by declaring that he was going to follow his father’s footsteps and become a “Stationery Man.”
In 1966, Ben Jr. took another major step and expanded the business to its current location, a 25,000 square foot building at 1108 Baker Street. In 1977, Mary retired from her teaching career and began her role as spiritual leader of Stinson’s growing “fun stuff” department.
It was 1979 when Ben Jr. made an offer to his son to join the family business. Ben III couldn’t resist and in 1981, became president of the now incorporated Stinson Stationers, Inc. Just two short years later, Ben Jr. passed away. But his footprint and spirit are still felt by the entire community. His love for Bakersfield and the people here lives on in Ben III.
Stinson’s continues to support numerous organizations in Bakersfield and Kern County. The company was one of the largest contributors to the success of the $100,000 grant given to the community foodbank by Walmart by getting the word out to locals. They’ve also put on shoe drives for the Bakersfield Homeless Center, supported the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County, and have hosted blanket and food drives for local animal shelters.
The opening of Stinson’s southwest location on Stine Road and New Horizon in 1984 expanded the retail shopping environment and provided a centralized warehouse and distribution center. And improved technologies, like the Internet, have helped the business grow even during tough economic years. In fact, today, 60 percent of the business comes from online ordering.
Yet, the positive business philosophy and focus on customer service, started by Ben Jr., continues today as Stinson’s celebrates over 64 years of service to our community.
Source: Kern County Generations