The Service Bureau in Ladue sells fine stationery products including a wide variety of wedding invitations, unique curios and beautiful picture frames. Since its humble beginnings as a kiosk in Pappagalos, a women’s shop, Service Bureau has plowed a portion of its profits back into donations for a wide variety of charities in the local community. This tradition, which began in 1930, lives on today.
Patch interviewed Emily Huber, accounts manager of the Service Bureau.
Ladue-Frontenac Patch: You must be extremely proud of your long and continuous support of the many local charities you benefact.
Emily Huber: Yes we are. We are up to a couple million dollars since we began such a long time ago.
Patch: How did the Service Bureau begin.
Huber: It started out as an organization to teach young girls how to dance. To get them ready to present them to the Veiled Prophet organization and other organizations to become members of society. They had no specific charity, and they wanted to do multiple charities. Board members suggest charities, and the members vote on how many charities, and how much money they will get each year.
Patch: So where did they start out.
Huber: They started out in the Central West End. In 1945, they moved to the second floor of the Women’s Exchange on Maryland Avenue. They were there until the 1950s when they went to Forsyth Avenue in Clayton. Lammerts offered them space in their building and they took on more stationery lines. In 1984 they went into the Pappagalos site (Where Truffels is today) and finally negotiated their own lease at 9807 Clayton Rd and In March of 2000 to our current location. This dramatically increased our space as the demand has grown.
We still continue with the dances. We offer dances for 6th through 12th graders. They are chaperoned by board members. Dances for college-off aged students died off over the years.
Patch: How do you select your charities.
Huber: Charities vary each year. We keep a list in the store. All donations go through our foundation. Between the active and advisory board, we have about 100 members.
The executive board runs the shop itself. All of the employees work part time. The board governs the shop and it’s by laws.
New members are elected to the board every year. The executive board has 7-8 members and they rotate off every two years. There is a board and a foundation board and they are separate. There is a dance board and a store board too.
Patch: With so many women working today, have things changed over the years.
Huber: It used to be run more by volunteers. Now, we have more paid staff. Even though many of our women are working, they are very excited and coming back to participate on the board today as volunteers.
Like any other company, we have to run it to meet all of our expenses. We want to boost the bottom line and keep the expenses down. Every dime that we can afford to give away, we want to give away. We subtly remind our customers our profits do go to charity. Every thing we give stays local.
We do not have an internet business but we have a website, www.stlbureau.org.
Part of our charm is the knowledgeable staff that has been here 10 and 20 years.
We know the proper way to do an invitation. We know the etiquette and the manners.
Hours: 9:30-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Address: 9773 Clayton Rd.