The History of Fris
The beginnings of Fris Office Outfitters date back to 1875, when at 30 West 8th Street in Holland, a building was constructed which housed a bank operated by M. Van Putten. In 1885 the building became a bookstore which sold primarily notions, confectioneries, and newspapers. On January 1, 1900, Lambertus Fris began his stationary business by purchasing this property. This is the same location of Fris Downtown today.
When Lambertus Fris died in 1907, his son Jacob was only 10 years old, but helped his older brother and sister in the store, as well as selling newspapers on the interurban and the boats which ran from the 8th Street docks to Macatawa. When his brother died and his sister married, Jacob was 17, fresh out of high school, and caring for his ailing mother. He managed to keep the business going and upon his mother's death in 1920 had to purchase the business from the estate. The banks would not loan him anything, but A. H. Landwehr, one of the founders of the Holland Furnace Company, had the confidence to loan him what he needed. Later, when Jacob was forced to buy the building or get out, Landwehr again came to his aid.
In the next several years, Jacob married, began a family, and together with his wife, Sara, literally worked day and night to make the business a success. The product lines gradually changed to a major emphasis on books, magazines, newspapers, and school supplies. Later, office supplies, typewriters, and office furniture were added. The business at this time, and for many years after, was known as Fris Book Store.
During the years following World War II, much of the management of the Fris business was taken over by Jacob and Sara's son, Dale. At this time, the wholesale distribution of magazines, newspapers, and paperback books became a major part of the business and in the late 1940's, this part of the business was moved to a new building at 109 River Avenue in Holland and became Fris News Company. In 1956, Fris News Company was sold to Chris De Vries and moved to a location at 9th Street and Columbia Avenue.
Following the sale of Fris News Company, the business was getting ready to be divided again. Since the name had been changed in 1956 from Fris Book Store to Fris Office Outfitters and Stationers, it was decided to move the office supplies, machines, and furniture portion of the business to the 109 River Avenue location and call it Fris Office Outfitters and the portion located at the downtown location became Fris Stationers.
As the products at Fris Stationers changed to Hallmark and now art supplies and framing, the name has changed to Fris Downtown. Many additions have been made to the Fris Office Outfitters building over the years to accommodate the ever growing volume which marks their acceptance in the business community of West Michigan.
The next generation of Fris's, sons of Dale and Mary, became involved over the years with the businesses. John started working at Fris Office Outfitters in 1974 and was elected president of the corporation in 1986. Today several of the 5th generation of Fris' work at Fris Office Outfitters and Fris Downtown.
In August of 1987, the two Fris stores were brought together under the Fris Office Outfitters corporate name. Fris Office Outfitters now has a retail division consisting of the Fris Downtown and the River Avenue retail office products store and the commercial division serving the West Michigan market operating out of its warehouse also located on River Avenue. Collectively, Fris Office Outfitters and Fris Downtown employ 25 people with over 300 years of combined experience at Fris.
Fris Office Outfitters provides office, facility, break room and safety solutions for where you work!