90 Years of Community
Generosity and community support never go out of style—just look at The Service Bureau. For 90 years, the organization has provided St. Louisans with stationery and gifts for life’s most important events while also giving back to those in need.
In the late 1920s, the organization started as two programs: organized dance lessons for young adults and a custom invitation service. The two ventures joined in 1930, creating The St. Louis Service Bureau. Today, the organization has three branches: a stationery and gift shop, sponsored dances and a foundation that is responsible for distributing grants to charitable organizations. “The Service Bureau has been an enduring institution in St. Louis because it has evolved to meet the needs of the community through the decades,” says former president Tammy Walsh.
Since its inception, The Service Bureau has donated its profits to local charitable organizations. Walsh says the foundation’s board shares recommendations, and those are invited to formally apply for a grant. “We ask that charities submit a specific goal or task that the money will be used for,” she explains. “We also try to choose nonprofits that support women, children or animals and have an operating budget of less than $4 million.”
Last year, The Service Bureau donated more than $93,000 to 42 local organizations. These grants aren’t the only way the organization supports the community. Its dance program hosts classes for sixth through ninth graders and black-tie events for students in grades 10 through 12. To aid local nonprofits, participants donate gift cards and in-kind donations like books, diapers and pet supplies. Last year, the program collected more than $4,500 worth of items. Plus, any inventory at the shop that doesn’t sell is donated. “All three parts of our organization share the mission of giving back to St. Louis,” Walsh says.
The storefront has moved throughout the years; it’s currently nestled on Clayton Road in Ladue, offering personalized service and a wide variety of fine stationery and gifts. The staff also shares its extensive knowledge of proper etiquette. “It’s a very warm, welcoming place, and we’ve served generations of St. Louisans,” Walsh says. During the COVID-19 crisis, customers can shop online or call the store to set up curbside pickup. “With the disruption of our world, a gift card can be a nice thing to give somebody right now,” she adds. “Plus, it’s a great way to support a local small business that really works toward the greater good.”
Celebrations for the 90th anniversary have been placed on hold until the fall. Walsh says people can look forward to trunk shows and other events once it is safe and the situation settles. The shop also plans to host a party for the charities it has supported throughout the years. “The Service Bureau will continue to offer support to the community,” Walsh notes. “We look forward to furthering our mission and celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2030.”
The Service Bureau offers fine stationery and gifts at its shop in Ladue, supports local nonprofits through its foundation, and provides dance opportunities for children and teens. This year, it celebrates 90 years of serving the St. Louis community. For more information, call 314.991.1104 or visit servicebureaushop.com.
Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography
Pictured at top: The Service Bureau donates its profits to local charities.
Photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography