Andrew Mangone has been working at Hinkson’s for more than five decades. He started a full-time job at the office supply store in 1972, but before that, he worked at Hinkson’s part-time as a kid. Now at age 68, he has decided along with his cousin John Roberto that it is time for someone else to carry on the Hinkson’s legacy.
Mangone and Roberto are selling the office supply store to Akshay Patel of Langhorne, Pa. Patel, who is 36, already owns a successful office store in Jenkintown, Pa.
“It’s bittersweet, but it’s time,” Mangone said of the sale in a phone interview on Monday. “I loved the store, and I would have done it the rest of my life if it were financially feasible for two co-owners.”
Hinkson’s has been serving the Princeton community since 1919 when Harold M. Hinkson bought Rolands Stationary at 74 Nassau Street. In 1960, Bert Roberto (father of John and uncle of Andrew) bought the business from Hinkson. The building was later torn down to make way for One Palmer Square, and in 1964 Roberto moved the business to 82 Nassau Street. The business remained there until 2005 when it moved to a smaller space at 28 Spring Street. Roberto’s son and Mangone are now the co-owners of the business and the building is owned by the municipality.
In the era of online shopping and Amazon as brick-and-mortar stores have struggled to compete, there hasn’t been enough income from the store for two owners, and Hinkson’s payroll had to be cut. Mangone took a part-time IT job at Princeton University in 2016, splitting his time between the Ivy League school and the store. He later took a full-time job at Princeton. Then last year he took a job in the Princeton Athletics Department as a supervisor at Jadwin Gym and the Caldwell Field House, where he loves managing events and watching sports teams practice.
The pandemic was another challenge for the store.
“We took a beating during COVID. We had to borrow money and we accumulated some debt. We weren’t making much money out of the business and we needed to make sure the help got paid,” Mangone said. “People supported us through the pandemic and even helped us with a GoFundMe.”
Mangone and Roberto had to work hard to find a suitable owner for the store. Some people wanted to take over the lease and turn the store into another restaurant. One person wanted to turn it into a vape shop. “I wouldn’t even entertain that,” Mangone said.
The new owner will keep the staff members who want to stay on, and Mangone will help out a few more months after the April 1 sale to ease the transition. The store will keep the name Hinkson’s and will continue to offer items loyal customers seek out, like the large variety of pens that can be found in the store. Mangone said the new owner will focus more on shipping, packing, digital mailboxes, and other offerings such as gift wrapping. He will keep what works, and bring in new offerings that are popular at his other store.
“It won’t be the exact same store, but we feel like we are leaving it in good hands,” Mangone said, adding that he always looked forward to going to work at Hinkson’s since his teen years.
“I just loved the store and the people,” he said. “The community has been fantastic from day one through the pandemic, as has the town. We have nothing but good things to say about Princeton.”