The Paperhouse is an office supply/bookstore that features scrapbooking supplies, educational materials and computer sales and repair and was founded in 1978. Devon and Alex Barta bought the business in 2007 from Devon’s parents, Dan and Cindy Hammes, becoming third-generation owners. Devon’s parents bought the bookstore, along with a weekly newspaper, The Gazette Record, from Dan’s parents, Robert and JoJane Hammes, who founded The Paperhouse.
Devon grew up in St. Maries and worked at The Gazette Record and The Paperhouse after school and on summer breaks from college. She worked as a copy editor and reporter at the newspaper and got to work closely with her parents and grandparents in The Paperhouse. She always enjoyed reading and writing and was able to put those interests to use.
Alex was born in Hungary, and he and his parents moved to the U.S. in 1982 when he was five years old. They settled in a Chicago suburb, where a lifelong obsession with the Chicago Bears began to form. From an early age, Alex was an avid sports fan and became interested in finding a profession that paid him to watch and talk about sports.
We met while attending journalism school at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Alex studied broadcast journalism, and Devon studied print. After graduating in 2000, we moved to Fairbanks, Alaska where Alex worked as sports director for the NBC affiliate. In 2003, we moved to Spokane to be closer to family. We had always talked about eventually moving to St. Maries and buying The Paperhouse from Devon’s parents, and in 2007 we found out we were pregnant with twins and figured it was a great time to do so.
Current and future plans …
Our boys, Brock and Jack, were born in November 2007. Our third child, JoJane, was born in March 2010. We are thrilled that we get to raise our children in a great community and are sure all three will enjoy stocking books and dusting shelves after school as much as Devon did.
We’d like to continue improving upon what makes The Paperhouse a great small-town resource for business owners and book lovers by incorporating modern amenities such as online shopping and free local delivery as well as a well-rounded book selection and opportunities to meet your favorite authors.
Get to know us, real quick like…
Who is/are the most influential person/people in your lives?
Our parents and grandparents.
Alex’s parents taught him the meaning of hard work.; they sacrificed everything by escaping Communist Hungary with nothing but two suitcases to give him the opportunity to have a better life than they had.
Devon’s grandparents introduced her to books and writing, and her parents helped to hone those interests. Without even realizing it, her parents have given — and continue to give — her a lesson not just in business ownership but in the importance of integrity and honesty.
Where you expect to be 10 years from now?
Right here. We love St. Maries and look forward to watching our children and our business grow. We hope to build The Paperhouse bigger and better every year, to keep improving with the times and technology to better serve our community while maintaining the friendly small-town atmosphere that has made The Paperhouse a staple of Main Street St. Maries. Alex hopes for another Chicago Bears superbowl run and plans to help them along by teaching his kids his yell-at-the-TV techniques every Sunday. Oh yeah … and Mondays, Thursdays and possibly Saturdays.
What you’d be doing if you weren’t in your present field?
This is a toughie … we ‘re so happy here, we couldn’t imagine doing anything else. We would probably be fighting over who gets to be a stay-at-home parent while the other worked, all the while planning for the day that we would move to St. Maries and buy The Paperhouse.