For decades, Idaho Book and School Supply in Garden City has been the place to get your algebra workbooks, your motivational classroom posters, your microscopes, your globes, your bulletin board decor, your Palmer Method cursive-handwriting manuals.
After 45 years serving teachers, parents and grandparents of school children, the store at 5286 Chinden Blvd. is closing, most likely by the end of the year, though no date has been set. Items not yet sold have been marked down to half-price.
The closure coincides with the death of owner John M. Kirtland, 63. He died Nov. 26 of complications from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos.
His parents, Lucy and Bill Kirtland, founded Idaho Book and School Supply in 1972 in the Westgate Mall at 7500 W. Fairview Ave. They were both educators, Bill at Boise State University and Lucy at Boise High School. They specialized in reading and literacy skills.
John Kirtland was a college football star at University of Idaho who lettered all four years. He took over the store from his parents after he graduated.
The store became a three-generation project. John Kirtland’s daughter, Amaia, worked at the store during high school and college.
Store Manager Tammie Barnett started working for the Kirtlands 32 years ago when she was studying education. Now she is contending both with the closure of the store and the loss of a friend.
John Kirtland was a “larger than life personality,” Barnett said, notable for his big smile and community ties. Kirtland liked to talk to small children who came to the store. He often took it upon himself to teach them manners, said Barnett, “telling little boys that they should open the door for their mothers and sisters.”
“I’m amazed at the number of people who have come in during the liquidation sale to say how the store will be missed,” she said.
Margaret Whitt Cox, a former teacher and retired school superintendent in the Buhl School District, was a longtime store patron.
“As an educator, I have shopped there for years and also ordered school supplies for teachers. What a treasure it was to know Lucy and Bill and then be acquainted with John. The store will be missed,” said Whitt Cox. “Where else will we be able to find the ‘100 Chart’” she said, referring to the beloved math teaching aid that lists all the numbers from 1 to 100 in a grid.
She went on to receive her doctorate, but took one of Bill Kirtland’s classes at Boise State while getting her elementary certification.
“I always remember Bill talking about driving to Minnesota. He’d talk about fishing for walleye. Lucy would read out loud to him during the whole drive,” said Whitt Cox.
After retiring, she still frequented the store and recently bought books there for her grandchildren.
John Kirtland began taking steps to close the store before he died. He hired Trey Wanamaker to help with the transition. Wanamaker said the family wanted to give back to the community, especially during the Christmas season. The store is hosting a Toys for Tots gift drive for new, unwrapped toys through Dec. 23.