TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Teachers from across Southern Arizona and even as far as Mexico make the journey to Jonathan’s Educational Resources in Tucson to shop for their classroom supplies.
After working as a teacher in Tucson himself, owner Jonathan Katz wanted to help make their lives easier. He opened the store in 1987 and it now stands as a one-of-a-kind supply source for teachers in Tucson and beyond.
“There are people that we’ve met who were here when we opened up the store 34 years ago. They still come in now,” Katz said. “They come in. Their children are teachers and we got to watch them while they were shopping, growing up in the store. It’s quite amazing.
“I think it’s a huge accomplishment,” Katz added. “For myself, for my wife Marcia, we’ve hung in there through the good and the bad. And it’s mostly good. We love our customers. Our customers mean the world to us.”
Those customers keep coming back for toys, books and other items to engage with their students or decorate their classrooms.
“If they’re looking for materials to educate a child, we have it,” Katz said. “We have things to reinforce, we have things to enrich children, challenge them.”
Teachers say it’s hard to find a similar collection anywhere else.
“They always have exactly what I’m looking for for my classroom,” Santa Clara Elementary School kindergarten teacher Lisa Smith said.
“As a primary teacher, this is ideal,” said Sahuarita Primary School first grade teacher Michelle Verdugo. “For first graders, I can find things like books. I’m really excited because they have a lot of those sensory toys which I think are really great. I have an autistic child which I feel like some of those items would be really nice for him.”
This year, non-profit Tucson Values Teachers picked Jonathan’s as the store where 2,500 Southern Arizona teachers could use a $50 gift card.
“I was so happy this year that they chose Jonathan’s for us to come and shop here,” Smith said. “And I love the fact that they’re a local business and they really, anytime you come in here looking for something if you don’t have it, they will be sure to get it for you.”
Katz says he still makes deliveries himself to friends at local schools and that those personal relationships have made this successful run possible.
“I miss the camaraderie of when I was teaching, everyone in the break rooms and the teachers’ lounges,” Katz said. “I really, I thrived on that. And so this is the next best thing for me. I mean, there’s so much camaraderie from the people who come in that it’s just, it’s a gift to me.”
Katz credits his wife and employees for working hard to make this run possible. Even after more than three decades, he expects the store to remain open for the foreseeable future.
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