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VIP Office celebrates 40 years in Hinesville
Hammermill representative Keri Chapman talks to a patron at the VIP Expo about paper quality
Hammermill representative Keri Chapman talks to a patron about paper quality Aug. 12 during VIP Offices Customer Appreciation Expo at its downtown Hinesville location. - photo by Tiffany King

VIP Office celebrated 40 years of business at its fourth annual Customer Appreciation Expo.

More than 300 people were expected to attend the event, which gave customers free product samples and highlighted VIP products and services.

Nineteen vendors were represented at the Aug. 12 expo, including Hammermill, Newell Rubbermaid, Coffeemate, Smead, Dixon and Essendant, who sponsored the expo. Attendees perused the tables; were treated to lunch, cake, mini-massages by Sheela Eichorn, founder of Hinesville Day Spa and Salon; and had a chance to win a prize.

Dianne Horton started VIP in 1975 as an answering service and small office-supply business.

Barbara Pilkinton, the president of VIP, who’s been with the business for 35 years, said the first location was in a building along Memorial Drive, then a rental unit in Liberty Square Shopping Center. The business kept growing and moved into a bigger unit in the same complex. Horton’s business continued to be a success, and she was able to buy the current property of VIP, on Central Avenue in Hinesville, and build there.

“Parts of this building were rental units. Then, as we grew, we moved into other units. Now the whole building is VIP,” Pilkinton said.
VIP expanded its original focus to providing school supplies, printing services, toiletries, cleaning products, food, business machines and furniture for offices, outdoor areas and churches, said Cathy O’Hagan, retail operations executive.

Pilkinton said many independent stores, like VIP, have been bought by larger companies or have gone under because of the competition.

“We’re proud to still be here today,” she said. “We have some great customers, and we’re very thankful that the county supports us and that the city supports us.”

The store ships products across the nation and world, according to Hagan. But VIP focuses on Liberty County and nearby areas, including Savannah, Glennville, Bryan and Long counties, because the staff feels it can do the best job locally.

VIP also supports United Way. Pilkinton said customers can bring in empty toner cartridges, and the store gives them to companies that pay to recycle and reuse toner cartridges. Those funds are then given to United Way. VIP will on occasion put out used furniture in exchange for donations that are given to Tri-County Animal Rescue Center.

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