MINOT, Maine — Since Bruce Adams’ Reed Party store in Auburn closed in 2010, he’s been a one-man business, no storefront, no employees. Adams will tell you he’s on a roll.
For the last two years he’s been Toilet Paper Plus!
The “plus” this month? Santa suits.
From his Center Street store, Adams used to sell crepe paper wedding bells, rubber ducks, goody bags, plastic plates, and paper goods. When growing online competition and a bad economy ended that business, Adams, 64, took his customer list and turned himself into a one-man bulk goods sales force.
He sells mostly to churches, small offices and civics groups in Lewiston and Auburn. His top three sellers: paper towels, trash can liners and, yes, toilet paper, about 1,100 rolls a month.
The business name was chosen for the double-takes it inspires.
“They just get a chuckle out of it when I say, ‘We’re on a roll,’” Adams said. “That’s why I did it, just so I can get my foot in the door and talk to them a little bit.”
The company isn’t to be confused with Toilet Paper Plus no exclamation point — that’s a bulk retailer out of Australia.
Adams still faces competition online and locally. He tries to set himself apart with customer service offerings like free delivery, no ordering minimums and product knowledge. He works out of his vehicle and a small storage unit.
Adams sells items such as water cooler cups, catering supplies and coffee filters. This time of year, before holiday parties, champagne cups, balloons, plumber candles and white outdoor bags to hold the candles are popular, he said.
The Santa suits were left over from the store stock at Reed Party. As of Friday, the two extra-large suits hadn’t sold, yet.
People mostly discover Toilet Paper Plus! through word of mouth and the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, which is also a client, he said.
“If you have an idea or a need, that’s the plus, I’ll find it,” Adams said.