Now in their 28th and 17th year of teaching, respectively, husband and wife Paul and Sandra Van Fleet said they had a hard time finding an affordable teacher supply store where they could find everything they needed for their classrooms—so they opened their own.
“We needed something affordable for teachers,” Sandra said. “We’re school teachers on a budget, and we’re paying for 180 kids every year. When you’re supplying for a classroom, you just can’t afford $5 crayons or markers.”
The Van Fleets opened The Teacher Creature Store in Old Town Spring in July 2015. In addition to offering a wide selection of teacher supplies, the store also carries school supplies for students, educational gifts and toys, and small classroom pets.
Available animals include turtles, tortoises, lizards, fish and axolotls—or aquatic salamanders. The Van Fleets can also special order animals and other products upon request.
The Van Fleets said they also offer a 10% discount for teachers year round and recently began offering lamination services on-site. For customers with children, the store has a sensory table and coloring station.
“When parents take their kids shopping, they’re always telling them ‘Don’t touch, don’t touch,’—that’s not this store,” Sandra said.
While Paul teaches physics, Sandra teaches chemistry and Earth space—both at Conroe High School. Upon retiring from their teaching careers, the couple said they plan to turn their attention solely to the store with hopes of continuing to inspire the next generation.
“If you’re teaching for the paycheck, you’re going to be sorely disappointed,” Sandra said. “You’ve got to have a passion, and our passion is science and math—that’s why this store means so much to us.”
The Teacher Creature Store
315 Gentry St., Ste. A1, Spring
Hours: Sun., Wed.-Fri. noon-5 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; closed Mon.-Tue.
Teachers’ most wanted
The following are some of the most common classroom supplies requested by teachers.
- Copy paper
- Dry erase markers
- Facial tissue
- Resealable plastic bags (all sizes)
- Paper towels