When I hung out a shingle at the end of the 1980s, after a lucrative corporate career, I was clueless about necessities like business stationary, small copiers and whether to use paper clips or staples to send my writing samples to prospects. Neighbors and friends told me to just go to Staples. They were on the money. Over the years I've expanded my relationship with Staples to include purchasing laptops and a full-service contract to keep this Baby Booomer up to date.
Now, as I had predicted in analyzing Staples for Motley Fool, the corporation is distressed. On office supplies, chains like WalMart can way underprice them. Copier/printer paper goes for less than $4.00 at WalMart and more than $6.00 at Staples. Its identity or branding is confused. Is it a consumer electronics store or is it still the best buddy of small business?
I'm not counting on the latter. Today I swung by the North Haven, Connecticut store to purchase toner for my printer. I have been doing that for the past nine years. The store had been shuttered. Sure I could have ordered it online, which Staples encourages. And it has a thriving niche having corporations do just that. But small business operates by the seat of our pants. Also, we don't have much time. Now I have to put in more time to go to the store in Hamden, Connecticut, if that store is still there. I will check that out when the snow stops.