The other day, I was in the Staples location in West Los Angeles, the one on Olympic and Bundy, looking for a decidedly old-school, alphabetized accordion file to store decidedly old-school business cards; you know, those stiff little rectangles of cellulose that some people still hand to each other, out of nostalgia and feared forgetfulness. As I browsed the familiar aisles, I noticed that Staples is tinkering with its product mix, trying to stay relevant. Arrayed on shelves, along with the letterhead and the file folders and the calendars (new for 2015!) were cleaning supplies (for this, I need Staples?), coffee maker refills and buckets of Twizzlers.
Forty years ago, with his usual enthusiasm for a good deal, my late father took me to a Staples off the Cross Westchester Expressway, in Portchester, NY. The big, brightly lit store was relatively new and full of office essentials of the day, including lots of envelopes, paper stock, storage containers and desk accessories. The era of big-box category stories was underway. Personal computers were on the horizon, globalization was stirring, automation was spreading, and the great migration of displaced and unneeded adult workers from the corporate workplace to home offices was underway. Americans needed home office supplies and Staples was there to sell the goods.
That was then, this is now. Do we really need Staples any more? Who writes and mails letters? Who prints and binds reports? Who buys computers in a store?
Stock tip of the day: If you own Staples stock, sell it.