At the end of the 1980s, at the peak of our earning power in corporate life, we Baby Boomers got caught in the buzz-saw of downsizing. There we were middle-aged and for first time, at least in a long time, out of work. Given that BigBusiness was going to continue reducing manpower, we figured the smart move was to start our own businesses. Many of us succeeded beyond our wildest dream.
Our guardian angel was Staples. Aligned with our exit from corporate life, Staples provided products and a few services targeted at small business. The staff was endlessly patient as we agonized over what business stationary to select and if we should purchase paper clips in bulk. That was then.
Today we no longer need business stationary. And paper clips are cheaper in Wal-Mart. Sure, we tried out the Easy Tech services which seem to be Staples' last shot at survival. For a few years it made good business sense to buy laptops there, have the staff set them up and purchase a service contract. Then we got it that better prices and faster service were elsewhere. This week I had the problems with my PC fixed within 2 hours and under $90 by BoxAid. Why purchase a triple-digit Staples Easy Tech service contract and wait days for the laptop to be fixed?
It's unlikely I will ever step foot in Staples again. To buy replacement printer cartridges, I currently go to a Staples' competitor. That's because the last time I was there it only stocked packages of two cartridges. At $90 a pop for each cartridge, that's not a double investment I want to make. My printer is old. It could die out. The new model I buy might require a different cartridges.
Millennial entrepreneurs will probably never bond with Staples, not the way we Baby Boomers did. They will send their interns to Wal-Mart for office supplies. They may even be able to figure out how to fix their own tech problems.
Everything changes. One day we can wake up, turn on the Internet and read that Staples has merged into something else or is sitting out there in the ether among the landline rotary phones.