Over the past decade, computer and office superstores have swept across America. They win the one-stop-shopping contest hands down, typically carrying more than 7,000 different products per store. Because of volume buying, superstores can often sell products at 30 percent or more below manufacturers' list prices.
Staples, the pioneer in this industry, has more than 700 stores in North America. Office Depot served 100 million customers in its 613 stores last year; Gary Schweikhart of Office Depot estimates 70 percent of those shoppers were small-business owners or their employees. OfficeMax, though, is now the largest office superstore chain, with 738 stores in 48 states and Puerto Rico, and another 120 superstores are scheduled to open in the United States this year. Many of the stores have CopyMax and FurnitureMax under the same roof.
Theresa Wysocki, co-owner with her husband, John, of Alternative Desktop Publishing in Kansas City, Missouri, purchases most of her office equipment from OfficeMax and CompUSA. Says Wysocki, "I shop around for the lowest prices and best service."