While smaller office supply retailers can't beat the superstores on price, they often win when it comes to providing more choices, greater expertise and more personalized service.
Superstores carry what retailers call "wide but shallow" inventory. "They carry only one or two fax machines, and they don't carry the same ones we do," says Sherry Matini, who works in the supply department of JTF Business Systems, an Alexandria, Virginia, store that sells fax machines, copiers and printers.
If your new business needs a high-volume copier, for example, you're likely to find a larger selection at reasonable prices in specialty stores than in superstores. Also, if you need a lot of post-sale service, specialty retailers are more likely to deliver.