Where can business travelers purchase a Mont Blanc pen and rent a computer for the day? Try Penfield's International Pen Shops in hotels throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The stores combine upscale gifts with a slew of services for business travelers.
"We saw an opportunity to package a retail store in a hotel, offering not only traditional items like stationery and high-end pens but also business services that were sorely missing in most hotels," explains Walt Krawczyk, Penfield's vice president of operations.
In July 1993, entrepreneurs Fred LaSelva, 48, Al Carvelli, 52, and Krawczyk, 45, opened the first Penfield's store in Boston's Westin Hotel. Since then, Penfield's outlets have sprung up in three more hotels on the East Coast: Copley Plaza hotel in Boston and the Biltmore Hotel Grand Heritage and Holiday Inn hotels in Providence, Rhode Island.
With many hotels outsourcing business services to focus on traditional operations, stores like Penfield's are becoming more common. Beyond just a way for hotels to boost efficiency, though, many such shops offer services business travelers couldn't previously find at some hotels. For instance, at Penfield's, guests can rent cellular phones, computers and pagers; express ship documents; or use document translation, desktop publishing, secretarial, faxing and copying services.
So far, the formula appears to be working: Penfield's expects sales of $1.6 million this year, and Krawczyk expects to open two additional stores by year-end.