By Matt Townsend
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Staples, the office-supply store is targeting a market that, while now trendy, it still considers neglected: small businesses. That market includes independent contractors who patronize co-working offices to entrepreneurs on Main Street and in Silicon Valley.
Twenty-somethings sip gourmet coffee in comfy booths as a chill soundtrack plays. There’s funky art, as well as skylights, an artificial putting green and, on some nights, happy hours with beer and wine.
A W hotel? A tech startup?
It’s a Staples office-supply store, that longtime favorite of cubicle jockeys and back-to-school shoppers.
The company offers this “co-working” space, where millennials on laptops set up their instant offices, inside the very first Staples store in America.
Three decades ago, it opened in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood, just down the street from the International House of Pancakes where future office-store magnate Tom Stemberg signed the company’s founding documents.
This blend of old and new shows how Staples Inc. is digging up its roots as one of the first, and most successful, big-box retailers. Under Shira Goodman, the company’s new chief executive officer, Staples hopes it can reverse its years of declining sales, unlike so many other retailers left for dead in the internet age.
Staples is targeting a market that, while now trendy, it still considers neglected: small businesses, from independent contractors who patronize co-working offices to entrepreneurs on Main Street and in Silicon Valley.
Goodman sees a revamped Staples as a small-business consultant of sorts, “indispensable partners” to companies. In her first interview as CEO, she displayed a PowerPoint slide that showed sales from online orders surpassing 80 percent by 2020, up from 60 percent now.
“If you want to get our strategy on one page, this would be it,” Goodman said from the company’s headquarters in the Boston suburb of Framingham, Mass. “If you go to most people on the street and ask about Staples they’d go, ‘Oh yeah, the office-products superstore.’ But the reality is that’s very far from where we are today, and even farther from where we want to be.”