OfficeMax Tests Mini-Mart Style Stores

Looking to increase convenience for consumers and lower overhead for the company, OfficeMax is testing a new concept called Ink Paper Scissors. Three 1,500 to 2,000 square-foot stores have opened in the Seattle realm. Each contains about 2,000 of the chain’s most popular items, including printer cartridges, pens and shipping supplies.

OfficeMax is positioning these smaller offshoots as convenient access to supplies for local businesses. “It’s about getting in and getting out fast when you need to pick up a ream of paper, get an ink cartridge, make a few copies or pick up some school supplies for the kids,” said chief merchandising officer Ryan Vero in a statement.

Because of the expenses associated with running a larger retail space, “everyone is looking at smaller footprints now,” said Paul Leinwand, vice president of Booz & Co. “It’s a big theme right now because traffic is down so dramatically that they can’t afford the inventory and labor for a full store.”

Industries like fast food have long relied on the kiosk model to increase their presence in high traffic areas where a larger restaurant would be cost prohibitive. Applying this concept to office supplies is “a way to move forward to create a profitable retail environment,” said Leinwand. “I applaud them for getting out there and trying new things. It can work if it’s the right assortment at the right location.”

The office supplies category has shown a recent penchant for borrowing from the fast food model. Staples adopted the idea of a dollar menu last month in an attempt to lure value-conscious consumers.