Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm Ordering Supplies, and It Makes me Wish I had an Office Supply Department

Like most enlightened folks in the world, I want to and like to shop local. The thing that scares folks is that they think it's all or nothing. But it isn't. Our Milwaukee recommends increasing your percentage of local purchases. Read more about their philosophy here.

So for us, that means shopping Downer Avenue Hardware for more items. And using BBC Lighting for our bulbs. And using DPI Supply for some of our paper and toner. I'm usually hot on someone having a retail storefront too, so the first two get more points from me.

But I'm in a quandary when it comes to most office supplies. I'm afraid it's chain or catalog/web site. When I think back to the time when we had as many as four independent office supply stores to choose from downtown, and several more on the North Shore..sigh. I still head up to North Shore Office Supplies when I visit my friends at Next Chapter (here's a post on our friends when they were part of Schwartz, and most of the booksellers are still with Lanora), but it's pretty far away, and they've been moving away from the traditional supply business and building up other areas.

And for some things, I've been known to head to the UWM Bookstore. For now, it means I have to do some purchases at places that aren't the most PC.

Do you know of a great indie office supply store in the Milwaukee area? I've still seen them in other cities, albeit far fewer than before. But isn't it time for a resurgence? When the chains first opened, their selection was broad, now it's far-more often cheap private label stuff. Anyway, if you do have a find, let me know.

Catherine (our most-recent gift and sidelines buyer at Schwartz) had a similar interest in the product and even brought in cool file folders and the like. I just don't feel like I have the right way to display them. And I've already seen lots of knockoffs at the chain office supplies and mass merchandisers. This is how it is--five years ago I couldn't find anything interesting, and now everyone has the same idea. Or rather, one person has a good idea and everyone else knocks it off.

It's a tough business, this product development. That's why I chose the much more stable and lucrative field of bookselling.

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