Fate of Steamboat Staples location uncertain after corporate announcement | SteamboatToday.com

Fate of Steamboat Staples location uncertain after corporate announcement

Michael Schrantz

— The fate of Staples in Steamboat Springs is uncertain after the company announced in a news release last week that it will be closing 225 stores in North America in less than two years.

Lease terms and market factors, however, could work in favor of the location making the cut.

"A year ago, we announced a plan to fundamentally reinvent our company," Ron Sargent, Staples' chairman and chief executive officer, said in the release. "With nearly half of our sales generated online today, we're meeting the changing needs of business customers and taking aggressive action to reduce costs and improve efficiency."

Staples is the second-largest online retailer, behind Amazon, and did more than $11 billion in sales in North American stores and online in 2013. That figure is a slight decrease compared to 2012, which partly is attributable to the company closing stores in 2013.

Staples closed 34 stores in the U.S. in 2013 and opened two stores.

The lease for the Steamboat location runs past the 2015 deadline for the upcoming closures, according to Loui Antonucci, who owns the property.

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Antonucci said Staples has not reached out to him about the future of the location.

Staples has little in the way of competition from other stores in the Yampa Valley, and the area has shown demand for office supplies.

Steamboat Springs City Council member Scott Ford said he talked with representatives from Staples when they were considering opening a store here.

They referenced the Routt County Consumer Preference Survey that was conducted in 2002, Ford said, and added that they had conducted their own study to determine if there was enough demand.

The Routt County Consumer Preference Survey asked residents about their spending habits to determine what items they were buying from outside the county. Traditional consumer goods — such as electronics, gift items and home computers — were named among the categories that showed the most leakage, or spending occurring outside the county.

Ford, who runs his own location-neutral business, said having a brick-and-mortar office supply store such as Staples is important for location-neutral businesses that call Routt County home.

Having convenient access to a wide selection of office items makes it easier to maintain a small or home office.

"Staples is a very important resource for me," said Jay O'Hare, who runs a location-neutral business in Routt County. "While there are many things I can buy online, many times it's better to be able to shop in-person and compare."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Routt County has seen recent increases in the number of people employed in professional and business services, which is back to prerecession levels, and wages in the sector have been increasing steadily for a decade.

"I don’t have a supply room," Ford said about shopping at Staples for his needs. "They are my supply room."

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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