On office stores: the things they carry

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We recently got an email from a reader who was frustrated that she couldn’t find a refill for her Scholar at Office Depot or Office Max.

Leaving aside the vexed issue of finding refills in local stores (in short, we manufacture and distribute our products, but it’s up to retailers to choose which things they’d like to carry), it’s a question we’d like to consider. Do you shop at those big box office supply chains, and would you like to find our products there? If so, can you do us a favor and let us know? As usual, we can’t promise anything — the price points may be too low, for example. But if enough people write in or comment on this post, we can at least gauge the level of interest…

20 thoughts on “On office stores: the things they carry

  1. I looked for your planners at Staples last year, only to find the worst-looking planners there (as if competing for the most hideous planners possible). But it’s OK, since I don’t usually shop at such large stores. There is a small independent one in Toronto that has a good QV selection. I would recommend targeting big box stores though as their business is so huge, and the world needs more recycled planners.

  2. I have found that I really need to see a product first, in person, so to speak, to avoid unhappy surprises. While my now sole local Quo Vadis supplier carries some weekly format Quo Vadis planners, it stocks no daily ones and no blank notebooks. I’d love for a big box store to carry some models, as the little stores keep closing, or reducing or eliminating their stock of the rarer finds, and I no longer have the time to enjoy the “chase.” I’d rather avoid shipping charges, know exactly what I am purchasing and, I admit, get immediate gratification by buying locally.

  3. While I would love to be able to keep high-end products only in boutique and specialty stores, there are none anywhere near where I live, so I would have to vote ‘yes’ to the idea of putting your products into a Staples. It is noble to jump up and scream that we must support the small shops if you live in a large urban location, but my city is by no means a hamlet, yet it has no independent pen and paper shop to visit and do comparison shopping for quality products.

    Even if you considered a move into the big-box booksellers, it would help. I see ‘Paperblanks’ and ‘Moleskines’ sold in Indigo/Chapters stores all over Canada (Indigo/Chapters stores are Canada’s versions of Barnes and Noble or Borders). I would love to see your products beside them on the shelf.

    Although honestly, that may never truly work, since I think a Moleskine would likely melt away in shame if a vendor attempted to sell it at its regular price while placed anywhere near a Habana or Webbie… 😉

  4. In an idle moment I Googled Exaclaire UK and guess what! There is one! Formerly Tolit & Harvey it appears the company has rebranded itself as Exaclaire.
    So I had a look at the site. Ye Gods! They have a vast distance to go before they catch up with the friendly customer awareness of Rhodia or Quo Vadis USA models. Along with a load of typical corporate hot air waffle, I even had to ‘sign up’ to be able to access their on line shop. ‘Your enquiry will be processed within a few days’. DAYS!!!! What bplanet are they on? The ‘new’ company is in the UK, I am in the UK, Yet to sign up, I was asked for a State and zip code … I live in a county with a post code. Unless this outfit get their act together pdq, I may have to revert to Moleskine! Such a lost opportunity. Such a disappointment. Such a shame.

  5. The idea of having Exaclair products in the big box stores is tempting. You would make more sales, therefor more money; I don’t question that at all. It’s a two edged sword, however.

    The good is I can go to the Office Depot right by the school I attend and pick up planners. Quite frankly, I’ve thought just in the past couple weeks that I’d like to be able to walk in OD and pick up a Quo Vadis Habana. I probably would have picked up three in the past two weeks just based on compulsion, as I have different projects I am working on and Journals would be a great way of keeping track of what I’m doing. I’m still going to buy these QV Habana journal, but it will be from Goulet’s Pens.
    There is the rub, and the other side of the sword: It would be like watching “The Office.” The big box stores move in and the small shops like Goulet’s, and so forth can’t compete, except on a customer service level – which OD and the big boxes will never, ever do videos on “how to…”. Loosing the small business like Goulet would be very bad for the community.

    Another aspect is already proved out with Rhodia and Target. All Target will carry is the Reversible and the No. 11 pads. That’s it. There’s no selection.

  6. I don’t go to Office Depot or Office Max, and we don’t have Staples here.

    I appreciate your asking this question.

    I prefer to go to the local store, and support them. I find more of the things I need/want there anyhow (like fountain pens, and ink). Like Cursor, it’s like sleeping with the enemy.

    Buying things online results in a higher cost for shipping to me than the cost of the actual product. Many companies will not put items in a flat rate USPS box. They have contracts with UPS or Fed Ex. I once tried to order a clip that broke on a small radio that I could wear on my belt loop and the part would be $6, but shipping was $26! I even tried to negotiate with the guy on the phone, to pay him to have him buy it and send it USPS, and I was even willing to send him a check, waiting for it to clear first! He said no.

    I’m with Colin Edwards where people have not heard of this brand, so I’m there at the counter giving an education to the person on the other side.

    Next time you’re coming to Hawaii, could you let me know so that I could let you know what I want, and you could drop it off in person? (grin)

  7. I don’t want your products in big box stores. I enjoy purchasing from your current network of small retailers and Internet merchants. I suspect they would be forced to stop carrying your products if you got into bed with a faceless mega-corporation that is focused on mass moving of boxes rather that writers and the pen community. If not for that community, I never would have discovered your wonderful products. When working with a mass merchant, do you really think you can maintain your high cost/high quality product line when competing with inferior Chinese and Korean made paper products? The average customer pays 99 cents for Mead paper products and is satisfied.

    So you could go that way, but I think it would end up changing your product line and distribution network in the short term, but more significantly it would likely change your company and customer base in the long term.

  8. I do so agree with Tubby Mike. I too live in UK in a small town. Every day it seems another small retail outlet closes through high overheads and low footfall. I’ve not helped by buying my Rhodia and Quo Vadis needs on line, simply becuase it is so difficult to find any stockists within easy reach. They even seem to be endangered species in London! If only we had Exaclair in UK! Office supply shops say notebooks are consumer items, stationers seem never to have heard of them, bookshops seem obsessed with the big Moly brand and ‘sell books not stationery’. There is surely a gap here for an entrepreneur to exploit.

  9. If you ever manage to persuade Staples to carry your lines, perhaps you could suggest that they do it in the UK too (yup, they made it over here). Exacompta ranges of products are badly underserved by bricks and mortar retailers over here (why, we’re only a stone’s throw from France?) and we can only get stuff online. It would be great to be able to stroll into Staples and browse the ranges IRL, so to speak.
    I know that you (Exaclair) only serve the US, but there’s a gap in the market here in the UK for a wholesaler able to supply high street retailers in the UK with the Exacompta family of products. Exaclair (UK) Inc. anyone? Anyone?
    OK, slightly off-topic, I apologise, but it seems way easier to get Quo Vadis, Rhodia, Herbin etc. anywhere in the Western Hemisphere than the UK.

  10. I’ve seen your planners at Staples in Canada! They usually only carry one or two types, but that’s definitely better than nothing!

  11. It would be nice to have your products in the office supply stores, because years ago I was able to find the scholar, but it seems they have moved to focusing on computers, printers, and ink. I’m ok with buying them online. Has Quo Vadis ever thought of marketing the products to college bookstores?

    • Hi Eric, somehow I thought I’d responded to your comment, but it looks like that was my imagination. Anyway, thanks for the suggestion! We actually do market to college bookstores at CAMEX (the national trade show) and the annual Barnes & Noble show. Most college bookstores are controlled by 3 or 4 large buying groups, so it’s not always an easy market.

      That said, a chunk of US based college bookstores carry our planners and some of our notebooks.

  12. I would certainly love to see Habannas sitting on the shelf at the big box store. I like the feeling of finding them in speciality shops but the ease of walking into one of the many office supply retailers and easily finding your products would be great.

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