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Mar 23, 2010 5:47 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Local stationery and office supply shops react to Staples planned for Bridgehampton Commons

Mar 23, 2010 5:47 PM

Harold Wilson came across one of his longtime customers wandering through the aisles of OfficeMax in Riverhead a few years ago. The woman was looking for a typewriter ribbon, but couldn’t find anyone to help her figure out which one to buy.

Mr. Wilson—the owner of Dunkerley’s Office Products in Southampton, who was in the store checking out his competition—stepped in and showed her which product to purchase.

One week later, the woman returned to his Main Street store in Southampton Village and told Mr. Wilson she would never shop anywhere else.

That’s why, the local proprietor explained, he doesn’t fear the opening of a new Staples, a big box office supply store, in the Bridgehampton Commons. He said he offers customer service that huge corporations just cannot match, and he’s banking on that to save his business.

Staples, which also has a store in Riverhead, plans to open a 13,000-square-foot store in the Bridgehampton Commons at the end of the summer and, last Thursday, March 18, received permission from the Southampton Town Planning Board to get a building permit, according to Chairman Dennis Finnerty. Staples is scheduled to take over the storefronts formerly occupied by Ann Taylor, Gap Kids and The Retreat Boutique, said Geoff Glazer, the vice president for development of Kimco Realty, which owns Bridgehampton Commons.

He anticipates securing the building permit in early April and immediately starting the four-month construction project for the store, paving the way for it to open in July or August.

Other local office supply businesses concurred with Mr. Wilson’s assessment on the value of customer service and explained that they have fostered relationships with their customers that stores like OfficeMax and Staples will never be able to.

“I don’t feel the need to change at all to compete,” said Anthony Valle, the owner of Southampton Stationery on Hampton Road in Southampton Village, which has been in business 40 years. “It’s service that we’re based on, and customer relations for all these years.”

Staples might help out national organizations, but local businesses like Mr. Valle’s and Mr. Wilson’s aid local charities, both men explained. If business declines following Staples’ opening, those charitable donations will become smaller and less frequent, Mr. Wilson said, describing it as the “snowball effect.”

His daughter, Lauren Wilson, created a Facebook group called “Say NO to Staples in the Bridgehampton Commons,” which has more than 400 supporters.

The office supply warehouse, however, may have the most deleterious effect on stores located east of Bridgehampton, in Sag Harbor, East Hampton and beyond, Mr. Valle explained. Stores there were not negatively affected by the explosion of chain stores on Route 58 in Riverhead—they’re too far of a drive away—but an office supply outpost closer to them could be disastrous.

Mike Kinney, who owns Montauk Printing & Graphics, which has offices on Park Place in East Hampton and in Montauk, agreed that while Staples and OfficeMax in Riverhead had no effect on his business, the new store definitely will. Montauk Printing & Graphics, which offers binding copying and collating services, has been in operation for 27 years.

“We will have to change,” Mr. Kinney said, adding that he’s not sure how he will do business differently in order to stay competitive. “And the rents in East Hampton aren’t going down. It’s getting harder and harder to stay in business.”

Mary Crogran, who owns East Hampton Business Service, explained that her 32-year-old business will not be impacted by Staples. She doesn’t sell regular supplies.

“We’re a back office for small businesses and individuals, which means not only do we have a front service counter with binding, scanning, e-mailing and color copying, but we also have word processing, bookkeeping and income tax services for businesses,” she said.

She added that she does not think that her customers, many of whom are professional people summering in East Hampton, will abandon her copying facilities for the self-service ones that may appear at Staples.

“There will be some attrition of the person who will drive 10 miles to save three bucks, and, gosh, they’re welcome to it,” she said. “But we have 300 house accounts, and people who are in here, and staff who are in here on a regular basis and get a bill at the end of the month.”

Ms. Crogran, in fact, thinks that Staples will be shuttered within a few years after it opens. “A store like that has to maintain a massive inventory, and that is their money sitting on the shelf,” she said. “We do need stationery out here—maybe that’ll be the thing—but I do not see staying power.”

Mr. Wilson admitted that he may lose customers to the “convenience factor,” meaning that people traveling to Southampton Village from east of Bridgehampton may just end up stopping in Staples. But, even then, if those customers discover they cannot buy or find what they need in the big box store, Mr. Wilson thinks they will travel the extra 10 minutes to Southampton Village.

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Shame on the Southampton Town Planning Board.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 23, 10 5:21 PM
2 members liked this comment
As if they have a say in the matter.
By RemembertheDucks (54), Eastport on Mar 23, 10 6:52 PM
"Staples, which also has a store in Riverhead, plans to open a 13,000-square-foot store in the Bridgehampton Commons at the end of the summer and, last Thursday, March 18, received permission from the Southampton Town Planning Board to get a building permit"
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 23, 10 7:02 PM
I don't think it will hurt the small business. Free enterprise is a wonderful thing, thats what make's america great.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Mar 23, 10 6:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Tell that to the small business owner who gets squeezed out by big corporations who already have a sufficient presence in the area. I have read your posts and I realize you are entirely beholden to a far right policy, but the free market is not always the answer.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 23, 10 7:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
The small business owner featured in the article "doesn't fear the opening of a new Staples". Why shoiuld you care? Too many "mom and pop" stores that get "squeezed out by big corporations" have lousy service and high prices. Choice is good.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 25, 10 4:46 PM
Thinking is not knowing girlfriend! Ummm... free enterprise is that the same thing as corporate greed?I think not.....America might be great but not all its people are?Only positives is it will have a somewhat discreet facade being tucked in the space hard to see from the road...and in a pre-existing building and its not Sleepy's!!!!Yeah!.... I'm so tired of buying mattresses HaHa!!!!!What doe's one do with all these mattresses!!!!!!!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Mar 25, 10 9:52 PM
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Mar 25, 10 10:01 PM
Thinking isn't knowing girlfriend! Free enterprise is wonderful if it doesn't make another bleed..thats not to say it will...and America might - was- or could be great but alot people livin in it ain't.. sister...But,One positive.....its going into an existing location and should not be too much of an eyesore from the highway...I hope!!!..... I miss the Drive- In!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Mar 25, 10 10:18 PM
As you are beholden to the left.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Mar 23, 10 8:47 PM
He is right about you, reg rep. You are a far-right talking point aficionado. Are you beholden to Glenn Beck?
By yearrounder (208), Southampton on Mar 24, 10 10:18 AM
Did someone say my name? Ha.. Anyway this is a wonderful idea. More competition equals a more affordable product. Not to mention more jobs. Where is the negative here. The small business owner will sustain just as the Dunkerley's owner stated. No new construction. Again no negatives here at all. General supplies for less at Staples and Typewriter ribbons at Dunkerley's. And yes I have purchased typewriter ribbons from Dunkerley's in the past so I will be shopping at both of these stores.
By Wickatuck (4), Southampton on Mar 25, 10 10:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
Forget the "feel good" attitude for a minute and tell us what possible legal reason the planning board would have to deny the application.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 23, 10 10:27 PM
A negative impact on environment, traffic, quality of life . . .
By yearrounder (208), Southampton on Mar 24, 10 10:17 AM
I believe he said legal reason, those are all considered in the planning dept. review.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Mar 25, 10 12:06 AM
A negative impact? How? Please be specific instead of just making broad brush statements. Environment? They don't sell that much White-out. Traffic? Much more than the store it will replace? Quality of life? How so?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 25, 10 4:51 PM
None.....But they do have the power to curtail the plans of the"Ttuckahoe Main Street the gianormous shopping center " that will put the nail in the coffin for Southampton Village....Don't do it Anna!! We need a another grocery store not a mini city....
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Mar 25, 10 10:55 PM
The Southampton Town Planning Board has no grounds to deny a company like Staples a site plan as long as they comply with the rules and regulations of the Town Code. Just because it's a big company doesn't mean the Town can say no arbitrarily.

Additionally, the owners of the local stationary store don't oppose a Staples because of the competition, they simply think it's not a good fit for the Hamptons.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Mar 23, 10 10:44 PM
No grounds? What if they determine that it will have a negative impact on the environment, traffic, quality of life . . .? If you think turning this area into Riverhead is a good idea, I challenge that assertion.
By yearrounder (208), Southampton on Mar 24, 10 10:16 AM
As pstevens points out the proposed Staples will not require the construction of a new building. At the very worst this project could require a Phase III under SEQRA, but it would not cross the threshold of Postive Decleration which is gounds for denying an application.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Mar 24, 10 2:23 PM
Correction: Part III, not Phase III
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Mar 24, 10 2:25 PM
LOL... The environment??? Please do tell how a staples is going to negatively affect the environment?
Truth is there is no reason to not allow a Staples in an area already containing many other franchises, which has parking and all other necessary amenities.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Mar 25, 10 12:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
Your funny!!!!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Mar 25, 10 10:04 PM
are they constructing a new building for this ? where ?
By Coxie (14), southampton on Mar 24, 10 8:37 AM
No they are not constructing a new building they are moving into a preexisting structure in the Commons. It should have no more affect on the traffic, environment, and quality of life than all the other stores located in the commons. The positive thing about this addition to the commons? JOBS...as lovely as the east end of the island is, its not exactly an employment mecca...people need the jobs that Staples will provide not the mention the rental income..that the owners of the commons will receive... ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 24, 10 11:41 AM
2 members liked this comment
I'm all for Jobs creation and utilizing vacant buildings - however the owners of the Commons (Kimco) are doing fine and don't need the rental income. The owner has a pretty nice estate in Bridgehampton near Brick Kiln Rd. and Scuttle Hold Rd.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Mar 25, 10 3:33 PM
Where the owner lives is relevant how?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 25, 10 4:39 PM
Hello McFly...Hello
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Mar 25, 10 10:21 PM
I love Staples - great items at low prices. Where the heck in "The Hamptons" can you get 10 notebooks for $4.00? I'm sure you will all cry and moan over a Staples out here - boo hoo - but I bet I see half of you there in Riverhead for back to school crap.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Mar 24, 10 6:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
This to is true!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Mar 25, 10 10:23 PM
Try the internet
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 29, 10 2:03 PM
Ummmm.... K-Mart?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 30, 10 7:47 PM
We want jobs?

let pray for more business like that.
Best Buy
Stop and Shop
By Bel (86), southampton on Mar 24, 10 9:51 PM
You are so right.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 24, 10 10:38 PM
Walmart? ok that's pushing it a little. lol Walmart is the official store of trailer parks nationwide. Let's maintain a little pride. All jokes aside, most big box stores couldn't survive year round out east. Go in PC Richards or Kmart at certain times and you can count the customers on one hand. I don't know if you have ever seen a Staples Express, they have them in the city. They are very small stores that are well stocked. That's all that Bridgehampton Commons would need, not a full size big ...more
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Mar 25, 10 7:57 AM
Sounds like you have yours and no one else matters. There are very few career positions in these places, but they are viable places to employ the young, the old and those just needing some part time work to help make ends meet. Don't they matter at all?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 25, 10 4:37 PM
Some people are praying for just that.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 31, 10 12:21 PM
Has anyone here actually gone through the Southampton Town Planning process? It is a joke. No "small" entrepreneur can afford the process. Minimum 1.5 years, 20k and a lot of aggravation in between. The same people complaining are the same ones that make the process too costly by wanting special trees, special signs, site plan after site plan. Change the type of trees and get back to us.Thats the motto. The town has taken the small investor out of the process. Do you want a model? Look at ...more
By The Real World (368), southampton on Mar 25, 10 3:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
People are going to shop where it's convenient. People in Southampton aren't going to drive to Bridgehampton to go to Staples when there's a Dunkerley's in Southampton. Competition is good, and they can all survive.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Mar 25, 10 9:23 PM
Having paid $55 for an ink cartridge in a small store in EH, I'm really looking forward to buying the same cartridge at Staples for $14 -- without having to drive all the way to Riverhead.
By bailey (52), East Hampton on Mar 26, 10 9:21 AM
Here's the trick........ Look at the amount of ink in the cartridge. If it's the same then I'll bet the expiration date is passed... Chances are the amount of ink is substantially more in the $55 cartridge. HP, Canon, Epson produce "special" cartridges and special packaging for Big stores. I had a customer yesterday with 5 magenta 4 cyan and NO yellow cartridges because she buys the multipacks. Multis are not offered to us. BUT she was happy to get just the yellow. ( oh for a .50 difference) ...more
By Dunker137 (12), Southampton on Mar 31, 10 12:53 PM
I have no intention of shopping at Staples when I can shop at Southampton Stationery....are you just assuming their prices are high? They have as many good sales as Staples. Have you ever seen their 3 inch thick catalog?....and they are more knowledgle...not to mention friendly...most importantly, they care about the Southampton commnunity and the East End...more importantly they care about their customers!!!

I am all for filling the vacancies in the commons...but fill the void instead ...more
By wondering (63), Southampton on Mar 27, 10 7:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
Unfortunately, as much as we locals could boycott Staples, most of the summer folk most likely would not.
I'd like to know if Staples pays more than minimum wage to their part time employees. I can almost guarantee you whatever work you find there will not have a pay scale commensurate with the cost of living here. What you will find is another corporate that keeps their store 95% part time, so they don't have to provide decent benefits, or more than 30 hours a week maximum, if you get that ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 30, 10 7:54 PM
For some people on the east end part time is better than no time. Small business do the same thing...cut ours in the off season... and pay in most cases is not the greatest. That is why so many east enders work multiple jobs or drive to western Suffolk or Nassau for employment.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 31, 10 12:24 PM
Good now I can get my ink without driving to riverhead or waiting a week for Dunks to orders it.....And their you go again Mr z bla bla bla bla blaaaa
By 27dan (2854), south hampton on Mar 30, 10 9:37 PM
.....gotta get that ink boys...have you tried on line? Don't even have to leave the house. Oops, Gotta go.... my on line groceries are being delivered. I guess the King is going to be upset! The big box store is no longer the enemy.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 30, 10 10:31 PM
LOL 2 DAN I own Dunkerley's and for your information we have ALMOST every cartridge in stock OR we have it for you overnight. If it took a week to get your ink it was "OUT OF STOCK BY TH MANUFACTURER" I surley apologize if it took too long. As for the "10 notebooks for $4.00" quote, Chances are that half way through the school year the stitching came out and you had to buy one of my EXPENSIVE notebooks for 2.99 which you still have. Quality is a big difference. Has anyone ever had a staple ...more
By Dunker137 (12), Southampton on Mar 31, 10 12:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thats cool Dunker, It might have been the manufacturers fault. I like your store. It is very well stocked and the people are nice and helpful.I would still choose your place first. I just believe in free enterprise and the constitution. Folks around here think they can make up their own laws. We have no right to keep out a chain store.Like the way Canios book store and black cat didn't want to see Barnes and Noble come to B.H.Somebody started that store and built it up with years of hard work.Not ...more
By 27dan (2854), south hampton on Mar 31, 10 7:49 PM
I agree to some extent. I think the small town feel is what we're losing. People flock out here for the country/small town feel. The more people the more these stores will come. I just hope we don't turn into Riverhead or Rte. 58.
By Dunker137 (12), Southampton on Apr 1, 10 9:28 AM
I hope we do not turn into Rte 58 as well, I think properer planing is very important and believe we should hold any business that wants to come into our area to strict standards. But at the end of the day we can not discriminate on the entity just because the have 100 locations. As long as they build and run our location different than their other 99. this is what our town boards our for.....and i must say you are a gentleman Dunker, I believe your store will survive this. Say hello to Michael.
By 27dan (2854), south hampton on Apr 1, 10 11:08 AM
Thank you! I sure will.. If he'd just stop laughing and giggling for a minute!
By Dunker137 (12), Southampton on Apr 2, 10 9:07 AM