Contract not an ÂeasyÂ defeat for suppliersIN ADVERTISEMENTS, OFFICE retailer Staples leans heavily on its slogan, ÂThat was easy.Â
Its top officials must have thought just that when the national chain snared a state contract to provide office supplies to small businesses at a discount, and the state touted the move as one that would save $2 million in purchasing annually.
But as previously reported in NJBIZ, the 17 local suppliers claim they were left out of the bidding process, and are afraid of losing out on millions of dollars in business as buyers look to the savings Staples can offer through the contract.
The state is clinging to the savings it will reap by going through the national chain, but small suppliers dispute that the office giant can match or beat their prices on several of those items. Meanwhile, buyers said they find StaplesÂ pricing unclear, and expect the company to increase its prices once it has no competition. One buyer also wasnÂt sure of the quality of the goods theyÂd be buying from Staples.
WeÂd like to give the state credit for finding some savings, but the writingÂs on the wall, and itÂs in ballpoint ink. Any plan that undercuts small companies Â particularly if theyÂre not given a voice in the process Â is irresponsible in the best case. But in a state with a business climate as chilly as New JerseyÂs, itÂs downright stupid, and the way in which this was carried out has all the subtlety of setting Main Street on fire. A recently filed appeal by businesses protesting the contract will hopefully help these suppliers recapture their business.
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