Today, Staples Canada cut the ribbon on its first Toronto new-concept store, featuring new design, and a new focus on coworking and services.
"After almost three decades in business," says the company, "Staples Canada is transforming into The Working and Learning Company." This new brand identity begins with a new double-staple logo, and extends to a broad initiative to remake 300+ Staples retail locations.
This new vision has been applied to the familiar Staples store at 375 University Avenue, in downtown Toronto. It's been transformed with a clean, modern look, new focus areas, and an integral coffee shop.
"We've designed this new store with community in mind," said David Boone, Chief Executive Officer of Staples. "With Staples Studio Coworking, a café, the Solution Shop and thousands of new products, this redesigned location is a working and learning hub. We want to bring people together who are focused on personal and professional growth, to be an inspiring, affordable place for entrepreneurs, businesses and students to work, meet and collaborate."
The store space now has 7 distinct zones. Zone 5, Tech + Connect (cmoputers, tablets and audio), Zone 6, Print + Paper, and Zone 7, Write + Create is where customers will find all the familiar ‘staple' products they've come to expect. Zone 4, Workspaces, presents office furnishings in diorama form, intended to suggest how products can be combined to create attractive and functional office environments. A Chair Wall shows 33 different styles of stools and chairs, 25 of them new to Staples
Zone 1 is the new Studio Coworking area. It includes elegant lounge spaces, community kitchens, private and shared offices, and meeting rooms equipped with modern office furniture and modern office technology.
Rates for Studio use start at $25 for a day pass, allowing access to Phone Booths, unlimited Wi-Fi and unlimited coffee and tea. Phone Booths are equipped with a landline phone and a screen fitted with AirPlay capability. At the high end, $499 per month adds 2 Meeting Room hours per month, 24/7 Studio Space access, "virtual receptionist" services, unlimited Canada/US long distance calling, various discounts on Staples services, and more.
There's lots of opportunity for synergy. Boone offered the example of a team working on a presentation in one of the Studio rooms, then having it printed out at a Staples location in Vancouver. The new Solution Shop will offer extended services, such as in-house marketing, Web design, and more. The University store is currently Staples' only location to include a Studio space.
Zone 2 includes the Spotlight area, a new "community space," with a large video display and a bleacher-style seating area. The plan is for this space to host various events of interest to the business, creative and entrepreneurial community. A free weekly Speaker Series kicked off today, with a presentation by Joe Mimran, founder of Joe Fresh, and former panelist on CBC's Dragon's Den.
Zone 3 is the SolutionShop, which encompasses Staples familiar print services, but will also provide marketing and tech consultation.
Coffee is supplied by Mos Mos, an up and coming Toronto mini-chain, founded in 2014. The new Staples location is its fourth in the downtown area. In addition to the usual brewed coffee, espresso and chai-based beverages, it will offer "grab-and-go breakfast, lunch and snack options."
The University Avenue store is actually Staples' second redesigned location, joining an earlier one in Quebec. Boone says that the company has projects in mind for the rest of this year. The intent is to expand slowly, and learn from users' feedback. "The way we work has changed, and we are changing with it," said Boone. "We've listened to what the business community expects from a Coworking space, and we're delivering."
By the way, the rethink includes Staples' online presence as well. Aside from the new branding, the Web store is being improved with features such as free next-day shipping to stores. The site will also include a range of products that will be specific to retail locations.
Boone reports that over 80% of Canadian businesses have shopped at Staples within the past 4 months, whether at a store or online. The new initiative is clearly intended to build on that base, and maintain Staples' relevance in this challenging Internet age. From what I saw, the company has made a promising start. It will be interesting to see how things progress throughout 2019.
Images: Staples Workspaces area, Staples CEO David Boone.