Business

Office Max opens in Oak Harbor

"There's now another place to get office supplies in town - in a big way.OfficeMax, an office supply and computer retail chain, is the newest addition to Oak Harbor's growing trend of big-box retail. The store opened its doors to customers Friday at 1 p.m.Along with offering over 7,000 products, the new OfficeMax provides over 50 new jobs to the Oak Harbor market.Workers finished construction on the 24,000-square-foot building, located on the corner of Highway 20 and Seventh Avenue, Thursday. Today (Saturday) is the store's soft opening. OfficeMax's week-long grand opening starts Aug. 13. OfficeMax spokesman Steven Baisden said the company targets SO/HO customers: small office and home office companies with 30 or less employees. OfficeMax's real estate team looks for locations that have a large group of these target customers, without another large competitor in the neighborhood. With Whidbey Stationers closing down in the middle of May, OfficeMax has no major competitor on North Whidbey.Oak Harbor fit the criteria we were after, Baisden said. OfficeMax has about 20 stores in Washington, and the company operates almost 1,000 stores nationwide. OfficeMax is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.The company doesn't try to hide its big-business image, Baisden said.It's really not a question of being a corporate giant, he said. What it really comes down to is customer service. It's our job to serve our customers, and people do respond to that.Besides, Baisden said, OfficeMax is a good fit for smaller communities.We think we can certainly co-exist with other similar stores, he said. We offer larger business machines that smaller stores don't. OfficeMax sells a wide variety of office supplies, furniture, computers, software and technology products, and they offer print-for-pay services with their CopyMax program.Several Oak Harbor computer store owners don't seem too worried about the new competition. We're concerned to an extent, said Tom Nusf, part-owner of TCD Computers. But we have a niche that they don't have. For example, Nusf said, TCD provides on-site service and office networking, which OfficeMax doesn't do. Our clientele is looking for a custom computer, Nusf said. We're not in direct competition component for component. Lee Robinson, owner of Rite-Way Computers, echoed Nusf's feelings about OfficeMax.We're full service and support, he said. I don't think it's gonna be a big deal.Mountlake Terrace-based Construction Associates handled the construction of the OfficeMax building, which is located at the former site of Paul Bunyan Lumber. The old building was torn down to make way for OfficeMax. "

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