Office Depot has debuted a new smaller concept at four stores in Denver that encourages small business owners to "interact more with products, with Office Depot associates, and with each other with products."
The stores measure 5,000 square-feet versus an average of 24,000 at its big box format.
The changes start with storefront windows, which feature graphic overlays that enable people to easily look inside from the sidewalk. One of the four stores features two in-window 4' x 8' digital screens showcasing hot tech products. The windows point to a bigger opportunity for urban locations versus the suburban one its bigger boxes largely focus on.
In a unique twist, the new stores have PC bars that allow people to hook up their computers. There is also a computer rental station, free Wi-Fi throughout the store, a recharging station and free, self-serve coffee available between the hours of 8 a.m. - 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. on weekdays.
The store includes a tech support center for computer repair and networking help, as well as printing and photocopying services.
LeAndra White-Mendez, Wynkoop Street store manager for Office Depot, told The Denver Post that the smaller location is designed to create a friendly environment where customers can go and meet with a "trusted (store) adviser."
"We have been receiving great feedback from longtime customers in addition to those who have made their first visit to our store," she added in a statement. "They say it is more modern and open and the layout makes you want to stay and play."
The concept also features a store-within-a-store, dubbed 'bluwire' that offers high-tech accessories such as iPhone cases, headphones and speakers. Most of the products are new to Office Depot.
With the smaller size, several touch screen displays enable consumers to order any product from OfficeDepot.com if the items aren't in the store with free delivery.
Office Depot plans on rolling out similar stores throughout the country. The new concept comes as Staples, Best Buy and other big box stores are also experimenting with smaller locations with sales per square foot at big boxes eroding amid online competition.
What do you think of the growth potential of smaller, urban locations for office supply chains?