Staples is courting entrepreneurs by turning stores into trendy co-working spaces

Remember Staples? That place you used to do your back-to-school shopping as a kid?

Whatever happened to them?

The 30-year-old company is giving itself a makeover, trying to stay relevant as more consumers turn online to retailers like Amazon for their office supply needs. Now some stores are starting to look more like hip startup offices than the Staples you might remember, according to a Bloomberg report.

Take one store in Boston — full of Millennials on laptops, gourmet coffee, comfy seating, art, music and natural light — even a putting green and happy hours with beer and wine.

Staples is opening these co-working spaces inside some stores as part of a new effort to cater to small businesses, including Silicon Valley startups, Bloomberg reports. The company is partnering with Workbar, a Boston-based co-working company, and has opened three such spaces inside Staples stores so far.

Staples needs the boost. The office supply store has been struggling to compete with online retailers, resulting in mass store closures across the country. Earlier this month Staples announced it would shutter 70 more stores, CNN reported. The company has closed 350 stores over the past five years, and reported a $548 million loss and 3 percent drop in sales in the fourth quarter ending in January.

Staples’ answer is to rebrand itself into an “indispensible partner” to small businesses — a business consultant of sorts, Bloomberg reports.

But will that be enough to keep the old-school retailer afloat?

And if you build it, will the hip, young techies come?

It’s hard to say, but one Millenial offered a Staples co-working space a bit of high praise, according to Bloomberg. He touted the space’s “cool coffee machine.”

 Image: Staples logo. (Courtesy of Staples)


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