Home office products build momentum

Drug stores have a fairly low profile when it comes to the home office category, but some now are carrying a wider array of products as small electronics become a bigger part of the overall general merchandise mix.

Leading that effort is Walgreens. In 2007, it became the industry leader in inkjet cartridge refills when it rolled out the refill service to more than 3,000 stores. And as a complement to that business, it’s now selling several different printers with some priced as high as $250.

“[Printers] are only available online now, but people can order them in stores and have them delivered to the store or their home,” said Walgreens spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce.

Printers available on the Walgreens Web site include a Lexmark X8350 multi-function printer for $249 and a Canon Selphy compact photo printer for $109. Walgreens also sells such office accessories as the Allsop metal art printer and monitor stand for $59 and a Fellowes printer and office machine desktop stand for $69.

Bruce also noted that though Walgreens is trying to get consumers in the habit of refilling cartridges, the chain still carries a wide range of generic and name-brand refill cartridges in stores and online.

Rite Aid also carries a large selection of home office products in its GM aisles and probably has the most diverse line. Like Walgreens, it sells printers but actually stocks two models in stores: a basic printer from Lexmark for $49 and a fax machine/printer from Sharp that retails for $59.

It also carries such office accessories as a paper shredder from Royal, a desktop stand for laptop computers from Rolodex and a wide range of printer paper, folders and inkjet cartridges. And some stores carry larger accessories, such as office chairs with leather seats and folding tables and chairs. And it stocks electronic accessories associated with home computers, including surge protectors, floppy disks and portable battery chargers.

One new product area that stores are delving into is do-it-yourself refill kits for inkjet cartridges. Longs Drug now stocks the universal refill kit from NCR that allows people to refill their own cartridges at home with kits for both black and color refills. The kits come with four refills for black ink cartridges, along with two vials of cleaning solutions and the tools needed to do refills. Longs stores also carry inkjet cartridges for multiple printers from Hewlett Packard and Lexmark.

CVS tends to relegate its home office selection to low-priced, basic items that generate frequent buys. It carries a wide array of inkjet refill cartridges from Hewlett Packard and Lexmark, along with 25-foot telephone line cords, three-line phone jacks from Philips and cans of compressed air from Dust Off for computer cleaning and maintenance.

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