Saturday, February 23, 2008

Staples vs. Office Depot

At times I have considered starting a blog of Monterey Peninsula business reviews. Sort of like restaurant reviews, but for places we shop at or call on for services. But I don't really shop at that many different places, so the thing would likely not get very far.

But I would like to share my expreiences at the two most prominent ofice supply stores, Staples and Office Depot. I tend to go to Staples because its closer to home, and right along my normal route home. Office Depot is usually out of my way, if only slightly.

Both shops have been in business a good long time now, and I've noticed that they go through synchronistic, but opposite phases of service quality. When one is providing good service, the other tends to go downhill. In their early years, Staples service was distinctly inferior to Office Depot. After a time, the Staples crew improved dramatically, while Office Depot's people got sloppy and lazy. Now the trend has reversed again, and I'm finding Office Depot's staff is on top of things, while Staples people are losing it again.

Case in point: The last few times I've gone to Staples to buy ink for my printer, Staples didn't have any yellow. They didn't even have a peg on the shelf for my yellow. They had full pegs for black, cyan and magenta, but not for yellow. Not even an empty peg.

I brought this to the attention of the staff, and they checked their stock, and said they were out. So I went to Office Depot which was adequately stocked in all colors.

This week I needed yellow ink again. I went to Staples, figuring that after a couple of months they would have a peg for yellow.


I spoke with a salesperson who checked the back room stock and reported that the last yellow had been sold, but more would be in soon. I asked if they were going to get a peg for the yellow, and he only said I needed to ask for it when I came in.

Why can't they just put yellow on a peg next to the other colors and be done with it?

I said if it was going to be this much of a hassle, and if I had to make another trip it was going to be to Office Depot. So that's where I went. Their price is a little higher, but at least yellow was in stock and I didn't have to ask for it. While browsing for other items I was asked twice by pleasant voices if I needed assistance. I didn't, except to check out, and the cashier was equally pleasant.

So I guess I'm going to Office Depot for ink in the future. I'd rather just stop at Staples, because its right on the way home, but I'd prefer to just stop once.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Explaining McCain

I am thoroughly amused by the political pundits who seem unable to explain John McCain's success. They keep telling us that McCain isn't connecting with the Republican conservative "base" and therefore may not be a true conservative. Based on this, they question his ability to win, even while he is winning.

The explanation is obvious to anyone who doesn't define the Republican party by its so-called "base." This base is assumed to be people who march in lock-step with a predefined set of "conservative" values exemplified by the Bush administration. The failed Bush administration. Of course, Bush has proven to be anything but conservative. Radical is a better word.

I'm not a big fan of McCain, but he would be a much better president that the current guy. If McCain had won in 2000, we'd be in much better shape today. I think most Republicans are finally starting to realize this.

Anyway, my point is that the so-called "base" of the Republican party is too small, too radical, and too myopic to adequately support a national political party for very long. McCain is winning for a very simple reason. The GOP as a whole is no longer willing to go along with the few Republicans who have screwed up this country.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Illiterate homonyms

I often read the news on AOL, after signing in to check my mail. The public comments that often follow the stories paint a pretty bleak picture of the thought processes of other readers. Unfortunately, there is often a lot of mindless hostility expressed.

And today there was some mindless spelling.

A story about Barry Bonds gave us these two comments:

1. "...strip Bonds of the Home run record and BAND him from Baseballs Hall of Fame for EVER !!!!!!!!!!!!"


No further comment should be necessary on my part.



Monday, February 4, 2008

Seaside, Pacific Grove, and their taxes

Seaside wants us to approve a one-cent increase
in the sales tax to pay for city services. That would give us the highest sales tax rate on the peninsula, at 8.25%, beating out Sand City's 7.75%. Add in the proposal for a half-cent increase to pay for county roads, and the sales tax in Seaside would be 8.75%, which would be obscene.

So I'm voting against Measure R. As a Seaside resident we need better city services to be sure. But the city hasn't been doing enough to create the kind of economic development which would bring in tax revenue without raising taxes.

Seaside has been trying to develop Broadway as a new "downtown" business district. It's a great vision, but so far the execution has hardly been inspiring. Take the beautiful new shopping plaza on Fremont and Broadway. That was supposed to be the catalyst for more development in the area. But that site needs an anchor type retailer that will draw customers from all over the peninsula, which would in turn attract more stores to the neighborhood. Something big like a department store, JC Penney, perhaps, or maybe a Barnes & Noble bookstore, to compete with the Borders monopoly on the peninsula.

Instead they gave us another Starbucks and a Kinkos.


The city of Seaside is simply setting its sights too low, and trying to raise taxes to compensate for our leaders' lack of vision.

Pacific Grove is doing the same thing. Voters there rejected a tax increase last fall. Downtown PG is likewise suffering from a lack of vision. They, too, need a strong anchor store to bring in people from all over the peninsula. The building they need is right in their midst. It once housed Holman's Department Store, which was once comparable in size and prestige to Monterey's Macy's.

But the upper half of the Holman building has been empty for a decade while the rest of it is occupied by an antique mall, which attracts only a few specialty shoppers. There have been proposals to convert the building into a hotel or condominiums, but they don't seem to want to try to attract a major retailer back to the "last hometown."

And since the PG city council couldn't sell a tax increase, they're talking about ridiculous schemes to put parking meters along the shoreline, cutting services, and so forth. All because they don't seem to have the ability to attract retailers into their retail district.