There have been a lot of changes and shake-ups recently in the office supply market. Office Depot bought Office Max, and now Staples wants to buy Office Depot. For those of us who really enjoy shopping for office supplies, it’s an interesting turn of events. I’m not sure what changes will come to pass, but it’s a useful exercise to compare products.
How do the products at Staples fare? I recently got to test a few.
Their Space-Saver Cross-Cut Shredder is pretty nifty. Not industrial but not wimpy either, this shredder is the perfect balance of power and budget-mindedness for home use. Handling up to 10 sheets at a time, it cuts up the pages with ease. A little slower than a non-cross-cut shredder perhaps, it still goes fast enough for normal office needs, unless you put off your shredding to once a year. Not that anyone does that… But if you have a lot of shredding to do, it’s a great activity for kids! The shredder has a warning light for when has been used too long, which helps prevent burn out. It also shreds credit cards very well. The removable basket makes clean up easy. Just dump and get back to shredding.
This shredder has a lot of features. You can make it go forward and backward, of course, and it has a bin-full indicator to let you know when to empty the shredded material. It can run for four continuous minutes. Its five-gallon bin holds enough for most shredding sessions, and you can choose between turning it off or leaving it on between uses, using its auto-start/stop function. Its small footprint keeps your office floor clear. It easily handled all of my accumulated shredding.
This customize-able notebook system is something I drool over. I first learned about this kind of interchangeable and flexible organizer system through Levenger’s Circa series. I do have a few things from the Circa series, but their higher end products, such as leather notebook covers, are way out of my price range. I learned about the M by Staples Arc system during a trip to Staples one time, when I noticed that they carried strikingly similar products, but for much lower prices. How would they compare?
Well, I still haven’t gotten my hands on a leather Circa notebook cover, but I have to say that the Arc notebook cover, also leather and less than 1/4 of the price as Circa, is marvelous. Even a letter-sized leather cover costs only about $25. With plenty of options for sizes, notebook covers, pages, dividers, tabs, flags, task pads, business card holders, zip pockets, and discs, the Arc system is a good choice for the budget- and quality-minded consumer.
The covers come in two sizes: one that fits letter-sized paper, and one that fits paper half-letter-sized. The covers come in leather or poly plastic in a wide array of colors and patterns. The refill paper also comes in two sizes, as well as in many different styles, including: lined paper, planner pages, graph paper, to-do lists, project planner pages, and more. The paper is thick and high quality, so you feel fancy as you take meeting notes or make your grocery list.
There are also accessories available for the Arc notebooks. I’m partial to the task pads, since I’m always making lists. But the most useful accessory is probably the punch, which allows you to punch any paper of your own to fit into your Arc notebook. This is useful for project receipts, designing your own forms, or having your kids sneak little drawings in between your meeting notes. The Arc system offers versatility and style without spending a fortune.
One of the most useful products at any office supply store–after pens and paper, perhaps–is fasteners. Along with the traditional boring type, Staples makes some pretty cool colorful fasteners. Paper clips, binder clips, push pins, and rubber bands in green, blue, yellow, pink, orange, and purple cheer up your desk at home or work. I seem to go through a metric ton of binder clips, so being able to color code things is handy, too. But it’s hard to mess up a paper clip or a binder clip. These work as well as any of their others, but with a sense of style.
Note: Some products were provided for review purposes.