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  • 07.14.04

Mobile Office Surprise

What should you do when you need office supplies, technical assistance, and other business services while on the road? Use this handy guide to tools you can use while traveling.

With FedEx’s recent acquisition of Kinko’s, now dubbed FedExKinko’s, much is being made in the press of the road warrior’s battlefield reliance on local business service support. Sun Tzu’s Art of War acknowledged the same strategy some 2,000 years ago with the statement, “When provisions are transported great distances, the citizens will be impoverished.”

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Personally, I have been pulling into Kinko’s for on-the-road copying, printing, and Internet access — and RadioShack for emergency electronic accessory needs — for years. Exhibit A: My drawer of extra cell phone chargers.

Business travelers are most often in need of copying, faxing, computer rental, and Internet access, which can be found in most hotels catering to business travelers. You may wish to remember this advice from Sun Tzu: “Those in proximity to the army will sell goods at high prices.” If you need volume and quality, your best bet is to rely on specialists, particularly if you need printing services.

This edition of Transit Authority, I provide a brief description of five companies that are great resources for on-the-road business services and printing. This is followed by a list of five retailers that sell computer, electronics, and office supplies for those emergency situations while traveling.

While researching the Business Travel Almanac, I learned that all of the companies discussed below — service providers and retailers alike — offer handy store locators on their Web sites. All you need to do is type in your local address, and you will get a map (complete with distances) to the closest locations. Both FedExKinko’s and RadioShack also offer a phone-based locator service. In addition, there are 7,200 RadioShack locations countrywide. Compare that to the seemingly ubiquitous Starbucks and its 3,100 locations. RadioShack estimates that 94% of Americans live or work within five minutes of a RadioShack.

Lesson learned: Business travelers are rarely too far away from the tools they need to use. They just need to know where to go to get them.

Business Services

FedExKinko’s

FedExKinko’s offers copying, faxing, scanning, binding, document creation, color printing services, and, of course, FedEx shipping. You will also find computer rental (Apple and PCs) with wired and Wi-Fi high-speed Internet access. Videoconferencing is available in select locations.

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There are more than 1,100 FedEx Kinko’s locations throughout the U.S. In many major cities, there is a least one location open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company’s toll-free number (800-254-6567) and Web site are excellent resources for finding convenient locations and verifying hours of operation and services. Note that locations and hours of operation do change, so it is definitely a good idea to call ahead.

Laptop Lane

Laptop Lane operates 16 airport business centers. The centers offer private workstations with unlimited high-speed Internet access, unlimited phone calls (local and domestic long-distance), printing, copying, faxing, and multi-line phones with conference calling capability. Some locations even include conference rooms. Laptop Lane also sells business and travel accessories.

You can find Laptop Lane at the following airports: Atlanta (3), Chicago O’Hare (2), Cincinnati (4), Dallas-Fort Worth, New York LaGuardia, Oakland (2), Philadelphia, Seattle, and Salt Lake City.

Mail Boxes, Etc., Inc./The UPS Store

Mail Boxes, Etc., a UPS company, is the world’s largest franchisor of retail shipping, postal, and business service centers with more than 4,000 independently owned locations around the world. In 2003, Mail Boxes, Etc. began changing the name of its stores to the UPS Store. Services include packaging, shipping, copying, printing, mailbox service, and, in many locations, postal service, and computer rental (printing and scanning). The UPS Store and Mail Boxes, Etc. locations also offer additional services, such as notary services, passport/ID photos, rubber stamps and engraving, money transfers, and office and mailing supplies.

PIP Printing Inc.

PIP provides professional business printing services, graphic design, and copying. PIP has more than 350 locations, mostly in suburban and rural areas.

The company is part of the Franchise Services, Inc., family of companies, which includes the Sir Speedy, PIP Printing, MultiCopy, Copies Now, and Digital QuickColor brands.

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Sir Speedy

Sir Speedy locations provide printing, copying, and document management services. There are more than 700 locations worldwide.

Sir Speedy is also part of the Franchise Services, Inc.

Computer, Electronics, and Office Supplies

CompUSA

CompUSA primarily sells personal computer-related products, with approximately 225 stores in 90 major metropolitan markets. CompUSA’s inventory includes all major brands of computers and information products, including Apple, Compaq, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Sony, and Toshiba. Stores also carry more than 2,000 software titles and all manner of cables and accessories. If you’re experiencing computer problems, the company also offers technical service via Dial-A-Tech (877-777-8324).

Office Depot

Office Depot sells office supplies, computer hardware and software, business electronics (digital cameras, cell phones, and so on), and furniture, and provides printing and copying services. There are 827 Office Depot superstores in 44 states and the District of Columbia.

Office Max

Office Max sells office supplies, computer hardware and software, business electronics (digital cameras, cell phones, and so on), and furniture, and provides printing and copying services.

RadioShack

RadioShack sells all sorts of cables and gadgets, including wireless communications, cell phone accessories, PDAs, digital cameras, electronic parts, batteries, and hard-to-find accessories. Sales staff can recommend appropriate accessories and batteries for almost any brand.

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RadioShack stores are common in urban and suburban areas; the company estimates that with more than 7,200 stores nationwide, 94% of Americans live or work within five minutes of a RadioShack. Call (800-THE-SHACK) or go online to find the nearest store.

Staples

Staples sells office supplies, computer hardware and software, consmer electronics (digital cameras, cell phones, and so on), and furniture, and provides printing and copying services. Staples maintains airport locations in Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh; these locations provide merchandise and services (copy, fax) oriented to the business traveler.

There are approximately 1,100 full-service Staples stores in the U.S.


Would you like to recommend a more local or regional independent provider of office supplies and business services? Email us and we’ll compile an auxiliary directory.