FILL’ER UP !
FILL’ER UP !
2005-10-21 at 11:46:00 am #14285
Fill ‘er up!
refilled ink-cartridge franchises growing
Since Eric Heineken opened the first franchise store in Fairfield County that refills printer ink for computers, faxes and copiers at a significant discount, he says, the only thing that has surprised him is the number of customers who walk through the door.
“I’ve had more business than I expected right off the bat,” he said. “We’ve had a surprising amount of interest from business customers.”
Heineken, who opened his 1,800-square-foot store in Monroe on Aug. 8, sets his prices at 50 percent of those at Staples for inkjet cartridges and at about 70 percent for laser toner. The two Cartridge World franchisees in Westchester County, N.Y., do the same.
The newly franchised industry is just beginning to open in the New York area ’Äì’Äì’Äì small shops that refill inkjet cartridges at roughly the same rates that Heineken does. The stores have been opening up all over the country in the past few years, starting on the West Coast and heading east.
The small refill shops, usually less than 2,000 square feet in size, offer to take used cartridges and in some cases fill them up with new ink while you wait or while you shop. Otherwise, they can give you a discount for your returned cartridge and immediately sell you another used one already refilled.
Heineken said he researched a number of franchise opportunities before settling on a Cartridge World ink refill shop.
He thought seriously about an ice cream shop, but the ink refill idea surpassed that idea, he said.
“There isn’t a ton of competition, there’s a good profit margin and there are quality-of-life issues,” he said. “The hours are 9 to 6, Monday through Friday and 9 to 2 on Saturdays. Ice cream has two shifts a day, seven days a week.”
Although Heineken may be the first franchisee in the industry in Fairfield County, a Norwalk company, National Toner Recycling and Supply, which does not operate from storefronts, has been in existence since the mid-1970s.
Cartridge World, founded in Australia in 1997, opened its first U.S. franchise in January 2003. Now more than 240 locations are open across the country, with another 175 under construction. The company has 940 locations worldwide.
Lyra Research Inc., a Newtonville, Mass., company that conducts market research in the digital imaging industries, estimates big growth in what it calls the “after-market” industry in ink cartridges ’Äì’Äì companies that refill the cartridges, manufacture cartridges compatable with existing printers, or break down used cartridges into their parts and remanufacture them.