WALGREEN ENTERS INK CARTRIDGE REFILL BUSS

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WALGREEN ENTERS INK CARTRIDGE REFILL BUSS

 user 2006-04-10 at 10:47:00 am Views: 129
  • #15011

    Walgreen enters ink cartridge refill business
    Walgreen
    Co. , the nation’s largest drugstore chain, will roll out print
    cartridge refill stations at 100 Chicago-area stores, including a dozen
    in Northwest Indiana, in the next two weeks in hopes of sharpening its
    edge in the office supply market.

    For
    half the price of a new cartridge, customers can bring their used
    printer cartridges to refill stations at stores’ photo counters where
    an Ink-O-Dem machine will clean and refill them in less than 15 minutes.
    The
    refill stations have been in operation on a test basis in Green Bay and
    Des Moines and in one Chicago Walgreen store north of downtown.
    Ink
    cartridges can cost as much as $50, while the prices of printers
    themselves can be as low as $30. Walgreen will charge 50 percent of the
    retail price of new cartridges to refill old ones. For models that the
    machine is unable to service, the chain will provide comparable new
    cartridges at the refill rate.
    While a Walgreen spokeswoman said the
    service evolved in response to customer demand, the company hopes the
    stations will spotlight their office supply offerings.
    “It will
    drive awareness to the overall category,” spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce
    said. “Customers may not have expected Walgreens to offer ink
    cartridges in general.”
    Test markets with the refill stations have
    seen printer cartridge sales grow overall, according to Bruce. The
    company would not reveal how much money the stations, manufactured by
    McHenry-based TonerHead, are costing to install nor how much revenue
    they expect the ink refills to generate.
    A spokesperson for computer
    giant Hewlett Packard, a leader manufacturing printer cartridges, said
    the quality of the refills does not compare with new product. “We’ve
    found that customers who opt for less reliable alternatives may find
    them with cartridges that don’t work after they get home,” said Tuan
    Tran, vice president of marketing at the company.
    The refill
    service, however, will also likely appeal to the environmentally
    conscious. In North America more than 350 million nonbiodegradable
    cartridges are thrown away in landfills each year, according to the
    federal Environmental Protection Agency.
    The refill service is not
    unique to Walgreen. Last week OfficeMax, Inc. announced the launch of
    its own ink refill stations at 900 stores across the country, and
    national chain Cartridge World has opened more than 20 stores in
    Illinois and Indiana that specialize in cartridge refills in the past
    year.
    In December, the company opened a new store in Munster, owned
    and operated by Sam and Marisa Giannakis, and has serviced more than
    1,200 cartridges since then.
    Both OfficeMax and Cartridge World charge 30 to 50 percent less than the price of new cartridges.
    Chris
    Gallagher, who opened Chicago’s first Cartridge World more than a year
    ago, now operates two stores in Lincoln Park and Lakeview. He estimated
    his stores have refilled 25,000 cartridges in that time.
    “We welcome
    the fact that OfficeMax and Walgreen are entering the market because it
    increases the knowledge to the public that there is an alternative to
    buying brand-new, expensive cartridges,” Gallagher said.
    He said
    Cartridge World’s services stand out because the specialty stores stock
    thousands of inks versus the handful that other chains offer.
    But Walgreen believes their accessibility will put them above the competition.
    “The strongest benefit for us, as always, is going to be the convenience factor,” Bruce said.