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 user 2005-06-22 at 10:34:00 am Views: 73
  • #11642

    That’s just ink-redible
    June , 2005 -
    The ink cartridge in your home printer runs dry.

         The thought of the hassles, time and expense of getting a new cartridge paralyzes you.

         So the printer sits, incapable of performing its only function in life: printing.

         If you’ve ever experienced such printer-cartridge dread, there may be hope.

         Cartridge World, the Australian company angling to change the way ink-jet cartridges and laser-printer toners are bought, sold and refilled, has landed in New England.

         Ten months ago, it opened its first regional retail store, in Weymouth. Two more stores – in Portland, Maine, and Nashua, N.H. – opened a month ago. Coming soon: retail stores in Cambridge, two outlets in Rhode Island and perhaps as many as 95 others within the next five years.

         “It’s going great,” said Dan Sheerer, who has the New England franchise rights to Cartridge World. “The challenge for us is letting people know that (an exclusively cartridge-focused) industry even exists.”

          Companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Lexmark International Inc. have long made a killing on the cartridge-replacement side of their money-losing hardware printer businesses. Meanwhile, retailers such as Staples have stepped up efforts to better serve the cartridge- and toner-challenged multitudes.

         But Sheerer said his stores, franchise managers and employees are experts on all things cartridges, toners, ink and paper. That’s it.

         Need a new cartridge?

         Simply bring in the empty old one – and get a new replacement, a recycled one or just refill the old plastic nemesis with ink right there at Cartridge World.

          The retailer offers the more expensive brand-name products and nonbrand compatible ones, Sheerer said.

         No need to figure out reading and matching up cartridge codes. They know all about that at Cartridge World, Sheerer said.

          Refilling cartridges, often while people wait, is about 90 percent of the business at the franchises, he said.

         Sheerer claims Cartridge World’s prices are about half of those at big printing companies or “big box” retailers
    The recycling component also helps the environment, he said.

         Still, Sharon Cross, an analyst at Cross Research in New Jersey, said firms like H-P and Lexmark shouldn’t get too nervous about Cartridge World or other ink-stained upstarts, including Canada’s Island Ink-Jet.

          “It’s a Chihuahua biting the ankle right now,” she said. “But it’s a trend to watch.”

         Sheerer, 42, a former owner of a local light-manufacturing company, said he’s confident the $50 billion printer ink market has room for Cartridge World in New England.