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Staples: They've got what?

Staples: They've got what? By Theresa Flaherty, Managing Editor

If office-retail giant Staples wants to make a go of medical supplies, it won't be as simple as hitting the “easy button,” say HME providers.

“I can't imagine how they think that's going to tie in with anything or how they would promote to it,” said Jim Leedom, owner of Home Health Depot in Lomita, Calif. “It sounds like they are fishing.”

Staples recently announced that it was adding about 1,600 hundred items in non-office supply categories as part of an effort to be more of a one-stop shop for its customers, according to a release.

The medical supplies category includes scrubs, bandages—“anything for medical offices or nursing homes.”

“Staples is not the place where people are intuitively going to think about those products,” said Mike Kuller, president of Allstar Medical Supply in Walnut Creek, Calif. “I also can't imagine there's enough demand to justify Staples making space for it.”

But provider Peter Czapla, who carries a line of designer scrubs to attract referral sources, isn't so surprised by the move.

“We try to fulfill the demand and provide good product to the customer,” said Czapla, co-owner of Wetumpka, Ala.-based Quality Home Healthcare. “So I guess some people at Staples said, 'Hey, we see all those people walk in to our stores, let's give them this option.'”

It's safe to say HME providers, who are used to big-box retailers trying their hand at various HME and supplies, aren't losing sleep over Staples displaying scrubs alongside copy paper and pencils.

“The biggest competition we worry about is the Internet,” said Kuller. “But I find people are sorry they bought on the Internet and then they come in here for the right thing.”


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