I Miss Kinko's and Mailboxes Etc.

This happens all the time. Larger companies catch, chew, and swallow smaller companies. It's the 'circle of life'. But there have been two not-so recent purchases/migrations of companies that are slowly building a slow burn in the back of my neck lately. Who are they you might ask? FedEx Office and The UPS Store*.

First off - the real haven for any small business was Kinkos and Mailboxes Etc. Why?

  • Service. Kinkos had a familial atmosphere where all employees had fun. Mailboxes Etc. was a franchise and usually run by people who were using it as their retirement nest egg. They were having fun.
  • Convienence. Both were close to my Stamford and home offices. If I needed something duplicated, bound or sent, it happened immediately. They also had incredible hours, where I could access their services when I needed them.
  • Products. They delivered what they promised. All with a real smile.

Over the past few years, both companies were subjugated by the competition and turned into zombie clones of their former self (okay . . . a bit harsh). Let me explain:

  • No Service. Where Kinko's had between 5-8 people on staff at any one time cheerfully helping myriads of small business people just like me with their office issues, Fed-Ex Office has no more than 2 people on the floor at any one time (and one squirrelly manager skittering in the background running back to their office as soon as a long line forms of customers). The worker at UPS Office is on a potent mix of prescription drugs and the cheapest liquor one can purchase, all fueled by a steady stream of Hot Pockets. He cannot pay attention and loses his train of thought frequently (this is a local occurrence, but has happened to me at other UPS locations).
  • No Convenience. Store hours have been truncated severely. Most FedEx Office locations are no longer 24 hours (a real problem when you need business documents for a morning meeting). Even the UPS Store has cut their available hours over the weekend.
  • No Products. FedEx Office eliminated many of their offerings and every location looks like a mere shadow of what it used to be. There is an increased focus on shipping and not on duplication/printing. The UPS Store still has most services, but its mailing and office supplies have been cut to the bone.

Finally - I really feel for the employees at these locations. They walk around like zombies with no apparent smile or enthusiasm. This is a clear example of poor management coupled with a very oppressive 'corporate-mandate' rule structure (you must do this, don't do that - no ability to make your own decisions).

I love when I find perfectly run, service-oriented tools that I can use for my business. It's sad when I see corporate greed snatch up these same icons of good service and turn them into awful places to work and shop.

I'd love your comments, viewpoint, and experiences on this topic!

*There are still a minimal amount of locations for Mailboxes Etc. - but for all intents and purposes, they are The UPS Store to me.