Business

Like others, Paper Products struggles to survive

Terry and Joanna Arndt continue to be creative in reinventing their business, Paper Products, which has been one of Winslow’s most successful retail stores for many years.  - Dennis Anstine/Staff Photo
Terry and Joanna Arndt continue to be creative in reinventing their business, Paper Products, which has been one of Winslow’s most successful retail stores for many years.
— image credit: Dennis Anstine/Staff Photo

In many ways, the owners of Paper Products, one of the more venerable businesses on Winslow Way, are not unlike many other businesses on the island’s besieged main street.

Joanna and Terry Arndt have seen their profits cut nearly in half as the reconstruction project has stretched into its sixth month.

They knew they’d take a hit, but eventually their credit cards were being used to keep the business afloat and they were considering either selling or closing the business.

“But eventually we decided to make this work,” said Terry, who begn working at the store in April before marrying Joanna (McLeod) in July.

The goal was to make it to the two weeks before school started on Aug. 31, which, along with the week after school begins, represent about one-third of the 35-year-old businesses’ annual profit. Arndt said Paper Products, which Joanna bought in 2007, had a net profit of about $1 million in 2010.

“We’re down more than 40 percent for the first six months of this year,” said Terry Arndt, who also owns a small publishing company but considers himself a salesman at heart. “Last year the store made between $6,000 and $7,000 a day during those three weeks. In June we didn’t do a day over $2,000. Last Monday we brought in about $4,000, but we need to be in the $5,000 to $6,000 range consistently to make a profit.”

Arndt said construction is a large component of the drop in retail sales, which he estimated represents about 80 percent of the store’s income.

“But commercial sales represent our biggest growth,” he said, “especially since I’ve come aboard. We’ve added some big accounts, like Avalara, but they still don’t make up for the business losing the city in 2009.”

The city bought many of its supplies from Paper Products for years, including $52,375.90 in products in 2007, Arndt said. But that dipped to $40,044.21 in 2008 and then slipped to $17,208.51 in 2009, $10,902.92 last year and stands at $5,303.12 this year through August.

“The city changed its structure when the economy got bad and it started having each of its departments buying their own supplies from the big-box stores,” he said.

He also approached the local school district, “but the person I talked to said the district is happy with their vendor (KCDA) and were told they had to stay with it.”

KCDA (King County Directors’ Association) is a purchasing cooperative owned by Washington’s public school districts.

Arndt said Paper Products is a member of Business Source, an independent dealer that wholesales a generic line of office supplies.

“It buys the same goods from the same manufacturers that provide supplies to the big boxes,” said Arndt. “Its labels are different, but it’s the same product and often the pricing is better.”

Paper Products has 11 part-time employees, not including a bookkeeper and comptroller.

“We’ve had to reduce our inventory because of the loss of revenue,” he said, “but it will come back. We’ve moved things around in the store to make it more consumer friendly and we’re still emphasizing customer service.”

And with the construction project almost in the rearview mirror, the Arndts believe they will survive.

“You really have to work at it these days,” he said, “and we’re doing that. We’re not going anywhere.”

 

roducts, one of the more venerable businesses on Winslow Way, are not unlike many other businesses on the island’s besieged main street.

Joanna and Terry Arndt have seen their profits cut nearly in half as the reconstruction project has stretched into its sixth month.

They knew they’d take a hit, but eventually their credit cards were being used to keep the business afloat and they were considering either selling or closing the business.

“But eventually we decided to make this work,” said Terry, who begn working at the store in April before marrying Joanna (McLeod) in July.

The goal was to make it to the two weeks before school started on Aug. 31, which, along with the week after school begins, represent about one-third of the 35-year-old businesses’ annual profit. Arndt said Paper Products, which Joanna bought in 2007, had a net profit of about $1 million in 2010.

“We’re down more than 40 percent for the first six months of this year,” said Terry Arndt, who also owns a small publishing company but considers himself a salesman at heart. “Last year the store made between $6,000 and $7,000 a day during those three weeks. In June we didn’t do a day over $2,000. Last Monday we brought in about $4,000, but we need to be in the $5,000 to $6,000 range consistently to make a profit.”

Arndt said construction is a large component of the drop in retail sales, which he estimated represents about 80 percent of the store’s income.

“But commercial sales represent our biggest growth,” he said, “especially since I’ve come aboard. We’ve added some big accounts, like Avalara, but they still don’t make up for the business losing the city in 2009.”

The city bought many of its supplies from Paper Products for years, including $52,375.90 in products in 2007, Arndt said. But that dipped to $40,044.21 in 2008 and then slipped to $17,208.51 in 2009, $10,902.92 last year and stands at $5,303.12 this year through August.

“The city changed its structure when the economy got bad and it started having each of its departments buying their own supplies from the big-box stores,” he said.

He also approached the local school district, “but the person I talked to said the district is happy with their vendor (KCDA) and were told they had to stay with it.”

KCDA (King County Directors’ Association) is a purchasing cooperative owned by Washington’s public school districts.

Arndt said Paper Products is a member of Business Source, an independent dealer that wholesales a generic line of office supplies.

“It buys the same goods from the same manufacturers that provide supplies to the big boxes,” said Arndt. “Its labels are different, but it’s the same product and often the pricing is better.”

Paper Products has 11 part-time employees, not including a bookkeeper and comptroller.

“We’ve had to reduce our inventory because of the loss of revenue,” he said, “but it will come back. We’ve moved things around in the store to make it more consumer friendly and we’re still emphasizing customer service.”

And with the construction project almost in the rearview mirror, the Arndts believe they will survive.

“You really have to work at it these days,” he said, “and we’re doing that. We’re not going anywhere.”

 

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