Small Business Saturday (November 29th) was a day to both celebrate and do good business with your local small business on “Main Street.” As I wrote this, I was hosting a Small Business Saturday event at Bainbridge Technology Solutions, a local computer storefront reseller .
So time for some Small Business Saturday storytelling . Brandon Byron is the owner/operator of Bainbridge Technology Solutions. Earlier this year, Byron received notification from HP that it was terminating the wholesale motion of its printer ink to smaller resellers who didn’t meet a annual quota of $30,000 USD in sales. The same fate also awaited the stationary store on downtown “Main Street” (really known as Winslow Way) called Paper Products. The sales termination date was November 1, 2014 (or about a month ago). HP had a procedural exemption step called the “Small Town Exemption.” This was an appeals process that Byron undertook showing community need, demographics. He even submitted photographic evidence depicting the character of the community. Sadly his request “ask” was denied. Even sadder was Byron’s belief that HPs decision will lead to Paper Products closing as it has a greater dependency on its HP ink sales than Byron. He will survive with a diversified practice that includes managed services for local small businesses.
I continued my investigation by going up the food chain. Bainbridge Technology Solutions is a reseller partner for D&H Distributing, one of the top five distributors in the US. I reached out to D&H Distributing who confirmed the scenario but further declined comment. I get that but, translated, there was nothing D&H Distributing could do.
So what’s it all mean? Small town customers will likely purchase their HP ink from online retailers and LARs such as CDW. I found an interview from HP’s Steve Sakumoto, VP and General Manager, US Supplies Sales Organization in OPI magazine. It’s actually a good article you can read here. Basically, it amounts to brand protection from HP’s point of view. But it sits wrong with me when an enterprise business tries to unsuccessfully understand small business. It’s a different dialect and culture.
I’ll continue to pursue this story – stay tuned for updates. And please support your local small business IT services provider and reseller.