J & K takes hassle out of back to school shopping


July 16, 2008 at 2:01 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Parents just have to call J & K and tell them what grade their child is in and what school they attend in order to get a tote bag loaded up with all the proper supplies.
Parents just have to call J & K and tell them what grade their child is in and what school they attend in order to get a tote bag loaded up with all the proper supplies.
Parents across the parish will soon begin the epic annual journey that is otherwise known as attaining school supplies. And while those very parents will soon run into each other, quite literally, at various supply stores, one local business is taking the hassle out of the search - for free.

J & K Office Supply and Printing has been gathering up school supplies for parents all summer long. All a parent has to do is give the business a call, tell them the school and grade of their child, and let J & K do the rest. The supply and printing company will put together all of the supplies on the list, load it into a free tote bag, and hold it until the parent comes by to pick it up.

“The parents love it because they can just call us up and tell us where their kid goes and everything that is on that school list is in the bag when they pick it up,” Tanya Colee, co-owner of J & K, said. “I’ve always been a working mom, so it was always my dream to say ‘wouldn’t it be nice to just hand this list over to somebody, let them deal with it, and then just pick up the supplies?’”

More importantly, the price of the supplies is in-line with what a parent or guardian would pay at a chain store such as Wal-Mart. In fact, all a customer will pay for is the price of the school supplies.

There is no fee added to it.

“If you went to Wal-Mart and added up their supply list and then added up our list, generally you are within a couple of dollars,” Tanya said. “We have even been a little bit less expensive on some items, so price wise, there is no real issue.”

Plus, J & K works hard to have all of the items on each school’s list.

“A lot of the comments we get is that someone has been to five Wal-Marts looking for everything and they still can’t find it,” Ed Colee, J & K co-owner, said. “We have all the supplies and this is just a free service we offer based on our price.”

Besides just helping out the parents, J & K is also giving back to the very schools that they compile the lists for. At the end of the school supply season, the printing and supply company takes into account each student they have sold supplies to and what school that student attends. After adding up the sales for each individual school, J & K gives 3 percent of that total back to each public learning institution in the parish.

“This is just our way of giving back to the community,” Tanya said. “We wanted something that was kind of painless for everybody concerned and something that we could process in house. Every public school in the parish gets a percentage of the sales, whether they actively participate by passing out our flyers or not.”

J & K actually began the program three years ago, but it got off to a slow start.

“When we first started, getting a hold of people and getting information out was hard so we really only had two schools get involved,” Ed said. “That first year we used to put all the supplies in a box, and at the end of the season, we had boxes all over the place.”

Things have picked up drastically since then.

“Instead of the boxes, we have a nice little tote bag that is given free and we also include a free book sox book cover with every order,” Ed said. “Last year, we had around 400 orders. We haven’t added up this year’s total yet, but it should be more.”

In the future, J & K hopes to process 1,500 to 2,000 school supply orders a year.

But aside from the growth in the school market, there have also been plenty of other changes at J & K. Ed and Tanya purchased the company four and a half years ago, and since then, they have greatly expanded upon the services they can offer.

“When we took over, we added wide-format graphics like banners and signs, free delivery to businesses, in house full-color printing and we upgraded to all new equipment,” Ed said.

J & K has also enhanced both the office supply (with a catalog of 28,000 items) and school supply side  of its business by carrying more variety and adding more vendors and suppliers. They can also print pretty much anything, which is evident in the way they attach logos on objects ranging from water bottles to candy bars.

And of course, they pride themselves on their customer service.

“Our mantra here is customer service,” Tanya said. “We feel like we have a lot to offer and we feel like our competitive edge is our customer service. It ends up saving customers time and money if they do everything here because we basically treat our customers like gold.

“I just think that that’s what people want these days because they are tired of being treated as one of a mass million of customers.”

Though that personal service is what J & K prides themselves on, the company also considers themselves a “one stop business source.” They have taken that mantra a step further by adding an online component to their business, www.jkofficesupply.com.

“They can order their office supplies there and it’s basically just like any major chain in that regard,” Tanya said.

J & K also has plans to start a recycling program to benefit the schools. They would collect ink cartridges and then hold a drawing to determine which school would receive money.
The cartridges are already being collected.

“We like focusing on the educational system to help give back to the local community,” Ed said. “We both went though the educational system here and our daughter does so now.”




View other articles written By Jonathan Menard

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