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Ceres Staples closing doors
Brick-and-mortar sales on decline in U.S.

Staples, the only big-box office supply store in Ceres, is closing its doors on June 28.

In March the chain announced that it would close 225 stores by the middle of 2015, on the heels of closing 40 stores in North America in 2013.

"I'm really sad to see Staples go," said Ceres Chamber of Commerce president Renee Ledbetter.

Employees of the store told Ledbetter that Staples' corporate office felt they didn't need the Ceres location any more since it operates stores in Turlock and Riverbank.

"I wish we would have found out sooner than we did. The Chamber would have gotten behind some kind of outreach to the community to tell them otherwise. There's no other place in town to buy office supplies other than Walmart."

"It's tough," said store general manager Brian Blanco. "It's been pretty devastating. I'm going to have to find another job."

After 10 works of working for Staples, Blanco said he will now "lean on the Lord."

Approximately 20 employees work at the Ceres store. Some may be able to find jobs at nearby stores, he said, if they are available.

Staples is one of the original tenants of the Ceres Marketplace shopping center when it was constructed in 1998. Another original retailer, Raley's, closed in 2011 but was quickly replaced by Rancho San Miguel market.

Ledbetter said the Chamber has put out word to the Stanislaus Alliance to let them know that the space is becoming available. The space could be promoted when the Alliance sends a team to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) conference in Las Vegas to meet with large chains to talk about the demographics and shovel ready sites in Stanislaus County. Ledbetter said the Alliance will be telling others about the Ceres site.

Staples is aggressively looking to save $500 million by closing the stores and asking customers to go to other nearby stores. The chain is also emphasizing its online operation which now generates about half of its sales since Americans' shopping habits have shifted. The retailer expanded its online supply by five times to more than 500,000 in 2013. Sales made on the internet rose 10 percent during the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to its brick-and-mortar stores which saw a decrease of sales by seven percent for the same period.

Last March after seeing that sales had been disappointing at many stores, Staples CEO Ron Sargent stated: "A year ago, we announced a plan to fundamentally reinvent our company. We're meeting the changing needs of business customers and taking aggressive action to reduce costs and improve efficiency."

Staples has 1,846 stores in North America with most of them in the United States.