Braden to expand into office supplies

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
The computer sales and service business can be like a roller-coaster-following the ups and downs of computer viruses and customers’ discretionary money in a slow economy.

So Scott Braden of Braden’s Computers in Hillsboro has found a way to handle the retail-business ride by adding an additional service customers need in the area.

He’s planning to offer office supplies beginning Monday, Nov. 10.

“From all the businesses I’ve talked to, they need this, and they want this,” Braden said.

Braden owns the local computer business, and wife Janel can be found in the store on a regular basis.

“I’m the silent partner,” Janel said with a laugh. “I just help out.”

About six years ago, Braden was painting houses in Colorado. Computer work was a hobby until he decided to open Braden’s Computers in a small building on East D Street on May 1, 2000.

Successful there, he moved his operation to downtown Hillsboro-into a larger facility at 111 S. Main. His doors opened Dec. 1, 2002.

Braden’s Computers currently offers new and used computer systems; computer-related services, such as service calls, hardware installations, repair and related equipment; high-speed wireless Internet access; and high-speed cable-modem Internet service.

“For the most part, the main thing is building and selling computers,” Braden said. “We get a lot of people bringing in computers for repairs.”

Braden plans to fill in the void created when a former office-supply store moved away from the downtown area in July 2002.

Businesses and individuals needing major office supplies since that time have had to go out of town to meets their needs. Twice a week, the former office-supply store, located in Newton, offers local delivery service.

“We’ll be offering the same things at competitive prices,” Janel said.

With the help of new employee Chris Ruck, who is planning to begin working full time when the office-supply section is operational, the timing was right to implement the additional service.

“That gave us the thought that maybe we can do it,” Janel said. “We plan to do a little more decorating and re-arranging so it feels more like a store.It looks empty right now.”

The showroom floor will soon be filled from front to back with shelves holding office supplies.

Beginning Oct. 27, Braden plans to close the business for two weeks to be ready to reopen with his additional service Nov. 10.

At that time, customers can look forward to a variety of brands of general and specific office supplies, such as paper products, pens, pencils, staplers, tape and envelopes.

“We’re going to have quite a bit here,” Braden said. “We’re going to order in about $10,000 in inventory.”

When they moved downtown 10 months ago, the couple discussed the idea of opening an office-supply store in conjunction with computer services.

After searching for the right vendor and coming up against a brick wall time after time, the couple shelved the idea.

“We just kind of gave up,” Janel said. “But now, we found the right vendor so we could be competitive.”

The current store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. But after the store reopens in November, they plan to expand those hours and be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays as well.

“We’re going to have to,” Braden said. “We’ll see how it works.”

As with any new business venture, the couple said they plan to be flexible to meet the needs of their customers. That means if they need to rethink Saturday hours or try new products, they’re willing to make changes accordingly.

“There’s going to be some fine tuning,” Braden said. “We’ll get stuff in, and if people want something else, we’ll adjust. There’ll be items we never dreamed of.”

In addition to visiting the store, customers will be able to order the new office supplies over the phone or by fax.

“Chris will be going around to the businesses and dropping off pamphlets and flyers,” Braden said of plans to get word of the expanded service out to the business community.

At this time, the couple plans to have Ruck deliver to customers if the order is within certain limitations.

Braden is already looking forward to many positive changes in his business in the future. For starters, he’s launching a new program for remote-access computer repair.

“He can log on to somebody’s computer at home and fix it for them so they don’t have to bring it in,” Janal said.

Braden said that would eliminate many on-site service calls and free more time for him to work at the store.

“If all goes well with this, I’m hoping to stop fixing computers and do what I do best-talk to people,” Braden said.

To clarify his philosophy on taking care of his customers, Braden said his services are not based on becoming rich.

“We don’t charge an arm and a leg for our services,” he said. “We’re giving the town something it needs and, in return, I just want to make a decent living and support my family.”

Down the road, Braden’s could even be looking at relocating.

“If it goes the way I expect it to go, I would say within a couple of years, we’ll be putting up a new building somewhere,” he said.

But if they do relocate their business, it will still be in Hillsboro.

“We feel like everything should stay local,” Janel said. “We want to give people what they need so they don’t have to travel one-half hour. So we want to fulfill their needs and feel like we have something to offer that’s local and helpful.”

No matter where he’s located in the future, Braden said he will continue with his business philosophy-honesty.

“If I tell somebody I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it,” Braden said.

“I want to give people the best possible deal I can give them. Good service is the key.”

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