Written by Phin Upham
Staples is one of many companies that received its initial funding from Bain Capital. In fact, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney sat on the board of the company for 15 years, helping to advise the growing store’s business model.
Thomas G. Stemberg initially created the concept for Staples in 1985. He was up late working on a business proposal for another venture when he realized his printer was out of ink. His local dealer was closed in observance of a holiday. Frustrated, Stemberg developed a vision for a retail superstore focused exclusively on office products.
He opened his first store in 1986, in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston. Within five years, the company had expanded locations within the US, and began a chain in Canada called “The Business Depot.”
Staples became a Fortune 500 company in 1996, on its tenth year anniversary. It had amassed over $3 billion in sales by that point, and planned to merge with its competitor Office Depot. The FTC struck the merger down on concerns of increases in supply prices.
Staples acquired the rights to name a new stadium being built in Los Angeles for the Lakers and Kings. It also tried to branch into cellular service through an acquisition of a Canadian provider, but the venture failed quickly and was sold off to cover losses.
Today, Staples does a lot of business through its ecommerce websites. It also operates internationally, with stores in Denmark, India.