T&L Office Supply spent years playing David to the big box stores' Goliath.
When the big box stores cut prices, T&L refined its inventory. When the big box stores widened their focus, T&L looked for a niche.
And now, after 42 years as a downtown Kennewick fixture, the family-owned business is holstering the slingshot and packing up the paper.
T&L Office Supply is closing Friday. A 65 percent off store-wide sale is planned throughout week.
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Owner Adrian Snowden, whose parents Tom and Lupe Snowden opened what became T&L Office Supply at 203 W. Kennewick Ave. in 1972, is looking forward to ending the battle.
"I'm just retiring," he said. "I'm done."
Future endeavors include Alaskan fishing trips, cross-country visits to family and, possibly, painting a house in Panama. Haggling over shipping costs? Not in the cards.
Snowden began to feel the pinch of his big box competitors shortly after acquiring T&L Office Supply from his parents after they retired in 1993.
"The first year, Office Max moved in," Snowden said. "The second year, Office Depot moved in. By the third year, Staples had moved in."
Snowden realized there was no returning to the good old days.
"It changed the game," he said. "The game had changed."
Snowden added: "You just have to co-exist with them; you can never beat them."
So, co-exist, he did.
Snowden noticed the aisles of his larger competitors seemed thin on art supplies. Sensing an opening, Snowden turned half of T&L into an art supply store.
"Then you got the craft stores," Snowden said, rattling off the names of several national chains that moved into the Tri-Cities.
But T&L Office Supply always strived to offer what the big box stores didn't.
"They'd have the top 100 items, and we'd have everything to go with it," Snowden said, noting that a large chain store might sell office planners, but not refill calendars when the new year came around.
The store's last day is poignant for Snowden for another reason. It also marks the birthday of his late wife, Frances, who would have turned 62.
-- Drew Foster: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org