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This Escondido Business Owner Knows Shopping Local Helps Drive a Community

As our nation begins to reopen and find its way to a new normal, many consumers are looking more to their own communities for goods and services. For Glen Burford, VP of Business Development at Glennie’s Office Products, shopping locally has always been a priority and something he endorses.

“We promote the buy local philosophy,” said Burford, who has created a marketing page that outlines the advantages of buying local in communities, including the estimate that $68 of every $100 spent in a community stays in the community. “It helps people understand the impact.”

Local government and businesses can count on Glennie's Office Products for many of their essentials

Glennie’s Office Products  - which services San Diego County and Southwestern Riverside - opened in 1967 and has stores on 5th Avenue in Escondido and Temecula. 

The specialty store has a wide range of office supplies and products, including furniture, technology needs, general supplies, promotional products, storage solutions, breakroom treats, and janitorial supplies. 

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, janitorial supplies have been the hot item - something Burford said has been flying off the shelves. “The regular office products are not moving right now, but all things related to sanitizer, toilet paper, paper products, and sanitizing products are,” he said, adding that janitorial/sanitation sales jumped from 15% to 65% of his business.  

Although the retail business is open for walk-in customers, Glennie’s Office Products is mostly a business-to-business operation. “We are providing for doctors’ offices, government and city offices, fire departments, and water departments,” said Burford. “We do a little bit of retail, but we’ve seen a lot more walk-ins because we have products that others have had a hard time finding,” Burford said. 

One of these items is hand sanitizer. Burford found a way to supply hand sanitizer while also supporting a local business owner. Burford, who is a member of the Escondido Rotary East, worked with a fellow rotarian, Debbie Young, the owner of  Escondido-based Sculpt Nouveau. Young found a way to use her existing supplies to make and sell hand sanitizer. 

Sculpt Nouveau specializes in patina and metal finishing products, which include chemicals that Young realized could be made into hand sanitizer. And so, using the FDA guidelines, she started creating hand sanitizers. “She made some for general rotarians,” Burford said.

Working with the Rotary, they found a way to give some of it to those in need. Kevin Bowcock, President of Escondido Rotary East, said, “Our club donated 90 bottles of hand sanitizer to Interfaith with the help of Sculpt Nouveau, who pivoted a portion of its business at a time when it is in obvious need.”

Young has also partnered with Glennie’s Office Products to provide hand sanitizer to the Escondido community. “She started whipping up batches and putting them in bottles and we started pushing them out the door,” Burford said. 

One client who had an immediate need for the hand sanitizer was the Escondido Public Works Department. “While City Public Works purchases materials from local Escondido businesses whenever possible, the City was in great need of hand sanitizer in April, which was out of stock with most vendors at the time,” said Amber Tarrac, Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Escondido. “The City discovered a local partnership wherein Sculpt Nouveau provided chemicals to Glennie’s Office Products to mix and distribute hand sanitizer. This was a great demonstration of pivoting materials, labor, and resources in order to meet current demand. The City is grateful that we were able to purchase hand sanitizer through this partnership and remains steadfast in our commitment to continue to support local businesses.” 

Meanwhile, Burford is trying to get other hard-to-find products in his stores, including face masks. “We are hoping to get 38,000 face masks. But almost half of those are gone already.” 

Burford said finding these necessary products for his customers has become a mission. “We have one of our employees checking stock all the time for gloves and sanitizer and cleaning products.”

As an essential business, Glennie’s Office Products has stayed open throughout the pandemic, but like many, Burford has seen a shift in their business practices. “Right now we are seeing most of our business come from city government offices and health care businesses and organizations they work with.”

Many of these organizations continue to work with Burford because, as he said, “They understand that we provide more than just a webpage to buy from. We have product knowledge and we can out-service any of the big-box competitors, any day of the week.”

Creating a business-to-business atmosphere in the community provides other benefits as well. “The big corporations are great,” said Burford, “but they support big-name charities. The local charities are supported by local business.”

Some of the local charities Glennie’s has supported include sporting teams, schools, and one close to Burford’s heart, the Escondido Community Child Development Center. “They do great outreach and support for preschoolers and low income families in our community.” 

Burford further explained, “We are neighbors, we live in town, so what happens to our community matters to us. We know people who are hurting right now, we know people who are out of jobs right now. What happens in Escondido, San Marcos, Valley Center and Temecula impacts us directly. So that’s why it’s important to support the community right now.”

For Burford, that means working through the changes and adjusting as needed. “Right now it’s adapt, overcome, meet the needs.” He acknowledges that even while he tries to adapt, it is still a struggle. “It’s not the glory days, but we are grateful that we are able to stay open and do some business. We know there are a lot of people struggling with their businesses, and our hearts go out to them.”

Fortunately Burford is seeing a shift happening. “We are seeing a lot of companies buy stuff in preparation for reopening. I see that they are getting ready.” 

This is a promising sign of hope and Burford joked that someday he hopes to celebrate a new normal. “I’m going to ring a bell every time somebody buys a box of paper clips.”

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