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Staples Sends Students Back-to-School with the Write Stuff and $5 Shopping Card for Teachers; Multi-Use Pens and Updated Classics Are Top Picks for the Season

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 13, 2004--Parents will recognize many of the supplies their children will need for back-to-school this fall, but they will be surprised at what these items can do and how different they look. The basic supplies students have used for decades are evolving to make school life easier, according to Staples, the world's largest office products retailer.

Multi-tasking pens store digital information or light up with a click. Updated classics such as fabric book covers, crayons that twist, and sticky notes that moonlight as Slinkys will be must-haves for students across the country this year. Last year's best selling back-to-school product at Staples was an updated classic - a modernized TI-83 graphing calculator now sold in blue, purple and lime green.

Back-to-school is big business with an average family spending approximately $160 on supplies and computer or electronics-related equipment, according to the National Retail Federation. This year Staples is taking a unique approach to earn that business by providing a $5 teacher savings card to anyone who spends $100 or more at its 1,200 U.S. stores from now through Sept.18th. The $5 card is presented with a "to" and "from" to be personalized and it notes, "Everyone knows a deserving teacher. Here's an easy way to thank one."

"Our hope is that teachers will start the school year with a collection of gift cards to help keep their classroom's stocked," said Shira Goodman, executive vice president of marketing for Staples.

PENS THAT DO MORE THAN JUST WRITE

Goodman expects parents and children to be pleasantly surprised by some of the new products at Staples this back-to-school season. "Our stores are stocked with innovative products that put additional features close at hand and make everyday tasks like studying easier," she added.

Dual-task pens keep additional functions handy. The PNY Executive Attache pen ($44.98) writes like a regular pen, but the other end holds a 128MB USB flash drive. This item puts up to 88 floppy disks' worth of data storage at a student's fingertips. Lighting up with a click, the Staples LumaPen ($1.98) is great for writing in a dark lecture hall, at bedside or on the school bus. The Post-it(R) Flag Highlighter ($3.99) is the ultimate study tool -- with Post-it(R) flags attached to the barrel, students can highlight a section of reading and flag it for later reference.

Even dry erase markers from EXPO(R) ($5.45 for a five-pack) are part of this trend, getting end-of-barrel erasers that eliminate the need for the big, often misplaced eraser. The Accent(R) RT Highlighter ($4.99 for a five-pack) solves the lost cap, dried-out highlighter problem by simply making the highlighter retractable.

Staples also reports a shift in the preferred ink color for teachers to use when correcting papers - the "new red" is a friendlier, more supportive purple ink.

UPDATED CLASSICS

Can't color within the lines? Crayola's(R) new Twistable(R) Erasable Crayons ($3.78) allow young artists to easily advance the crayon with a twist of the barrel and completely erase bright colors that end up in the wrong places. What happens when you combine an everyday office staple with a classic toy? You get Slinky(R) Sticky Notes ($2.99). This bright-colored, two-toned item does the work and is fun to use. Ticonderoga(R) gives a new shape to the good ol' No. 2 pencil with its Tri-Write(TM) ($2.99 for package of eight). The Tri-Write's triangular cross section creates a more comfortable grip than its hexagonal or round predecessors.

Forget about covering books with cut up brown paper bags from the grocery store. Book Sox(R) ($2.98 - $3.98) cover textbooks easily with stretchable, washable fabric available in a variety of colors and patterns. In just three years at Staples, this innovative product catapulted from zero to more than 2.5 million units sold. "Fabric book covers have become a back-to-school staple that is even showing up on our teacher supply request lists," said Goodman.

Even the most basic supplies have received makeovers. Slamming, jammed staplers are problems of the past as the Staples branded stapler(TM) ($9.99) has the power of a staple gun and can staple through 20 sheets of paper with the touch of a finger. The just-introduced Staples branded Quick Ring Reinforcer(TM) ($4.99) comes in a variety of fruitful colors and automatically inserts clear Mylar rings to keep pages in binders from ripping. And the Staples 3-hole Binder Punch(TM) ($1.94) fits flatly right into a standard three-ring binder so it's always there when needed.

TECHNOLOG-EASE

The paper notepad will always be around, but many students are opting for the palmOne(TM) Zire(TM) 31 Handheld ($148.99). Featuring a color monitor display, a rechargeable battery and 16MB of memory, the Zire 31 tracks sports practices, homework assignments and will play MP3s and games.

The Hewlett-Packard(R) PSC 1350 Color Flatbed All-in-One ($149.98) is nearly the size of a shoe box (17 inches by 10 inches by 7 inches) and yet it copies and prints up to 17 pages per minute in black and white and 12 pages per minute in color, scans documents and can read a variety of memory cards and memory sticks. The size, functionality and price make it a perfect piece of equipment for a dorm room or bedroom.

At less than $1,000, the Averatec 3220H1 Notebook PC is the most affordable ($949.98), highly functional laptop available. This 1.2 inch slim notebook features a 40GB hard drive with an integrated DVD/CDRW, 12.1-inch screen and weighs in at only 4.3 pounds. The weight, size and extended battery life of this computer makes it a perfect choice for those students who carry their computer wherever they go.

SPACE PLANNING

Innovation with a classic look and feel can even be found in this year's selection of furniture and organization accessories. The Lockerdesk ($129.99) has drawers that look like classic metal lockers, but come in cool retro '70s colors such as blue, orange and avocado green. Task chairs ($79.99) have shed the traditional black, gray and burgundy fabric and are now purple, blue and red and made of vinyl and mesh.

Even school lockers can be accessorized as Lockermate(R) offers a series of products ($2.99 to $16.99) that help students better organize and personalize space in those tall, thin lockers. Students can use magnetic locker mirrors, locker lights, magnets, pen caddies and double locker shelves to make the most out of their limited space.

"Back-to-school this year is all about infusing color and excitement into products that we all remember fondly, " Goodman said. "We have everything needed as students and teachers begin a new school year and we continue to provide the best selection of products throughout the year at our stores and at Staples.com. Simply put -- it's all here, you're all done."

About Staples

Staples, Inc. invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and today is the world's largest office products retailer. With 60,000 talented associates, the company is committed to making it easy to buy a wide range of office products, including supplies, technology, furniture, and business services. With 2003 sales of $13 billion, Staples serves consumers and businesses ranging from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the US, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Headquartered outside of Boston, Staples operates approximately 1,600 office superstores and also serves its customers through mail order catalog, e-commerce and contract businesses. More information is available at www.staples.com.

CONTACT: Staples, Inc.
Sharyn Frankel, 508-253-7895
sharyn.frankel@staples.com
or
Tilson PR
Mary Hightower, 561-998-1995
mhightower@tilsonpr.com

SOURCE: Staples, Inc.