Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jeans Day 2009

Hey, Cal and Fin have matching Canucks jerseys. Sweet!Today is JEANS DAY!

Did you purchase a button so you can wear your jeans to work? Since it's a Playoff Canucks game, some people embellished a bit and included a jersey with the jeans like me. (Go Canucks!)

Costless Express has been a sponsor of the big Jeans Day BBQ held each year downtown. This year, we were also an official retail supplier for buttons. Thanks to our customers, we raised $1320 in button sales!

Calvin and Nearly NeilToday at the BBQ, we once again had "Nearly Neil" belting out the Neil Diamond songs. Most notably, of course, was Forever in Blue Jeans. The sun was shining this year (it rained the past two) so the crowds were amazing. We had a line-up 180 people long at one point waiting to purchase a HOT DOG, DRINK and CHIPS for $3.00 when you wore your Jeans Day Button. In just an hour and a half, we sold over 2000 customers!

VolunteersThis year, as in the past, we had suppliers donate the drinks and chips. But due to the economic times, we had our two main suppliers back out at the last minute due to budget reasons. I need to give big thanks to Sandy in our Purchasing department and the long list of other suppliers who stepped up fill in the gap. It was a total mix of drinks and snacks we had this year, and I was concerned how customers might perceive the ramshackle selection. Well, they seemed to love choice! Instead of just one can of pop and one flavour of chip, we had it all.

Thanks customers and staff for another successful event!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

How time flies! It was a year ago today that Costless Express became Canada's first Carbon Neutral Office Supply Company. We continue to monitor and lower our CO2 emissions, but I must say all the "low hanging fruit" efficiencies were dealt with last year. It becomes harder to find ways to keep pushing the environmental boundaries in business after going great guns last year.

Over the past year we did add a few new feathers to our cap, such as in-house shredding, less cardboard and packaging from our suppliers, consolidated supplier deliveries (one supplier was delivering from Seattle daily and we cut that to once a week!), and internal paper reduction campaigns. For the first time, we did not mail catalogues to our 3,200 customers, but instead asked that they add on to their next order. It worked great, and saved all the extra delivery trips and over $17,088 in postage on our giant 1000 page catalogue.

On the paper reduction campaign side, we actually had two very successful campaigns you may see very soon.

SAVE A STAMP was one campaign where we are striving towards zero incoming mail. After some Eco Brain Storming Sessions, we saw data that Costless received over 50,000 pieces of mail per year. If we could get our customers to pay by credit card or direct deposit, then it could be possible to eliminate incoming mail. We also contacted suppliers and asked that they not send unsolicited price books and sample binders, as this added up too.

EMAIL INVOICES was the other campaign just rolling out. By eliminating almost all outgoing invoices and statements we were able to reduce our paper consumption by eliminating two pieces of paper from each order we process in our system. Also, we switched all remaining paper we needed to print to 100% recycled Harbor 100 copy paper. This effort netted us a savings of 4420 pounds of greenhouse gases, 2240 pounds of solid waste, 28 million BTUs of energy and 20,104 gallons of water!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tomorrow is Earth Day!

Hug a tree!Tomorrow is EARTH DAY! Go hug a tree or something.

We have 30 of these very cool "picker upper thingies" that we are giving away tomorrow. We have been having a blast around the office with them. They are the best tool for picking up trash, so a bunch of staff ran around outside cleaning up. It was amazing what is littered! It really is disgusting that people just open their window and toss bags of empty fast food and old newspapers - ash trays of cigarette butts were the worst!

Calvin cleans up.Also there is promise that the world may be left in better hands than our generation. My 5 year old is so excited about EARTH DAY tomorrow. His school has many special things happening, and he is so well versed on environmental issues. If this is the start they get in Kindergarten then I hope the moral consciousness will stick as they grow up. He says he wants an electric car one day, and keeps asking when our delivery trucks will be electric. I'm sure it's a lot closer than we all think. Breaking dependence on OIL will change the world in so many ways.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


We are now on Twitter!

Follow Costless Express on TwitterI'm 42 and happy to say that technology has not left me in the dust. Sure, I am way off in left field when it comes to Facebook and MySpace, but honestly having my life displayed for all to see sounds a bit creepy to me. Then along came Twitter. I was on a plane and read an article of how BEST BUY was on Twitter and posted short updates about their company and even some hot deals. The article explained how they once posted a DVD Player on Twitter for 4 hours at $9.99 and sold thousands. I'm not sure if they made any money, but it shows how social networking technology can connect you to your customers.

That article was a few months ago, and today you can find all types of companies, universities, news organizations, and yes, even celebrities using Twitter. I feel the technology is leaning more to a communication tool of relevant info in the corporate world than to personal. The California wild fires over the past few days were updated on Twitter by the fire chiefs on their iPhones right from the front lines. I think that is so amazing.

For our company, we try to post relevant information a few times a day. Things customers may want to know about here at Costless, like new products, charity work, holiday hours and also our Twitter Deals. We will be posting Twitter only coupons and specials, so please follow us closely.

Ok, to wrap things up here - WHAT THE HECK IS TWITTER? If you asked that - check this out:


Monday, April 6, 2009


It's Craig!The power of Craigslist!! I am constantly impressed with the philosophy and integrity of the founder and controlling owner Craig Newmark (yes, there is a Craig!) His "community service" grass roots, no advertising, anti corporate approach has made it such a phenomenon. Watch Craig get grilled by Charlie Rose in this 19 min. interview from 2007. Is Craig a billionaire? Is Craigslist putting the newspapers out of business? Watch his answers.

Need to buy or sell something? Craigslist probably has it posted. For example, I wanted to buy a Xerox Docucolor 12 printer for our marketing and print shop this week. A good printing friend said these were the best for our needs, but Xerox stopped making them a few years ago and "most people will never part with them, they are THAT good." So I searched Craigslist, and voilà.

CraigslistThis is even more amazing. I posted a new warehouse position on Craigslist Friday the 3rd, and as of today, I have received 175 resumes! Seems we may be one of the few companies adding staff! What does that do to other sites, like Monster? I used to spend $400 for an ad, and now I can post on Craigslist free and get incredible results. Thanks, Craig!

I see has now changed its web site advertising rates. You can now post an ad for FREE.

Amazing, dynamic times we are living in. I remember the old paper Buy and Sell at the news stand, do they still print that? Recently, there are several stories of newspapers going out of business, some over a century old! Just south of us, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver closed in February. The Seattle P-I is the second newspaper to shut down in 2009, next could be the Boston Globe? I guess on a positive eco note, there would be less paper waste.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Costless Crushers!

Today was no April Fools joke! I and 5 other brave souls did battle at a charity Dodgeball tournament. Hey, this was serious business, so no snickering!
The Power of the Dodgeball - Together We Raised $4,811.08!
OK, one of our great customers invited us to enter their first annual charity Dodgeball event, with proceeds going to to the construction of the Atsemba Community School in Africa. 100% of the contributions will go directly to this project, which will provide quality primary education to up to 400 children every year.
We arrived early to the UBC Student Union building to set up some food and drinks we donated for the 100+ players in the tournament. After that, our team of 6 walked over for a pre-game meal consisting of Subway sandwiches and pizza. (Baddd idea before strenuous exercise, we found out!) When we came back to the gym, there before us were some serious, organized, semi-pro dodgeball teams. We let out nervous laughs, and then got very quiet. You see, we had never played dodgeball, never touched a ball, and most definitely never practiced.
The Costless Crushers!I am so glad we actually made shirts and looked like a team (The Costless Crushers - We came to crush your _ _ _ _ s) since the other teams were sizing us up as possible competition. As Captain, I tried to motivate the team with tactics like "Swing your arms and look like you're warming up" and "Here, come back here, the balls are not that hard" or, "Can you play without your glasses?"
Round One: We played against some pro team in matching black tank tops and before you know it, we had won game #1 and tied game #2. This leaves us at game #3 - SUDDEN DEATH. Loser is out and winner advances to the Semi Finals. The whistle blows and balls are flying. Then, in a moment of brilliance, Wendy from our team hands me two balls, I double fire and get out a fellow on the other team. Wendy decided to just retrieve balls and "reload" the other people on our team. This allowed us the throw more, and in under two minutes we had won the game!
Round Two: Now I know why some teams had 10-15 people (we had the bare minimum of 6). We all were gasping for air and chugging water (remember the Subway and Pizza?) and my arm felt like it was about to fall off as Round Two began (best of three). We had moments of brilliance, like 6 players on the other side trying to knock out our last player, Jim in one game and Wendy in another game, but it took a few minutes and dozens of balls. It was hilarious to see our player doing a version of the "funky chicken" and not getting hit! But overall, we were slaughtered three games to zero..
Pub time!Round Three: see the pictures of us at the PUB! Yup, there's our team on Round Three! (except our driver).
Great times at dodgeball, and we are starting to train already for next year. If the staff can dodge my stapler already, then I think we are in good shape.