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Hello, Readers!  We know this issue is coming close on the heels of last week’s, but we wanted to send out a special short edition to highlight our deep concerns about a merger that the FTC is approving that endangers independent business, and alert you to an opportunity to comment on it before the deadline tomorrow.
—Stacy, Charlie, Marie, and Zach 


The FTC is Approving a Merger that Will Help Staples and Amazon Harm Independent Businesses

Stacy Mitchell  |  Feb. 26, 2019

Independent office supply dealers are highly competitive, often beating Staples and Amazon on price and service. Yet a decision by the Federal Trade Commission now imperils their ability to compete. Independent dealers rely on just two wholesalers as their only tethers to the supply chain. Now the FTC, by a 3-2 vote, has given Staples (and its parent company, the notorious private equity firm Sycamore Partners) the green light to buy one of these wholesalers, a company called Essendant. 

“They have given our biggest competitor ownership of our biggest supplier,” said David Guernsey, who started Guernsey, Inc., a Virginia-based office supply company, more than 45 years ago. “We have never been exposed to anything like this before.”

Staples will likely use the acquisition to try shore up its declining sales by undermining independent dealers as competitors for office supply contracts from businesses and governments. The long-run impact of the merger will almost certainly be to accelerate Amazon’s bid to dominate the office supply market. 

Read Stacy's Mitchell piece on the deal and its consequences, and how the FTC’s thinking about mergers and independent businesses needs to change, in The Washington Monthly.


Submit a Comment to the FTC on the Merger

ILSR  |  Feb. 26, 2019

The FTC is allowing people to weigh in with comments on the Staples merger, providing a great opportunity for citizens like you to tell them to stop waving through mergers that harm competition and imperil the ability of independent businesses to compete.

By submitting a comment, you not only register your disapproval with the FTC, but these comments also become a public record for Congress, which has oversight over the FTC. ILSR believes that the FTC has not been fulfilling its mission to protect competition and has been far too quick to approve harmful mergers. This merger is a prime example. 

  • For details on how to comment, and tips for doing so, go hereThe deadline is midnight Eastern, tomorrow, Wednesday, February 27.
  • You can see other comment letters here.
  • Tips: There is no right or wrong way to write a comment letter. Express your concerns in clear, straightforward language. If you are a business owner, self-identify yourself as such, if you feel comfortable doing so, and perhaps note how your concerns about this merger relate to dynamics in your own industry.
ILSR has submitted our own comments, which explain why this merger will harm competition, undermine independent office supply businesses, and accelerate Amazon’s dominance of this industry.

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Copyright © 2019 Institute for Local Self-Reliance, All rights reserved.

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