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Company is sweet to its customers

February 14, 1997

By FRANCA LEWIS

Staff Writer

When it comes to sweet surprises, each day is like Valentine's Day at Office Essentials in Hagerstown.

The office supply company began giving out candy treats with orders on the special day two years ago, according to company President Ron VanReenen.

The idea was so well received by customers that treats have become part of the bargain on a daily basis, he said.

Debbie Miller of Williamsport has received many of the goodies.

As administrative assistant at First Urban Fiber in Hagerstown, one of her duties is to receive office supplies and handle the orders that come in.

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"It's such a nice thing to get a treat in the package," Miller said. "It's just something small that brightens the day."

She said handling office supplies can be a mundane task, but that Office Essential's surprise makes the job special.

"It started as a customer appreciation day and grew," VanReenen said. "We got so many calls from our customers, who really appreciated the treats, that we thought it would be a great idea to give them every day."

A treat is included in every order, whether it's for a box of pencils or a lot of office supplies, VanReenen said.

The treat for Valentine's Day is a box of Sweethearts brand conversation hearts from the Necco Confectionery Co.

Deliveries around Easter will include a sweet treat like a peanut butter egg or a marshmallow chick, VanReenen said.

When there's no holiday theme, Office Essentials includes a small bag of chips or packaged crackers in orders.

"A customer once called us and thanked us for the treat, and then asked us how we knew she hadn't had time for lunch," he said.

Office Essentials has so many treats going out that it has begun buying snacks in bulk from a candy distributor in Pennsylvania.

"It balances out," VanReenen said of the amount of treats his company has purchased. "Sometimes, though, the price of the treat does exceed the price of the order."

Office Essentials, at 644 Frederick St., began operations in Hagerstown in 1991. The company has stores in Hagerstown and Waynesboro and Chambersburg, Pa.

VanReenen's partner is Patricia Hull.

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