When you’re managing an office-load of people, it’s a no-brainer to buy in bulk at massive wholesalers like Costco or BJ’s. It’s also often eco-friendlier because you won’t be going through small individual packaging like chip bags or printer ink cartridge wrappings. But be warned: there are very important differences between a good bulk buy and a bad bulk buy. Below we’ll review the best and worst office bulk buys.
Let’s start with the bad—three major Bulk Buying Fails (BBF, not to be confused with BFF):
If your office can consume 18 croissants in one day, then get that box of freshly baked goodness. But if you don’t have the office mouth-power of twenty ravenous post-soccer-practice teenagers, then I’d advise you to hold off on that 1 liter jug of maple syrup and 24-pack of Danishes. It’s difficult to estimate how much food will be consumed by the office but it’s definitely better to underestimate than overestimate. Just keep in mind this horrifying statistic: about 40% of food in the US is just thrown away.
Unnecessary food items are typically the things you pick up when you shop hungry, which you don’t need but will consume if handy, like a 6 pack of Toblerone. Hello calories, hello cavities.
Unnecessary office items are particularly tricky. They may seem useful but really aren’t, especially if bought in bulk like a 24 pack of lightbulbs. Light bulbs rarely go bad 24 at once, and it’s pretty easy to send someone to get a replacement or just keep one or two on hand (rather than two dozen that are put into some drawer and forgotten until you move offices and find ten boxes of partially used light bulbs which you will never need all of).
Offices tend to be tight on space as it is; you definitely don’t need to waste any more real estate on storing cases of bottled water and canned drinks like flavored water or sparkling water. Rather than buying 10 cases of water each week, consider switching to a water filter or a drink dispenser, like our Bevi machine, which has helped a lot of companies eliminate the hassle of stocking office beverages (see our case study on Crystal Dynamics).
Now on to the good stuff. These are items that you’d really rather not run out of—Best Finds Forever (BFF):
These usually come tightly packed in a roll so they don’t take up too much space, and they’re always useful and cheaper in bulk.
Ever been in an office that’s run out of paper towels? You really don’t want to. People are monsters and when there’s an excuse for them not to clean up after themselves (spills, crumbs, coffee rings on tabletops, etc.), they’ll take it. Keep your office stocked with paper towels (or the eco-friendly option of dishcloths) to encourage cleanliness.
Soap (for hands and dishes)
It’s so much cheaper and eco-friendlier to buy a mega bottle of soap and refill a dispenser or empty container. And plus, when will you ever not need soap?
You definitely don’t want to run out of this.
And this. (Cue the coffee zombies.)
Everyone always needs pens, post-its, tape, and staples, and they’re often steeply discounted when bought in bulk. Keep a closet stocked with these items to ensure everyone has what they need to stay productive.
Paper plates and cups
High quality paper plates and cups can be pricey unless you buy them on sale so get them in bulk and store them for an outdoor office party (although we highly recommend using reusable dinnerware and cutlery when possible).
Common knowledge: beer, wine, and liquor are often cheaper at wholesalers. And the liquor comes in extra-large (or extra-fun) sizes. Happy hour, here we come!
Got more tips for office bulk buys? Let us know!