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Giant Eagle Filling Computer Printer Ink Cartridges

PITTSBURGH -- Giant Eagle, Inc. said yesterday that it is partnering with Courtenay, B.C.-based franchise Island Ink-Jet to refill computer printer ink cartridges for shoppers at three of its stores in western Pennsylvania. Technicians at those stores will refill empty ink cartridges for $4.95 to $17.95, a savings of as much as 70 percent vs. buying new cartridges, the partners said.

Island Ink-Jet has introduced its "drop and shop" ink refill service at the photo-processing departments of two Giant Eagle locations in Erie, and one in Pittsburgh. Giant Eagle employees will staff the service areas, with operating hours the same as the supermarkets' photo labs, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Island Ink-Jet spokeswoman Marcy Manning told Progressive Grocer.

Additionally, drop boxes will be installed in four Giant Eagle stores in the Erie area and two in the Pittsburgh market, providing two-day service with pickup at the stores' customer service counters. The service may be expanded to more supermarkets, depending on performance and customer demand.

"The Island Ink-Jet partnership represents an opportunity to capture a new revenue stream associated with the evolving photofinishing market," Giant Eagle director of photo Mark Lancia told PG. "More than 55 percents of digital prints are produced at home, and this service enables us to leverage that volume."

Lancia added that the service "is in line with our ongoing efforts to offer customers great ways to save through shopping at Giant Eagle."

The project initially is under test for six months according to Island Ink-Jet's Manning. "During this time period, [Island Ink-Jet area manager] Dan Van Dyke is the franchisee. A trainer is being provided by Island Ink-Jet to train the staff at Giant Eagle in the ink jet refilling methods. After the test period, the franchising structure may change."

Island Ink-Jet has operated kiosk and storefront refill service centers in regional shopping areas for more than five years, with nearly 200 current locations and dozens more in development. The company claims that while manufacturers make their cartridges for one-time use, with the proper care some cartridges can be refilled up to 10 times before they need to be replaced.

Giant Eagle has 140 corporate and 81 independently owned and operated stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north central West Virginia, and Maryland.
-- Bridget Goldschmidt
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