Craig and Marsha Hansen have sold Mammoth Business Essentials to former manager Sam Taylor.
The Hansens worked together for 40 years; 23 in Mammoth. Before coming to Mammoth, Craig and Marsha worked in different departments at Paramount Stationers, a stationary company in Southern California. In 1994, Paramount was sold and was eventually bought out by Staples. The following year Craig and Marsha moved to Mammoth with their two boys, Jason and Daniel, now a Mammoth Lakes Police Officer
The Hansens opened a Mail Boxes Etc. in September, 1995 at 569 Old Mammoth Road next to the Old Plaza Theater. It was a franchise store. (Mail Boxes Etc. is one of the largest logistics retailers in the world, there are 1,500 stores worldwide.) They planned to run it for two ten-year terms, then retire.
In 2002, Mail Boxes Etc. was bought by United Parcel Service (UPS). Under UPS’s ownership, the Hansens feared they wouldn’t be able to continue to offer Federal Express (FedEx) services. UPS assured them that they could continue their FedEx service, but having never seen a FedEx sign hanging in a UPS store, the Hansens decided to become independent. They opened Mammoth Business Essentials in 2002 at its current location on Meridian Blvd.
Mammoth Business Essentials retained a variety of shipping options and continued to add other services. “You have to be willing to move with the times,” Craig said. Faxing was big back before email become ubiquitous. With the rise of the internet, the store adapted and offered scanning.
As internet shopping has grown, Mammoth Business Essentials has experienced an influx of parcels. But, revenue from outbound shipping took a hit. People return a lot of those packages and that return is prepaid by the vendor, leaving Mammoth Business Essentials to ship the package without collecting money.
Nevertheless, business has been stable for the vast majority of the past 23 years.
“If the mountain had a busy weekend that translated to business for us,” Craig said.
“We’re thankful that locals have supported us for 23 years. They’re the meat and potatoes.”
And the meat and potatoes of Mammoth Business Essentials has been its customer service. Craig called it, “the biggest thing.” Part of offering great customer service was shipping anything. “Everything that came through the front door, we managed to get out of town. I can’t think of anything that we haven’t been able to move,” he said. They’ve shipped antiques, wheelchair lifts and car transmissions.
Having ‘Essentials’ in the name led people to assume, that they could do anything, beyond the everything they already did. Several years ago, a man called wanting to know if they rented ‘blue rooms’, aka portable toilets. Craig had to tell him, “That’s not one of the services we offer.”
The caller said, “But you’re Mammoth Business Essentials.”
When it snowed, people would call asking for a report on road conditions in town. Craig would look out the window and deliver a report on his view of Meridian. “Well, I can see asphalt…”
In October of last year, the Hansen’s approached their manager, Sam Taylor, to see if he had interest in taking over the business. Sam was shocked, but decided “Why not?” and as of January 1, 2019 the business was his.
Taylor is 26 years old. He started at the store in 2015 as a sales associate. He hadn’t thought about taking over; he was content to have a solid full-time job that allowed him to act on the side. He’s a regular in Sierra Classic Theatre productions.
Taylor said that his first day as owner felt “weird.”
“It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that it’s all yours,” he said.
When asked about his plans for the business, he said, “We’re going to keep this awesome thing going that they’ve [the Hansens] set up.”
The Hansens will remain in Mammoth. They will read, hike, camp, snowmobile, spend time with their sons and grandchildren, and next year when Christmas rolls around, will head to Mammoth Business Essentials to ship their Christmas gifts.
“I’m seeing a lot of young adults taking interest in owning businesses,” Craig said. He mentioned Tailwaggers new owner Johnathon Seely.
“It’s a good barometer for Mammoth.”