Today's Economic Crisis Moment of Zen: Skipco

Skipco, represent!

Skipco, represent!

On the corner of Charleston and Jones boulevards is a 34,000-square-foot eyesore that was once the toast of the local business services community. For approximately 287 years now*, this prime chunk of real estate in the central southwest part of Las Vegas has been available for ANYONE to lease, buy, babysit, etc. Once upon a time, back when I had considerably more hair on my head and less on my body, this was the home of Skipco, a copying/printing/etc. company that once provided real competition for the 500-pound gorilla that was then Kinko’s.

In 2001, the long-time business expanded its headquarters at 6029 W. Charleston Blvd. to the behemoth pictured above, lauded both in the business press and by the City of Las Vegas, whose mayor Oscar Goodman declared April 11 “Skipco Day” (also the birthday of a high school girlfriend — why I remember this but not today’s grocery list I don’t know). At the time, the company was a $22 million a year operation, mainly helped by its status as a showroom for copiers and printers manufactured by Toshiba, who bought the previously family-owned Skipco in 1996.

Why does no one want to buy Baltic Avenue?!

Why does no one want to buy Baltic Avenue?!

But within a few years — and man, don’t ask me when exactly — the business, by then renamed Toshiba Business Systems, closed. From what little Google-fied research I did in preparation for this story, it seems Skipco’s former president, Gary Harouff, got caught with his hands in the cookie jar, at least allegedly, and Skipco was later in some other legal trouble over contract issues with clients.

Either way, that building has been up for lease or sale for as long as I can remember (which, again, is questionable in my advancing years). If anyone thinks this economic crisis of ours is new, well, I offer for evidence Exhibit A, Toshiba Business Solutions.

Now, I’m in no position to drop however many greenbacks it would take to lease or buy this space, but I do have some suggestions to potential investors for the types of businesses that could make best use of a 34,000-square-foot building in Las Vegas:

  • Roller skating rink. Hey, why should Crystal Palace hold the monopoly on that in Sin City?
  • A strip club for suburbanites. Really, should we have to trek to unsavory, industrial areas when you could bring the T&A to a location that’s less than a mile from about a half-dozen schools, churches and fast-food joints?
  • Copy shop-themed nightclub. You know, go-go dancers in nothing but aprons atop copy machines, drinks served from behind a Formica counter, DJ requests sent via fax machines on the dance floor, etc.
  • Whole Foods. Um, just because it’s like a five-minute drive from my house, and I’d like it there. Thanks.

* Maybe it wasn’t 287 years. Who’s counting?

6 Comments

  1. Maria December 24, 2008 4:15 pm 

    We need another Crystal Palace on this side of town. I took Aurora there last year, and I had to laugh at how it hasn’t changed much. When I was her age, I was skating at the SAME rink, listening to Newcleus.

    I know this has nothing to do with your post, really. :X

  2. David January 30, 2009 5:50 pm 

    I used to manage the printing operations at Skipco, then Toshiba. After they removed Gary , he never really was convicted of anything, all the sales staff left or were fired, they fired all the execs and then one by one let the old management go. The copier sales declined under the new president, his sales staff would not follow up on any leads and they were not customer friendly. They let me go and several others left afterwards. They brought in a guy who helped run the printing business into the ground. It a shame, things were going good there. They should have left things alone, the place was doing good and making quite a bit of money.

  3. Pj Perez January 30, 2009 5:55 pm 

    Thanks so much for your comment and clarification, David. I actually worked at Kinko’s for years while launching my writing career and watched similar shenanigans take the company down. Even before FedEx bought it out, the once amazingly profitable, people-focused organization devolved into the understaffed shack it is today because of ridiculous bottom-line number demands, payroll budget cuts and shortsightedness.

  4. David February 5, 2009 1:48 pm 

    I know full well about Kinkos. They came to me and wanted to hire me, then after 3 rounds of interviews, one with the regional managers, they offered me a job. Unfortunately, they asked me to take a starting salary of an entry level persona nd work my way up in the company – what an insult. So now they are going down the tubes. The person who contacted me about the job actually quit afterwards, he was disgusted. I heard throught the grapevine that I was also blacklisted by my old employer, no names were mentioned, but I got plenty of hints from throught the industry. I have landed on my feet now and moved on, had to leave Vegas to do it though. One day I will be back there, hope those people on that grapevine will be prepared.

  5. David February 5, 2009 2:13 pm 

    One more footnote to the demise of the old Skipco – Gary Harouff started another very successful Copier Business in Las Vegas -Advanced Imaging Solutions (AIS). They have outmatched the sales of Toshiba in the markets they compete in.

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