Fresh out of the Marine Corps as a disabled Gulf War veteran, Matt Bartell started his Business Products Express company from his home in 2004. As his business expanded, he needed more space and so moved into his current location at 1019 C Avenue, next to McP’s Irish Pub. He says that Greg McPartlin, who was also a disabled veteran, and Peter Joseph were amazing landlords through the years. But now the time has come to say goodbye as he moves onto his next chapter.
Bartell’s business includes the front store area, a commercial kitchen behind, and a large warehouse in the back of the property. Bartell opened the commercial kitchen to bake his famous “Hannah’s Monster Cookies” that customers received with order deliveries. The kitchen is the only commercial kitchen in Coronado and is used on a daily basis by local bakers and chefs.
Like many others, COVID hit his business hard, and his online business suffered with many customers’ shops closing. “Where once the online business was our main source of revenue, that shifted to the in-store sales helping to cover the bills,” he says. He added that none of his three children, who all graduated from CHS, wanted to take over the business, so he had decisions to make. “The reality is I was also saddened to see the town I loved split over issues by politics during the pandemic.”
“Our business has changed so much over the years,” notes Bartell, who says that in 2004 there were approximately 5,000 independent office products stores and now there are less than 1,000 nationwide, so he knew it was time to make a change, with the industry dying due to competitive online retailers and many things going paperless.
The decision on what to do became easier when his daughter Hannah, who lives in Texas, had their first grandchild, Everly Gail Baxter, and the idea of being closer to her took root. Bartell shared, “Our family loves animals and has always had a petting zoo in our backyard, so we bought a five-acre ranch in East Texas to have space for more animals.” They have chickens and their dogs, along with beloved “Hank the Tank” tortoise, with plans to add more, including a pig for starters.
The next chapter for Bartell and his wife Jodie is to be devoted grandparents to little Everly. He is also exploring options to go back to school on his remaining GI bill money. His boys, Harrison and Hudson, both work as lifeguards, and will stay here for now.
He has so many fond memories of the store and distinctly remembers local business entrepreneurs Scott Grimes and Melissa Miller as two of his first customers and supporters. “I always taught my employees to treat everyone like family, and we have five star reviews and long standing relationships to prove we did,” he comments. Throughout the years, he’s always tried to meet the needs of the community. There are customers who come in on a regular basis for boxes, to print documents, buy pen refills, or reams of paper. The store even sells five cent pencils and single sheets of colored paper, if that’s all a customer needs.
Personally, I will be sad not to conveniently pop down to get my printer ink or mailing envelopes, along with a smile and friendly service. It’s safe to say that Bartell and the team will definitely be missed. Currently they are busy getting rid of inventory as Business Products Express is offering all merchandise at deeply discounted prices until they officially close on February 1.
Bartell will be turning over the keys to Ian Urtnowski of URT Clothing and Gear and Patrick Erskine of Heave Ho Coffee Co roasters, who were both born and raised here, and have had numerous pop up shops there through the years. Stay tuned for details of their forthcoming opening.