Max7221 and logic outputs

I need to drive higher currents than the max7221 allows. Has anyone tried to use pull down resistors on the segments and pull up resistors on the digit lines to create logic outputs? I was thinking I could use digit as an active low enable on some octal buffer and connect that to a darlington array.

The more I think about it, the more I think it will be just as easy to skip the max7221 and implement a simple SPI with a bunch of 595s. I've already written the software to drive the encode the digits and drive the data and clock lines. Anybody else face a similar choice?