While many businesses are dealing with unusual hours, limited operations, and shutdowns, print shops shift their focus and do their part to help. From entering new territory and starting masks production to printing signs for essential businesses, the industry is banding together to get through these trying times together.
Unlike a lot of shops facing shutdowns and out of work, in Chicago, Illinois, Tony Grammatis, owner of Snappy Printing and Graphics, is working longer hours than usual.
“Since I can’t have a full staff due to loss of business, it’s just me and maybe two others when it’s usually 13 of us,” Grammatis tells GRAPHICS PRO.
Grammatis’ shop offers a little bit of everything, including custom apparel, embroidery, drinkware, poster printing, graphic design, signs and banners, window graphics, stickers/decals, and some specialty printing.
Right now, Snappy Printing is still offering all its regular services, but lead times are extended to get jobs done due to a lack of workforce. Even with that, Grammatis looks to help his local community in its time of need. At no charge, his shop is printing banners for local businesses.
When GRAPHICS PRO asked how the idea came to mind, he explained, “My dad owns a restaurant called Donny G’s in Elmwood Park, and we just expanded the whole place for the live entertainment we have weekly. He spent a lot of money doing this and couldn’t shut down during this time. He asked me to make a banner saying we are doing curbside pickup and delivery.”
After one of Grammatis’ friends also approached him asking for a banner, he thought, “Well, these are just two people I know off the top of my head that will be needing something like this, so I decided to post it on Facebook and Instagram that I was doing free banners and then the flood gates opened.”
For the most part, he’s printing large vinyl banners that businesses can hang outside their establishments, or if they want larger posters to put inside windows, he’s offering those as well.
Like many, Grammatis is looking for ways to serve his community while still making sure he keeps his business afloat. When asked what his intentions with this initiative, he said, “I’m a giving person and love to help people, so I’m hoping for their success foremost. I also hope, maybe down the road, when they get back on their feet, they may reach out to me and might need other services I offer, such as screen printing and embroidery.”
Across the board, he says businesses in his community have been nothing but grateful. Plus, he’s made some new friends along the way.
While other shops continue to battle the unknown and navigate the downtime they’re experiencing, Grammatis leaves them with some words of encouragement: “Stay the course, if you can; offer discounts on printing during this time, and maybe we all get through this thing together.”
In Simi Valley, California, sign, screen printing, and embroidery shop SBR Signs LLC turns its focus to produce face masks for individuals and families in need at no charge. At the beginning of April, the shop shifted its entire embroidery department from retail services to the production of face masks.
As of April 9, 1,300 masks were packaged and ready for pickup. Throughout the shop’s initiative, volunteers have stepped up to help with production, including a local doctor and police chief.
In a recent Facebook post, owner Rob Lemons says more calls are going out for orders that are ready for pickup. For those still waiting on a callback, Lemons encourages patience as he and his staff work on fulfillment.
SBR Signs is still taking orders for those in need, at 805-210-5200, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
In St. Louis, Missouri, Sloan Coleman, the owner of Tiny Little Monster print shop, started the Here for Good campaign. The mutual aid movement aims to help struggling businesses, as well as her tiny print shop, through the sale of T-shirts.
So, how does the fundraising work? Coleman tells GRAPHICS PRO that interested parties can choose a shirt from their favorite local business, and she gives $10 from the $20 sale to that business. Any earnings are sent through Venmo or PayPal every Saturday.
When asked about her goal for the campaign, she said, “To reach as many community-focused print shops and get them onboard to run Here for Good campaigns in their towns. Locally, to raise $100,000 for our local economy through donations provided by our local people.”
Through the initiative, she’s not only looking out for her community but hopes to help her business “get to the other side of COVID-19.”
The campaign launched on March 19, and to date, consumers have “helped raise $40,000 for small business in just four weeks,” according to Tiny Little Monster’s Instagram page. “We’ve got one week left, and if we keep the momentum rolling as we have been, we’ll hit our goal of 5,000 shirts sold and $50,000 raised.”
To help get the momentum going for the cause, Coleman tells GRAPHICS PRO she simply told people to spread the news. “Eventually, they listened after I got folks like Marshall Atkinson, Mark Coudray, Jarrod from Rockford Art Deli to get on board,” Coleman added, “I invited the bigger shop in my area Shirt Kong to launch their own.”
To help keep spirits up in shops across the nation, Coleman says, “As my friend Herb says, there is a lot of opportunity in a down year; think of what you can do differently and do it.”