ONE-STOP VS. NICHE PRINTERS — SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
“It’s our expertise in one area that drives success in another,” he adds. “Success breeds success, and once you understand how to provide a high-quality service and product, you just continue to duplicate that. Customers have responded positively to our expanded offering.”
Then there is the niche that is clearly outdated, but those who love old-school technology refuse to let it die. Quality Letterpress is a two-person storefront operation in San Diego, operated by brothers Tim and Matt Butler (their dog, Coltrane, keeps the peace). As its name suggests, Quality is strictly a letterpress shop, with some foil stamping and embossing, providing invitations for brides and ideas galore for graphic designers. Some trade work is also performed by the Butlers; Tim used to work at a print shop, running ABDicks and Multiliths.
“A lot of trade printers don’t want to deal with a bride who comes in and needs 100 invitations,” Tim Butler says. “Most trade printers want to do 10,000 to 20,000 pieces at a time. We felt it would be good to fill that niche and have no minimum run length. And customers appreciate the fact that when they call or walk through the door, they’re dealing with the guy who’s running the job.
“Brides I talk to will order samples off the Internet, and the samples come back crooked and messed up. These women like to be able to come into our shop, sit down and touch the paper, do a press check and actually see the process. It gives them that sense of a hand crafted, one-of-a-kind invitation. In an era of digital printing, I kind of run a throwback shop.”
The Butlers are not in the business of providing fast turnaround, however. Trade shops that rely on Quality Letterpress generally aren’t seeking the lowest prices, either.