Elinor Goodwin, left, and Kimberly Ciola at the new location of The Print Shop Williamstown.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — At a time when the print media business seems to be contracting in Berkshire County, The Print Shop is branching out.
Elinor Goodwin spun the new business off last year from Berkshire Direct, the well-established Main Street marketing agency, where she was the lead print project manager.
This month, she moved her operation out of Berkshire Direct's offices and east on Route 2 to 187 Main St., where she occupies a building shared by Ann Marie Michaels Bookkeeping and Westall Architects.
Goodwin and one full-time employee, Kimberly Ciola, offer services ranging from scanning and printing to binding, laminating and brochure design and production.
Goodwin on Thursday took some time from serving other area businesses to talk about her own.
Question: How are things going at the new location?
Goodwin: They're good. It's nice to have our own space.
Allen [Jezouit] is pretty much spreading out on his Web services, and Kimberly is now working for print 100 percent of the time.
That's what prompted the move. It made more sense now to have our own space.
Q: I was going to ask why now was the time to move?
Goodwin: It all came from hiring Kimberly to work just with print. She's going to be working more with advertising opportunites. She's also going to be working on our Game Day Sports Programs division.
Q: The print advertising business around here took a bit of a hit when the two local newspapers folded, no?
Goodwin: We do lots of things for different schools and high schools. We do some fundraising, whether it's cash calendars or raffle tickets or things like that. Then the programs and media guides is something we've expanded to in the last couple of years.
For instance, the [Williamstown Elementary School] directory is one of the advertising opportunities we work with. It allowed them to take that line item out of their budget to do the directory, and the advertising is what subsidizes the printing and the design of it. They don't pay for it anymore, but they get the directories through the advertising.
And that's really the model for Game Day, too. Advertising allows the design, print and distribution of the programs so the teams are not paying at all for their programs.
They get a nice marketing piece. They get a nice program for their games, and it's at no cost to them.
Q: So do you calendars and things like that?
Goodwin: We did a wrestling calendar with advertising for Mount Greylock a few years ago. We've done a number of tournament type programs for people.
Q: Are most of your existing clients from Berkshire Direct comfortable with the transition?
Goodwin: What has been nice is that Berkshire Direct was really a full-service marketing agency. That made sense having everything under one roof. And then [Berkshire Direct's] Allen wanted to focus more on just the Web side of it.
And he knew I had been working on the print side of it for five years, so he asked me if I wanted the opportunity to just purchase that from him and run it. It made perfect sense to do that.
The full-service marketing became two specialized areas. There are still going to be clients we both serve.
Q: I was going to ask, are you going to be sharing clients?
Goodwin: We share a server, so that still is easy for clients to be able to work on a project with both of us.
Q: The world is sort of moving away from ink and paper to a more digital world. Is this a good time and is there demand to sustain a print-only operation?
Goodwin: You know it's funny, when I have conversations with people about that, there are so many times when you still need a printed piece — whether it's a program for a sporting event or a program for a music performance. People need forms for things. People are still really using brochures to market themselves.
I think people are just being more savvy about how they manage both their print and digital marketing efforts. I think you still can do both well. And I think there's still a need to have some print.
The argument is you don't need bookstores. But people still like to have a hardcover book in their hands. The bookstores haven't all gone away.
Q: The other side of the digital age is more people have the tools to do their own design work. I imagine design is a big part of what you do. Is that a concern for you?
Goodwin: What we like to tell people — and Allen will tell people this, too — is we encourage people to spend their time and their money on what their skills are. So it doesn't make sense for somebody, because they have Photoshop on their machine, to try to use Photoshop just because they can. If they're not good at it, it's going to take them more time and take them away from really running their business and doing their business.
It makes more sense to utilize services from people who do that and do it well. And then you can focus on what you do best.
There are lots of people who try to do that design work, and I think they become frustrated and they realize it just makes sense to just focus on what they do best and hire people to do what they specialize in.
Q: Is the physical location here working out? Had you looked at anything on Spring Street?
Goodwin: I did look on Spring Street. When the sale happened in October, I put feelers out to see what was available in Williamstown. There's lots happening on Spring Street. [Williams College Director of Real Estate] Steve Nesterak said there were a lot of things in flux and there really wasn't anything open.
I go back and forth about whether the walk-in traffic on Spring Street has advantages to the people who have to drive and find a parking spot and deal with that.
Q: How about Water Street?
Goodwin: I looked at Water Street, and some of the empty spots just didn't work for us.
This location is nice for us because it's sort of the other end of the business district with Colonial Shopping being across the street. It's the perfect amount of space for us. And it's nice being in a building with Ann Marie Michaels and Dave Westall because both of them have had clients of their own come in and say, 'Oh, yeah, this is great. This will be convenient for me.'
Q: How much of your printing can you do in house versus sending to an outside printer?
Goodwin: It fluctuates. We can do the large-format inkjet for signage for people that is pretty inexpensive and for quick signs, it works great. People have used it for sale signs and retail space. People have used it for welcome signs when they have visitors coming to their location for meetings. It's a nice way to put their logo on it. For a 24-by-36 sign, it costs $5.40. It's pretty inexpensive, and it's nicer than hand-writing a sign or putting an 11-by-17 sign.
We still are finding there are people who really miss having Staples in North Adams and don't want to drive to Pittsfield or Bennington when they need 50 copies or something or when they have a meeting in a half-hour and they don't want to run things on their own inkjet printer. A lot of people are coming in for things like that.
And for clients we have who normally print out of house, we're finding that they're making a decision about whether the speed is more important or the one level up on printing and full bleeds and things like that is a priority. They're able to make decisions for themselves about what they need, and that's given people more options, which is nice.
Q: What is the turnaround when you do need to send something out?
Goodwin: Generally it's three to five days, I would say.
A lot of people are bringing in things and we're doing it while they way. Or they're uploading a file to our website, and when they come in it, it's printed for them, which has been a nice servcie for people in town.
Somebody asked me yesterday if there's any place else where you can do this in town, and the only place I know of for copies is the UPS store.
Q: Or the library if you want to stand there ...
Goodwin: ... and do it yourself. And [the UPS store's] Harold Wong said he often gets people who bring in a CD or a flash drive and say, 'Can I print here?' And you can't. You can make copies there, but you can't print there. So we do a lot of that for people when they bring in their digital files.
People bring in originals, too. We still do copies for people. They drop it off and go to Stop & Shop and on their way back pick it up.
Q: Are you doing photo prints as well?
Goodwin: We do. On this machine, we can do 8-by-10s or 13-by-19, a standard size that we generally print on.
Q: Do you see much demand for that?
Goodwin: It peaks. During the [Williamstown] Theatre Festival, a number of the actors who were sending out their resumes needed headshots, so we were pretty busy in the summer for that.
Q: How about holiday cards?
Goodwin: We haven't done that much yet. We were thinking next year we'll figure out if we should be marketing for that. We certainly can with the printer we use and have done that for people.
We do a lot of postcard-type cards, flat cards. We did that for probably three people for Christmas.
Q: Is it just the two of you here?
Goodwin: We have a couple of Williams students [part-time]. When I took over in October, we had five Williams students, so we had somebody in every day. Three of them were seniors, so they felt the pressure of spring semester. We have two coming back to this location.