November '22

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6 2 G R A P H I C S P R O • N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M were serious about running the store. We had to restore confi- dence in the community." UPS AND DOWNS Although they had relocated across the country, John and Mary Jo didn't have much issue getting the new business established. "Everybody made us very welcome, and we had customers com- ing in right off the bat," states John. He continues, "One of the things the previous owners told us was that they did a couple of local festivals. So, we went along to those couple of festivals. And to cover for periods where the store got seasonably slow, we grew to about six festivals a year." However, in 2008, the financial crash hit. "We realized that continuing on with festivals, and in fact doing more festivals, was the only way at that point we could see the store surviving," John says. "Up until COVID, we had grown our festival com- mitment to 26 festivals a year — most of which were weighted to the second half of the year. So, on average, we were away from home every other week." en the COVID-19 pandemic hit. "We survived with the store through the first part, and as things began to open back up, we became a location for people to come to," John says. In addi- tion, as John and Mary Jo got back into festivals, they started to attract customers who were coming up from neighboring states. "So, our location was a big help once people knew we were out there," explains John. e business continued to rebound and grow from there. "Last year, we had our best Christmas season ever — about 30% of that being our engraving products." So, from essentially nothing in the store when we first opened here, our engraving business has grown to be between 35% to 40% overall." e shop expanded into doing jobs for local businesses and universities, as well as churches, the local police department, and the fire department. "ose have really helped us cement the engraving to the point where we had to replace our first engraver," explains John. en, at the beginning of 2022, John and Mary Jo looked at how their business was running and decided to add a second machine. Now, they plan to cement the growth they've seen coming out of the pandemic and scale down the number of fes- tivals they attend. "We're 20-some years older now than when we moved here, so the festivals are becoming less attractive only because there is a lot of physical work involved," John says. ADVICE TO NEW BUSINESSES With over 20 years of experience in the engraving business, John offers some words of wisdom for new businesses starting out within the custom graphics industry: 1) Get involved in your community "Getting involved in your community can be a huge bonus for your business — if you're not already," offers John. John and Mary Jo have been very active within their commu- nity, working with local businesses and organizations — and "Last year, we had our best Christmas season ever — about 30% of that being our engraving products," says John Morman. " Don't be prepared to take on any- thing. If it's a physically big job, make sure it's going to fit on your machine. And you should also never override the interlocks — it's not a good idea." LASER ENGRAVING REPORT Celtic Tides bought their first laser engraver in 2003.

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