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Re: Letterpress economics

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  • Gerald Lange
    Hi Jacob Well, it did not occur to me but as one correspondent put it, no one is going to tell you they are in trouble, at least, not in a public forum.
    Message 1 of 11 , Dec 1, 2008
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      Hi Jacob

      Well, it did not occur to me but as one correspondent put it, no one
      is going to tell you they are in trouble, at least, not in a public
      forum. Pointless post. Good to hear you are doing okay.

      Gerald

      --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Jacob Groth" <jacob@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi Gerald,
      >
      > Business is booming here. Sorry if we don't fit into the media
      driven mold, but haven't sensed any recession on this end ..
      >
      > Jacob Groth
      > El Dorado Hills, CA
      > www.swallowtailfarms.com
      > www.le-paper.com
      >
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: Gerald Lange
      > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 9:02 PM
      > Subject: [PPLetterpress] Letterpress economics
      >
      >
      > Tonight the US Government acknowledged we have been in a deep
      > recession since last December. Yet, many of the major internet
      > sellers, Sears, WalMart, eBay, etc, crashed tonight under heavy
      demand.
      >
      > "I was asked what I thought about the recession. I thought about it
      > and decided not to take part." Sam Walton - Founder of Wal-Mart
      >
      > Thing here is this. No one is talking about this and it may or may not
      > be important but I would like to open it up to discussion.
      >
      > I have not experienced a significant slow down, I have sensed it
      > everywhere, but things still seem viable in this sector. How are other
      > folks doing?
      >
      > Gerald
      > http://BielerPress.blogspot.com
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • Graham and Kathy
      Seeing the number of retail shops and manufacturing shops that have gone bust, I m willing to believe that good times are not just around the corner. We are
      Message 2 of 11 , Dec 2, 2008
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        Seeing the number of retail shops and manufacturing shops that have gone
        bust, I'm willing to believe that good times are not just around the corner.

        We are planning other printing work from book printing/publishing just in
        case our usual customer base keeps hands in pockets when the next few books
        come out. It's always hard to tell, as each of our books is so different
        from each other that we have few standard customers and a large mailing
        list.

        I should think jobbing printers would stand a better chance of being able to
        see trends and thus have a chance to predict where things are going. And
        even then, those who serve the circus elements of life are more likely to
        retain work in a recession, and anyone printing government paperwork.
        Neither figure in our plans.


        Graham Moss
        Incline Press
        36 Bow Street
        Oldham OL1 1SJ England
        http://www.inclinepress.com






        On 2/12/08 07:21, "Gerald Lange" <Bieler@...> wrote:

        > Hi Jacob
        >
        > Well, it did not occur to me but as one correspondent put it, no one
        > is going to tell you they are in trouble, at least, not in a public
        > forum. Pointless post. Good to hear you are doing okay.
        >
        > Gerald
      • Blue Barnhouse
        Revenue from custom work is about half of what we did last year. I think we would have gone out of business by now if I hadn t already been on the road to
        Message 3 of 11 , Dec 2, 2008
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          Revenue from custom work is about half of what we did last year. I
          think we would have gone out of business by now if I hadn't already
          been on the road to finding more ways to make money. Two years ago
          when the last independent stationery store in Asheville went out of
          business we bought up a bunch of their card racks and turned half of
          our studio into retail space .... initially we filled the racks with
          our own cards. At first it brought in enough extra change that I could
          the raid the register every few days and get a case of PBR and a candy
          bar. Around the same time I bought a webstore for the cards (not cheap
          but paid itself off last May) got a few credit cards and went trade
          show crazy (8 shows in the last year and a half.) During this time,
          also by the grace of my american express, I filled my store with
          phenomenal work from other letterpress companies I found and
          befriended at the shows.

          This year BBH grossed about four times as much as we did two years
          ago, and its was pretty much the greeting cards that did it. I heard
          someone theorize that though folks can't afford gifts they can still
          afford a greeting card, infact they are more prone to buy a card....
          and we've been playing on that idea locally with ads like this:

          http://bluebarnhouse.org/2008HOLIDAY.jpg

          Being at the shows during the downturn was pretty informative-- the
          crowds of retailers got thinner, you saw alot of booth owners (mostly
          folks with bad business ideas/poor products) get more and more
          uncomfortable/upset as the week dragged on without a sale. A bad show
          can really do a number on your business, they are super expensive, and
          suck up alot of time in preparation and aftermath, so I theorize that
          while a bad show would prevent a business from coming back, and a bad
          economy would prevent businesses who would/should have been ready to
          attend a show from going.

          Another move I made that turned out to be a stroke of luck was to turn
          to the international market. We did a show in Toronto-- it went really
          well for us despite the fact that there were less than 5000 in
          attendance (it is not a very big show to begin with) --- The canadian
          economy seems to be doing well and they are feasting on american
          products while the dollar is so low, they seem to shop bigger than
          most of our customers, and go as far south as Atlanta to buy.

          The New York Gift Show, which is the mother of all shows that happens
          2 times a year, used to have a 2 year waiting list. We got in this
          summer along with a number of other letterpress folks after only being
          denied entry once-- the floodgates essentially opened-- and its
          because a lot of businesses that have had seniority are not
          returning. Normally you would be required to do be in a category
          called New York's Newest, which is offsite and 3 miles away from the
          Javits Center (where the main show happens) for at least 2 shows.
          However the New York Gift Show is shrinking, and this January they are
          combining NYs Newest with another category called "Studio" (which is
          also offsite, but closer to the Jav) to create the illusion of a
          packed show. Thankfully, we are cutting ahead to the front of the line
          in January, we were just offered a prime location on the main floor of
          the Javits Center for January's show. Though it may be depressing news
          for most businesses, its great news for any business with products
          that worth a spit, because there's not much competition out there
          right now, which makes for easy pickins on retailers trying to fill
          their store with something worthy.

          Putting out several different arms from one body to bring in some kind
          of revenue was not a calculated business move as much as it was acts
          of desperation and hope. But to answer your question, I have a lot of
          debt to pay off, I'm probably going to break even on the books this
          year, but I can pay cash for shows now, our retail space is doing
          pretty well these days... now when I raid the register-- its to go out
          to eat and buy contraband!

          If this is what things are like when the economy is bad, I can't wait
          for a good economy.

          Yrs,

          Brandon


          visit our webstore: www.bluebarnhousestore.org

          and our blog: bluebarnhouse.blogspot.com

          and our website: www.bluebarnhouse.org

          Blue Barnhouse
          428-B Haywood Rd.
          Asheville, NC 28806
          P: 828.225.3991
          F: 888-726-9257

          info@...
          www.bluebarnhouse.org








          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Scott Rubel
          Gerald: I ll tell it. It doesn t hurt me to say this. And if it does, it can t hurt. The signals do seem mixed, as you point out, but I think that s because of
          Message 4 of 11 , Dec 2, 2008
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            Gerald:

            I'll tell it. It doesn't hurt me to say this. And if it does, it can't hurt.

            The signals do seem mixed, as you point out, but I think that's because
            of the huge shift that is going on. As a civilization we are in a
            painful process of deciding what businesses and paradigms will live and
            which must go.

            I do business with a local Los Angeles engraver. They say the business
            is still coming in, but they are having more trouble getting paid and
            they keep asking if I want to buy them.

            The guy who usually helps me when I need machine repair is hard to get
            in touch with. He once was someone who flitted about the West installing
            this, repairing that. Now he is occupied with multi-day jobs
            disassembling equipment and moth-balling it or getting it ready to ship
            out of the country.

            I have laid off six of my good people and am operating with as few as
            possible.

            My landlord is not in printing, but is affected by a printing business
            (mine). He runs a large repair shop for Mercedes and other vehicles. His
            large contract customers (some of the biggest business names in
            Pasadena) bring him fleet work still, but are way behind paying their
            invoices. Oh, and I'm a bit behind on rent, too. He's a worried man, and
            so am I.

            If I were happily puttering about with a two man business out of a home,
            I probably wouldn't be noticing anything. There are still people who pay
            for great letterpress work, but the general flow of commerce, the
            little, regular sales that pay the rent and workman's comp and lights
            and four-line phone with toll-free numbers and Pasadena Parking tickets
            and liability insurance and internet hosting &c. &c., that's all on hold.

            There is the faint impression that all this will shake out soon enough
            for me and everyone to get back on track. That's why I'm not wrapping it
            up yet, but really, working on a little C&P in my garage again and
            having time to do my own projects, often sounds more tempting than all
            the riches promised by a great economy.

            Let me warn everyone who wants to grow; business requires a lot of
            sacrifice, but if you can't find a way to do it without losing sleep,
            without time to exercise and eat right, you're making a big mistake. As
            business people we tend to be gamblers, and we gamble our health as well
            as our money. Don't do it. If you find yourself working to 3 in the
            morning (especially after the age of 35), forgetting to eat and take
            walks, you're destroying yourself.

            --Scott
            _InviteSite_ <http://www.invitesite.com/holidays.php>

            Gerald Lange wrote:
            > Hi Jacob
            >
            > Well, it did not occur to me but as one correspondent put it, no one
            > is going to tell you they are in trouble, at least, not in a public
            > forum. Pointless post. Good to hear you are doing okay.
            >
            > Gerald
            >
            > --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Jacob Groth" <jacob@...> wrote:
            >
            >> Hi Gerald,
            >>
            >> Business is booming here. Sorry if we don't fit into the media
            >>
            > driven mold, but haven't sensed any recession on this end ..
            >
            >> Jacob Groth
            >> El Dorado Hills, CA
            >> www.swallowtailfarms.com
            >> www.le-paper.com
            >>
            >>
            >> ----- Original Message -----
            >> From: Gerald Lange
            >> To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
            >>
            >>
            >> Tonight the US Government acknowledged we have been in a deep
            >> recession since last December. Yet, many of the major internet
            >> sellers, Sears, WalMart, eBay, etc, crashed tonight under heavy
            >>
            > demand.
            >
            >> "I was asked what I thought about the recession. I thought about it
            >> and decided not to take part." Sam Walton - Founder of Wal-Mart
            >>
            >> Thing here is this. No one is talking about this and it may or may not
            >> be important but I would like to open it up to discussion.
            >>
            >> I have not experienced a significant slow down, I have sensed it
            >> everywhere, but things still seem viable in this sector. How are other
            >> folks doing?
            >>
            >> Gerald
            >> http://BielerPress.blogspot.com
            >>
            >>
            >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >>


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Barbara Hauser
            Hi Gerald and all, I m just a hobby printer so I don t have a business to report on. However, I m always in the market for type and other studio equipment, and
            Message 5 of 11 , Dec 2, 2008
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              Hi Gerald and all,

              I'm just a hobby printer so I don't have a business to report on.
              However, I'm always in the market for type and other studio equipment,
              and I'm getting the impression that prices are considerably lower than
              they have been. I'm getting like-new fonts of ATF type for $30,
              whereas they use to go for at least $50. But maybe everyone's
              switching to photopolymer.

              Barbara

              --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Gerald Lange" <Bieler@...> wrote:


              > . . . I have not experienced a significant slow down, I have sensed it
              > everywhere, but things still seem viable in this sector. How are other
              > folks doing?
              >
              > Gerald
              > http://BielerPress.blogspot.com
              >
            • Lamsland
              I don t do any business with regards to letterpress, I do however work for two commercial shops and can comment on the feeling in there at those. One is
              Message 6 of 11 , Dec 2, 2008
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                I don't do any business with regards to letterpress, I do however
                work for two commercial shops and can comment on the feeling in there
                at those. One is looking to be bought up, the other has laid off at
                least two people every couple of months since summer. It's not even
                half as busy at that shop as it was two years ago and no one, not
                even sales reps, have good things to say about the coming future.
                Clients like hospitals and other big corporations are cutting way
                back. Orders now are commonly in the hundreds to a thousand, but
                they're ordering more often. As always getting paid is the biggest
                crutch we face.

                I wanna know when it was printers stopped taking a third up front, a
                third on deliver and a third in 30 days and started trying to be banks??


                Matthew "LAMMY" Lamoureux
                Full Metal Press - Operis servo a specialis nundinae

                Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.
                Thomas Jefferson

                On Dec 2, 2008, at 2:46 PM, Barbara Hauser wrote:

                > Hi Gerald and all,
                >
                > I'm just a hobby printer so I don't have a business to report on.
                > However, I'm always in the market for type and other studio equipment,
                > and I'm getting the impression that prices are considerably lower than
                > they have been. I'm getting like-new fonts of ATF type for $30,
                > whereas they use to go for at least $50. But maybe everyone's
                > switching to photopolymer.
                >
                > Barbara
                >
                > --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Gerald Lange" <Bieler@...>
                > wrote:
                >
                > > . . . I have not experienced a significant slow down, I have
                > sensed it
                > > everywhere, but things still seem viable in this sector. How are
                > other
                > > folks doing?
                > >
                > > Gerald
                > > http://BielerPress.blogspot.com
                > >
                >
                >
                >



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Blue Barnhouse
                For custom work we make it a strict policy to take half up front, the other half before delivery. Chasing down delinquent payments on one time or even two time
                Message 7 of 11 , Dec 2, 2008
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                  For custom work we make it a strict policy to take half up front, the
                  other half before delivery. Chasing down delinquent payments on one
                  time or even two time clients is one administrative duty I refuse to
                  perform and its difficult to pay employees for work they've done
                  without immediate payment for services rendered.

                  With wholesale greetings its different, we can't avoid customers who
                  are used to Net 30, some won't buy without that option, and if our
                  sales reps vouch for their clients who want N30, we have no choice but
                  to comply. To the defense of the N30, it is kind of nice to have a
                  check fall out of the sky when you're not really thinking about it.

                  We try and make our wholesale customers pay up front for their first
                  order at least. But w/ Museums and chain stores you have to bend the
                  rules. For the most part we haven't had any delinquents and a gentle
                  nudge is all it takes for those who are late-- I have yet to have to
                  fly out to a customer's shop and burn it down in retribution for
                  failure to pay, but believe me if it gets to that point, I am willing.

                  Brandon


                  On Dec 2, 2008, at 3:15 PM, Lamsland wrote:

                  > I wanna know when it was printers stopped taking a third up front, a
                  > third on deliver and a third in 30 days and started trying to be
                  > banks??



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Lamsland
                  ... LOL, yeah go figure, one place I work is run by a bunch of italians, like their grandfather that started the place was right off the boat. I ve heard they
                  Message 8 of 11 , Dec 2, 2008
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                    > I have yet to have to
                    > fly out to a customer's shop and burn it down in retribution for
                    > failure to pay, but believe me if it gets to that point, I am willing.
                    >
                    > Brandon
                    >

                    LOL, yeah go figure, one place I work is run by a bunch of italians,
                    like their grandfather that started the place was right off the boat.
                    I've heard they have "close family" in NYC. You'd think with guys
                    like this running the joint there's never be an issue with getting paid.


                    Matthew "LAMMY" Lamoureux
                    Full Metal Press - Operis servo a specialis nundinae

                    Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.
                    Thomas Jefferson
                  • Gerald Lange
                    Hi Barbara My take on it is that folks aren t switching to photopolymer, they are starting with photopolymer. Not exactly the best approach typographically, in
                    Message 9 of 11 , Dec 3, 2008
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                      Hi Barbara

                      My take on it is that folks aren't switching to photopolymer, they are
                      starting with photopolymer. Not exactly the best approach
                      typographically, in terms of something or other, whatever, doesn't
                      really matter, that is just the way it is.

                      Yeah, lots of stuff is available at pretty good prices now. Last
                      couple of weeks I have been getting calls from suppliers offering up
                      inventory at half price, their cost. This isn't normal but it is good
                      tax planning. Write it off this year as the write off won't do you
                      much good next year, especially if next year is as uncertain as it
                      seems. So, naturally, I''m buying.

                      Gerald



                      -- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Barbara Hauser" <BarbHauser@...>
                      wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi Gerald and all,
                      >
                      > I'm just a hobby printer so I don't have a business to report on.
                      > However, I'm always in the market for type and other studio equipment,
                      > and I'm getting the impression that prices are considerably lower than
                      > they have been. I'm getting like-new fonts of ATF type for $30,
                      > whereas they use to go for at least $50. But maybe everyone's
                      > switching to photopolymer.
                      >
                      > Barbara
                      >
                      > --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Gerald Lange" <Bieler@> wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      > > . . . I have not experienced a significant slow down, I have sensed it
                      > > everywhere, but things still seem viable in this sector. How are other
                      > > folks doing?
                      > >
                      > > Gerald
                      > > http://BielerPress.blogspot.com
                      > >
                      >
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