Friday Praise: Locally Sourced Printing — Spend Matters Says Goodbye to Kinko’s, Hello to Ink Spot

Back when I produced national billboard campaigns (I still can't believe they let a 23-year old do this), I participated in a pretty elaborate procurement process for every vendor I ultimately chose for my printing, photography, or art buying needs, and at the time, had absolutely NO clue whatsoever that this was called "procurement." I would receive a job bag from creative with the art specs and either set a designer to work on art or think about art buying (we'll leave that out in this example). Then I would draw out the physical spec sheets for what we needed -- usually 20-30 billboards across the nation, taking into account printing, shipping, media buys -- and wait for a budget from the account side.

Then I'd start thinking back on the months before, about which print vendors took the production department to the nicest restaurants for lunch or sent the best Christmas gifts (Marc Jacobs coin purses were the best). Kidding, kidding -- I'd analyze all of the specs, the quality of the vinyl we chose to print on, the CSR implications of even choosing vinyl over recycled material, the printing process itself (drum or laser), and choose the top three vendors who matched my criteria to bid for the job.

In the ad world, this process amazingly used to happen in mere hours. I remember one hectic day where I built out specs at 9am, had bids in by noon, had client approval on a vendor by 3pm, and was on the 5am flight to LA the next morning for the press check, back to Sea-Tac by 5pm with gorgeous boards ready to be printed and shipped across the nation.

Needless to say, my printing duties at Spend Matters have been much more tame. But yesterday, when we needed business cards and we needed them fast (Jason is hand delivering new ones for Thomas Kase at ISM and Sapphire next week), I put on my print producer hat and went to work. Our wonderful designer Nate had layouts to me early in the morning, and I set to calling around about pricing and process. Not one for laser printed tear-off sheets of low-quality stock crap, I needed a print shop that would have nice 100# white stock in house, and print 4-color offset plus bindery to do the chopping. Thinking it would be cheap and quick, I called Kinko's to see what they could do, and the answer was a big fat nothing: everything of the quality we demand around these parts would have to be sent out to a third-party, and take days.

So after some Googling and a lot of dumb phone calls to places who couldn't help, I found a shop just two blocks away called Ink Spot. I was apprehensive when I called -- but found an amazingly competent person on the other end that literally said "We can do all that. E-mail over the file and we'll have proofs to you in an hour...we print in house and you can pick up the cards at the end of the day." Price-wise, they were less than what Kinko's would have charged for an inferior result. Lesson learned: in looking for a high-quality alternative to what a national chain can provide, do some research and look local -- you may be pleasantly surprised. Now -- Jason -- when will Spend Matters begin doing billboards??

- Sheena Moore

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