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ZOMBIES ATE THE PRINTERS

Over 18 printshops disappeared in 6 years

Closed Printer

California. 

Los Angeles. 

 The San Fernando Valley, main drag, Ventura Blvd. 

 At 18 miles it boasts the longest stretch of retail stores in the world.* 

 High fashion boutiques. Beauty spas. Tire stores. Auto parts. Fast food. Slow food. Movie stars, swimming pools. Every type of small retail business alongside movie studios and financial institutions. These 18 miles have it all. 

 Why wax nostalgic over Ventura Blvd.? 

 In 2015 I did a survey for an online trade printer. It made sense to target this stretch of retail heaven with 34 print shops consisting of FedEx Offices, UPS Stores, and small independent shops. I drove down the Blvd. yesterday. The UPS Stores and Fed Offices still survive. But only 5 small independents remained.  

Bad sign

What happened to them? Ventura Blvd is the main street for a neighborhood that boasts $1-$2 million homes the full length of the 18 miles of retail stores.  Each store, over a thousand, likely has a marketing program of some sort. Ninety-nine percent have some website presence. They need a way to support those programs. How could there NOT be enough work to support more print/marketing service providers? 

 The small print shops that have disappeared supported those marketing needs. Why couldn’t they help now? Printers faced a similar issue, a shift in technology, when toner-based printing came along. They stuck by lithographic processes. Those that did not adopt the new technology eventually disappeared. With a large piece of the budget pie going to digital channels why wouldn’t the printers pivot to offering digital services alongside printing? 

 There are franchise relationships that encourage the diverse portfolio services. The technologies are available for a shop to build their own service portfolio offering digital support for digital channels. Whether a shop buys into a ‘ready-made’ solution or builds their own, it is possible to remain a vital service business. So why didn’t they? 

 Tom Petty’s song FREE FALLIN’ speaks of vampires heading west on Ventura Blvd.  Did the vampires suck the life out of these businesses? Or was it just a reluctance to meet market needs?

*KNX 1070 radio 2014 Business report, Frank Mottek

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