Steve Samuel and Michael Elrod, owners of Graphics Gallery in Richmond, Va. have learned the value of adapting their service offerings to reflect their customer’s needs. At first, Graphics Gallery offered pre-press services for the offset printing industry. As the need for those services faded, Graphics Gallery evolved to focus exclusively on large format digital output, finishing, and installations. But, Elrod says, “we wanted to do all these big displays but how do we differentiate ourselves? So, we took a gamble.”
The gamble was on fabric. The company had “zero fabric sales” just six months ago when they invested about a half million dollars in equipment to go into fabric in a big way, specifically a fabric and framing system called Matrix (www.matrixframe.nl) that gave Elrod the flexibility he was looking for.
“There are a lot of ways of displaying graphics that aren’t answered any other way,” Elrod says.
Once the fabric is printed, it is easily stretched over a pre-made frame. The finished product, ready to display has a “nice finish and no glare,” says Elrod. It can also be double-sided, free-standing, and even back-lit.
“Being able to back light it is the icing on the cake. It just looks phenomenal,” he says.
Although the cost of the product is comparable to a higher end solid substrate, Elrod says the shipping costs are dramatically less because the frame is easily broken down.
Fabric framing products like Matrix are quite popular in Europe, Elrod says, but his company is one of very few using the system in the United States. Elrod discovered it through the Global Imaging and Graphics Association (GIGA), an association of entrepreneurial print shops around the globe. The organization has only about 25 members and meets twice a year.
“But we share everything,” Elrod says. “When you become a member, you’re obligated to share information, but we’re so spread out that wedon’t compete.”
Elrod says involvement has been invaluable for them.
“We were able to understand the successes achieved by other members from Europe and other parts of the world using fabric and display methods that we had not seen in the United States,” says Elrod.
Specifically, the fabric framing process helped them answer a lot of questions and solve issues for clients.
“I can’t say enough good things about it. Everybody who sees it likes it. Nothing has been as big a hit as this has,” Elrod says.
Lou Dzierzak is a freelance writer based in Richfield, Minn. Janet Preus is the editor of Fabric Graphics.
Graphics Gallery LLC
Glen Allen, Virginia
804 270 5300