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Shop Talk with A-1 Printing and Copy Center

Sandra Gilman often tells customers that she started A-1 Printing and Copy Center when she was 12 years old, which always results in a little laugh. Sandra opened A-1 Printing and Copy Center in January 1974 and it has been going strong ever since.

Customers and visitors are always greeted with a warm, “welcome to the neighborhood” because Sandra believes that is exactly what downtown Kalamazoo is. “Whether we are down here 5 – 7 days a weeks or we live downtown, we are all neighbors and that is a good feeling.”

While some things, like a group of incredible customers, have remained unchanged since 1974, A-1 has come a long way from its early days of presses and ink on metal plates, cameras, clip art, white out and cut and paste. A-1 was one of the first shops in the area to become a totally digital print shop. The change was made when Sandra saw a definite need for a cleaner way of printing and the conversion cut shop waste by 90%.

Over the past 46 years in business, Sandra and A-1 have triumphed over some incredibly difficult situations. From the time a tornado destroyed the equipment and sucked all of the jobs they were working on out the front windows, to recovery of an internal theft, damage to the pre-Civil War building caused by a building project, to the restoration of the 100 East Michigan block buildings that obscured foot traffic for over two years.

Sandra reflects on these difficult times and offers some advice for business owners. “Owning a business is not a bed or roses, but it can be the most rewarding undertaking you will ever encounter both mentally and financially.”

At A-1 Printing & Copy Center the owner and employees pride themselves on serving Kalamazoo County for over 46 years. Over the years, A-1 has made technology upgrades that has allowed them to cut turn around time by 75%. Most projects can be easily completed in a few days with pleasing prices.

A-1’s General Manager, Joe Francisco, a graduate of Western Michigan University has a saying, “happy customers, happy printers and copy people. We love what we do each day and it shows. Come see a happy print and copy shop in action and feel the love.”

The next time you are downtown on Michigan Avenue, stop into A-1 Printing & Copy Center and say hello to Sandra and the crew. Be sure to tell them that Women’s LifeStyle sent you.

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