I apologize in advance for writing a blog that isn’t as upbeat as I would normally write, but it is important, so please read.
The past four months of 2018 are certainly ones we don’t care to repeat. You might have heard that our longtime, beloved co-worker, Brian Wanta, was diagnosed with a non-treatable, aggressive form of cancer only a few weeks after his emergency visit to the hospital in June. When we found out that he would not be returning to work, we found someone to help at the front counter since Saundra would be adding giclée printing to her responsibilities. Then Saundra’s sister, Nancy, passed away suddenly in September, and Saundra and I spent several days away to attend a memorial service in Morgantown, WV. Three days after we returned, Brian passed away, and only a little over a week later, our new-found counter person had to leave us; thankfully she had been available to help us through some extremely stressful times. Since it takes at least three months to train a new employee, though, it’s too close to the busy holiday season to hire someone new. Our primary concern is to continue to produce the high quality image products that both you and we expect, and at reasonable prices. That being said, we need to make some adjustments to facilitate our short-handedness in light of the busy holiday season that is upon us.
Here are ways you can help us help you:
If you need to send us digital files for printing, please DO NOT send them by email without asking us first.
Attaching images to emails may seem easy, but it is often a terribly inefficient way to place an order. Just because an email leaves your device, does not mean we receive the image immediately. Multiple images can clog mailboxes, spam filters could send the email to a junk folder, and if there is one letter missed in the address, the email may never arrive at all. Sometimes we may not see your email for hours, possibly not even during the active business day, either because we are busy in production or helping customers at the counter, or cell towers are clogged, especially with large size files, or large quantities. We’ll be happy to teach you how to use other methods, much more efficient and less cumbersome, to send us orders over the internet:
- Use the free online ordering app on our website to upload JPG files for printing:
This service allows you to organize your order, answering the prompts that give us the instructions we need to produce your order efficiently, and gives us your contact information so we can let you know when your order is complete. Most orders sent by our online ordering app are printed the same day or next day, and there is no charge added to your print order for the use of the app.
- Send any type file, including TIFs and PDFs, by a free internet service such as WeTransfer.com (our preference, especially for large quantities), Hightail, Dropbox, or a number of other services. These are file transfer services only, with no automatic prompts asking you for additional information, so you will need to add a note or send us a separate email with your instructions and contact information.
Please make an appointment for extensive “image counseling.”
When we moved to our Beach Boulevard location in 2013, after weathering the Great Recession, we were really shorthanded (Saundra, Brian, and me, the three full-timers; and Laurie and Sarah, our two part-timers).
We decided to move our opening time from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. so we could schedule morning appointments before we open, but we became accustomed to tackling other projects during those early hours. Even though we have increased our staff since moving to Beach Boulevard, we find ourselves short-handed again with the loss of Brian, and now see the need to return to our original idea. So, if you have a photo project requiring more than 5 minutes of undivided attention, it would be best to set up a morning appointment between 9 and 10, or ask if we can arrange a time to meet with Saundra on the weekend, when the front counter is officially closed. While devoting undivided attention to an individual customer is ideal, it may not be possible during regular lab hours, so if you decide to take a chance by not making an appointment, your time will most likely be interrupted; there may not be another customer at the counter when you arrive, but that can change at a moment’s notice. Also, we need to caution folks about knocking on the door before 10:00 without an appointment. We may be able to help you, but we do have additional production responsibilities before we open, like developing film and participating in training sessions, so it is important to schedule your and our time. Setting up an appointment is especially crucial for fine art customers. We are still printing fine art reproductions after Brian’s passing, but there is no replacing him.
Thankfully he was a good teacher, but it now takes a team to produce fine art prints, and since all of the team members are also working in other areas,the process takes longer than it did when we had Brian to devote his entire attention to that work. We are currently concentrating on orders that are already in progress, and we will take on new projects as time allows, but we can only realistically guarantee Christmas delivery of new fine art giclée orders if they are received before November 15th. We can certainly accept artwork for reproduction any time the lab is open, but we need to set proofing appointments between nine and noon on weekdays (when some of our staff can provide additional counter help), or schedule a weekend appointment with Saundra.
Appropriate charges will apply for extensive image editing and counseling.
We can gladly give you 5 minutes or so of our time—that’s manageable—but culling, cropping, and Photoshop editing sessions that take longer will need to be billed at our standard hourly rate to cover the time necessary to satisfy the requirements of the order.
The final point to remember: Everyone who helps you at our counter is a production specialist—each one is doing double duty when waiting on customers. There is no one on staff whose job it is to sit at the front counter, waiting for someone to come through the door. Please respect our time, knowing that when one of us is standing at the counter, a customer’s work is not being produced… and sometimes that customer may be you.
Thank you for helping us help you,