Category Archives: Graphics

What would you have done?

As owner of a print and copy shop, I am often called to help people make copies of very private and intimate documents: love letters, divorce papers, etc. I have always felt there should be copier / client confidentiality and I normally avert my eyes while copying such material and quickly delete unread any digital copies that end up on my computer.

In this column I am going to break that confidentiality, although I will not reveal the name of the customer and I suspect that if she ever does read this column she will probably be too embarrassed to complain!

In Geneseo, with a state education factory in town, we sometimes have a little bit of a town-gown problem which often is exacerbated by strong political differences between our enlightened academic class and the hoi palloi. I try to avoid such conflicts in my business and have worked both sides of the aisle in preparing political materials.

However, when I inadvertently discovered evidence of political bias against my business in one of my own customers, ironically in a job that I was being paid to copy, it challenged all my principles.

Normally my copier works fairly proficiently in making and collating multiple copies of multi-page documents. You just load the document push the collate button and stand back. Every now and then, however, it makes a mess of things!

Recently I was asked to make a couple of copies of a very interesting  document by one of our noble professors. I only know that because my machine malfunctioned terribly and I was forced to manually re-copy about 10 pages that had randomly miss-fed and then insert them back into the copied documents in the right order. Luckily my customer had left to run a few errands and I was able to perform this time-consuming and embarrassing task in private!

To do this correctly I had to take a closer look at a document that I normally would of ignored. The first thing I noticed was that the document appeared to be something like a chatty Last Will in which the author was advising her descendants on the various businesses and tradespeople that she had used locally and recommending which ones to use for various jobs. This seemed like a very good idea and I made a silent note to perhaps prepare a similar document for my successors.

Although the gossipy nature of the text would have made for interesting reading I resisted the temptation to read it until I noticed there was a section on local print shops. As I quickly skimmed that section I noticed that I was not among the select locations recommended. That seemed a little odd since I was the business that had actually been chosen to make the copies, but it gets worse.

Taking a closer look at this section I noticed a small paragraph at the bottom of the section that I will quote in full: “The Genesee Graphics copy shop on Main Street is now out of business. No great loss because the owner was very conservative.”

Since I was only making a couple copies of the document for the customer’s children I wasn’t so much worried about the somewhat exaggerated report of my demise, however, the ill will conveyed in the last sentence left me stunned.

As I waited for the customer’s return I contemplated my options. Should I throw the now perfectly-collated copies away and tell her to take her business elsewhere? Perhaps just charge her double and not explain why, or just grin and bear it? What would you have done?

In the end my dilemma was made easier when instead her husband returned to pick up the job. I decided that since he was perhaps a more innocent party I would just let the matter drop. When he questioned why my charge was so small for the job I asked him with a wicked grin if he wanted me to charge him double?

I then explained that I would charge him the same price that I would charge anybody else that walked in the door. There must have been something in my attitude that set off a warning bell, because after paying he told me he was glad I was still in business!

If my customer somehow does read this I have only one request: If you do an updated version, please take it to one of your politically approved copy shops!




The next step

Sorry I missed a week there, but I’ve been busy moving my Genesee Graphics business off of Main Street and back home for a time. It’s amazing how much junk you can accumulate in a small office. I threw a lot out but I still have my garage full of desks and other furniture that won’t fit into my new 200 square foot home office.

Still, I was able to stuff three desks, four computers and one color copier into my new digs in the former Gerald R. Ford dog room. The room was named for the former President after he requested a private place to rest his knees between giving the first Wadsworth lecture in 1989 and the reception that followed. Apparently his old football injuries were taking a toll.

The room had been mainly used up to then as a place to keep my mother’s dogs, although it had obviously been originally designed to serve as an office, complete with its own entrance off the circle. In more recent years it has served as a place to put stuff you didn’t know what to do with, but didn’t want to throw away –kind of a downstairs attic.

I wanted to stay on Main Street but there really wasn’t anything available right now that I cared to rent. I will keep watching, and if the right opportunity arises, will return downtown. In the meantime, we will continue to service the many clients who have relied on us to do their graphic and web design, printing and copies and hopefully find some new ones!

The office will be open by appointment only. Walk-in traffic will be eliminated,  but that was never a big part of the business anyway. I will still be out and about visiting clients or just give me a call on my cell if you need something –or better yet, send me an e-mail at

It will certainly be more convenient having the business on the property so I can be closer to my farm and the tennis club. That 3-minute commute to town was killing me and the cost savings are considerable too. For starters there’s no rent and no need to staff the office full time.

With my long-time employee Vera Gleason still recuperating from her long hospital stay, I really did not want to hire and train anyone new. But who knows? By the time Vera is able to return, I may be back on Main Street. I really don’t want to unpack all these boxes anyway!