View Full Version : Online vs. local printers

01-27-2005, 09:58 PM
Something's been bugging me the past few days, and until today I wasn't quite able to put my finger on it, and I'm not even sure that I have even yet.

I find lots of discussion on LS about various online printing services, but very little discussion about local print shops. I understand that local print shops won't have as broad an audience because they are just that -- local. They aren't going to attract customers from all over like the online guys. But I get the impression that most people use online print services rather than the local guys.

But let me tell you a little story about a local print shop.

I just had a bunch of business cards printed up. Nothing fancy, just black ink on gold cardstock. I printed out a 200% master to take in, but they asked me to email them a .pdf file, doing so would save me a couple of bucks. I emailed it as a .pdf, but for some reason it was printing with ever-so-slightly fuzzy edges. I ended up emailing them a copy of the font, and a copy of the .jpg that was my artwork. They had to lay it out with their software, and they did it so it looked identical to my original master. When I picked up the cards, they told me that there was not going to be an extra charge for the layout work they did.

Oh, and on my way out the door, the owner grabbed me and asked me what sorts of things I did. I told him, and he then asked for a quote on trimming his hedges for the growing season. I shot him a number, and got the job.

Anyone ever get a job from their online print service? Huh? And would an online print service have let you know that your .pdf file was slightly fuzzy?

I'm not knocking the online guys, but I think there is a general attitude on LS that says we should support the local little guy rather than the national big guy.

Am I all wet? Or what? Please tell me.

01-28-2005, 01:38 AM
Online printers tend to be cheaper and thats the ONLY reason why i would use one. I only have one local printer and he tends to be on the expensive side.

01-28-2005, 04:50 AM
Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with doing a little price-based shopping payup , but I could respond to the your argument with a couple of my own that are echoed on LS quite often:

* You get what you pay for
* He knows his costs and will be in business long after the cheap guy is gone
* Don't let your prices be set for you by the guy who's no longer in business

And so on.

My printer is more expensive than some of the online guys, but I think that the added *value* of his being local more than makes up for it. He's willing to go the extra mile for me, and he understands the value of having a relationship with his customers.

Does the low price of the online printers offset the reduced level of service you will inherently receive?

01-28-2005, 09:44 AM
eruuska, i have a general policy to keep my business within the area, but the price from the local shops is nowhere near the ballpark of the online guys. standard business cards, such as yours, are one thing. 4 color process business cards (4 color process is the same as magazine printing) are an entirely different beast. the locals can't come close. when you then add in 4 color flyers and brochures, i can't get within 30% locally. when you are talking printing costs in the thousands, those hundreds of dollars add up. i have larger print requirements than most, in terms of volume, but remember that volume brings buying power. your typical lco doesn't need high volume, thus they receive higher prices and the online guys are the only way to go for that.


01-28-2005, 09:53 AM
I try to keep my business local if at all possible. There is no way I am going to pay the $1050 for 1000 full color door hangers that my local print shop wants when I can get 5000 online for $399 - $499. Thats basic common sense and I could never rationalize that one. I dont mind paying double on a small order ($60 for business cards) or something like that but on the larger orders there is no way that any local printer can even come close. On the big stuff I will use the online printers every time.

Team Gopher
01-28-2005, 10:29 AM
Hi eruuska,

That was a smart move on your part. Very good networking story. I bet you get more business from the printer because he knows you personally now.

01-28-2005, 11:04 AM
* You get what you pay for
* He knows his costs and will be in business long after the cheap guy is gone
* Don't let your prices be set for you by the guy who's no longer in business

My printer is more expensive than some of the online guys, but I think that the added *value* of his being local more than makes up for it.

No, as you said (in your own words) "you're all wet" on this one. When you're talking about getting 5 or 10 thousand flyers/door hangers (or more), prices aren't even in the same ballpark.
As a local printer said to me, the online guys are set up for huge production and can afford to be way cheaper on larger orders.

If you're just talking about a couple hundred business cards, then use a local printer, but on big orders of thousands, online is the way to go!

Lux Lawn
01-28-2005, 11:15 AM
I understand what you are saying but recently when I needed new business cards I thought I would check around before I bought anything.Since I do the Lawn Maintenance at the local Staples I thought that would be a good place to start 500 full color (my logo has 6 colors) was $160 Vistaprint.com 2250 full color on 1 side and 1 color on the back with a glossy finish and shipping $84.Not a bad deal.

01-28-2005, 11:16 AM
i just noticed the part about the "anyone ever get a job from an online printer referral?". obviously, no. what i did receive was an additional 10 or so customers out of the additional volume of mailings i was able to do over the same price as the local guy. i'm just pointing out the flipside to your argument. $10k worth of additional sales vs. $1k. it's called ROI.

maybe it was the "huh?" that got me...

Lux Lawn
01-28-2005, 11:22 AM
How many colors in your logo it sounds like you mhad the same concerns as me.

01-28-2005, 11:32 AM
lux, depending upon the process, my logo only has 2 colors. to the eye, it's 4.

for spot color process, it's only 2 colors as the 3rd and 4th colors are actually lighter or darker derivatives of the first 2. navy blue/lighter blue, dark orange/light orange only account for 2 colors.
caexteriors.com and you can see what i mean if you're not sure.

my concerns have always been for the expensive print jobs such as t-shirts, vehicle/trailer, and yard signs. i own a remodeling company, so our yard signs are very nice, and pretty expensive. for all paper-based printing, we use nothing but 4 color process (the magazine page style of printing) that is cheaply available from vista and 48hour. the low cost of those online players has leveled the field so that the small business can have the same quality of the big boys.


Lux Lawn
01-28-2005, 11:44 AM
Can you post your logo i'd like to see it?

01-28-2005, 11:47 AM
I am in the process of getting door hangers this year. I checked it out online and found 10000 for $750. I figured that was not too bad but I would rather do business with someone local. So I went to the printer that did my business cards and he quoted me $2500 for the same thing. I would rather support the local guy but when the extra $1750 comes right out of my bottom line. . .

01-28-2005, 01:54 PM
You guys are right, if the price difference is HUGE then yes, you obviously gotta do what you gotta do. Very good points from all of you.

Now I gotta go dry off, I'm getting cold. :blush: