Which end’s up?

ImageI came across this odd photo of a school bus in Google Images and felt like it was fairly representative of life during these past months . . . completely impossible to figure out which end should be up.

Actually Poor Richard was very surprised to see that some random readers still encounter this blog from time to time. I began this effort years ago with the intent of providing humor and occasional entertaining messages of relevance to Poor Richard’s business, an A__ha_ra_hi_s franchise. (I still can’t post the name in the blog, in abject fear of provoking the ire of Saruman in his minions, who reside in Orthanc, the ivory tower located in Utah or thereabouts.  But wait, that’s another story altogether, isn’t it?)

For the past few months, I’ve been following my mother’s admonition: if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all.  To assert that the printing business has changed is not just an understatement, it’s an offense against the obvious.  It would be lovely to offer that we’ve charted a new course and are off to grand adventures with a revitalized business.  Alas, that is not reality.  We have tried about everything with our little business in our little town, and very little has worked.  Today, we are struggling with a very small staff, battling deteriorating volumes and prices, losing lots of money, and praying for miracles.

The topsy-turvy bus is actually a good image for this post and these times.  The idealism of past years could be represented by the upside-down wheels on top.  We’re still driving the bottom half, which is anchored to the ground by gravity; but I’m wondering how long the tires and the engine will hold out.

9 Responses to Which end’s up?

  1. Jim says:


    Came across your blog a few years ago….I’m writing from our tiny print shop, in exactly the same circumstances. We just dropped our price 30% on offset CMYK business cards, and then a day later we get one of those trade-shop email specials offering 500 cards for $9. It’s been good while it lasted, but I can’t see this career going much further!

  2. MikeD says:

    I’ve missed reading your great posts (love ’em) and am pleased to see that you haven’t been forced to close your doors.

    My own business depends on print projects and it is suffering as well. Hopefully something will help guide these folks in power towards making better decisions in the future. If not, we’re sunk.

    Best of luck to you in discovering things that work to bring in more business.

  3. jim says:

    Having been in the business for almost 40 years I often think, can it be possible that I’m seeing and living the demise of printing? I don’t think so. My advice would be to consolidate your printing business with your peers in the area. Not easy partnering up with your competition. As far as a franchise partnering up, that may be can of worms for sure. Good luck PR !!!

  4. The printing industry is a tough business to be in as the market is so competitive, and is saturated with tiny shops popping up everywhere, best advise invest in wide format equipment, way more money to be made

  5. Hey guys-

    Thanks for your comments and Richard, for your post. I know you don’t like us, but we’re a print broker. We chose this direction as opposed to printing in-house because we saw that this was a dying industry (national average of one print shop closing their doors every day). Something that we’ve found to be really helpful is getting into web design and graphic design pretty big. That’s one thing that we’ve really brought to the table that helped with competition. With online print shops, they don’t have the time or the patience to bring high-end designs to the table, nor do they want to. Also, we get out and pound the pavement. There’s more than enough business to go around. We’ve seen countless print shops go out of business (not having much to do with us), because they got complacent and stopped harvesting the fields.

    When your handed lemons, get into web design,

    Chad Paris
    Owner, CEO
    Parisleaf Printing and Design

  6. When you’re* handed lemons…

  7. Mike Genette says:

    Richard, I am positive that there is not one single soul left at the Ivory Tower in Salt Lake that even knows about your blog. But hang in there. I am now an independent consultant trying to help small business owners through the tough times. There are still shops in my area that are doing well. It will come back. Maybe not in the same form but hell You and I are not in the same form we were years ago either.

    Mike Genette
    Former A__ha_ra_hi_s employee

  8. Charlene says:

    I’m SO very sad that Alphagraphics has closed! I will be lost without “my” printer. Thank you for years and years of working with me on current and last minute jobs! Sad beyond belief!

  9. Very sad to hear you are closing.

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