I'm the Co-founder and CEO of The Grommet. We launch undiscovered consumer products. It's also the birthplace of Citizen Commerce. I write about design, cultural anthropology, and start-ups, mostly.

Real Deal Road Trip No. 16: AB Printing in Charlestown, MA

My family vacation journal in front of AB Printing's building

My family vacation journal in front of AB Printing’s building

Something that caught a ton of attention in my last blog post was a casual snapshot of a family vacation journal I was in the process of making. This journal is something I always do while on a trip. Then when I get home I reproduce it into little books, so everyone present can have a lasting souvenir. Last weeks’ Maine vacation was no exception.  But having just moved back to Charlestown, after a 22 year absence, I had to find a new printer for the job.

It was easy.  I Googled “print shop Charlestown MA” and saw the listing for AB Printing.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 4.27.27 PM

Shazam. I hope I never lose my sense of wonder at the Internet.

When I last lived in Charlestown, I would have had to do some urban reconnaissance, or go to the library for the Yellow Pages, or “quick-in-a-hurry” make some smart local friends to be able to find a hidden gem like AB Printing.  It is not exactly a Main Street/Kinko’s kind of place.

50 Terminal Street

50 Terminal Street

Its location in The Charlestown Commerce Center was deep inside a gritty industrial area. Its home–50 Terminal Street–is a massive warehouse building was built between 1901 and 1913. It was apparently abandoned just about the time I first moved to Charlestown, in 1984. (Thank you internet, again.)

While exploring this cool, but not exactly signposted area by the port, I almost got locked into a nearby parking lot. Seeing a stream of vehicles entering the area, I had followed them just to see where they were headed, not realizing it was a highly secured storage area (barbed wire, cameras, guards) for holding newly-manufactured cars. Ah, that is why none of the speeding vehicles had license plates.

Anyway, back at AB Printing, I met the delightful owner, Cruz Roman, who stayed late on a Saturday to do my small job. He said, “I am a weak man.” I replied, “No, you are a good business person.”

It was merely a low-volume color copy production but Cruz, on his own initiative, took the time to upload the document and do extensive color correction. He wanted it to be perfect.

I loved being behind the scenes, and seeing the reams of various papers and the inimitable strong smell of printers’ ink. Cruz let me watch the terrifying page trimming operation. As a safety precaution you have to have your hands where Cruz is holding the machine in this photo, or the huge blade will not whoosh down. I kept having visions of me inexplicably throwing my own fingers on the cutting surface. This disturbing stream of thought reminded me of the crazy ideas that would have once popped into my head, postpartum. OK, TMI.

Cruz manning the  machine.

Cruz manning the machine.

Cruz went on to beautifully bind each book and give me two extra copies for free. I thanked him profusely and he said, “You might end up being my biggest client some day.”

I liked his attitude. I took his card. Here’s the site.  I’ll be back.

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3 Responses to “Real Deal Road Trip No. 16: AB Printing in Charlestown, MA”

  1. DianneDC

    Loved this post, especially great reminder of good business practice, customer service, and the joys of re-discovering local communities and small businesses. (Also love your family vacation journal, what a wonderful momento!)

    Reply
    • julespieri

      Dianne, it’s very refreshing to use the computer to give us the opportunity to get out from behind the computer screen and interact. Even Cruz, when I first called, said “You can just send me the document.” And I had to tell him, well it is actually on paper only. So maybe it was a fun diversion for him too?

      Reply
  2. Magdalena

    If some one desires to be updated with latest technologies therefore he must be pay a visit this website and be
    up to date all the time.

    Reply

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