Hartford Prints! opened our doors on October 11, 2013. Since part of our company's mission is to be an active community space in Hartford, we always planned on someday opening a retail location. We just didn't think it would happen so soon! We were fortunate enough to be the recipients of the iConnect grant from the city of Hartford, which partnered with local landlords to give small arts businesses subsidized rents. We worked really hard to develop a cohesive branding, marketing, and build-out plan for the store and so far have been overwhelmed by the positive response to our presence. We are excited to see a renaissance of retail in downtown Hartford and strongly encourage other small business owners to take advantage of all the funding programs the city and state have to offer!
Since we're really only in our second year of business as a commercial venture, the biggest challenge of maintaining the shop has been staffing. We're still a family-run business, with currently only three employees, which means that our younger sister, Rory, works six days a week, 12 hours a day! On any given day, she might be designing custom wedding invitations, meeting with other businesses for a cross-promotional events, brainstorming new products, restocking inventory, making buttons, and answering the phone, all while greeting customers with a smile! Meanwhile, our Master Printer, Kait, mans the press at our studio location on Arbor Street, printing, cutting paper, ordering envelopes, and probably making buttons too! Callie, the middle sister, often works from home in Bridgeport with her two kids, doing payroll, taxes, and client budgets between making lunch and nap times. It is hard work, requiring demanding hours and a lot of organization, so it's a good thing that we love our business. As our grandfather used to say, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life."
Since we are first and foremost a letterpress studio, we create a lot of the products we carry. We make, in no particular order, stationery, greeting cards, buttons, book marks, wedding invitations, t-shirts, mugs, art prints, bumper stickers, and business cards. We also love to carry local Connecticut vendors in our shop. Currently, we have local CT-made soap and bath products, lip balm, t-shirts, hair pomade, jewelry... These products are very popular with our customers, who are often shopping for unique gifts that express a thoughtful sentiment. We're always looking for fun and interesting vendors to carry in our store, so if you make something with a lot of local love, email us at email@example.com!
The most interesting ongoing storyline about our shop has been the wonderful, warm response from the community! We love how diverse our customers are - some come by during their lunch break or after work, others walk over from their downtown apartment, and still more jump in their car and pop in on the weekend! We are lucky that Hartford has such a strong arts community and so many interesting events. We're constantly creating programming and promotions to draw people into the shop and through social media, traditional marketing, and word-of-mouth, we're watching our customer base grow and grow. There's a lot to love about Hartford and our customers are one of them!
We try to participate in pretty much any "shop local" event in Connecticut that fits within our schedule. Some of the local events we have set up a table at are Hartford's Hodge Podge, SoNo Arts Festival, the West End Farmer's Market, PopUp Shop, Love Haven, Trashion, Coventry Farmer's Market, Envisonfest, the Hooker Day Parade, and many more. We also try to keep our shop doors open when there is a big event going on downtown.
Hartford Prints! store is located at 42 1/2 Pratt Street, Hartford CT 06103.
Our studio is located at 56 Arbor Street, Suite 220, Hartford CT 06106.
You can find Hartford Prints! on Facebook where we post and update our events and store programming.