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Bradford Print Shoppe celebrates 35 years of business, philanthropy

From a basement, to a commercial operation, Bradford Print Shoppe has grown into its reputation for quality and giving back to the community.

Some Ontario farm families augment their income with off-farm employment or businesses. It helps to balance the insecurity of each growing season, and provides a steady source of income.

That is why, 35 years ago, John and Mikki Nanowski launched Bradford Print Shoppe.

Starting a family and looking for a steady source of income, they first considered a publishing business — only to realize publishing has as many costs as rewards. Instead, they took a six-week course at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute and opened their own printing business.

“John learned how to run a press, I learned layout, and we opened Bradford Print Shoppe in our basement,” Nanowski said.

It was an era when there were plenty of printing businesses, most of them franchises.

“I decided to go independent because I didn’t want someone structuring our price fee,” she said. She wanted to be able to provide special prices for non-profit organizations and buy from smaller, local suppliers.

Running the fledgling business was primarily Nanowski’s job. For the next seven years, she balanced raising a family and running a home business.

It was only in 1990, when her brothers built the business’s commercial complex on Artesian Industrial Parkway that she moved out of the basement and into a storefront.

“We have been here ever since,” she said.

Today, Bradford Print Shoppe has a name for both quality and philanthropy.

It provides custom graphic design services, wide format printing, commercial printing, signs, banners and posters, holiday greeting cards and prayer cards, wedding and other invitations, tickets, menus, and also framing and plaquing, self-inking stamps, and a full bindery and finishing service.

When it started, the company consisted of just Mikki and John. Now, 35 years later, the shop has a staff of five, plus Mikki.

She said she is proud that the business has reached the 35-year milestone.

“It shows consistency of purpose,” she said.

During those years, she raised a family, ran the business, and got involved in the community at every level — joining some community clubs because of her love of horticulture and history, and the Bradford Board of Trade due to her love of business.

For 11 years, she was chair of BWG’s Downtown Revitalization Committee.

Although Bradford Print Shoppe is not located downtown, Nanowski said she realized anything that beautifies and strengthens Bradford and increases pride in the community is good for all business.

The committee was the first to introduce flower baskets, raising money through spring dances and a downtown farmers’ market.

While most of its initiatives have now been taken over by the town, Nanowski said she is still proud of what was accomplished.

“We did it for the love of the community,” she said.

The group’s projects ranged from Communities in Bloom, to the installation of art on Bradford’s main streets, and a study that helped form the basis of local revitalization efforts.

If it seems Nanowski’s business and personal interests intertwine, they do.

Among her proudest achievements is the digitalization of six decades of the Tweedsmuir Histories compiled by local women’s institutes, and the publication of George Jackson’s book, The Big Scheme: The Draining of the Holland Marsh.

Bradford Print Shoppe has survived three recessions, disruptions caused by the two-year reconstruction of Dissette Street, and the tragic loss of John, who passed away in 2014.

The company is celebrating its 35th year in business on June 15, from noon to 3 p.m., at 170 Artesian Industrial Pkwy.

Nanowski and her staff invite the community to a barbecue, manned by the Bradford Lions Club. There will be live music by the BBSS band, free mugs and T-shirts (while supplies last), and a silent auction of items that include gift certificates, a Roger Federer racquet, maple syrup from Oro-Medonte, and original artwork.

Given Nanowski’s background, it is only fitting the silent auction is a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County, a cause dear to her heart for family reasons.

“Every time I have a fundraiser, I do it for the Alzheimer Society,” she said.

Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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