Did you notice those cute “WeHa” t-shirts on marchers in the recent Park Road Parade? If you are coveting one, head to Fresh Ink, a West Hartford promotional graphics company.
“We are trying to generate the idea of buying local,” said Dave Austin, co-owner of Fresh Ink, located in a small building set back from the street at 216 Park Rd. The t-shirts are for sale for about $10. Some say “WeHa” and others say,“I (heart) WeHa.” WeHa magnetic bumper stickers sell for $5. Other t-shirts for sale proclaim, “I Buy Local,” or “Meet Me On Park,” or simply, “West Hartford, CT.”
Fresh Ink is a full-service screen printing and embroidery company, specializing in customized apparel such as t-shirts and sweatshirts, as well as promotional items (water bottles, pens, etc). The company also designs and prints business cards, signs, and banners. Austin and co-owner and graphic designer Cindy Heintz have been in business for five years.
They’ve just come off a busy time printing 7,000 t-shirts for the Connecticut Chapter of the National Alzheimer’s Association, for use in their annual fundraising walk.
“We supply all the t-shirts for all the Connecticut walks,” explained Austin, who noted his profit margin is low on these orders. He considers this work to be a charitable contribution.
Noting there is local and online competition in his business, Austin said Fresh Ink offers competitive prices and the personal customer service. He indicated this style of service is not common these days, but available from small businesses such as his. Typically, production time is 7-10 working days. Austin recommends that customers placing online orders call first or follow up, to ensure the details are correct.
“People should get good customer service,” said Austin. Customers can receive help from an in-house designer and make changes before a job is printed, added Austin. Fresh Ink also offers a line of eco-friendly apparel made from organic fibers and recycled materials.
Both Austin and Heintz grew up in the Hartford area and both studied graphic design. They started their business in 2007 in Collinsville. They relocated to West Hartford three and a half years ago. Heintz handles the graphics end; Austin is in charge of sales and production.
Customers include local schools and small businesses. Austin said they don’t advertise much, but rely on word-of-mouth and social media like Facebook.
Last month, Fresh Ink organized a group photo shoot at Blue Back Square as a “buy local” promotion for West Hartford. The first 100 people received a free t-shirt. The group photo is on Fresh Ink’s Facebook page.
Among its other community-based activities, Fresh Ink also sponsors a West Hartford Girls Softball League team.
Austin said he loves the unique charm, diversity and quality of the Park Road shopping district.
“We want to promote the idea to ‘buy local.’ It’s hard for everyone in business these days. Fresh ink—we are a local leader in fresh ideas. We are trying to keep things new and different!”
Fresh Ink is located at 216 Park Road in West Hartford. Store hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Call (860) 656-7013 or visit www.freshinkllc.com for more information.