West Seattle business: Liberty Bell Printing to close its storefront

December 6, 2010 at 11:38 pm | In West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 45 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“It’s going to be hard,” acknowledged Liberty Bell Printing owner Michael Hoffman, talking with WSB this evening to announce the closure of his Junction storefront after December 22nd.

He wants to stress that he is NOT closing the business itself – Liberty Bell Printing and Design will continue serving customers, just not from a retail storefront.

Liberty Bell Printing is The Junction’s fourth-oldest business (after Husky Deli, Menashe and Sons Jewelers, and Terjung’s House of Gifts), says Hoffman, who has owned it for 10 years (out of the 38 total that have passed since it was founded). He says the decision to close is simply financial – “economic changes, technology changes; we don’t need to have a storefront any more.”

In fact, Hoffman says, he probably should have closed the storefront “a long time ago,” but kept trying to make a go of it. Now, he says, he can stay in business but without the major added expense of rent in a high-prestige retail district.

He’ll remain a West Seattle Junction fan, though – no surprise when you hear that he’s been on the West Seattle Junction Association board for just about as long as he has been a Junction business owner, and has been part of the business district’s continued growth, evolution, and image improvement. “If nothing else, I can look back and say, look how far The Junction has come in (the 10 years he’s run a business there).”

One improvement he regards fondly – the hanging flower baskets. “When (in their second year) people started asking, ‘When are they going up?’ – we knew we hit a home run.” He had another home run these past three Septembers, organizing the West Seattle Junction Car Show; whether it’ll go on even without his business being located in The Junction, he’s not sure – depends on whether he winds up with the time to organize it.

Wondering what’s going to happen to his printing equipment? It’s coming with him, since he’s staying in business for printing and design – but it won’t be an easy move; Hoffman says the front windows of the storefront will have to be removed to get the biggest pieces of equipment out, and that’ll take a while – though he’s closing in two weeks, he’ll still be moving through January.

He’ll take orders by phone and e-mail, delivering some of the results, and dropping some off at a designated pickup spot in The Junction – the deal’s not final yet, he says, so he doesn’t want to say where that’s going to be.

That still won’t be the same as coming to work in The Junction every day. “I’m going to miss the people,” he says with genuine regret. “When you’re here every day of your life for 10 years, to think about not being here … it’s going to be a hard change to get used to.”

But you have two-plus weeks to go say hi, between now and 5:30 pm December 22nd, and find out more about his plans to keep serving West Seattle, without a storefront. You can check out the holiday sale for the Jody Bergsma art he carries too – the deal’s listed in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Shopping/Business Guide.

45 Comments

  1. Although I’m glad Michael will keeping his business going, I’m very saddened at the loss of his Junction storefront.

    .

    When walking past, I’ve always enjoyed glancing at the old printing press in the front window. My Dad was a pressman by trade, working down at Craftsman Press, from probably back sometime in the ’50′s, until the late ’60′s. He had a press just like that one, in our basement, and used to run side jobs on it for people. Only difference was, he’d painted his battleship gray! :)
    .

    Was surprised many years ago, perhaps before Michael owned the business, when I walked by Liberty Bell, and a woman was actually printing a job the old press! Had walked by there many times over the years, and figured it was just there for “decoration”.

    .

    Good luck to you. Michael!

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 12:11 am December 7, 2010 #

  2. I’m sad as well, Michael did our wedding invitations and thank you cards and he was so great and helpful to a couple of bumbling idiots who didn’t have a clue what they were doing.
    Michael rules!

    Comment by GoGo — 7:10 am December 7, 2010 #

  3. We’re going to miss Michael and Liberty terribly! He’s always been there to produce the promotional pieces for my book signings. I wish him all the best!

    Comment by Eilis Flynn — 7:55 am December 7, 2010 #

  4. In the 4+ years I’ve been in WS I have enjoyed looking in the windows of the closed shop, but never visited due to the hours. Honestly, I wondered how they stayed in business without at least 1 late night or a Saturday. I’m sorry to see them close & wish them all the best.

    Comment by Sue — 7:56 am December 7, 2010 #

  5. Glad to hear you’re staying open for business! Best of luck with the move! Your presence in the Junction will be missed.

    Comment by MCSD — 8:06 am December 7, 2010 #

  6. If he so dedicated to the junction and to shopping local, why is he giving up and leaving an empty storefront in the junction?

    Comment by DW — 8:37 am December 7, 2010 #

  7. This comment may not belong here, but I remember seeing a couple of signs that offended me in the window of this place, so I purposely never patronized it. Maybe I was not alone.

    Comment by Lucky chick — 8:42 am December 7, 2010 #

  8. Reminds me – how’s that Office Depot (QFC complex) coming along?

    Comment by GenHillOne — 8:57 am December 7, 2010 #

  9. Lucky Chick…really, a nasty comment? At a time like this? Shame on you. You were right–your comment doesn’t belong here.

    DW: It’s called economics. My guess is he will have a home office or far less expensive space.

    Michael has always been a huge supporter of local community events and non profits:
    Pencil Me In For Kids
    Friends of the Animals Foundation
    Furry Faces Foundation
    West Seattle Food Bank
    …and more.

    He lead the team that made the Car Show so popular; served on the Alaska Junction Assoc. Board for years, including two years as President; helped found Furry Faces Foundation and is still a member; ran two silent auctions for Friends of the Animals Foundation and provided all of their printing needs for free, for years; and MORE! This coming Thurday evening, he is hosting a gift wrapping fundraiser…even as he prepares to close on Dec. 22nd. Losing the storefront of Liberty Bell Printing is a loss to Junction and community

    Thank you for everything you have given the community Michael!

    Comment by funkietoo — 9:21 am December 7, 2010 #

  10. I would pop in to get things printed often, and Michael always did a great job. I hate to think of going to staples, they never get it right. We’ll miss the store and Michael.

    Comment by kt — 9:48 am December 7, 2010 #

  11. How long has Russell Jewelers been in the Junction?

    Comment by Gina — 9:53 am December 7, 2010 #

  12. DW, did you even read the article?

    .

    If you don’t have time to read it, then check out funkietoo’s comment for a quick synopsis.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 10:28 am December 7, 2010 #

  13. Dear funkietoo and Liberty SUPPORTERS:
    .
    @funkietoo: I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    .
    Let’s focus on how can we continue to support this business!!!
    No doubt WSB will publish their new address as soon as it’s known.

    Comment by Sandra — 10:40 am December 7, 2010 #

  14. Sandra – to be clear, he won’t have a retail storefront, period. He will keep operating the business but will deal with customers by phone and e-mail. So he won’t be publicizing where he’s doing the actual printing/design work, as it won’t be open for drop-in – he will be arranging for delivery of work, or, as mentioned in the story, pick-up at a TBA Junction location (we will have that update when it’s finalized). The website will be the same: http://www.libertybellprinting.com
    .
    TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:43 am December 7, 2010 #

  15. I don’t know what messages led Lucky chick to steer clear of Liberty or even if they contributed to the storefront closing, but I would not patronize a store that offended me. It is the business owner’s right to exercise free speech, so I’m not knocking them for that, but it’s also my right to choose which business I want to support. For example, I’ve drastically cut spending at Target and cross off any business that hosts that garish van with the flag and messages draped all over it.

    Getting back on track, I’m sorry to see Liberty go. Hopefully another local-minded shop owner still step up relatively quickly.

    Comment by moxilot — 11:13 am December 7, 2010 #

  16. Sad:-(

    Michael has been incredible with helping me put together the most amazing business cards and anything else I have needed for my business.

    He even went above and beyond this year by letting me know that there was a new law that would make it so I needed a special kind of prescription pad and getting me what I needed in time so that I had no lapse in being able to write prescriptions.

    I’m sorry to see you leave the junction but will still definitely support you without the store front.

    Comment by lena — 12:11 pm December 7, 2010 #

  17. Michael,
    You’re the best! Good luck on your new journey!

    There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction. -Winston Churchill

    Comment by Tara — 1:28 pm December 7, 2010 #

  18. it’s a prime location and needed new life – please something for humans and NOT a pet shop or pet bakery or pet groomer. also what is going in the old Guppys/Ovio space?

    Comment by THD — 1:43 pm December 7, 2010 #

  19. I’m sorry to hear Michael is leaving the store. It’s such a staple of West Seattle. Even though I’m not in West Seattle anymore, I spent many years there in banking, and I can’t imagine Liberty Bell not being there. I wish you good luck Michael.

    Comment by Debbi — 2:09 pm December 7, 2010 #

  20. Sad to hear the news! This is yet another example of why we all need to patronize our local small businesses! There are other options besides doing all of your shopping on line.

    Michael is a good friend and an enormous supporter of the Junction. You will be sorely missed in the community.

    Comment by CRM — 2:24 pm December 7, 2010 #

  21. Michael and Liberty Bell Printing will be greatly missed in The Junction. Michael has been a true asset to the neighborhood and has consistently proven himself to be a generous, caring person. It is wonderful that he will continue to serve West Seattle with his printing and design services. Best of luck to Michael during this transition and you will be sincerely missed in The Junction.

    Comment by The Junction Association — 2:25 pm December 7, 2010 #

  22. I’ve attempted to call and order printing materials here more than 3 times and have NEVER received a call back. Hopefully by releasing the storefront they can spend more energy on working with business’ on the back end. I’ve always wanted to support my west seattle printer but refuse to beg them to take my business.

    Comment by wsealady — 2:28 pm December 7, 2010 #

  23. Nature Consortium has been one of the fortunate beneficiaries of Michael’s generosity and professionalism. He has supported us ever since he bought Liberty Bell and we have always been thrilled with the quality of the work that comes out of his ‘shop’. We will definitely continue to work with Michael into the future. He will definitely be missed as a smiling fixture in the Junction.

    Comment by Nancy Whitlock-Nature Consortium — 2:32 pm December 7, 2010 #

  24. Michael has been a wonderful contributor to the West Seattle Community and local non-profit agencies. He has always been there helping to create documents, finding ways to raise money for non-profits and giving generous discounts. We will miss not having him so close!

    Comment by Anna Fern, West Seattle Helpline — 3:12 pm December 7, 2010 #

  25. Thank you for posting the website address.

    Comment by mcveighgroup — 4:35 pm December 7, 2010 #

  26. Michael has been very generous with our Submarine Veterans group. We value his contributions enormously!

    Comment by Lynn S — 4:46 pm December 7, 2010 #

  27. MVG, we *always* have weblinks inline – the first reference to Liberty Bell Printing was linked from the second we typed it. Just in case you’re new to the site, we link inline extensively so that the interwebs can be used the way they’re intended … everything is a hub, with many spokes to go off and explore … But in this case, contextualizing it as an extra reference certainly didn’t hurt! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 5:03 pm December 7, 2010 #

  28. Thank you for the clarification WSB:

    I must have missed this part of your original article:

    He’ll be “dropping some (work) off at a designated pickup spot in The Junction – the deal’s not final yet, he says, so he doesn’t want to say where that’s going to be.”

    So, the bottom line is we’ll definitely be able to reach Michael and support his business at:
    http://www.libertybellprinting.com !!

    Comment by Sandra — 6:13 pm December 7, 2010 #

  29. The store will definitely be missed. So very glad Michael will stay involved; I have had only the best success with had with this great business.

    Thanks for the information on all Michael has done; wow, I had no idea!

    I will definitely continue to use Michael as our ‘go-to’ guy for all printing needs, as he has been so very helpful, and the finished product has always surpassed my expectations!

    Comment by mococo — 7:14 pm December 7, 2010 #

  30. I would like to sent my best wishes to Michael and his business. For several years, I bought the cat toys he made in honor of his beloved cat. My cats LOVE their “battle sock” as we call it. During my daughter’s early elementary years, we bought our reams of paper from him because he sold paper made in Washington by a plant purchased by its employees. He offered free resume printing for those who were unemployed and has always been kind and helpful when I needed printing.

    DW and Lucky chick, check yourselves, your snarky comments don’t belong here.

    Comment by Garden_nymph — 7:25 pm December 7, 2010 #

  31. I’d like to thank Michael for his support during my campaign for the state legislature. He supported me and then spent an afternoon taking me around to meet other business owners. I really appreciated it.

    Comment by Marcee Stone — 9:35 pm December 7, 2010 #

  32. I agree THD, the junction needs more national chains, big boxes like Walmart, Target, KMart – you get the picture.

    Comment by CED — 9:42 pm December 7, 2010 #

  33. @Garden_nymph:
    Right on.
    .
    @Michael at Liberty Bell Printing:
    Hang in there. We love you.

    Comment by Sandra — 11:37 pm December 7, 2010 #

  34. Michael,
    Good luck in your new adventure. Just remember everything happens for a reason.
    Sounds like you will be truly missed in the Junction.
    Keep in touch with us here at Bergsma.
    And when ever you feel like coming for a visit please do and don’t forget the mini cupcakes.

    Love Pam

    Comment by Pam — 7:21 am December 8, 2010 #

  35. As a former employee I witnessed Michael go above and beyond for his customers by doing the personalized little extras that the commercial chains don’t do. He cares about the quality of his work and wouldn’t let jobs leave until they were perfect. Luckily, that quality will continue. Wishing him all the best!

    Comment by KMC — 11:01 am December 8, 2010 #

  36. Thank goodness he’ll still be in business! It would be such a colossal drag to go anywhere else for my printing needs. Michael and company rock our jobs every time!

    In fact I’m on my way over there right now with a couple of jobs.

    Comment by Galen Guffy — 12:14 pm December 8, 2010 #

  37. @sandra and garden_nymph…what happened to ‘free speech’? People that had a negative experience have just as much right as those that had a positive experience. Whether it’s about this Liberty Bell topic or any other…as long as the comment is civil.

    Comment by alki_2008 — 1:00 pm December 8, 2010 #

  38. Many many well wishes and a HUGE ‘thanks’ to you Michael!

    Comment by Dtown — 2:14 pm December 8, 2010 #

  39. Very Sad news about Liberty Bell. We at Howden-Kennedy Funeral Home use them for all our printing needs. We look forward to still doing business with them and hope the move goes well!!

    FYI…
    Howden-Kennedy is one of the oldest businesses in the Junction/WS Area too! (since 1954)

    Comment by Mike@H-K — 9:44 pm December 8, 2010 #

  40. I know first hand how difficult it has been for Michael to do all he could to keep the store front open… and how agonizing it was to make the decision to close down. It is both a reflection of ‘these economic times’ as well as a representation of how technology is leading the ‘print world’ away from offset and strictly to digital.
    ~
    I would like to openly thank Michael for being such a great teacher and generous person. I wish him success with his transition and continued service with his evolution of Liberty Bell Printing.
    ~
    I believe his efforts in the community will be long felt and appreciated by all who live in and visit ‘The Junction’.

    Lisa

    Comment by Lisa R Town — 9:40 am December 9, 2010 #

  41. Many great comments about Michael! For those of you who did not use Liberty Bell just remember we can’t support every small business financially but emotionally you sure should try. It takes an incredible amount of strength to run a small business and every day your heart pours out to it. Wanting BIG businesses to come to West Seattle…well go to a giant mall and see if there is the same amount of community and warmth felt there as you have in the Junction! Small business employ more people than the big corporations in America. We don’t send our jobs overseas either. Michael has always been a huge supporter of our local economy. He was there from the beginning of so many local causes. Pencil me in for Kids has been in his heart from the beginning. Always thinking of ways to raise more money and how to get involved..he is a large man because no one else could carry around the size of his Huge heart!! He may not have the store front but he is still one of our small businesses and will obvioulsly be continuing to do all printing I have. No more store front but still there to help!

    Comment by Sue — 2:06 pm December 9, 2010 #

  42. Let’s remember, Liberty Bell Printing is still West Seattle business, they just won’t have a store front any longer.

    It seems like the forum rules should apply here…you have to go the business owner/manager to try to work out whatever your issue is…prior to posting! Seems like the comments by wsealady and Lucky Chick, violate this protocol and should be removed.

    Comment by funkietoo — 2:53 pm December 9, 2010 #

  43. THANK-YOU for your help yesterday with the Santa photo packaging, Michael – and all the best to you as you transition your business! Be sure to let us know how to to access your services in the future.

    Comment by Donna Ryan Photography — 9:45 pm December 9, 2010 #

  44. This last post raises an interesting issue.
    Just what are the rules that apply?
    And if I list myself as a business owner/manager, does the mentioned protocol apply to me?

    Comment by Nulu — 9:53 pm December 9, 2010 #

  45. Michael, I loved doing business with you and I sure hope the home business works well for you. I know you tried your hardest to keep the store open for as long as you could. I wish you the best luck and will miss seeing your big smile when I come in. Loves of love, Tina

    Comment by Tina — 4:37 pm December 28, 2010 #

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