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.