Meet your merchant: Printer a jack of all trades
Brian Lowenthal’s comfort zone stretches throughout different skills and mediums and the various quadrants of his Combie Road print shop.
Lowenthal, owner of Point, Click, Print in southern Nevada County, has a knack for a little bit of everything in his self-owned business.
The 48-year-old cut his teeth processing prints in the one-hour photo labs of the early 1980s in his native San Jose.
Working in darkrooms he learned to spot colors and the distinguishing marks of a great photo. Those skills pertain even to today’s computer-driven print and photography business, Lowenthal said.
“We’re taking skills out of the darkroom and applying them to photo editing today,” he said.
As a part-time photographer shooting weddings and senior portraits, Lowenthal developed his eye behind the lens while honing his skills developing film.
He tracks his technological progression in graphic design through the Corel software, starting with the first versions in the early ’90s to the 12th installment released recently.
“What I do here, by myself, would have taken 11 people to do in the mid-1980s,” Lowenthal said of the industry’s technological progression.
His own prints hang in his store, shots of snow clinging to willows near his Lake of the Pines home and ripples spreading from a boat’s wake. He’s at home in any end of the shooting, processing and printing process, he said.
A lifetime of working with photographers made him familiar with a camera, but he maintains modesty when talking about his shutter skills.
“You have photographers who are like cars,” he said. “You’ve got Yugos, Fords, Lincolns and Rolls Royces. I think I’m a Lincoln.”
Lowenthal pauses from his busy movement throughout the store, replacing printer toner and fiddling with monitors to make a few copies of a bill a customer brought in after her home copier broke down, earning just 20 cents in the process.
“I’ve always believed in business that I don’t have customers coming through the door as much as friends,” Lowenthal said. “It’s the experience you pay for when you come here. If you have a good one, you’re going to come back.”
More than five years ago, he opened Point, Click, Print with the intention of walking customers through the digital printing process, as well as processing about five rolls of film per day for old-tech enthusiasts.
“We were averaging about one and a half rolls a day, so we stopped doing that pretty quickly,” Lowenthal said. When the recession hit in 2007, business turned sour, as people were content to leave their photos in a digital format, keeping most of them on a hard drive.
“With the shift away from printing photos, we decided to close our doors last January,” Lowenthal said. He remained open by partnering with an art studio – Art Du Jour, agreeing to rent his wall space for artists to hang their work while handling their sales.
Lowenthal credits the merger – and his commitment to the community – as his keys to recession survival. He organizes a number of events for the South Nevada County Chamber of Commerce and has helped to change its focus to host more events for fundraising and business publicity.
“When times got tough, business owners looked at their expenses with the chamber and asked ‘what’s my ROI, my return on investment?'” Lowenthal said. “Let’s benefit charities and expose our businesses.”
Lowenthal focused on pumping up the chamber’s existing events, such as the popular Christmas in the Pines, and creating new ones, like a recent wine tasting event.
To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4239.
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