Kyle Jensen / The Record — Fine Balance Imaging + Printing co-owner Joe Menth discusses the various printers his business owns. The store can print banners, posters, art prints on different materials.

Market, high-speed internet attracts printing biz to Langley

Fine Balance Imaging &Printing has catered to South Whidbey artists with its fine art, photo and multi-function printers for over a decade.

But, the print store is taking steps toward becoming more than a place where artists can take care of their printing needs; it’s already grown into a full-service copy center and has capabilities to be a workspace for artists, architects and freelancers to utilize.

“We are working with Whidbey Tel to create a co-works space that could eventually become a maker space for artists and freelancers,” co-owner Joe Menth said. “We’re working with them to bump up our internet speed from one gig to a 10 gig line, and in building our new storefront, we carved out a space for co-working that has good presentation equipment.”

Fine Balance Imaging &Printing is part of a group of locations to become co-works spaces, alongside South Whidbey Commons, WiFire and the new Big Gig Center in downtown Langley. The storefront has an area with tables, outlets, chairs and a separate presentation room that businesses can utilize while in the store. The first business workshop was recently held in the co-work space. It’s an example of a business taking advantage of the new internet speeds by expanding and altering its model.

The store has a variety of printers for freelancers to use for the co-work space: printers that can lay out posters, banners, art prints on a variety of materials and a book binding machine for authors to use. The store has already purchased a 3D laser printer that Menth says will arrive later this year, which will allow makers to create their own products.

“Adding this laser cutting and laser engraving technology will allow people to make their own things,” Menth said. “Home makers and freelancers will be able to create physical objects to test before going to market. The idea is to push to become more of a community service of sorts that allows people to utilize the high speed internet and our printing capabilities.”

In order to grow and incorporate the co-work aspect, the business relocated to First Street in downtown Langley earlier this year and acquired Whidbey Island Printing &Office Supply, formerly of Ken’s Korner. The purchase added a full service copy center to their screen printers, vinyl printers and heat presses and allowed co-owners Menth and his mother Nancy Baker to afford a space in Langley.

Menth estimated the acquisition expanded their services by “four times at least.”

Fine Balance Imagine &Printing, in its newest form, is a consolidation of three separate ventures: the pre-existing print studio, the copy center and Menth’s design and print retail store, Feather and Fox.

“I feel like they can do almost anything I bring to them, and to have that in such a small town is a gem,” Whidbey Island Center for the Arts Marketing Manager Fritha Strand said. “They help artists like us make our projects happen.”

If the demand for a work space increases, Menth and Baker have ideas to potentially expand into the office space upstairs. For them, business is all about facilitating the work that artists, architects and businesses do.

“We’ve been terming the new space as an inspirational design and make space, where artists sort their ideas out and find out what’s possible with a printer,” Menth said. “We see ourselves as facilitators to the arts community.”

 

Kyle Jensen / The Record — The print and copy center used to focus on fine art printing before acquiring Whidbey Island Printing & Office Supply.