NORTH LIBERTY– In the case of new North Liberty business Mail-Print & More, the name really does say it all.
Located in the just-finished business park in Liberty Centre, at 650 W. Cherry St., Mail-Print & More is ready to handle the community’s mailing and shipping needs, printing and copying jobs, and even helping find that last minute gift.
Marissa Reed’s new business was born of previous business experience, inspiration for the future and, ultimately, a genuine, regular old need.
Her computer’s printer ran out of ink.
At the time, Reed and her son had lived in the North Liberty area for nearly one year and was conducting research on potential business opportunities for the area. The Burlington native and University of Iowa graduate returned to the area after living in northern California, where she co-owned a business there.
“Once you get the bug for business ownership, I knew it was going to be hard to go back into the corporate world,” said Reed.
When she came back to Iowa, several people told her she should consider moving to North Liberty.
“I said, ‘Why? The only things there are cornfields and three water tanks,’” she laughed.
To be fair, it had been awhile since she had actually been to North Liberty.
After three other people– who Reed describes as “well-traveled and wealthy,”– recommended North Liberty as the place they would most like to live, she conceded to making a visit, along with her friend Job Keltner.
“We ate at Red’s [Alehouse], and I checked out Frog Hollow,” said Reed. “I was immediately sold.”
Keltner, a prosperous Louisa County farmer and businessman, was interested in investing in an enterprise that Reed would own and operate. The question then became; what sort?
“When I moved here, I knew this was a great community, but there are certain amenities missing, because we’re still growing,” said Reed. “I did a lot of research into potential businesses. Then one day, my printer ran out of ink and I needed a replacement cartridge. I drove 35 minutes to Staples, 35 minutes back, then realized I had the wrong cartridge and had to drive all the way back the next day.”
That experience answered Reed’s and Keltner’s big question.
“I thought, 15,000 people are driving all that way just to get office supplies?” she said.
Reed purchased a business plan– the business is not a franchise, so it is free of royalties, corporate covenants and contracts– and crafted her services to fit the needs of North Liberty residents.
Mail-Print & More opened its doors the week of Dec. 12, and already, business is good. With so many services and products available, Reed is ready for almost anything. From renting a mailbox to sending a package to purchasing stamps, Reed’s mailing and shipping services can get items where they need to go. Print services and products include business cards, announcements, invitations, signs and banners, lamination and binding, in addition to the usual copying and faxing jobs.
The “& More” part of the business is extensive: dry cleaning services, gift wrapping, passport photos, notary services, PC rentals and, of course, ink jet refills.
Many customers are surprised to find a gift boutique inside the new store, as well.
Reed explains adding the gift section was also the outcome of a specific personal experience.
“In May, I had nieces graduating from high school and college,” she said. “I found myself with no place in town to get a quick gift, cards or wrapping paper on a Saturday afternoon. So I thought I would add that piece here.”
Unique curios, Hawkeye apparel, jewelry, novelties and greeting cards are just a few of the items artfully displayed here. Reed has made a particular effort to purchase inventory made by Southeast Iowa artists and trades people. For example, she carries Just Because jewelry, beautiful pendants in the shapes of local sports team logos, including the West High Trojans and Iowa’s tiger hawk, handcrafted of genuine Swarovski crystal by Kathy Beck of North Liberty and Sonya LaGrange of Cedar Rapids. Painted wine and beer glasses, handmade soy candles and bloody Mary mix prove something can be found here for just about anyone.
“I want to offer high quality, quick gifts that are unique, personalized and under $25,” she said. “I want it to be chic and affordable.”
Reed plans to continue to expand and refresh the boutique to include children’s gifts, stuffed animals, baby items, balloon bouquets and an area especially for brides planning their weddings.
“I am excited to offer another option for the community,” said Reed. “I am trying very hard not to duplicate services, but on things that are also offered by other business here in the community, I try to keep prices commensurate and not undercut someone else. I really want to partner with those businesses and get along with everyone.”
Mail-Print & More will host a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony in conjunction with the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce in January, though the date has yet to be set.
Find Mail-Print & More in the Stonebride Promenade building next to Blink Vision/Veatch Eye Clinic in Liberty Centre. For information, call 319-665-2550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .