The Joys of Buying Local

Encore Rocks! at Fourth Presbyterian, 8-26-17

Encore has to buy things, especially printed things. If you’re like me, you like knowing where you can get a great price on something. We have a great vendor in Virginia for much of our sheet music, East Coast Music; they are very flexible and responsive. For routine office supplies like blank CDs and color laser toner, we usually use Amazon Prime.

However, there’s nothing like the touch of a great businessperson right in your backyard, someone you know and trust and can look in the eye and ask for help.

Printing Locally

A few weeks ago, we were getting ready for our big Encore Rocks! concert downtown at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Since many new registrations come from people who come to hear our live concerts, we decided to create a banner that would help people find information about signing up.

“Who should print the banner for us?” was the question of the morning. We have given some printing work, especially when we were just getting started in early 2016, to Vistaprint, an online retailer with a snazzy website. Their pricing is super for some things, okay for other things, and high for others, and you always get charged for shipping (sometimes a lot, especially for a rush job). Also, they do their printing in Windsor, Ontario for the Chicago market, so the carbon footprint isn’t so great when we order from them. (As for carbon footprints:  I read a fabulous book last year called Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth [you can see more here], and it made me truly conscious for the first time about my own use of fossil fuels, not just when I’m doing the driving but when others, including Amazon and Southwest Airlines, are doing the driving or flying for me.)

After Sandy and I browsed on Vistaprint and made up a mock banner design—which I didn’t like because our options for layout were limited—I said to her, “You know, let’s give Dave a shot at this project. I bet he can do something good, and we won’t have to pay to ship it from Canada.”

The Guy Down the Street

Our local printer, Dave Dipple, owner of Maximum Printing in downtown Downers Grove, has saved Encore’s bacon on more than one occasion. They do great work, are quick to complete it, and give us excellent pricing. So I called Dave.

What he said knocked me out: “Well, Jon, as it turns out, we have a whole pile of used banners that we got back from the Nature Conservancy. We printed those for them a while back, and when they didn’t need them any longer, they returned the banners to us as a donation, on one condition: we had to reuse the metal hardware for a good cause when someone else told us they needed a banner. Encore fits the definition of a good cause, so I’m going to print the banner and give you the hardware—the base, and the poles that hold the thing up—for free. How does that sound?”

That’s a no-brainer. I was so happy. The shipping is free, and I can take the dogs for a drive when I go the seven minutes to downtown Downers, just over the tracks.  So here’s a picture of me and Dave with the banner:

Dave Dipple and Jonathan Miller at Maximum Printing in Downers Grove

Then Dave offered to take me in the back and show me the machine where the banners are printed. I’m enough of a printing geek that I jumped at the chance. Here’s the new big HP printer that heats the ink, so that it sort of bakes onto the printing surface – very cool.

The huge banner printer at Maximum

I’d never get to see that if I ordered from Canada.

Anyway, it feels great to know someone like Dave. We have helped one another out, and I know I can turn to him in a pinch or just under routine circumstances. He gets all my business when I am printing new compositions, like the new Wacky Christmas Carol that we’re singing this fall, and he turned around the invitations for a fundraiser for our upcoming Alzheimer’s choir like lightning. (The Alzheimer’s choir, for early-stage dementia patients and their care partners, is slated to begin in the fall of 2018 on the Gold Coast. Watch this space for updates, and let us know if you’re interested in being a volunteer or in helping out in some other way.)

Dave is just one of the champions that make Encore’s work possible. He did not pay me to write any of this;  I am just doing it to thank him for being a mensch. If you’d like to talk to Dave, he’s at or 630-737-0270, and tell him that Jonathan from Encore sent you.

I also am in love with the organic vegetables that we get from Green Earth Institute in Naperville, but that’s a topic for another day. In any case, let’s hear it for buying local!




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