Category: Shopping / Retail Services (Page 3 of 5)

Faces of Downtown Raleigh: Zack, Brian and Josh of The Fine Print Co

Brian Besterman and Zack Hodgin

About a year ago, my husband Jim and I were making a loop from City Market to Wilmington and Hargett Streets. looking for underutilized properties that might serve as canvases for BEST (Beautifying Emerging Spaces Together).  Looking through dusty, barred windows at 333 S. Wilmington, we were surprised when a young man came to the door.  It was Zack Hodgin, then a Senior design student at NC State, who together with his friends, Brian Besterman and Josh Staab had rented this run down property to open a screen printing shop they called INKandescent.  We were immediately impressed with their vision, and equally so with their willingness to do the Herculean work of renovating the property themselves.

Flash ahead to today, when all three guys have graduated and are devoted full time to making their business a downtown success story.  Returning to their space, Jim and I immediately notice the hardwood floors salvaged from beneath chipping linoleum, and the clean lobby that once hosted assorted screen printing presses. These are some  creative, determined, hard working men, and we are curious to learn about how these special qualities shape their screen printing company.

Q: You’ve changed your name from INKandescent to The Fine Print Co.  How did that come about, and does the new name hold any hidden significance to you?

R: INKandescent was just too hard for people to spell!  So we gathered friends, used a white board to brainstorm a long list of possibilities and settled on The Fine Print Co.  Besides the obvious references to our commitment to fine (eco-friendly) printing techniques and the soft, wearable quality of our tee shirt fabrics, we like the idea of working with people in a way that saves them from having to worry about the fine print.  There are often a lot of hidden costs associated with creating custom designed tee shirts, but we make sure that everything is clear up front.  We have the lowest screen fees in Raleigh.

Q: I’ve never ordered a custom designed tee shirt.  What do I need to know about pricing?  How are your shirts unique from say, the typical sports team logo shirts sold at the mall?

R: There are many variables that affect the cost of each tee shirt.  Generally, we have a minimum order of 24 shirts for a single color design, and 36 for multiple colors.  If the tee shirt or item (tote bag, hat, etc.) is a dark color, we may need to apply more layers of ink to achieve a color that really pops.  (The cost of a single color design would run anywhere from $8 – $15 per shirt.)

In contrast to most screen printers who primarily use a Plastisol (PVC-based) ink that sits on the surface of the fabric, we use multiple processes including water based printing and discharge printing that blend right into the shirt.  We also use ring-spun cotton shirts rather than the typical comb-spun style.

(At this point, I need to see what they’re talking about to understand what they’re describing, so they bring out samples of both kinds of shirts.  A blind man could feel the difference immediately, besides the contrast in appearance.  The tees they’re producing move comfortably with the body with no stiffness at all.  They represent the difference between a hotdog-munching sports fan and a person who chooses to make a creative style statement with their clothes.)

Q. What if someone wants only one shirt?  Is that something you’d be willing to do?

R. We try to work with people to accommodate them as best we can.  Late yesterday afternoon, we were getting ready to close when a lady came in with a special request.  She wanted a shirt to wear to a funeral today, commemorating her aunt who had died of breast cancer.  For this, we created a vinyl-cut design which allowed us to quickly create a shirt for her.  We are pleased to be able to work with people, delivering what they want, when they want it, at a price that is surprisingly lower than much of what they might purchase in big box stores.  ($25 for this custom printed shirt done in a turn around of hours.)

Q. So why did you decide to establish your business downtown?

R. Truthfully, we were three students seeking a low rent property where we could save money by renovating it ourselves.  But since we’ve been here on Wilmington St., we see that it affects our business in important ways.  There’s an energized environment downtown, and neighbors support neighbors.  For instance, we’ve printed shirts for Feelgoodz, the flip flop store up the street.  Wilmington St. has become an edgy, style conscious area of downtown with Holly Aiken handbags (located next to Feelgoodz) and the new fashion incubator, REDii, across from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance office.

We also like being in a space where people walk in and we can take them back to our printing area and show them how we screen print their shirts.  We’d never be able to have this person-to-person interaction if we were based in a warehouse outside of town.

Q. What are the most unusual or favorite shirts you’ve ever designed?

R. That has to be the shirts we made for Cycle Logic on Hillsborough St.  The owner handed us the logo on a napkin and let us do anything we wanted.  We went crazy doing fades and splash patterns…  No two shirts were alike.  We were free to create, just seeing what the inks could do.

Q. This is my last question. What one thing would you want people to know about you and your business? What makes you stand out?

R. We’re the newest and youngest screen printers downtown!  Seriously though, we want people to know that we love design.  We’re formally trained, unlike many who design tee shirts.  We work with each person to let them know what is possible with the inks and choices available to them.  We take a genuine interest in what they want, and do our best to make it happen.

Doctors in the House?

We have lived downtown for six years, and continue to hear all about the new restaurants and bars opening up.  These amenities provide great entertainment for us and I love the energy and the enthusiasm, but I was more excited about hearing the news that we have new doctors downtown providing primary care. That’s right, we now have a primary care physician practice downtown—four doctors to be exact.  Having a critical service like this is an important addition for the residential base downtown. You can be sure  it didn’t take me long to walk down and sign up.  I have been a patient with Dr. Mary Forbes for six months now and it has been wonderful.  I think the best part for me is that I can walk down, stop at the bank, pick up my mail, go to my doctors appointment and grab a bite to eat, all with out driving a car…………Now that is walk-ability.

Meet the Downtown Docs on May 19th

Come meet the downtown docs on May 19th.   There will be an open house on May 19th at the City Center Medical Group located down from BuKu from 4-6PM.   The first 150 people get a FREE gift.  This will be a great event to meet all of the doctors, visit the facility and welcome them to the neighborhood.

The City Center Medical Group is located on the corner of Wilmington and Davie Streets, in the Progress Energy Building.  Learn more at

Enjoyed the Raleigh Home Tour in past years? Now it’s expanded into the Downtown Living Tour. Volunteer and tour for free!

Downtown Living Tour will include homes, as well as unique urban shops and restaurants offering a discount to attendees.

As in the previous eight years since the tour began, ticket holders can visit a variety of homes ranging from multi-tenant buildings to single family houses. But this year’s home tour is expanding beyond downtown dwellings to focus on the experience and benefits of urban living.

Downtown Raleigh continues to attract a diverse set of residents, who are seeking the benefits of a more urban lifestyle.  From innovative young professionals looking to more naturally collaborate and build social networks to empty nesters ready to simplify their lives and enjoy a more walkable and healthy lifestyle, downtown Raleigh is now more attractive than ever.

Ticket holders will get to better appreciate all that is for offer by touring a medley of independently-owned restaurants, unique retail shops and services offering discounts to attendees.

Walk, or take the free bus or shuttle.

The Tour is self-guided and designed to be a walking tour, but it also easy to use the free R-Line or hop on a golf cart shuttle, which will follow designated routes to several tour stops.

Tickets will be available online beginning April 9th for $10, but you can still join in for $15 on the day of event.  Want more details so you can target the homes and businesses that you’ve been wanting to explore?  Check out this website for more details about the event, check-in and parking.

Go on the Living Tour for FREE!  Be a volunteer.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is looking for enthusiastic and energetic people to be Greeters, Hosts, and Information Guides during the event.

Perks include:

  • Free pass to the Tour (to be used before or after shift)
  • Free lunch and snacks
  • Free t-shirt
  • Invitation for you and one guest to the After Party at Spy Raleigh (immediately following the event, 5 pm-8 pm)
Over 140 volunteers are needed to support the Tour operations. Registration deadline is April 30th!

This is a chance to support downtown and have fun too.  It’s always a great day to meet new people, consider where your next move might be, or even rediscover how much you love the place where you already live.

See you then!

Only Three More Days to Order Your DLA T-Shirt!

If you missed the DLA mixer last night, you missed the buzz over Matt Tomasulo’s T-Shirts, created especially for us by City Fabric.  Having created a signature design based on maps of cities across the US, it’s now our turn to wear our city pride.

It’s not too late! 

DLA T-shirts can be ordered through Sunday.  The cost is $20 for DLA members, and $25 for all others.   (Not a member? Sign up today and get your $5 discount!)  

There are two options for ordering:

1. Stop by the SpiritWorks Studio tomorrow (First Friday) from 6-9pm. 

  • Shirts will be on hand to try on.  (FYI my wife found that the women’s ran small, while I thought the men’s were pretty true to size.)
  • SpiritWorks is located in the Carter Building in Glenwood South – map it.

2. Or order online here. It’s quick and easy!  

  • Go to this link and select your style and size.
  • You’ll receive an invoice via email.
  • Click the Pay Button and pay through your PayPal account or by credit card.

 That’s it!  

  • In about 2-3 weeks you’ll receive an email notice when your shirt is ready.
  • Pick up you shirt at a (to be designated) Downtown Raleigh location, at our next DLA General Meeting or DLA Mixer.



Downtown residents invited to the DRA Annual Meeting and Achievement Awards Ceremony

As we move into the new year, the Downtown Living Advocates would like to build on the mutual goals and relationships that we share with other Downtown organizations.  

We’ve got the perfect evening for you

Curious to know what’s happening in your own backyard?  Want to get to know more of your neighbors?  How about the business owners that drive so many decisions in the downtown area?  

Come join other DLA members at the DRA (Downtown Raleigh Alliance) Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony on Thursday, February 23rd from 5 pm to 8 pm at the Raleigh Convention Center.

And don’t worry, just because it’s called an “annual meeting” doesn’t mean it’s going to be all business.  The DRA invites you to: 

  • Meet new people. 
  • Network at the pre-event reception from 5 pm to 6 pm (beer and wine included)! 
  • Enjoy a three-course dinner. 
  • Listen to a great presentation by marketing expert Roger Brooks.  His topic of conversation? Key ingredients for an outstanding destination. 
  • Celebrate the successes of downtown Raliegh with its biggest advocates. 
  • Meet all the members of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance staff. 
  • Get a great deal on tickets. 
  • Have fun. 
  • Support Downtown and the champions whose contributions are making a signifcant impact on downtown. 
  • We want to meet you!

DLA members get more than half off the ticket price!

The DRA really wants to get more residents engaged in its efforts.  After all, residents are the lifeblood of any strong Downtown.  That’s why they’re offering tickets to DLA members for only $25 each.  That’s more than half off the normal non-member price of $60.  Just think—beer and wine, food, fellowship, and a fun presentation all for only $25.  So tell your friends, get a group together, and come out for a great evening. You’ll be glad you did.

Already a DLA member (or not sure)?  Look up your profile and receive instructions on how to get your ticket discount.  

Not yet a DLA member?  Join now.  Your welcome message will include instructions on how to get your ticket discount.

We hope to see you there!

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