Print shop pivots to safety stickers and shields and finds a local customer along the way

When telling the story of a local company these days, it tends to start the same way. One day, business was booming and the next day, it wasn't.

The loss is tangible. At least it was for Hamed Zadeh, CEO of Ottawa Print Services. The company, which makes custom signage, felt the hit. Forty-five per cent of his business comes from festivals and trade shows and those are cancelled. The rest comes from local shops and restaurants, and many of those are closed, too. 

The print shop's first approach was printing roll up banners and physical distancing floor stickers for the businesses that remained open, but revenue was scarce. Zadeh needed another idea. The end of the month was approaching, there were bills, and his staff of 12 needed to be paid. 

"The idea came into my head and I contacted my production manager. At first he thought I was going to lay him off," he says. 

However, at no point during this pandemic has Zadeh laid off any employees. 

It was a pivot from their regular business, creating sneeze guards for countertops, as well as floor models that can be used as dividers for salons and gyms. The shop also began producing face shields. 

"Right away we started putting it on social media and we built a website for it and the sales started coming in and everybody got really excited," says Zadeh, praising his staff for working around the clock to get it done.

At Shawarma palace on Bank Street, owner Abbas Sobh made orders for sneeze guards and floor stickers for all four of his locations. 

"This place tends to credit very quickly with volume," he says. "Somebody coming in can be comfortable coming and seeing that the store is taking precautions is different than coming in and seeing everyone crumpled into a pile."

Along with keeping safety in mind, Sobh also felt it was important to buy local. He says you might be making somebody's day by making a simple order like this. 

Zadeh is grateful, and he wants to spread that message as well; that your community needs your help. 

"Let's help the local businesses in Ottawa," he says. "Let's help each other and buy everything local and support a small business."