Copycat was actually created as a print shop for a local architectural firm in the early 1970s. The firm had a large design project on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and preferred maintaining control over the printing of their blueprints and specifications rather than sending everything to a printer in Raleigh. Those days were obviously before the advent of the digital world, not to mention overnight shipping, so everything the architects could do in-house to enhance the delivery of their work to the general contractor helped keep the project costs down. The three architects quickly realized they needed a 4th individual to come in and manage the print shop, hence the arrival of our president emeritus, Max Kahn. Armed with a degree in ceramic engineering and no prior printing experience, Mr. Kahn met the challenge of running an AB Dick press for the specifications and a GAF blueprint machine for the plans. His efforts were so successful that additional employees were hired to handle orders coming in from other local architects as well as many area small businesses. By the way, for those of you in Wilmington, a restaurant/nightclub on Castle Street called The Juggling Gypsy housed one of our old locations. In 1979, Mr. Kahn bought out the other three partners and Copycat Print Shop became incorporated, serving as the only blueprinter in southeastern North Carolina. Continuing the tradition of jumping into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim, in 1981 his daughter Betsy, armed with a degree in recreation, joined the team selling drafting supplies to local architects, engineers and general contractors.
In the 1980s diazo – the word used for the blueprinting process – gave way to xerographic, meaning blue lines on white paper gave way to black lines that wouldn’t fade or smear. This was a paradigm shift in business practices, requiring new technology that ran more efficiently, smelled lots less than the anhydrous ammonia required in blueprinting and provided our customers with the added bonus of being able to have their work enlarged or reduced at different scales on paper rather than having to redraw their designs. Copycat was the first local company to offer these services, now known as reprographics, to Wilmington and the vicinity, as well as introducing the first commercially available color copies and large color prints. Today, we have moved completely away from offset printing and are fully digital. Our company philosophy regarding equipment has been to embrace the technology benefiting our customers with faster, better, more reasonably priced work.
Speaking of moving, we became the first tenant of Anderson Square in 2000. This location, on Oleander Drive, is right in the middle of the county, what we fondly refer to as Midtown.
Today, our staff is lean and mean, figuratively speaking, with a crew of 8. Donna has been with the company since 1986 (with a two year hiatus), Alan since 2003, and Chris since 2008. Jill joined us in 2016. Ashley, Jeff and Brian all joined in 2017. Betsy assumed the reins from her father in January 2004, even though Mr. Kahn continued to come into the shop every day to get the mail and make deposits until May 2010. Our loyal employees have formed strong relationships with our loyal patrons, creating a true familial environment.