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In an era of email and online communications, a card or invitation received in the mail is particularly special. And when you want a wide range of unique and creative choices to do just that, there is a great place to go in the Greenwich Village Historic District. Two sisters and third-generation printers, Amy Salvini Swanson and Beth Salvini, quit their day jobs and opened Greenwich Letterpress at 15 Christopher Street in early 2005, bringing wit and pop-culture wisdom to Greenwich Village. Greenwich Letterpress is our September Business of the Month.
Two Sisters Drawn to the Village
Amy and Beth were drawn to the neighborhood because of its incredible history and beautiful cobblestone streets. As teenagers who grew up across the Hudson River, they would hop the bus into the city and always wound up in Greenwich Village. So it has a real sweet spot in their hearts. Beth shared that it is “a neighborhood rooted in small business and creative energy and we wanted to be a part of that. The neighborhood truly feels like a little village. It doesn’t have tall skyscrapers and doesn’t have a lot of that concrete jungle feel that parts of midtown can have. Sometimes you’re walking through the little streets in and around the shop and you can almost feel transported to another time and place.”
They specialize in custom letterpress announcements, invitations, and stationery, for weddings and any other occasion. And they also offer a uniquely curated shop of letterpress greeting cards, letter sets, notebooks, and gifts—featuring their own line and others just as distinct. In addition, they provide their own collection of neighborhood key tags (fictional and NYC neighborhoods) and distinctive enamel pins.
Over the years they have had a lot of neighborhood support, for which they are grateful. Of course, since it is Greenwich Village, they get a lot of tourists from all over the world too. “It’s always fun to see their reaction to the greeting cards that are heavy on jokes and references to American culture,” Beth shared. Greeting cards by far are what they sell most, and they have no shortage of wry, funny, or serious selections.
Greenwich Letterpress is not only interested in creating and producing paper goodness and uniquely delightful gifts; they also care about the environment. All of their paper is made from 100% tree-free post-consumer cotton or is 100% recycled. Their inks are soy-based, and their products are made 100% by wind energy. They are also members of Greenopia, a nationwide group of green-friendly businesses, as well as founding members of Greenprint, a coalition of environmentally friendly printers in the northeast. They pride themselves upon striving to be one of the greenest letterpress printers in the business.
Of course with online shopping, like most brick-and-mortar retailers, they have felt the squeeze. It makes the customers who do still shop in person there even more special because they always like to engage with the staff. Amy and Beth say they feel like there’s a wonderful spirit in the old school shoppers they’ve come to know over the years, and they want to engage with everyone, because shopping in a store and interacting with people feels more important now more than ever. And they want to foster a community within their shop as much as possible. If you visit and feel the vibe, you’ll know they are accomplishing this.
What is the Secret to Their Success?
With so many small businesses feeling pressure, or sadly sometimes closing, I asked them about their 14 years of success. “We remain dedicated to having a unique space and trying to offer customers as many interesting items as possible. When you come into our shop you know it’s not part of a big chain or a sterile corporation, it feels like a glimpse into our personalities as owners and it makes us stand out. It doesn’t hurt that we have been on this block for almost 15 years; standing the test of time helps.” It sure does.
Small Businesses Thrive in Historic Districts
The shop is in the Greenwich Village Historic District, which celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary this year. Nonetheless, they have not had to have much experience with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Beth did observe about being a shop owner in a Historic District that “in almost 15 years, we’ve almost never even had to deal with LPC, but we love that landmarking keeps the character and scale and feel of the neighborhood – it’s why we’re here”. And I am glad that they are. It is small independent shops like Greenwich Letterpress that add even more to the unique character of our neighborhood and that is why they are our September Business of the Month. Stop by their shop and talk paper and pop-culture with them.
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc
And here is a handy map of all of our Businesses of the Month: