It’s good to see small businesses growing in WNY, organically, and via the help of economic development corporations. Growing organically is great, but sometimes small businesses need immediate and substantial boosts in order to be competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.
In 2020, we covered the purchase of Plak Art Plus (on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda) by Natalie Brown and Parrish Gibbons Herzog. At the time, the entrepreneurs were busy getting caught up to speed, as they learned the ins and outs of running the wholesale plaque mounting business, which specializes in plaque mounting artwork, posters, puzzles, and other images for regional and national frame shops and businesses.
Despite the pandemic, Plak Art Plus has been growing steadily. Not only did their business double from previous years, they found that in order to keep up with the demand, they needed to hire employees, purchase equipment, and invest in inventory. As much as the increase in sales allowed them to incrementally advance their mission, it became apparent that they needed a larger financial boost to meet their goals. That boost has now come in the form of $35,000 in funding from Lumber City Development Corporation (LCDC) – an economic development corporation focused on revitalizing North Tonawanda.
“We are proud to support this small woman-owned manufacturing business. In addition to meeting our goals for Oliver Street revitalization, it will keep dollars in our local economy while creating employment opportunities for individuals,” says Laura Wilson, Executive Director of LCDC.
It turns out that the art of plaque mounting is not at all common place in this region, which is why the services of Plak Art Plus are in such high demand these days. In fact, their closest competitor is in Canada, which is where many regional US businesses were turning to for their plaque mounting needs. Once word got out that Plak Art Plus was “back in business,” there were plenty of retailers that began to support the “Made in Buffalo, USA” operation.
While business has been good, the infusion of funding from the LCDC means that Brown and Gibbons Herzog can now fulfil orders faster, and more efficiently.
“Since taking over the business, we’ve seen our output more than double from previous years,” says Herzog. “The funding from LCDC will position us to grow in a sustainable way that offers jobs, and locally made products, to our community.”
Aside from running their retail shop, Brown and Gibbons Herzog also work closely with their regional partners for image drop-offs and pick-ups, including Main Frame, Five Points Framing, and Partners in Art.
“Plaque mounting is a very specialized and unique trade,” says Brown. “We are eager to hire and train more individuals to meet our ever growing demand. Manufacturing is a tradition in North Tonawanda, and we are proud being a part of that history.”
If you know of a business that is need of plaque mounting services, there’s no reason to go out of state, or out of the country for that matter, when there is such a dedicated team right here in WNY.
Plak Art Plus LLC has a retail storefront at 308 Oliver St. with limited public hours on Wednesdays between 3-6 p.m. or by appointment.
Lead image: Photo by Sara Heidinger