Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress
Owners: Kevin Nelson and Carly James
Why Bellingham? “There were no letterpress shops here already and we love the physical environment of Bellingham. The bay, the woods, the mountains and the relaxed, live-and-let-live attitude of its residents.”
Favorite shop downtown? Old Town Cafe (Carly) and Avalon Music (Kevin)
Cards with exceptional designs, beautiful stationery, fine writing utensils and more line the walls as you walk into Bison Bookbinding and Letterpress on Grand Avenue. Taking in the scene tells the story of purposeful work and quality materials that owners Kevin and Carly put into their products. In the front of the shop is the retail store where the couple sells their own stationery goods, as well as designs from local artists. The rest of the shop is where the products are made. The pair prides themselves on creating products that customers treasure for years on end, hopefully becoming a part of someone’s life story.
The first idea of Bison began in 1999 with Carly making hand-sewn books in Iowa City under the name Bison Bookbinding Company. Kevin and Carly met in Bellingham in 2001 as fellow musicians. Carly then went to school for art in Portland, but decided to return to Bellingham. The idea behind opening the current shop was a response to the lack of letterpress shops in Whatcom County. The couple opened Bison in 2004 as a job shop, designing and printing custom wedding invitations, birth announcements and items for businesses. They felt that Bison was a good fit for the name of their business because a bison is an American icon and a powerful animal that is light on the environment. The shop was environmentally conscious since its opening, and was officially declared a Towards Zero Waste business about 6 years ago.
Kevin and Carly started out hoping to make a living as artists. The partners now produce their own line of cards, journals and other paper goods that they sell in the shop, as well as in gift shops and boutiques around the country and globe. They often work with and print designs created by Spruce, another business in downtown Bellingham. They use the highest quality papers that they can find and have meticulous quality control. Only the very best designs and materials are sold. Kevin also does heirloom book repair, which he really enjoys.
Each year, they gain a greater understanding of the business side of owning the shop. They are always learning more about their business and how to best serve the community’s needs. Thinking ahead to the future, Kevin and Carly are using business analytics to expand their market and continue producing high quality, appealing products. Visit Bison and check out their work for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.
Fill all your correspondence needs at 112 Grand Avenue #101
Today's post was written by Kristin Foster, Media Intern.