Business is spot on for lasting service

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Larry and Becky Vead reveal a 28 year old banner with the original logo that advertised their shop.

Nathan Wilson
The Concerned Citizens Association of Natchitoches recognized Ink Spot owners Becky Vead and Larry Vead and their longtime employee James Kwak Aug. 25 for their decades of service to Natchitoches residents. The Veads have served the printing needs of the community since the Spot opened 28 years ago.
A Natchitoches native, Becky founded the Spot when her employer of six years in Natchitoches made the decision to close its doors. “Kinkos trained me for six years,” she says “Then they left and went to Alexandria, and I was across from the University and the need was here, so here I am.” She explains how her husband Larry persuaded her to name the shop The Ink Spot. “I got to thinking about a name and he said, ‘Do you remember the Ink Spots?’ and I said ‘(expletive) no. That’s way before my time.’ and he said ‘you aught to call it “The Ink Spot.”

This article published in the Sept. 1, 2022, print edition

Larry curates the shop’s decades of memorabilia. “Our first logo was a bottle of ink that was turned over with a pen quill. I still got the banner,” he says. “For being 28 years old, it’s not too bad.” He also proudly displays a copy of an article hanging in the lobby featuring the store’s original employees. “This is (from) the Natchitoches Times whenever we opened up,” he says.
Becky points to the photo. “See, there’s me, in case you didn’t recognize me, and look there’s Larry!” Kwak is absent from the early photo, but Becky explains how she came to meet such a loyal employee. “He thinks he got the job because he was helping Mike Scott who now runs the university printing shop (and) was my employee at the time,” she says. “Actually, the reason he got the job was because Dr. Jean D’Amato said he’s been working at the university of Kentucky print shop so he’d be perfect.”
Kwak likes to tell a different story when people ask. “The popular story that I tell is because she was having a bad day, she wasn’t thinking and the standards were low,” he says. Kwak’s importance to the family-owned business becomes apparent with the timing of the recognition ceremony; instead of coinciding with the shop’s opening date 28 years ago, it marks the anniversary of Kwak’s first day on the job. “(That was) twenty-five years today,” he says.
Larry Vead shows off the “dinosaur,” a hand cranked Ryobi offset printer. “It’s a very economic way of printing envelopes,” he says.
Nathan Wilson photos

Larry Vead explains much of the printing equipment becomes obsolete after only a few years as the service contracts end and parts become hard to find. Once again, he reveals an affection for the shop’s relics. “You want to see a dinosaur? I got one,” he says as he walks to the back of the building. “This is an old multilift I bought from the hospital, and that’s my Ryobi I bought from Natchitoches Printing,” he says. He begins turning the hand crank on the ancient Ryobi. “It’s cantankerous. I’ve had a lot of service on it, and then I kind of just let her rest for a while.”
Many facets of the Ink Spot have changed over the years. It once hosted a shipping division at the end of the building, but ended that service when national shipping times became painfully unreliable. They’ve since used the extra space to bring back another familiar face; the Vead’s daughter, Lindsay Session, now owns the Southern Belle Hair Salon in its place. As far as beloved Natchitoches institutions go, it looks like The Ink Spot isn’t going anywhere.
The Concerned Citizens Association of Natchitoches recognized The Ink Spot for providing more than two decades of printing services to the community. From left are Johnny Barnes, James Kwak, Becky Vead and Larry Vead.