Kent’s WordSmiths print shop to close Friday

Taylor Kerns

WordSmiths, which has provided print services in Kent for over two decades, is going out of business.

Kent State University has acquired the land WordSmiths occupies, and business owner Mary Friess has decided it’s time to move on. The print shop’s final day of business will be May 15.

“Kent’s always going through a certain amount of change,” Mary said. “I’ve gotten used to the politics. I’ve loved being here, I’ve loved employing students and I loved Kent when it was not this mimic of Hudson. It’s really a shame.”

The business got its start in the early ‘90s, when former KSU student Gary Smith wanted an alternative to Kinko’s and began printing in his Main Street home. Mary’s husband Michael joined him shortly thereafter.

“When I started having children, I didn’t want to be in accounting anymore,” Mary said, “but we really still needed income. So I took this over.”

Mary said that although retirement will be bittersweet, she’s come to accept it.

“It is what it is,” she said. “I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for them to tell me when they were going to close it. I was going to determine when I was going to close my business.”

“I resent paying rent to the very people who are going to put me out of business,” she added.

With WordSmiths gone, Mary said she recommends the East Main Street UPS store to those looking for print services in Kent. She also said, however, that her business offers what big box stores don’t.

“We give very personalized service. I mean, for years, people have come here and gotten their Christmas cards done. And that’s really the better part of the job, because you get to know people,” she said.

“It’s time,” Mary said. “It just is. It’s sad, but the one thing you can always rely on is change.”

Mary said she’s excited to spend more time with her family than running a business previously allowed.

“I’m looking forward to the fact that I can actually spend two weeks of vacation with my husband, I can go visit my children in school, I can take time to walk the dog and hike.”

Given the choice to stay in business until Kent State forced her out or retire on her own terms, Mary said she believes she’s making the right decision. 

Contact Taylor Kerns at [email protected]