Middlesbrough trader standing by to salvage Christmas

A Middlesbrough trader is standing by to salvage Christmas for Teessiders let down by online retailers.

Rob Lewis of LD Printing

Rob Lewis of LD Printing

Rob Lewis – who started his LD Printing business seven years ago – said: “I eat and sleep here during the run up to Christmas to get people’s orders done.”

At his shop in the Dundas Shopping Centre Teesside University graduate Rob prints pictures and messages on t-shirts, pillows, coasters, mouse mats and keyring fobs.

But throughout December his most popular items are likely to be canvases, mugs and slates.

“People come to me when they’ve ordered online and it didn’t turn up,” he said.  “Or they didn’t like the result but it’s too late to change.

“When people order online you have to wait a few days.  Here you can see what you’re getting.  Most of my stuff takes about 20 minutes.  I can do your order during the time you go for a cup of tea.”

The majority of Rob’s Christmas customers tend to be mums and grandmas and he has a very good reason to be grateful to his own mother who supported his business when he started.

Before LD Printing Rob had a successful career in food retailing.  But after six years he was desperate for a change and determined to start his own business.  “I spent most of my wages on buying the machines.  I was even operating out of my garage for a bit.  I got so fed up I jacked in the job.  It was really scary,” he said.

Without any surplus cash, his mother lent him £250 for a deposit on his first unit in the Dundas Indoor Market.  As the business grew he paid her back, took more units in the market and around four years ago moved across the centre to his shop.

The impact of the pandemic on LD Printing – like many businesses – has been serious, but a considerate landlord and Rob’s commitment has meant he is able to look forward with optimism.

“Compared with my old job – selling food – these are luxury items, but that’s why they sell so well at Christmas…and people know I won’t let them down,” he said.

Richard Wilson, a senior associate with Dodds Brown – which manages the Dundas Centre on behalf of its owner – urged shoppers to support Rob and the other independent traders.

“They all do such a great job and you can really rely upon them all times of the year, but particularly during December,” said Mr Wilson. “It’s been a really tough time and that’s why I would encourage people to buy local this Christmas.”

LD Printing’s customers can also order online at www.ldprinting.co.uk and collect from Rob’s shop.