By Randy Arrington
LURAY, July 20 — When Nancy Racer was first asked to work part-time at Luray Copy Service in 1970, the offer seemed odd.
“I don’t know anything about printing,” she told Fritz Baukhages, who along with business partner Lowell Baughan started the business to handle the printing of client packets and job specifications for their local architectural firm.
Racer remembers learning on the job as the printing business launched in a ground level office at the corner of Cave and Zerkel streets, the headquarters for Baughan Construction Company and Baughan & Baukhages Architects. Long before digital technology became mainstream, Racer recalls starting with an “offset press, Bruning Copy/Master making machine, GBC Binder, BLU Ray Blueprint machine, typewriter, adding machine and a phone…and we were in business.”
In 1973, Luray Copy Service moved to the East Luray Shopping Center (owned by the Baughans) in the space later occupied for years by Lemon’s Jewelry. At that time, a corporation was formed with five stockholders. Racer was one of them.
In 1975, the business purchased the commercial printing operation of the Page News and Courier, including large, heavy equipment that required additional space. A move to the “back side of the shopping center facing Blue Bell [a.k.a. Wrangler]” also brought two of the Courier’s employees, who operated the equipment they purchased — Wayne Richards knew how to handle offset printing, and Bill McKnight was experienced with working the hot lead type involved with the linotype press.
In 1982, Luray Copy Service would move again to the corner of 211 East and Dry Run Road (currently Emmert Oil Company). Four years later, Rock and Nancy Racer purchased the remaining stock, printing continued and they started selling office supplies and notes.
In 1992, they made the move to Main Street after purchasing the former Grove Building, making a few renovations and renaming it the Racer Building.
“I love being on Main Street,” Nancy told a standing-room-only crowd gathered in the cozy store on Wednesday. “It has just opened up a whole new opportunity.”
The Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce hosted a July 20 ribbon cutting to celebrate Luray Copy Service’s 30 years on Main Street and 52 years in business in town.
“The convenience and visibility of being downtown are great,” Nancy told Page Valley News. “Dry Run was a good building and a great parking lot, but we were either the first business you saw coming into town, or the last business you saw leaving. One customer asked me, ‘Honey I enjoy coming out here, but can’t you move closer to Town…I said I am in Town.
“There’s a whole different feel [being downtown],” Nancy continued. “…it’s like a little network…I can walk to the bank, or the Post Office, or get a cup of coffee or have lunch…and I do.”
Luray Copy Service offers a lot more than just “making copies”. The store offers various types of stationary, office supplies, home decor items, frames and even Luray T-shirts. Their experienced, professional staff offers printing services for business forms, bulletins, pamphlets, newsletters, banners and business cards; or providing design work, notary, faxing or scan and email services.
“We’re a professional team, and we can produce anything you want in probably half the time it would take you at home,” Racer said. “The printing world is constantly changing, computers have opened so many new adventures for us.”
Nancy’s son Ian Racer has been working at the family business since 1985 during his high school days. He still uses the miehel, a machine purchased from the Courier in 1975 that does perforation, die cutting, numbering and other functions. He also sometimes still uses a “saddle stitcher” from the early 1900s.
Her daughter Catherine Kite, who resides in Elkton and is currently employed by Sentara, still helps with marketing.
Becky Jenkins has been with the business for almost 27 years and handles design work and other functions of the business.
Nancy, among the first graduates of Page County High School in the Class of ’62, adapted through the decades as home computers changed the business. Racer says there are still benefits to using a professional service for even small printing jobs.
“They recognize how much ink a color printer burns…so they come in…even for smaller jobs,” Racer said.
Ultimately, Racer points to the store’s motto as a key part of its success for more than a half century. Underneath the business name, notepads handed out at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting read:
“We value the business of all our customers. We believe a simple philosophy, ‘serving a customer well.'”
“There have been so many loyal customers, and I appreciate it,” Nancy told PVN. “I appreciate their loyalty and support…without them I wouldn’t be here.”
Luray Copy Service, 27 E. Main St., is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To place an order or for more information about their services, call 540-743-3433 / FAX 540-743-9566 / or email [email protected]