By ZOË WATKINS
Many will say that small, long-time businesses tell the story of a town, its changes, its failures, and its successes.
For the past 23 years, The Express on Madison has seen many changes come not only to Shelbyville but also to the business’ own front door.
Owner and founder Tabby Stem has embraced those changes, remaining a constant source of good customer service and satisfaction.
The Express can be described as your one-stop shop and go-to for all your printing, emailing, faxing, and lamination needs–just to name a few of their services.
“We’ve just evolved. We started with just making copies, sending faxes. We’re a full-service printer, too. We do carbonless forms, business cards, and we added banners and signs six years ago,” said Stem. Unless it’s specialty, everything is printed in house.
“I love paper and I love pens,” said Stem with a laugh.
It certainly takes someone with a love and knowledge of the office supply world to creatively come up with an idea like The Express.
Stem said she was inspired by Kinko’s in the late 90s and wanted to bring their services to Shelbyville.
“Everything about that–the hustle and bustle, and binding, and copying, and faxing–my vision was to create that for our small town. We offer ‘big city’ stuff in a small town.”
Stem added that her favorite task is taking something a customer has drawn out on paper (or even sometimes a napkin) and making it a real printed good for them.
“That’s always been the cool thing for me–creating personalized things,” said Stem—who with a name like Tabby had to creatively find ways to personalize.
The Express also helps customers scan and email in addition to laminating, oversized printing, and creating invitations. Not to mention, Stem is a notary, so she jokes you can technically get married at The Express since the State of Tennessee allowed notaries to officiate weddings.
Stem said they plan to start offering gift-wrapping, especially as the holiday season is around the corner.
In one word, you can say their independent, small business is adaptable.
Originally called Copy Express, Stem said she changed the name to expand their services beyond copying.
“And that’s where we are now. We’re going to try new things here.
“The technology has completely changed,” said Stem. “Where we used to not get things done with the computer, now we have our phones and laptops. That’s been kind of interesting to see.”
Plus supplies, like different types of paper, are not readily available as more companies take to an online, digital platform.
In 2000, when she opened the store, Stem immediately signed up with UPS to become an authorized shipping outlet. With this, The Express can ship packages for customers and receive prepaid packages at no charge.
“That was just something they were doing in the early 2000s and it just grew and grew and grew.”
That has paid off over the years as The Express has received not one but four awards for being one of the Top 100 UPS ASO Shippers across the nation.
“It’s based on all the authorized shipping outlets across the country. That even includes their franchises. For us being a little, independent guy in Shelbyville, it’s pretty cool,” said Stem.
It’s a major accomplishment, especially as UPS franchise stores continue to open up across the country and as one will be opening up in Shelbyville in the upcoming year.
“We’re on the cusp of a franchise UPS store coming to Shelbyville. It’s a little disheartening, but, you know, it’s the way things go. So we are definitely still focusing on keeping our customers happy through customer service. That’s what we have: we’re a service-oriented company.”
Stem added, “I love helping people and making them feel comfortable…We always want to keep our local people happy.”
The Express is located at 408 Madison St. They are open Monday through Friday 8:30 to 5:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. You can call them at 931-684-3977.