We see them everywhere. From bumper stickers with sports teams or family decals, to smiley faces as rewards for five-year-olds, stickers are everywhere. But how do the stickers get to our hands? Where do they start?
The Sticker Spot, a locally owned store, offers customers pre-printed stickers or the ability to print their own designs.
“That’s where the art comes in,” Crosby said. “It’s not just stickers, it’s art.”
James Crosby Jr., the owner of The Sticker Spot, said that growing up, he always had boxes full of stickers.
“Everything was covered in stickers,” Crosby said.
He said he got his first job working with stickers (or what he likes to call “vinyl”) in a mall when he was 19. He was initially denied the job, but after sticking with it, the store managers agreed to hire him on a trial basis.
Within a year and a half, he was managing the store.
While he was working at the mall, Crosby said he was approached by a man with all the equipment to make stickers, but he didn’t know how to use it. The man offered Crosby a position teaching others how to use the equipment. Once Crosby wasn’t needed any more, he said life led him to Eau Claire, where his grandmother was living.
“I love this place. It’s got character,” Crosby said. “I like the ability to be lost.”
Crosby said one of the first friends he made when he moved to Eau Claire, Nick Kotecki, has been an apprentice at the shop since May 2018.
“I do a lot of the hands-on stuff. (Crosby) is the real design wiz,” Kotecki said.
Crosby’s business has grown from his once-basement endeavor, Crosby said. He said he cornered the market by finding what makes him unique from other big sticker stores like Signart.
With the motto “If you can think it, we can make it,” The Sticker Shop strives to be affordable, Crosby said. With no setup fees or minimum orders, there’s a lot more room for customers who just have a small order to come in, he said.
To make the stickers, Crosby digitizes an image before printing it onto vinyl and cutting it with a machine, he said. Then, he uses a pair of tweezers to pull the vinyl off the negative space.
“It’s definitely a dream job,” he said.
Stickers aren’t all Crosby does. He also custom makes t-shirts, decals for vehicles and boats and burns designs onto wood, Crosby said.
“It’s always a work in progress, but it’s a fun piece to work on,” Kotecki says. “I’m a big fan.”
“I’m not out to make a million dollars — I’m just doing what I love,” Crosby said.
Hagmann can be reached at [email protected]