Staff GA Crystal Thomas works to complete a binding project.   Photo: Cayla Smith

Staff GA Crystal Thomas works to complete a binding project.
Photo: Cayla Smith

If you have ever used the services at Bellis Copy Center, you know the pride and satisfaction of seeing the PDF file on your computer transformed into a crisp, shiny project in your hands.

In this unique little print shop, employees work quickly and expertly to make a concept come to life in a tangible way. Here, wedding invitations and programs, church bulletins, bound books, posters and student projects come to life.

Bellis Copy Center opened in 2000. Before that time, Arlene Bellis printed from a small room in the alumni building. This service was only for faculty and staff.

The business has grown since then, and Mrs. Barbara Barker, the current manager, keeps Bellis going strong with three part-time employees and two student graduate assistants. Two or three employees work together at one time and keep the flow of projects moving swiftly throughout the day.

Most printing projects can be completed in 24 hours. Those that involve stapling or folding may take 48 to 72 hours. And the quantity to be printed affects time as well. Barker said the beginning of the semester when faculty print their syllabi is the busiest time, as well as spring months when students are preparing final projects and planning weddings.

Overall, Bellis averages 309,797 black and white copies per month. Color copies average 38,280 per month.

Barker said more than 60 percent of business comes from customers from the Greenville community.

Though Bellis Copy Center creates and prints a variety of projects, it works on a small scale. Barker said she is always ready to refer customers to other copy shops to find the best deals if their projects are large. However, Bellis is one of the most inexpensive options in town, especially as far as wedding projects go.

Customers can bring their projects to the copy center in a variety of forms, whether by email, CDs or flash drives. They can choose from a variety of paper qualities and sizes and binding options.

Shannon Horner, a senior early childhood education major, has used Bellis’ services multiple times. She had lesson handouts printed and stapled into packets, saving her time and effort.

“I did a ‘Lifelong Learning’ project where we had to create a book,” Horner said. “I did it all on PowerPoint, and then I brought it [to Bellis] on my USB. They gave me a flip book of [samples], what cover I wanted, what binding I wanted. They gave me options.” It cost Horner about $8 to create this booklet. “Considering the fact that they turned it into a book — bound it, covered it — all the stuff I couldn’t do on my own, I definitely think it was worth the price,” she said.

Barker said designers have to submit projects formatted for digital printing. The BJU graphic design students learn specifically how to design for this format so printing can be done quickly and easily.  Also, Barker said PDF files are a better form than Word documents when submitting projects.

Melody Jung, a senior graphic design major, uses the copy center on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. “I’m actually a consistent customer of their services,” Jung said. “I go there pretty much every week. If I have a really demanding project, I might go more.” Jung also buys paper from Bellis if she needs a size larger than 12” x 18”. “[Bellis] sells a lot of different materials,” she said. If you simply need paper cut, Bellis’ high-quality machines can do the job and may cost as low as 25 or 50 cents.

As you can imagine, all the choices at the copy center may be overwhelming. But thankfully, Barker is passionate about every customer’s project and strives to make every copy experience a fun and positive one.

“My favorite part [of working here] is pleasing the customers,” she said. “I tell all my employees that we are here to educate our customers.” Since many clients aren’t familiar with the printing and producing process, she gives them pointers, wanting every finished project to be exactly what the customer envisioned.