Rochester resident carves out business with town-themed merch
ROCHESTER — It’s easy for Marion and Mattapoisett residents to find decor and clothes brandishing their town’s name. Just pop into either town’s general store and take your pick.
But it’s easier to find merchandise for New York’s Rochester than Massachusetts’.
Until Impact Expressions Owner Charles Wade came along, that is.
Originally a sign maker who specialized in boat naming and signs for businesses, Charles delved into the world of Etsy, a website which hosts artisan shops, and started using his engraver to carve designs into products like phone cases.
From there, he said he saw an opportunity to fill a void in the Tri-Town market.
“Marion and Mattapoisett have very well-established shopping districts,” Charles said. “Rochester’s not that way at all.”
He said that once he started making Rochester memorabilia like sweatshirts and Christmas ornaments, people ate it up.
“I think it’s a pent-up demand thing,” Charles said.
Down in the Wades’ basement sits the engraver, a large laser machine Charles uses to carve designs into the products he sells. From glasses to tumblers to Rochester-branded cranberry boxes, nothing is safe from the engraver.
“When he first got the laser,” Charles’ wife Kay said, “anything that could be lasered was lasered.”
Charles said that he even engraved a face into a pumpkin pie once.
But with his Etsy shops, Charles’ business goes far beyond the Tri-Town.
During the interview, Charles sold a laser-engraved phone case to someone in Australia.
He uses his business doing boat naming to sell engraved products, too.
Charles said that when he puts a name on a customer’s boat, he’ll also gift them a glass with the boat’s name in the same font. He said that as soon as people see it, they end up wanting a dozen.
“It’s a very easy cross-sell to existing customers,” Charles said.
Charles said that at this point, custom engravings make up 25% of his total revenue.
“It’s an additive” to the sign business, he said.
And local shops are starting to take note of the market Charles is occupying.
Cervelli Farm has begun carrying some of his Rochester-branded products.
Charles said the business does particularly well with gift-giving items. So, as the holidays approach, Charles said he’s thinking of other products he can brand with Rochester, Marion and Mattapoisett.
“I don’t know exactly what yet,” he said. Though, he said he’s been thinking of coasters and other small decor items.
But with a supplier who can ship him blank canvas items like phone cases, glasses, tumblers, coat hangers and pretty much anything in between, Charles said the options are plenty.
“You’re almost only limited by your imagination,” he said.