Coffee Printing closes its doors after 70 years

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 21, 2007


After 70 years in business Coffee Printing Company closed it’s doors in downtown Selma.

The family owned and operated commercial printing company that began in 1937 and once thrived saw the end many others in their business did with the advent of desktop publishing.

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Churches, which once depended on printing services, now have color copiers, which Donnie Coffee Sr. admits &8220;are just as good as we are.&8221; Coffee has been partnered with his son, Donnie Coffee Jr., since his twin brother, Ronnie, retired from the business.

Over the last several years,

costs have gone up and the number of customers has gone down, not just for Coffee Printing, but all commercial printing companies.

The door opened for the Coffee family in 1937, when Ted and Imogene Coffee moved their young family from West Point, Ga., and bought a small print shop. Coffee Printing Company was born in the basement of the old Peoples Bank building at Broad Street and Water Avenue. The twins, Ronnie and Donnie, were 4-year-olds at the time.

Ronnie and Donnie, and their late brother Gene joined the family business in 1954 after they got out of the Army. Nothing was electronic. It was letterpress. They had many customers, including hospitals, churches, schools and other businesses downtown who needed letterheads, envelopes, forms and other commercially printed items.

The introduction of computers, desktop publishing, enhancements in publishing software and laser printers signaled a sign of the times. Their business customer accounts have been sold to Prattville Publishing Co., and Thursday they spent time saying goodbye to old friends and making their last deliveries to customers.

Friday was spent reflecting on the evolution of what was once the largest commercial printer in the Black Belt, and the future of the town that has been so good to his family. Donnie Sr., who had been partially retired, said he was going into full retirement. Donnie Jr. said he might expand his photography interests.

The company had employed as many as 18 workers in years past. The remaining

seven employees will be pursuing a variety of career options.

Donnie Sr. said he felt downtown was primed for a rebirth.