New Kid on the Block is Dressing Things Up


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Apr 04, 2023

New Kid on the Block is Dressing Things Up

News/Features Writer The community of Gothenburg is pleased to welcome a new

News/Features Writer

The community of Gothenburg is pleased to welcome a new business to town. And as an added bonus, a vacant building downtown has been given a face lift and new life.

Barry Carter hails from Laramie, Wyoming, and relocated to Gothenburg in September 2021 when he met his now wife, Karla Gronewold. The couple are the proud owners of Valley Promo - a custom embroidery and screen printing shop located at 813 Lake Avenue.

Carter has been in the custom apparel business since 1986. "I got interested in it when I was going to school in Arizona. I wanted to do a unique gift for my brother-in-law, so I put one of my graphic designs on a t-shirt and knew that was pretty much my calling. It was really simple," he explained. "I was very fortunate to have found that path that early in life. I know a lot of people struggle with that, but I feel very blessed that I am able to live a fulfilled life doing something I love."

Valley Promo offers traditional screen printing and embroidery, and also does some thermal vinyl work. "Ever since the advent of YouTube, it gives the impression that all we do is sit down here and press buttons and spit out t-shirts. It's not," Carter explained. "Screen printing is an actual craft and an art that goes back thousands of years. The technology has gotten a lot more sophisticated with photosensitive emulsions and film and stuff like that. There is still a lot of craft, knowledge and understanding that goes into it."

Because of the work involved in setting up a design, Carter said there are minimum sizes of orders he can do. "We can't justify setting up a 3-color design for just one piece. That wouldn't be cost effective for my customer, and wouldn't be profitable for me," he said.

The equipment in Carter's shop is engineered to print thousands of shirts in one run. He has a six-head embroidery machine that offers complete service for short and small runs. "That's the unique thing with embroidery - you can do only one piece," Carter said. "There are fees associated with converting files from art to what we call a stitch file. You can't just bring me a jpeg and stick it in the machine and expect it to stitch it. You have to convert that image into a file that is literally plotting the stitches for that machine. That in itself is a skill that takes time to learn how to do properly."

Carter said it does take time to learn the skills associated with all the aspects of designing apparel - such as the differences between a design that wraps around a cap as opposed to putting that same design on a flat surface such as a shirt. Those are skills he has learned over his many years in the trade.

Valley Promo also offers a retail store, which Carter says will continue to evolve. He plans to carry Swede apparel in the shop.

The Carters purchased the building just north of Bar W in October 2021, and he spent the winter renovating it. Carter said there have been a number of tenants in and out of the south half of the building over the years, while the north half of the building was being used for storage by the former owner.

Carter has removed the wall separating the two spaces and converted it into one large space to accommodate the machinery for his trade. The original tile ceiling has been repainted by Karla and speaks volumes of the character of the old building. There are original beams and pillars in the space as well.

"It's a fun space, I really enjoy it," Carter said.

He began offering some embroidery services in March, but has not yet had an official ribbon cutting or grand opening. That is coming, he said.

Valley Promo is also partnering with Syndicate on apparel orders. "We are very excited to have a local source to work with to give the customers what they want while keeping that business in Gothenburg," said Syndicate General Manager Alisa Mullen. "Working with them is a win-win for all of us."

Carter said he is not looking to grow his business into something huge. "In this season of my life I just want to wind down and service my customers, doing what I love," he said. "I spent a good portion of my career chasing dollars and I’m not interested in that any more. I am just interested in my craft and servicing those customers that appreciate it."

He prides himself on customer service, and when he tells someone he is going to get something done he does it. His son is currently running the company that Carter established in Laramie.

"That is a much bigger operation, and I don't want to be that here," Carter said. "I just want to take care of my customers that take care of me."

Contact Ellen Mortensen at [email protected] or call 308.537.9498

News/Features Writer

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