We stress this all the time at Towny: it’s so important to shop local when ya can. Why? Because the money you spend stays in your community and helps your city to flourish and grow! But there’s another special factor that comes with buying local. That is the wonderful treat of getting to interact with local business owners who care just as much about your city as you do. Your local business owners more than likely have shared experiences with you, and know how to best meet your needs.
A perfect example of this is husband and wife duo Scott and Crissy Hettenbach who own and operate Hett’s Graphics and Gifts in Evansville. Their shop provides spirit wear, screen printing, embroidery, and other graphics services for local Evansville schools and businesses. Scott and Crissy were both born and raised here in Evansville, and their love for this community runs deep. After a conversation with Scott, it’s clear to see that Hett’s Graphics and Gifts is not only providing a needed service to the community, but also taking care of Evansville citizens in a way that you wouldn’t find at big box stores.
Why did you and your wife start Hett’s Graphics?
“Before opening this shop, I was in retail for around 25 years. I knew there was a niche in the market for affordable spirit wear, and I also noticed that some of the places we visited for spirit wear didn’t have the best customer service. One of the vendors we visited said, ‘We have more business than we know what do with so we’ll get to you when we get to you.’ When we heard that comment, it set off a spark in my mind to go into spirit wear. Especially with my background in retail apparel and merchandising.
We didn’t start Hett’s Graphics with much, but we were ready to make a go of it. My wife and I actually decided that we wanted her to have a side business to make some extra income. We didn’t feel a lot of pressure to “make it." We just wanted to start and see where things would go. But now, we’re in our seventh year and we’ve grown every year since we’ve been in business.”
Is owning a business something you always planned to do?
“Definitely. My wife and I always knew that one day we’d like to go into business for ourselves. We knew we wanted to use our experience and expertise. The only issue we had was what type of business. When the idea of screen printing and spirit wear came up, we immediately knew that this was the market we wanted to go into.”
Can you talk more about your connection to Evansville?
“We started our business here on the west side because that’s where my wife and I were born and raised. I graduated from Reitz High School and Crissy graduated from Mount Vernon High School, which is just west of Evansville. Our kids all graduated from Reitz and my parents also went to Reitz. So we have a lot of generations of Reitz High School in our family, and it made sense that Reitz was one of our first customers that we hoped to work with when we opened shop. The Reitz football program is huge, and they support their team whether they are having a good or bad season (although they’re usually winning). We really wanted to get connected with the football team. I have a lot of contacts with Reitz High School as the president of the Big Blue Boosters, which is the booster club for all academic and athletic programs.
We’ve also expanded to other schools in the district. Schools like North High School, Central High School, Mount Vernon High School, and others. We do screen printing for local businesses on the west side too, since school spirit apparel is not a year-round business. When school isn’t in session, business can get a bit slow for us. So in addition to spirit wear, we do a lot of embroidery logos for companies, screen printing for construction and concrete companies, and other businesses.”
Aside from being a local business yourself, why do you think it’s important for people to shop local?
“I think it’s important because if you keep your dollars in the local community, your local community will thrive. I know a lot of people who are committed to shopping local because they don’t want to see small businesses go under due to people ordering items online. That takes money away from small businesses in the community, and eventually our town won’t be somewhere you want to go. That’s part of why I think shopping local is so important.
I love initiatives like Small Business Saturdays and of course, Towny. That’s something huge that will help keep our customers returning to us. I think it’s important to have a tool to keep your business on your customer’s radar.”
Can you share any favorite moments you’ve had while running Hett’s Graphics and Gifts?
“Oh man, there are a lot of good moments. The most recent one that comes to mind is a customer who came in and wanted uniforms for a softball team. He called around midweek and said, ‘I don’t want to put you in a bind but we need uniforms for this weekend.’ Even though it was a rush, I told him I’d see what I could do. Especially because he is a loyal customer who shops with us often.
Doing athletic uniforms takes some time because you have to order the items, print them, and get the numbers added on the back. Fortunately, I was able to get the shirts in, work on the artwork, get them printed, and then put the numbers on all by 2 p.m. that following Sunday. Our shop is closed on Sundays, but we were willing to make a special exception to come in that Sunday to get things wrapped up and make sure he got his uniforms. The customer offered more money because he had rushed the job, but we don’t do that to our customers.
We enjoy going the extra mile for our customers and we know that when we do, they will end up coming back to us and hopefully bring in more of their friends as well.”
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about your business?
“I’d like people to know that we do custom-designed shirts. People can come in, pick their design, and put it on a shirt. Within two to three minutes of choosing a design, the customer can take home their custom sweatshirt or t-shirt. That’s one of the things we offer here that separates us from other shops. A lot of customers are dumbfounded when they find out how quickly we work. They pick out a design and assume they’ll have to come back later to get their items, but we can do it right then and there for them. That’s the kind of customer service we hang our hat on.”
Hett's Graphics & Gifts is exactly the type of business that makes shopping local so worthwhile. Scott and Crissy provide a necessary service AND champion the Evansville community. You, too, can be a champion for your local community when you download Towny to keep up with the local businesses and services in Evansville. Download the FREE app to find perks (+ more!).