FROSTBURG — Dave Roche has operated Triangle Printing at 18 Broadway for nearly four decades — surviving a number of economic twists and turns over the years.
But the one that hit him last December has hurt the most.
An accidental fire damaged his 38-year-old small business, located just a stone’s throw from Main Street in the heart of the Frostburg business district.
“A lady came in just yesterday and said she thought I was out of business because of the fire,” said Roche, who worked with Triangle Printing when the late Joe Humbertson operated the business at his residence in Cresaptown.
“I bought the business in 1975, brought it to Frostburg and operated in the basement here for two years,” he said. “Then, I bought the Citizen’s Office Equipment company from the late Ed Flanigan (father of Frostburg Mayor W. Robert Flanigan) that occupied this location.
“I added United Parcel Service shipping and receiving services, copier and faxing services and my printing business in addition to selling office and school supplies,” said Roche, operator of one of the oldest small businesses in the Mountain City.
The fire in the property owned by Patrick Atkinson injured two people and left six homeless.
Damage to the two-story building at 14-16-18 Broadway was estimated at more than $50,000, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.
But the Dec. 8 blaze that originated in an adjoining apartment at the corner of Mechanic and Broadway has complicated matters.
“People think the fire put me out of business. I have a large sidewalk sign and I have the door open, but they don’t come by. They think I’m out of business,” he said.
Last December’s fire closed Triangle Printing for nine business days. Some of the income loss was covered by insurance, according to Roche.
“The damage, all together with the cleaning expenses, totaled $12,000 and the insurance paid for all but $500.
“But my business has dropped off by 50 percent since the fire. The bulk of my business involves printing tickets, letterhead envelopes, fliers. My UPS shipping service is off by 60 percent,” said Roche.
Despite contacting all his printing customers and all area schools, Roche’s business has not yet recovered.
But after nearly 40 years of economic ups and downs, Roche isn’t about to give up.
“It’s been a struggle. But I think if people realize I am still in business they will come back,” he said.
Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at email@example.com.