“Makin’ Copies” a Q&A w/ Sharon Rossow of the Copy Center

“Makin’ Copies” a Q&A w/ Sharon Rossow of the Copy Center

We sit down with Sharon Rossow the owner of the Copy Center and talk family, downtown Kenosha, Bowls & Books and more in this exclusive Q&A…

Q. Can you tell us a little about the rich history the Copy Center has here in Kenosha?
Sharon: My parents, Gordy and Judy, opened the shop in its current location July 1, 1973. While we for many years had our storefront next door, we’re back to the 5036 entrance like we were in 1973. With the changes in technology over the decades we’re perfectly happy using the one store space.

 Q. For someone who’s not familiar with Copy Center, how would you describe it them?Sharon: We’re a local, small print shop that is here to help with getting what you need on paper, be it posters, resumes, pretty much any business-related form or envelope, even something as simple as a shipping label.  

Q. Your logo has become a Kenosha icon pretty much, so I got to ask, Why a bunny?
Sharon: In 1973 when the shop opened slogans were a big part of marketing in the quick print world and they used slogans like… “Quick like a bunny.” “Nothing reproduces like a rabbit.” Our bunny drawings were created by local illustrator and family friend, Nan Pollard.

 Q. Besides the bunny logo, you also have a store mascot, your dog Buddy. Work must be so much more enjoyable w/ that adorable pup around?
Sharon: It is! Buddy has been with us for 12 years and I couldn’t ask for a better shop dog. He loves greeting people and getting treats and of course napping during quieter times. Some people may remember before we had Buddy we had a succession of miniature dachshunds, but they were not as welcoming as Buddy is, lol. 

 Q. What is a typical day like running the Copy Center?
Sharon: It can be just about anything. Something I enjoy is the wide variety of projects and customers. We always have projects that people are not in big rushes for, and of course there’s always the last-minute rush jobs. All peppered with people coming in for copies and faxes, or are starting a project.

 Q. What do you love about owning & operating your business in Downtown Kenosha?
Sharon: I was raised right here in the shop, so of course I love this neighborhood, there’s always something going on, big and small. I love being able to walk down the streets and see people I know or go into different businesses and chat with owners or staff.

 Q. What makes Copy Center stand out from the big box stores?
Sharon: I’ve been told it’s the customer service. We focus on having your job done in a timely manner and help as much as we can to deliver what you’re picturing. I grew up in this business so I have more experience than someone my age should, and I can use it to help my customers navigate their projects.

 Q. What does carrying on the family business mean to you?
Sharon: Carrying on the relationships with other businesses. My parents established great relationships with many people and companies, now I get to carry on their work of helping Kenosha. I’ve seen other print shops come and go over the last couple decades and with changes in technology that’s just how it goes. Being located in the heart of the Harborside/downtown area is nice too, we’ve been able to cater to other local businesses. Location! Location! Location!

 Q. What are some of your fondest memories of working with your parents?
Sharon: Much of my childhood was spent in the shop with my parents and the different staff we’ve had over the years. We’ve always had a family atmosphere and many employees and customers have become like family. I’ve always enjoyed being able to sit down for a chat with long-time customers, or chat with coworkers over a project we’re completing together and I learned that habit from my parents.

 Q. How has your business changed over the last decade?
Sharon: I think the biggest thing has been how much work and communication comes through emails. While we’re able to design just about anything you need, there’s also just so much more available to people to do their own design and that helps me get your job done faster.

 Q. What’s something customers don’t know about you or your business?
Sharon: We had the first “high speed” Kodak copier between Milwaukee and Chicago. I’m sure compared to the modern equipment that machine is a dinosaur, but it was a pretty big deal back then. And I have an older brother who lives in Minneapolis, check him out at MitchRossow.com 

Q. What made you get into the family business?
Sharon: After working in retail for a few years I started working at Harborside Common Grounds in 2001 and worked there until 2010. I think anyone planning to start their own small business should spend time working and learning from another small business. While what you’re doing or selling may be different, the basic daily and long-term concerns are mostly the same for all small businesses. My mom always credited Bobbi Duczak at Common Grounds for me “seeing the light” about the hard work and joy of owning your own business.

Q. Not only do you make copies you also creative art work for flyers, logos, business cards etc. What goes into that creative process?
Sharon: I always ask people to draw out what they’re picturing and as simple as that is, that’s how just about everything begins. We have to start somewhere to mold a design into the end result.

Q. What was the biggest job you’ve ever done at Copy Center?
Sharon: Of course we’ve had some jobs that were very involved or time consuming, but I still hold my parents’ philosophy to not have too many eggs in one basket. I’ve never gone out and tried to get that big job because I worry that it would take the personal aspect away from being able to spend time with each customer as needed
Q. You and your family have had a long history with the fundraiser Bowls & Books can you tell us how you & your family got involved?
Sharon: My mom was one of the original organizers and she eventually became the driving force of the planning that has gone into it over the years.

 Q. The Bowls & Books in person event has been kind of on hiatus since 2019, Can you tell us if the rumors are true that Bowls & Books is coming back next year?
Sharon: It’s looking like 2023 will see the return of Bowls and Books. I’ve had people step up and offer to help bring the fundraiser for Lakeside Players back, now that the risk or severity of COVID has lessened.

 Q. We can’t forget to talk about your employee Scott Holloway, Howimportant is Scott to the continued success of the Copy Center?
Sharon: Scott is a perfect fit! He was a customer before I offered him a job and I just thought he would fit well because he was already involved in many things downtown. He’s also just a really kind and patient person. He has also been in the local music scene for a long time so he knows a lot of the people coming into to get fliers for shows.
We also have another employee, Janette Jones, who was a good friend of my mother’s. She started working here to help mom the bookkeeping and with the many of the projects mom was involved in.

 Q. What’s next for the Copy Center?
Sharon: It may be because of the business I’m in and the deadlines we focus on, but I don’t focus too much on the future. We’re enjoying being busy again. It was hard when everything was canceled during the pandemic. It’s wonderful to be helping people plan parties and events once again.

We wanted to really get to know Sharon, so we decided to have some fun and ask here a few rapid fire questions.

Favorite band of all time?
Sharon: I can’t narrow it down, I’m a child of the 80s and 90s, so I’ve been a fan of many different bands and genres.

Favorite restaurant?
Sharon: That’s like asking if I had a favorite child. I have developed relationships with so many restaurant owners and staff that I can’t pick a favorite.

Paper or plastic? Lol 
Sharon: PAPER, of course.

 Favorite hobby?
Sharon: I love knitting and going thrifting as often as I can.

Does pineapple belong on a pizza?
Sharon: I’m sorry, no, but I’m all for Pickles on Pizza.

 Favorite meme?

Visit Sharon and the rest of the Copy Center crew for all you copy needs at
5036 6th Avenue Kenosha, WI
Hours: M-F 9AM – 4PM

Q&A and photos by Donny Stancato
Edited by Jason Hedman
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For everything Kenosha see visitkenosha.com

(This article first appeared in the Fall 2022 Downtown Kenosha Magazine )