Home Copy Writing Copy Central in Pines nearing 20-year mark

Copy Central in Pines nearing 20-year mark


By Greg Ellison

(Dec. 9, 2021) Over the past 20 years of operating Copy Central in Ocean Pines, proprietor Linda Dearing has expanded services to accommodate a range of business and personal printing needs.

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“We’ve built up a rapport with our regular customers,” she said. “It’s just a matter of providing personal customer service.”

After relocating to the Eastern Shore from Carroll County a few years earlier, Dearing opened Copy Central in February 2002.

“Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th, that’ll officially make 20 years that Copy Central has been in existence,” she said. “That’s the day I signed on the dotted line for the lounge.”

Following a brief period of acclimation to shore life, Dearing’s business acumen blossomed into a new venture.

“I’ve always been in business for myself,” she said. “I had a daycare center for 23 years.”

Besides working in early childhood education, in previous years Dearing also ran custom balloon and cake decorating businesses.

“I’ve always been my own kind of person out there just doing my thing,” she said.

Dearing’s entrepreneurial spirit rose to the occasion in 2002 after the part-time gig she picked up with a local copy outlet was about to end.

“It was run by a woman who had a business where she did resumes and special writing,” she said.

Dearing was hired as counter help less than six months before the shop was shuttered.

“She had one copy machine and an antiquated computer,” she said. “I’d never even seen a computer that old.”

After mulling the situation briefly, Dearing decided to start her own business.

“That’s when I started Copy Central because at that time I thought there is definitely a need,” she said. “There was nothing in this area that had any kind of copying or shipping so I just kind of took the ball and went with it.”

In hopes of compensating for her own technical shortcomings, Dearing’s initial hire was Linda Kessinger.

“She is an art major and graphic design person,” she said.

“She had all the expertise of graphic design, so I brought her on as a manager and we’ve been together ever since.”

After a handful of years in operation, Dearing opened a second Copy Central store in West Ocean City.

“We were trying to get more of the Ocean City business with restaurant menus, hotels, flyers and programs,” she said. “I had two shops going for a while and then the bottom fell out of the economy.”

Since closing the West Ocean City branch over a decade ago, Dearing has focused on expanding existing services in Ocean Pines.

“We do a lot of fine art prints and do a lot of work for local artists,” she said.

In addition to offering giclee prints, Dearing also sought to capture business from property developers.

“We added on a digital engineering machine that’s a four-roll system,” she said. “It does all the blueprints and mylars for the surveyors and contractors in the area.”

Along with top of the line digital printers, Copy Central has grown its product line to include general business supplies.

“Retail stuff that people could just run in and grab and go,” she said. “An endless amount of what we do is we fax and we are notaries.”

Copy Central also provides UPS shipping services.

Dearing said achieving years of retail success was no small feat.

“It was not easy at all,” she said. “The first thing I did was join all the different chambers to get my name out there.”

Maintaining profitability is not easily accomplished, Dearing said.

“It takes a lot of work and effort to get out there and market yourself,” she said. “I give back to the community through helping out with fundraisers and donations.”

Dearing and her husband, Michael, started their own charitable endeavor in 2015 after their daughter, Gina Maria Barnes, 37, lost her battle with colon cancer the day before Thanksgiving in 2014.

Since that time, during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March Copy Central has collected donations for Gina’s Warriors Comfort Fund, which has raised more than $20,000 to this point.

After her daughter lost a multi-year health fight, Dearing joined Gina’s husband, Erik Barnes, and brother, Tony Christiani, to form the Gina Maria Barnes Warrior Foundation in conjunction with the Carroll Hospital Center’s Carroll Regional Cancer Center.

The charitable endeavor took a hit in 2016 after an unidentified suspect robbed the cash register and snagged a nearby container with about $750 in donations for Gina’s Warriors Comfort Fund.

Dearing said witnessing the outpouring of community backing that followed the theft was beyond moving.

“This is a great … community and everybody just kind of looks out for one another,” she said. “In the end, we ended up with more money than what was stolen from us.”

The range of services provided has permitted Copy Central staff to share in moments of pure joy and extreme sadness.

“We’ve cried with a lot of people at the counter for a loss in their family,” she said.

Copy Central is located at 11065 Cathell Road and open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 410-208-0641or visit copycentralmd.com online.

Twenty years after starting Copy Central Dearing remains grateful to handle an array of diverse printing needs.

“It’s great when you can get up to go to work and love what you do every day,” she said.

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