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A local company that makes custom products for historic and tourist areas has moved to Toano.
Bicast Laser, a family-owned company that specializes in custom work for historical sites, tourist attractions and vacation destinations, has moved from its previous location in Williamsburg to 8231 Richmond Road, according to a news release from James City County.
The company started in 1989 in Williamsburg when Stacy Harris and her family bought a local postcard company, Harris said. Since then, the company has grown to have custom creations, such as magnets and mugs, for tourists and historic areas.
“I grew up in Williamsburg, this is my world and it’s wonderful,” Harris said.
Harris now operates the business with her husband, Forrest Harris, and father, Bill Gaertner.
Harris said it all started after she graduated from James Madison University with a business degree. At the time, her family owned a laundromat that she thought she would be able to run. However, she said she quickly learned it was more than just collecting coins and so the family bought a local postcard company that had operated out of Merchant’s Square since 1947.
“When postcards were popular, they ended up all over the word,” she said. “It’s very cool to know what we’ve been a part of.”
Postcards aren’t necessarily popular anymore so the company works mainly in souvenirs, such as ornaments and key chains. Bicast has a distribution center in the Outer Banks that provides products to a variety of historic locations, theme parks and other tourist attractions.
When considering what to create for each location, Harris said her husband and her son, Mitchell Harris, will do research and try to get to know the history and character of an area.
For example, the company recently developed merchandise to celebrate Rosa Parks for the Library of Congress. In order to design the merchandise, Harris’ family attended the celebration and heard from a woman who sat on the bus with Rosa Parks during the historic moment.
The company has always been family-oriented and Harris said that it will continue to be the center of what they do. In the future, Harris said she hopes her son will take over the business and continue the family’s legacy.
“[Family] is the whole reason we do it,” she said. “That’s what keeps us going.”
In addition, Bicast is a Small, Woman-owned, and Minority-owned certified business.
Harris said she recently attended a course with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity that taught business owners how to scale their business by assessing their model and becoming more efficient in areas of human resource, according to the VDSBB website.
Harris said courses such as that make her feel as though she is supported by not just her local area, but by the state of Virginia.
As the company settles into its new location, Harris said she doesn’t know how much it will continue to grow. She said most days are extremely busy and her family is just happy to provide products that remind people of loving memories.
“It’s cool because people will come up to me and say they have our magnet on their fridge,” she said. “You get to be apart of people’s lives.”