Looart Press & Current - CSPM

Looart Press & Current

In 1947, artist and lithographer Orin Loo designed and printed 10 Christmas cards. He placed them in a black photograph album from Woolworth’s and took orders from stationary stores in Colorado Springs. It became a family business. Orin used the family sunroom as his art studio, and printed on a press in the garage. Wife Miriam filled orders on the dining room table, and the Loo children delivered packages to the Post Office after school. Together, they expanded the business to become the largest direct mail supplier of cards, stationary, and assorted gifts with sales over $100 million a year.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

Making a business succeed in a basement is difficult enough but turning it into a company that sells for over $100 million is nearly impossible. However, Orin and Miriam Loo, of LooArt and Current, did just that. The Loos first visited Colorado Springs in 1940 and fell in love with its’ beautiful scenery and welcoming climate. 6 years later when Orin was offered a new job the family moved from Kansas, Orin leaving his job as head of the lithography department at Hallmark Cards.

In 1947 Orin started his own company, Looart. Orin set up shop in the garage and put together an album of personalized Christmas cards. For the next 3 years LooArt continued to find success by creating a more extensive album of Christmas cards and also through commercial work such as printing the menus for the Broadmoor Hotel. In 1950 Miriam had an idea for how to sell a new product Orin had developed called “Post-A-Note”. She started Current and purchased a church directory. She sent out 500 boxes to ministers with flyers advertising Post-A-Notes as a fundraising item.

Miriam directly advertised to people, which meant she would know exactly what kind of business she received due to her mailers. The company required a minimum order of 6 boxes while also offering to pay for postage when people prepaid for their order. Miriam utilized direct advertising, encouraged bulk purchasing, and offered a cost-effective product, all of which are practices that Current has retained to this day. Current operated out of the basement for 10 years. LooArt and Orin would produce designs and new products, such as recipe cards, and print everything. Then Miriam, and Current, would sell them. In the 1960s Orin and Miriam’s sons, Dusty and Gary, went to work for Current and LooArt, respectively.

In 1967 LooArt merged with Current, combining the manufacturing and marketing abilities of both into one business. The business would continue to grow from there, continually expanding its product line and variety of designs. They found success selling banks checks and a line of Cookbooks that Miriam helped developed, originally with her own recipes and eventually by a team of cooks in a test kitchen. In 1987 Dusty and Gary, then in control of the company, decided to sell Current to the American Can Company for $115 million. The Loo’s faith in their businesses truly paid off.

Generously Submitted by Patrick Lee, CSPM Museum Technician

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