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The Scarlet & Black

Ballyhoo Makes a Mark in Downtown Grinnell

Ballyhoo - Hannah Hwang
Photo by Hannah Hwang. The new Ballyhoo space, housed at Main and Sixth.

Michael Cummings, Staff Writer

“If you can think it, we can ink it!” reads the tagline on Ballyhoo’s business cards.

When looking for custom-printed mugs, pencils, picture frames, the internet has typically become the first place to look, however, local business, Ballyhoo In Ink, advertises itself as a place to get just about any design printed onto just about any object.

Ballyhoo very recently relocated into the building previously occupied by The Purple Cucumber on Sixth Avenue. The front of the shop houses shelves full of miscellaneous novelty and gift items, including glassware, buttons, drink koozies, frames and more. The back room houses printing equipment for custom jobs.

The store is owned and managed by former College employee Pam Montgomery. Montgomery, who also owns Montgomery’s Sandwich Shop, started Ballyhoo In Ink shortly after retiring from her job at Grinnell College Conference Operations and Events.

“Retirement wasn’t for me,” Montgomery said. “This isn’t work, this is fun!”

“I actually started this almost four years ago, in my garage,” Montgomery said. “I did champagne flutes for weddings, I did water bottles for birthday parties, you know, just fun little stuff. The word got out that I could do it, and it got busier and busier, and my husband said, ‘Pam, the garage is for cars,’ so I rented a shop over on Commercial Street.” According to Montgomery, when the location on the corner of Main Street and Sixth Avenue became available she jumped at the opportunity to move.

”When this [location] came open, I thought ‘Wow, this is a great spot’ because we needed a bigger shop,” Montgomery said. “It’s an excellent location.”

Although her store was already quite popular before the move, Montgomery feels that Ballyhoo’s new location next door to McNally’s has been beneficial.

“[Business] has increased, I think just because there are a lot more college students going by,” she said, adding that she has gotten a lot of business from students who thought the building was still home to The Purple Cucumber.

Once they come in and realize there are no smoothies, she said, a lot of the time they will stick around and buy something anyway.

Although much of Montgomery’s work is commissioned for parties, one part of her job feels more fulfilling than the rest: “Being able to help out small [businesses] with things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to offer.”

Ballyhoo is located at 1032 Main Street. More information can be found at

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