Karen Tinsley-Sroka, Owner, My Scratch Offs, Belleville
By KATE GENO
When Karen Tinsley-Sroka discovered there was a need for a product in the marketplace, she decided to fill that need by starting her own company. My Scratch Offs has become the go-to source for scratch-off products in custom quantities, at an affordable rate.
After six years in business, My Scratch Offs is going strong with a new name, new logo and an expansion of its product offerings. The company is not just about labels anymore. Tinsley-Sroka has branched out into stationery with custom scratch-off cards that can be produced for most themes, including weddings, anniversaries and baby announcements.
In 2007, Tinsley-Sroka was a stay-at-home mom raising her young children when she came upon an idea for a business. She was working on a DIY project and needed scratch-off labels. When she searched, she found the product but there was no availability especially in the small quantities that she desired. She decided to run a market analysis to see if a business opportunity existed. When she found there was a need for the product, especially in custom quantities, she bought a supply of the product to evaluate its performance. My Scratch Offs took off from there.
“Based on our initial performance, I was encouraged to expand into the local market,” says Tinsley-Sroka. “I moved into a small storefront in Mascoutah and began offering the product to local businesses and residents. Within two years, we outgrew the space and moved into our current location at 4813 N Belt West in Belleville.”
Scratch-off label stickers, according to her website, are a clear adhesive backing that has a scratch off pigment cut to the appropriate shape and size. The sticker is placed over the top of a business card, flyer, postcard, etc, with a promotion or discount or “Sorry”/”Winner” already pre-printed on the paper.
Tinsley-Sroka now works with many local businesses including the Holiday Inn in Fairview Heights, Bi-State Glass and Coatings, HouseMaster Inspections, Bel Air Bowl arcade, and independent consultants with companies such as Mary Kay.
Her biggest client base remains commercial printers and marketing organizations. The scratch-off product lends itself well to business promotions and invitations.
Online selling platforms have also contributed to her success. She started with eBay, expanded to Etsy, and is now selling on Amazon.
“Amazon has been fabulous for our company’s exposure,” she says. “We have seen a significant sales increase after joining forces with Amazon.”
She now has two employees that help with the business and a goal to continue expanding. Her expansion plans include increased marketing, adding more custom products and boosting online sales.
Above all, customer service is everything to Tinsley-Sroka and her staff, she said, adding she maintains the highest standards of quality for her products. If the client isn’t completely satisfied, then she works to make it right.
Tinsley-Sroka’s experience has taught her many lessons about starting a business, especially the importance of doing extensive research before starting up and investing in the business slowly over time rather than all up front.