Engraving success

A chance encounter during a shopping trip to Crate & Barrel in Novi, Mich., led to an unexpected opportunity for entrepreneur Nicole Smith, owner of Cutting Edge Lazer Engraving


After striking up a conversation with a store manager, Smith was invited to set up her AP Lazer equipment instore during the 2021 holiday shopping season to provide complimentary engraving on customer purchases. The Crate & Barrel store pre-promoted these special events and compensated the home-based engraving company.

It was a winning collaboration for Crate & Barrel, Cutting Edge Lazer Engraving, and store shoppers. In fact, the Crate & Barrel store’s promotions were so successful that the engraving events are continuing in 2022.

Tong Li, founder, CEO, and inventor of AP Lazer’s patented large format, open base laser machine systems that can engrave almost any item on store shelves, believes retailers that embrace what he calls ‘The Emotional Marketplace’ will be at the forefront of an emerging retail revolution.

He believes that when meaningful sentiment is engraved onto everyday products, they become cherished mementos because they elicit warm feelings and emotions.

According to Li, AP Lazer entrepreneurs throughout the US can serve as house engravers for retailers struggling to find workers, without the overhead costs of hiring, training, and managing an employee. “In-stock items can be engraved, sidestepping global logistics issues, and revenue increased without adding inventory. Perhaps most importantly, genuine relationships and a competitive advantage can be created by offering shoppers what online retail giants cannot: a high touch, one-on-one, memorable customer experience. The future of retail lies in adding meaning to merchandise and humanity to the shopping experience.”