ALLEGANY, N.Y. — For the past six months, Mark Riordan and Kara Fortuna, who are the new owners of Studio 4 East in Allegany, have quietly operated the business while adding new amenities and services.
The well-known shop in the village of Allegany, previously owned and operated by the Wintermantel family, was purchased by Riordan and Fortuna in mid-January.
Since that time, the partners, with the help of their spouses and families, have continued the operation of the longtime business which provides custom apparel, embroidery and promotional products.
“We’ve been printing all along (since the purchase) and we’ve had a very soft opening on the retail side with (St. Bonaventure University) graduation,” Riordan said. “On Aug. 20, we’re opening retail full-time.”
A native of Olean, Riordan has his master’s degree in sports administration and worked for over 20 years in college athletics at several universities.
“I had an opportunity to move back to the area (in 2017) and we now live in Allegany,” Riordan said. “I took a job with Alfred University in fundraising.”
Fortuna, who is a native of Allegany, graduated from SUNY at Fredonia and had owned an advertising agency in Rochester with co-workers. She most recently worked as a graphic artist for Zippo Manufacturing Company in Bradford, Pa. before acquiring Studio 4 East with her partner.
Riordan shared some background on when and why he and Fortuna decided to purchase the business as partners.
“By happenstance last summer, we were at a graduation party together and I had been talking about how I would love to buy Studio 4 East,” Riordan recalled. “Kara was talking to my wife and mentioned that she wanted to buy it. So just out of the blue we decided to go look at it together a couple of days later — and here we are.”
Riordan said he and Fortuna work well together as she provides the art and creativity needed for the business while he handles all of the sales and external marketing needs.
“We were fortunate enough that Rob Higby, who was one of the printers for the Wintermantel brothers, came over with us as the director of operations,” Riordan continued. “He has 30 years of experience on the presses and runs the whole shop for us.”
Riordan noted the shop has automated some of its services since they took over.
“We’ve added the ability to take orders online,” he explained. “Now we have software in place to (take orders online locally and beyond), it’s like shopping at Amazon … Our idea is that we keep all of the business from Allegany (and other local areas) in Allegany.”
He added, “We want to do what the Wintermantels did by providing what they did and bringing (the business) into the year 2021. We want to be great community members and really provide the business and take it to a new level.”
In addition to the software upgrades, the owners have also renovated the retail area of the shop. They also expect to provide sportswear designated for local schools and college campuses.
“We really want to have something for everybody,” he added.
For her part, Fortuna said she truly appreciates all the support and encouragement received from friends, family and the community “as we take on this new adventure.
“We are excited to carry on the legacy of Studio 4 East built by the talented Wintermantel brothers,” Fortuna said of Dan, Mikel and the late Pete Wintermantel. “We feel honored that they entrusted us to carry on their wonderful business.”
For more information, call (716) 373-4555.