RICHMOND, VA—As a local FedEx Kinko's became the nerve center of a desperate search for missing 9-year-old Haley Bonhomme, branch manager Thomas Pyle expressed a "deep personal investment" in the tragedy. The 35-year-old copy-store veteran remains eager to facilitate the girl's frantic parents' bulk-orders of hundreds of flyers, posters, and notices, he said.
"Along with everyone else, I hope and pray that little Haley eventually turns up safe and sound," Pyle said. "I also want to assure the Bonhomme family that everyone on our friendly, helpful staff will be more than happy to advise them on any additional paper stock, color, and, as time drags on, bulk-purchasing and large-format presentation options. Whatever we can do to help."
Following Haley's disappearance during a family outing at Byrd Park Tuesday, her parents, Robert and Susan Bonhomme, have printed more than 500 flyers, about 220 of which have been distributed.
"Since Haley went missing, the outpouring of concern from family members and the community at large has deeply affected all of us here at FedEx Kinko's," Pyle said, adding that the store's copiers have been "humming like never before" as the search reaches the 72-hour mark. "It seems like Bob, Sue, or one of their friends comes in here every few hours like clockwork, cranking out a hundred more crisp, clear, high-quality copies."
Pyle himself has pitched in to aid the search effort by recommending a higher-grade paper stock that could be stapled to telephone poles and better withstand the elements.
"They were going to choose cheap, lightweight paper that would just turn to pulp if there was a sudden rain shower," Pyle said. "I recommended the saffron color, too, so they'd stand out. It means an extra four cents per copy, but money should be the farthest thing from people's minds when a little girl is missing."
Pyle also suggested that the Bonhommes allow the staff to make copies, saying that, while it's a few dollars more, the family "should really be out there searching."
While Pyle called the family's original hand-printed flyer "simple and poignant," he steered them toward a more professional desktop-publishing approach, introducing a wide array of font and graphic choices. "This crisis has become the town's, as well as FedEx Kinko's, number-one priority," Pyle said. "That's why the Bonhommes need something that pops and grabs the attention of passersby: bolder, sans-serif fonts, and bigger size. Plus, we usually only laminate business cards, but a little-known fact is that we can laminate anything up to 18 by 24 inches."
Pyle also informed the distraught parents that the store's computer stations could be used for checking e-mail and the Internet for possible leads and tips about their daughter at very competitive rates.
"With our full WiFi capability, FedEx Kinko's is ideal for lost-child-reporting technology access," Pyle said. "And, God forbid it comes to this, our overnight shipping services would at least guarantee the speedy arrival of a ransom payment."
Pyle said the crisis will not only bring FedEx Kinkos and the family closer, but could bring in new customers as well.
"Everyone involved in this search is seeing why we're the clear choice for emergencies great and small," said Pyle. "And with 24-hour service, FedEx Kinko's will always be there for you."
"As much as we all want to see her found, I have to admit that this synergy is a win-win for both of us," he added. "Our flyers are helping them raise awareness of their daughter's disappearance, while at the same time generating word-of-mouth buzz about our excellent printing and copying options. Having said that, my heart goes out to them at this difficult time."
Pyle added that, even in a worst-case scenario, he hoped the Bonhommes would still turn to FedEx Kinko's.
"They've certainly earned a discount on a beautiful 7' x 2' color banner which can read 'Welcome Home, Haley' just as easily as 'Farewell, Sweet Angel,'" Pyle said.