Dyeing tradition lives on in new home
It started in the basement of a Lancaster County pharmacy in 1893 but it is still finding customers today.
It is Doc Hinkle’s Original Paint-On Easter Egg Dye, a largely seasonal product with the bulk of its sales falling in the first three months of the year.
“Egg painting as a family tradition seems to be holding up pretty well,” said Ryan Martin, general manager at John Wright Co. in Wrightsville, which took over production of Doc Hinkle’s dye in 2002.
The product has a loyal following, he said, and as people realize the potential harm of too much screen time, they are turning to alternative activities like egg dyeing.
“Our customers like traditions and not fads,” Martin said. “We have made some changes to the packaging over the years. But overall, we are mindful to keep things consistent and true to Doc Hinkle’s vision of creative family fun.”
He declined to disclose sales figures, but said last year was strong.
“This year is not trending as strong to date, but Easter is much later this year,” he said. Easter fell on April 1 in 2018 but is on April 21 this year.
Across the river and back
The egg dye was created by Samuel Hinkle in the basement of the now-defunct Hinkle’s pharmacy in Columbia. Under John Wright Co. production took place in Wrightsville in space leased from the Donsco foundry, with which John Wright is affiliated.
It moved back to Lancaster County last summer both because Doc Hinkle’s needed more space and because Donsco needed the space used by Doc Hinkle’s, said Brant Hershey, engineering and legal manager at John Wright.
“We’ve been growing, so we looked for about 10,000 square feet of warehouse space with high ceilings and some additional office space and good truck access. That square footage would allow us to meet our current needs and allow for growth,” said Hershey.
The new space – at 645 Lancaster Pike in Providence Township – fits the bill. It has 11,200 square feet of warehouse space, a minimum of 20-foot ceilings, and 260 square feet of office space. Nine employees work from the location.
“We start manufacturing in December to meet the sales demand,” Hershey said. “It’s mostly sold in the northeast, but through our internet sales we do ship all over.”
John Wright’s main business is shutter hardware, Hershey said.
“Most often when you see shutters on homes around here, they’re decorative,” he said. “But our shutter hardware is functional hardware.”
John Wright bought the egg-dye company when it was considering whether to make a cast-iron egg painter for Martha Stewart. Hershey said. “We didn’t go ahead with that product for Martha Stewart but we did purchase the egg-dye company. We eventually created the cast-iron egg painter.”
Known as the Vintage Doc Hinkle Egg Twirler Kit, the painter made its debut three years ago. It is a reproduction of a 1940s era design, Hershey said.