Road Trip 2014… Michigan and Ohio!

Before departing Michigan, we took the Ann Arbor road out of Plymouth to this vibrant and beautiful college town on the Huron River to visit Parrish Framing & Art.  The owner, Randy Parrish operates this small shop in the Nickels Arcade right downtown.  This looks just like an Arcade in the UK with the high ceiling, mixture of eclectic shops, old and new and the nice mixture of indoor/outdoor atmosphere.  I selected Randy’s shop as one to visit as he has been quite dedicated to PPFA, our trade association.  To give of your time and effort is no easy task while running a business…. it is especially difficult when you are the owner and only employee of that business – It requires some dedication to the concept of what you give comes back to you in dividends.

We had a great visit with Randy and noted that his business like others we had visited, had moved into a better location within his mall.  It becomes apparent that successful retailers recognize how important location plays into survival and sales.  When visiting Parrish Framing and Art, the first thing one would notice, regardless if you were in the trade or a potential customer is Randy’s focus on Michigan and US maps (many vintage) that he has made part of his shop’s identity.  And I believe that this is a good thing as this type of specialization makes his business stand apart from the competition…

John Ranes examining the maps at Parrish Framing & Art

John Ranes examining the maps at Parrish Framing & Art

When you are the owner, framer, bookkeeper, janitor, there is no question that these many tasks put great burden on you, your time and enthusiasm.  Randy has done a great job in balancing all of this; and his shop has many of the newest products to show folks, including the Urban Ashes Collection of frames and mouldings taken from old Detroit factories and buildings.  Located in his back yard, Randy is wise to share this product line aggressively with his customers.

South to Ohio…

Sometimes, you have to go South to go East.  So as we left Michigan and were engaging the Toledo area, we decided to drop in on another one person frame shop in Holland, OH.  John Barlow, a multiple award winning framer recently moved his business in 2013 just down the road to new digs, when a mall developer was forcing out the smaller shops for a large grocery store expansion.  His new space is extremely efficient and John sells not only very creative custom framing but also presents a small but niche assortment of gifts in his shop.  Early on in his retail framing experience, he observed that our custom framing businesses are need-oriented and that he wanted to provide alternative reasons for folks to walk into his shop.  (Many framers know that this diversification tactic is something that I have preached as a business asset for many years.)

John Barlow's Award Winning Framing in Holland, OH

John Barlow’s Award Winning Framing in Holland, OH

Takeaways… Adding gifts is obvious, but also marketing the Frame Shop Art Gallery & Gifts as Toledo’s most award winning picture framer also sets John Barlow’s shop apart from the others.  His creativity is shown in utilizing scrap pieces of moulding and matting to create these beautiful framed jewelry pieces…

Created with scrap moulding and matting, John Barlow frames small dragonfly pins!

Created with scrap moulding and matting, John Barlow frames small dragonfly pins!

East to Cleveland…

With many wonderful framers in Ohio, it was difficult to hand pick only a couple, but none-the-less, we selected one established framer in Fairlawn, Ohio.  Lori Drugan, has had the passion to own a genuine gallery to compliment her framing business every since she opened her shop in 2001.  In 2013 she fulfilled her dream and was able to double her size in the same building location, a bold move considering the economy.  Gallery of Framing in Fairlawn is run by Lori and her manager Ahlene Lucas.  The frame shop & gallery is guarded by Nobou, a 12-yr old Malti-poo!

Lori Drugan, Ahlene Lucas and Nobou

Lori Drugan, Ahlene Lucas and Nobou

Takeaways… The beautiful location is complimented by great parking and an adjacent garden in their strip center, but any framer visiting as we did would envy the organization and cleanliness of the workshop area.  In plain view of visiting customers and gallery patrons, the frame shop definitely instills confidence and professionalism.

As this established business elected to expand in the recession, it was learned and appreciated that it was their dedication to “make it work” and maintain image and a marketing budget that has helped them survive!



1 thought on “Road Trip 2014… Michigan and Ohio!

  1. Susan

    John, your blog looks great! Welcome to WordPress! Looking forward to more posts! Susan and your friends at Metro Atlantic PPFA.


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