What a grand journey – We covered 3,400 miles, hit some great back roads and were able to visit many friends and acquaintances within the framing, art and gift industries. Most importantly, we were able to visit them on their own turf and got to see how their personalities reflected into their own retail business.
In this summer of 2014 we got to see and learn how each of these retailers has kept their business moving forward in these difficult times. As we all know, since 2007, we have been in the longest running and deepest impacting economic recession since the Great Depression, and yet every one of the retail shops that we visited is not only still in business and surviving, but in fact many are thriving. All reported a steady increase in sales and profits over the past 5 years. Many have also expanded or diversified in this time frame. Keep in mind that a number had just opened their doors two to three years prior to the start of this current economic downturn – a most critical time for any new business venture. So how do they do it? What sets them apart from the many retail shops that have disappeared from the retail landscape? Continue reading →
The Fourth of July, gave us a great opportunity to connect with family at our parent’s old homestead on Lake Winnipesaukee, in Center Harbor, New Hampshire. This is a wonderful part of the country to celebrate Independence Day although rain and storms extended most activities until the 5th.
Before heading home, back to Wisconsin, we elected to travel onto Maine for one additional stop. One of our old friends moved from Wisconsin to Maine just a year ago, so being this close – we just had to continue our eastward journey.
We concluded our official visits by dropping in on two frames in Maine….one in Portland and another a few miles north in Yarmouth. Casco Bay Frames & Gallery is a 35-year-old business operated by second generation owners, Tony and Heather Cox. The business dates back with three previous owners including Heather’s parents and takes its name from the bay that produces the harbor of Portland. The multi-talented framers that work at Casco Bay Frames are artists each in their own rights, with their work displayed throughout the frame shop.
This traditional multipurpose room at Casco Bay Frames is used for their CMC and fitting area
I have been involved in the picture framing industry since I opened The Frame Workshop in September of 1978 and started teaching to my fellow colleagues in 1981, but I am just now creating a personal blog that is purely about me sharing my thoughts and observations with my colleagues. And although personal I should state that it is somewhat B2B in nature as I am creating this to reach out to fellow professionals within the art and picture framing industry.
Although I have had a full blown online website for our retail business since 2001, this is my first attempt at an online blog… something a little more personal to compliment my writings in the trade journals.
As an educator and industry consultant, I have been very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to teach and share within the picture framing industry in many parts of the world from Perth, Australia to Istanbul, Turkey. I have presented seminars and hands-on workshops in Moscow, Russia as well as Chicago, Illinois. And it is through this diverse amount of experiences that I do know that we never stop learning.
John with Sarah run a retail frame shop, gallery and gift boutique in Appleton, Wisconsin, since 1978.