More and more people are saving their memories online. The popularity of the “cloud” for preserving treasured pictures of families, friends and celebrations has seen a new way of showing off the images that mean a lot to us.
For the framing community, this has meant that they have to reposition their physical product in a digital world. in Braintree is one store that has moved away from the traditional framing and now offers unique, custom pieces that will grace any living room, bedroom or man-cave.
Patch sat down this week with Sue Dobbels and Annette Wilson to talk Braintree business, the art of framing and John Lennon.
Where are you from?
AW: I live in Braintree. I actually worked for the framing shop that was here before we took over, I worked part-time because it was near to the schools and I had young children.
SD: I live in Norwood
Why did you open Framers Edge in Braintree?
AW: The people I was working for (Corners) went out of business and this space became available. We decided that this was the time to do it.
SD: We’ve now been open for three and a half years. I started framing when my kids were little. I got a job in a needlework store and she taught me framing. Then Annette and I just came together and…
The rest is history. Do you consider the frame to be the most important part of a piece?
AW: You can take a photograph, a picture or a piece of art and how you frame it changes the look of that item. You have to frame for the piece, people sometimes come in and say ‘I want it to match my furniture’…that’s great, but your furniture may not match your piece!
SD: A piece can lose its impact if you don’t have a significant frame for its size. If you frame for the piece you can put it anywhere, you’re not locked into a certain room.
If somebody insists on a purple matt because it matches the purple couch, you’re limited to where you can put that piece now.
Do you frame in-house?
AW: Yes. Everything stays here. There is the two of us and Max; he has been in
this location since 1992 because he worked for Corners. (Max was unavailable to comment as he was purchasing tickets for Rush)
Where did you get the name?
AW: (laughs) it took us a long time…
SD: a lot of brainstorming and input from husbands, children and pets!
What makes Braintree special?
AW: The location is great. We have Quincy on one side and Weymouth on the other. We are not far from Hingham, we’re not far from Milton. We are easily accessible from Route 3 and it’s a good location.
SD: People know that there is a frame store here. People come in because they
remember Corners, they look around and they’re a little shocked because it looks completely different now. It’s a draw because people have known that for the last 20 years there is a frame shop here.
How do you feel about the popularity of online products that people use to save their memories?
SD: If it’s online, you look at it once and you never go back and look at it again. If it’s something meaningful that you want to remember, you frame it and put it up on your wall. It’s a reminder to you of something that meant a lot to you.
What is the most unusual item you have framed?
SD: The boars’ tooth. A customer had been in a villa in Italy and they made all the guests stay inside because there was a wild boar on the premises. He wanted to go out and help hunt the boar so they gave him a gun…he shot the boar! He has pictures of the carcass and they gave him the tusks. He wanted to frame it, told us money was no object and asked us to design something cool. He was thrilled because it meant something to him…it was a little gross for us!
AW: We’ve framed ceremonial shovels and scissors. We framed a tissue that a man had wrapped an engagement ring for his girlfriend in and he proposed to her. When he opened it up, the hole in the tissue had formed a heart so he saved it for their first anniversary and we framed the tissue with the heart-hole in it.
How has the business changed since you opened?
AW: I think there are a lot of people who used to frame their children’s art all
the time, that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. We used to do a lot more family portraits and we don’t really do weddings anymore. People spend money on the photographers’ books with the different set-ups contained within.
SD: There is a lot more online product. The economy doesn’t help, there are a lot of people who aren’t spending money on framing like they used to. A lot of the lower end business has changed but the higher end business is still there.
What do you consider to be “higher end”?
AW: One-off pieces. We framed the tickets from when The Beatles came here in
1966. Someone had saved the tickets from the concert at Suffolk Downs…they paid $6 for the tickets!
SD: We framed John Lennon’s bath-towel as well!
Boar’s tusks, tissues and bath-towels. These are probably items that the South
Shore Plaza or the chain stores don’t really see…
AW: The had a framing store years ago but they don’t do now. We feel that we do something a little different that you can’t get at a chain. Michael’s has a store in Braintree that does framing but we do different things to what they do. We love being independent. We love doing antiques and old things…we have a customer who is an autograph collector so he brings them to us, we frame them and sell them.
We do the research on funky people like Carrie Nation (a prohibitionist who carried a hatchet) and create a custom frame. We get a kick out of this stuff. We have old newspapers from the 1700s, we have a State of the Union address by John Quincy Adams… because we are independent, we can pick and choose what we like.
Is there anything new in Framers Edge that you would like Braintree residents
AW: We’re selling handcrafted items; this is something that we have recently
got into. We are trying to highlight the work of local artisans. Sue and I do the
scarves; we have someone who does the jewelry and another who does the blown glass…something unique.
We have a lot of space here. We have a wall with work by local artists and twice a year we have an art-show where we invite local artists to display their work. That wall changes every six months and we sell their work on a commission basis.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about opening a business in Braintree?
AW: I think that Braintree is a good community to open a business in. I recently went to the annual Mayor’s breakfast where he talks about the status of business. There are a number of business initiatives that he has put in to be “business friendly."
They are trying to revitalize Weymouth Landing (part of which is in Braintree) and the communities have decided that business permits can be pulled in either Braintree or Weymouth. We also have an initiative regarding a possible upgrade of the front of your store. The town will issue a small business loan for you to change your sign or whatever upgrade you think will improve the appearance
of your business and, if you are still in business in five years, you don’t have to pay the loan back. It’s all about encouraging the small businesses; the town is trying to be “business friendly."
Finally, what is the tagline for Framers Edge?
SD: The Art of Custom Framing (smiles).