Professional Picture Framers Assoc September 2009 Vol. 14 No. 9 : Page 1
September 2009 Vol. 14 No. 9 Inside this issue 1 Hooked on framing – Mike and Letha Drury grow South Hill Gallery even during a recession. 4 Thunder Down Under – Colocated shows in Australia are a huge success. 6 Promotion in motion – Clever ways to spread the word about framing. 9 Framers Corner Nuggets – Framing a bumblebee; powder post beetles; framing an afghan rug. 13 Is your business vulnerable to hackers? – Mike Labbe gives tips on wireless networking. 16 Twitter tips – Are you tweeting for business? Women are from Venus – Does your store look like Mars? Departments 7 Calendar of Events 8 Board Banter – Shirley Damon, CPF, is envious of “newbies” in the industry. 10 Chapter News – Greater Los Angeles, Metro Atlantic; Cascade, San Diego, Kentucky/Tennessee. 14 Certification Schedule – Where can you take PPFA exams and courses? New Products – A selection from suppliers and manufacturers. 15 Framers Gallery Mike Drury, CPF, and his wife Letha own South Hill Gallery in Lexington, Ky., a business that has grown and expanded in spite of current economic challenges. Mike also is president of the Kentucky/Tennessee Chapter of the Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA), where Letha serves as treasurer. Hooked on framing Husband-wife team grows South Hill Gallery even in the depths of a recession M ike Drury, CPF, was hooked on custom framing the first time he put a mat and frame on a small picture and saw the transformation. The rest, as they say, is history. Mike, who got his start in custom framing in his teens working with his uncle in a small frame shop in Versailles, Ky., owns South Hill Gallery Ltd. in Lexington, with his wife, Letha. He also is president of the Kentucky/Tennessee Chapter of the Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA), where Letha serves as treasurer. Mike bought a frame shop business in 2001 from its original owner, after working at “The Gallery” during his college years. Working in custom framing when limited edition prints were at the height of their popularity, he found, as art tastes changed, he had to change not only the type of art he offered for sale, but the way he framed. Continued on page 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
HOOKED ON FRAMING
Husband-wife team grows South Hill Gallery even in the depths of a recession <br /> <br /> Mike Drury, CPF, was hooked on custom framing the first time he put a mat and frame on a small picture and saw the transformation.<br /> <br /> The rest, as they say, is history. Mike, who got his start in custom framing in his teens working with his uncle in a small frame shop in Versailles, Ky., owns South Hill Gallery Ltd. In Lexington, with his wife, Letha.<br /> <br /> He also is president of the Kentucky/Tennessee Chapter of the Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA), where Letha serves as treasurer.<br /> <br /> Mike bought a frame shop business in 2001 from its original owner, after working at "The Gallery" during his college years.<br /> <br /> Working in custom framing when limited edition prints were at the height of their popularity, he found, as art tastes changed, he had to change not only the type of art he offered for sale, but the way he framed.<br /> <br /> "Shortly after I bought our current business, I became aware of the PPFA," he says. "As I began attending meetings of the Kentucky/Tennessee Chapter, I learned about better framing practices and materials - and it changed the way I do business. With the exposure we gained through participation in PPFA, we began to offer only conservation-quality materials for our custom framing; and we also became comfortable in selling our clients a better end product." Mike, like many framers, was pretty much a one-man shop, with some part-time help.<br /> <br /> After his 2005 marriage to Letha - she jokes she went from farming to framing, after working for 25 years for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture - their combined creative Synergy took the business to new heights. During the next few years, the couple began offering more services, such as commercial design, security installation services, and local original art. The addition of POS and visualization software, a website, regular advertising in selected markets, and three to four art shows per year followed.<br /> <br /> A milestone year "The Gallery" celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2007 - and the Drurys decided to make it a real "milestone" year.<br /> <br /> They began a year-long campaign by developing a new logo and changing the shop name to South Hill Gallery, identifying with the historic Lexington neighborhood that was the focus of new infill revitalization.<br /> <br /> An area once filled with tobacco warehouses, a rail station, and bordering the University of Kentucky campus was now being filled with upscale condominiums, Starbucks, and unique shops.<br /> <br /> The 30th anniversary year was their best year ever - then a bomb dropped. Their long-time landlord surprised them with the news the building was being sold, and the long-time home of South Hill Gallery would be demolished to make way for new development.<br /> <br /> The couple scrambled to find a new property - right at the peak of the banking crisis.<br /> <br /> "After several months of searching, we were able to purchase a property nearby; but it needed total renovation," Letha says.<br /> <br /> In October 2008, they closed on a building and began what they thought would be a 2-month renovation process. Their move in goal was New Year's Day. After numerous construction delays, they were finally able to move into their new shop on April 1. April Fool's Day never felt so good.<br /> <br /> "It's been the realization of a dream to have more room, plenty of parking, space to display art with a gallery feel, and an open room devoted solely to frame design," Mike says.<br /> <br /> The work room has an oversize dry mount press, two large fitting benches, flat files for art storage, a bench for frame joinery, a computerized mat cutter, storage racks for mat board and foam core, and mounting supplies.<br /> <br /> "Our very loyal client base followed us to our new home, and people are blown away When they enter our new shop," Letha says. "The spaciousness of the gallery and frame design area gives customers a chance to really look at the art and framing samples displayed. "We also have room to show some extra things, such as hand-cast birdbaths, unique jewelry, and other items besides framed art." The couple has since broadened their scope to include corporate clients, such as the University of Kentucky, Saint Joseph Healthcare, and Raising Canes. "Having the ability to collaborate on larger corporate projects raises the visibility of our work and exposes us to a larger group of persons needing framing services," Michael says. "Also, by offering extra services, such as delivery and security installation, we set ourselves apart from most other frame shops in our market."<br /> <br /> Growing and networking The couple joined the local Chamber of Commerce and take advantage of networking events to be visible in the business community.<br /> <br /> "We were also among the first businesses to join a grass roots organization in 2008 called Local First Lexington, which promotes buying local goods and services," Letha says.<br /> <br /> Becoming members in PPFA, participating in local chapter events, and national conventions, and then becoming officers in their local chapter has provided ongoing educational opportunities that have not Only helped them become better framers, but have taught them better business practices, Mike says. South Hill Gallery has participated in the Kentucky/Tennessee Chapter Print Framing Competition for the past 3 years and, in 2008, placed third in the International Print Framing Competition in Las Vegas, Nev. "Each year we participate in the framing competition we learn from the design and execution process, and we also learn from the judges' comments," says Letha. "We also love seeing how the creative process of framers can come up with hundreds of uniquely different looks for the same piece of art! "We've attended the Chapter Leaders Conference for the past 3 years and have enjoyed the extra training in the operation of PPFA as an organization," says Mike, who earned his CPF designation in 2005.<br /> <br /> "As we've become better educated about custom framing, we take the time to teach our clients about caring for their art," he says. "We treat our business as a professional service we're qualified to provide. Our clients respect our judgment and seek our design services in caring for their art or memorabilia." The couple has sought out local artists who aren't represented in other area galleries, and has put on art exhibits to showcase the work. They take advantage of free event listings in local newspaper and monthly magazines to include the name of the exhibit, shop name, hours, and website.<br /> <br /> "By promoting the artists and their work, we've created collectors of the work of several local artists and have also brought new clients into our shop, not only to purchase art, but to do custom framing," Letha says.<br /> <br /> The couple has worked on establishing a gallery brand by developing a catchy logo to use on signage, advertising, logo wear, automobiles, and more. They developed a website and a blog to show the artists they represent, to promote events at the gallery, and to introduce new products.<br /> <br /> "Even with the current economic downturn, we've continued our marketing efforts to capture people still making purchase decisions for art and custom framing," Letha says. After several years of using two to three college-aged students for a few hours a day, the Drury's now have a full-time employee, Rickelle Nelson, who provides great support. "She's a very talented framer with experience at another local shop, and she got her first experience at Michaels," Letha says. "She's been a great asset to our company, as she's very motivated, knowledgeable, And can also work at the front counter with customer sales.<br /> <br /> "The consistency in workflow is wonderful, and it also gives us a bit more flexibility in being able to meet clients during work hours, outside the shop." Custom framing is a profession, not a hobby, for the Drurys, and they treat it as such.<br /> <br /> "We look to PPFA to provide us with the latest technology, techniques, and materials to stay abreast of the technical side of our industry," Mike says."