October is National Art & Framing Month—and if you’ve been debating whether or not to add custom matting and framing services to your store’s offerings, you might want to reconsider.
Dedicated to enhancing the art of photography, Bella Photo Art & Framing opened its doors this past July. The business, run by president Michael Kellogg—who has been in the industry for the last 35 years—has created a unique offering for his customers.
Bella Photo Art & Framing consists of a 120-foot display space for local artists to showcase original works; as well as a digital workstation area that houses PC and Macintosh computers, a Wacom Cintiq tablet monitor, scanner, three Canon 17-inch printers, and a Canon 44-inch printer. “We are specializing in large-format photo printing,” says Kellogg. “It’s an area that isn’t well-serviced by the local camera dealers and minilab operations.”
Beyond the digital workstations is the custom framing and matting area, with a Fletcher-Terry MatPro CMC 150. “We purchased a computer mat cutter to be able to offer custom mats that our local competitors wouldn’t be able to do without having to outsource them,” says Kellogg. The CMC 150 gives Bella Photo Art & Framing the capability to cut intricate mats that you wouldn’t want to attempt by hand.
“Offering custom framing is what completes our business,” says Kellogg. “It makes perfect sense that if you’re editing images to produce large prints, you want to display those prints. There’s no need to have your prints made at one location and then have to go to another for your matting or framing. Most locations that offer large-format printing are not in the framing business, and most framing shops are not in the photographic or printing business.
“The MatPro is a natural complement to this service [large-format printing], as prints these sizes are not being printed to show in an album, but rather are all being produced for display on a wall somewhere,” continues Kellogg. “The reason for selecting the Fletcher-Terry system was the confidence we had in their personnel when we met with them at PMA this year. We looked at the competition, and the Fletcher-Terry MatPro CMC 150 seemed to be a better-built unit. We liked the way the machine operated and how it was constructed. The machine is a tank!”
When James Miller opened Artframe in 1988, there was no such product as a computerized mat cutter. Mats were cut by hand, using a variety of manual tools. In 2001, Miller purchased his first CMC. “My primary business has always been framing. I bought the CMC in order to improve the consistency and quality of our mats,” he says. The CMC allows Artframe to cut more mats, faster than they had been able to by hand. The CMC also gave Artframe the ability to acquire new, decorative mat-cutting patterns, “which were time-consuming and in some cases impossible to cut manually,” Miller explains.
Choosing a Fletcher-Terry system, as opposed to one manufactured by a competitor, was easy for Miller. One of the most important factors was the quality of the machine. Miller says the quality of the company was also important. “I wanted my CMC supplier to be a long-term supplier,” he explains. “Fletcher-Terry has been a leader in professional-grade framing tools and equipment for many years. Framing is their primary industry.” Miller also wanted a machine offering speed, accuracy, user-friendly software, and a wide variety of special patterns up to 40x60, which the Fletcher-Terry system offers.
“Because I’ve been completely satisfied with my seven-year-old Fletcher-Terry CMC, I am considering an upgrade to their latest design, which incorporates several new features since my machine was built.”
Artframe has started offering photo restoration, which is contracted to digital experts. Miller says this service “attracts customers who have damaged or deteriorated images of personal importance, such as old family photos, which have significant sentimental value.” The restoration services have brought additional framing business to Artframe. Miller says, “We are usually asked to frame the restored photos—sometimes in multiples, as gifts to family members.”
For the photo retailer or lab owner who offers printing services, diversifying into custom matting and framing could make you a one-stop-shop for your customers.