A day in the life of framing front of house

Today was one of those frantic days when all the lovely customers decide to come in at once!  The variety we get is amazing and I just thought that today I’d do a diary about the diverse day a framing shop can have.  Hope it gives you an insight …

10am opening: (no, we’re not lazy!  We do work before we open you know, when it’s quiet, we get more work done.  Usually the day starts around 7.30am).

Very quickly we get our first customer, one that’s been with us for years.  Pleasantries and catching up ensues.  We like to take our time rather than rush the customers; we take it all very personally!

So, this customer brings in a rather large print of a local landscape by a local Artist.  It’s already in a mount with wash lines.  We spend about 25 minutes going through the options and budgets (she always says she doesn’t want to spend much, but to her horror usually falls in love with something expensive!).  We end up going for a classic thick natural Oak frame to pick up on the colour of the sty in the forefront of the picture.  The age & style of the piece lends itself to this too.  I price up, she’s happy.  We finish by talking about the merits of natural woods (her Father was a Wood Turner).

There’s a customer waiting so I finish up, tidy away ready for the next one.  The phone has rung about a million times, but we’ve always made it our policy not to leave the person we are serving, to answer the phone.  They need our undivided attention!

A reasonable sized print, this time of a coastal scene, beautiful turquoise sea, crashing waves against dark rocks.  The customer wants a Turquoise frame to match the sea, but I can see something different in the picture.  We go both routes and I come up with a light grey with brush stroked edge it’s distressed with a subtle creamy gold on the inside.  It picks up on the rocks & sand rather than the sea.   I suggest that the sea is shouting out already so doesn’t need attention.  The frame pulls out the dramatic rocks bringing them to the front.  It complements rather than competes.  We decide to go for a white slip to keep the glass away from the paper.  This also gives it some depth & drama, whilst not overcrowding the piece with a mount.  Phew, another happy customer.   Totally different to what she had in mind.  That’s what we’re here for!  I love this job, I think to myself.

The Framer is rushing around in the background, hand staining and painting frames, leaving them to dry in the workshop and coming into the shop to “makeup” (finish) some other pictures to be collected today.  He looks harassed; the supplier didn’t deliver the right stuff yesterday and he is having to try and work around this or phone people to re-schedule work.  This is the stressful part of the job!  Some customers understand but some think we should have a huge warehouse full of every single frame that ever exists.  Part and parcel of the day to day.

Several people come in to collect and pay (hurray!).  We chat about our imminent move; it’s so lovely that our customers are interested and involved in the business.  They play with Frank the Framing dog for a while (I’m sure they come to see him and not us!).

In-between customers, I’m writing a blog, answering tweets, updating facebook, taking photos of the frames, dusting the shop, (takes a breath) re-arranging the crafts, answering emails, and generally doing the business admin stuff.

Right, it’s now about 12.45pm and we close at 1pm for half an hour to have something to eat, go to the loo (too much information!).  Before we can do this at about 12.55 a customer comes in to view some samples that we’ve hand done for her.

This takes all of our lunchtime, and we manage to arrive at just the right frame samples she wants.  Order to be done in a few weeks time.

Nearly 2pm now ….

Customer to collect, but we’ve got mixed up with the frame and put the wrong one on!  Well, we are only human.  Luckily, the customer was very understanding and we obviously have to re-do it and we offer to deliver it.

Next customer has some strange bug photos to frame!  Straight forward choice, as he only wanted black.  However, we went for a matt finish rather than a shiny one.  Can sometimes look a bit cheap in my personal opinion (does depend what it is though).

The Framer is serving someone who wants to match their picture to the last frame they had done with us.  We have it all on record so this is not a problem.

That customer being quick, another two come through the door, one has struggled in with a big frame, the glass has broken in a move and they need it replaced & re-fitted.

The other has come in to give Frank the Framing dog a chew and to see how the progress on her photo is coming along.  (She’s an elderly lady from down the road, whose husband died.  She wanted to copy a photo of him.  We don’t do this, but as favour we just scanned it in for her and asked my Dad to print it off for us on photographic paper since he’s a bit of a amateur photographer).  It’ll be ready tomorrow, we say.  We think she only came in to chat with the dog anyway!  He’s a valid part of the team!

We have another customer during all this that the Framer sees to.  They are a couple and they start arguing about the frame choices!  It’s not fisticuffs but it’s quite strained!  We get this a lot.  Did you know Framers also have to be counsellors?  People tell us things they wouldn’t tell their own family!

More background work carries on ….

3.30pm

A local Antiques Dealer and regular comes in with a huge mirror to re-frame, we help him carry it from the car.  Also wants lots of antique maps framed and for us to build a display cabinet for antique fairs (told you our days are diverse!).  This is a rather large order and takes some working out.  He wants aged glass too, so some sourcing will need to be done.  He doesn’t leave until nearly 5pm with the promise of a nice bottle of red wine for us on his next visit!

Whilst that consultation was going on we get another customer wanting a print framed.  She needs it for next week and it’s rather large so will need the workload re-jigging a bit.  We can just about squeeze it in.  It’s a landscape picture; we chose a traditional frame for the Watercolour.  Customer wants it to match the other frames in their room.

5.30pm closing time

It’s been a hectic day and we haven’t had time to do some of our routine jobs, like work schedules and looking at the next days’ workload.  Till logs need to be tallied and entered.  I spend most of the evening catching up on correspondence and looking at what is next on the list for the new workshop.  The Framer is working away still in the workshop.

9pm

We finally finish … what a strange day, shattered now … I go to bed, got a breakfast meeting early in the morning …

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