Chicago picture frame experts put their work in perspective
Who we talked to
Todd Mack, co-owner
Foursided Custom Framing Gallery
Jay Goltz, owner
Artists' Frame Service
Cheryl Bitz, manager
The Great Frame Up - Northbrook Northbrook, Ill.
You found the perfect painting. You know the wall where it'll hang. Now visualize how it will look as our comp shopper chats with three picture framers.
Besides framing, what services does your company provide?
Todd Mack: "We are a destination location for antiques, greeting cards and household gifts."
Jay Goltz: "We have relationships with restorers, so we can give an idea of what's wrong and what can be done. We also have delivery and hanging services."
Cheryl Bitz: "We make signs, such as banners. We also offer a do-it-yourself framing option where customers can work on their own pieces with our assistance."
What makes your business stand out from the competition?
Mack: "Most frame shops hurt themselves by making the environment look more like a dry cleaners than a fun place to shop. Our success comes from making the shopping experience fun."
Goltz: "I have eight designers working for me in the showroom, and the average tenure is nine years. They have art backgrounds and know what they're doing. I have an incredible selection, turn around jobs in a week, and have high standards."
Bitz: "Our staff members are trained picture framers. We give our expertise to each client and make recommendations for what they need. And I think the do-it-yourself option is an incredible way for them to save money."
What's the average price for framing work?
Mack: "There is no average, but $150 is a number I commonly see."
Goltz: "The cost is based on size and materials. The typical frame size is 22-by-28, and the typical frame job is probably $200-some. But there is probably a 300 percent range in pricing. A $100 fee for an inexpensive job could also be $300 for something really nice."
Bitz: "Everything that comes in the door is unique. People control price as far as quality of materials and size. And you generally pay 30 to 40 percent less by doing it yourself."
Is there one type of frame you would consider the best or your favorite?
Mack: "We have an enormous selection of antique frames. There is a romance in framing something with some battle scars."
Goltz: "There are new veneered mouldings that are just beautiful. There is some beautiful hand-rubbed gold-leaf stuff. Hand-wrapped fabric mats are nice."
Bitz: "I prefer to use the frames made by our owner's company. They're quality frames at an excellent price."
What's the most unique, most expensive or most valuable thing you've ever framed?
Mack: "The photograph that was taken of Abe Lincoln when he posed for the penny. It was a postage-stamp sized photo of Abraham Lincoln. It was an exciting project and an honor to work on it."
Goltz: "A woman whose family owned a tea company years ago found a tea bag from the company. She decided that she would use the tea bag and share it with her oldest and best friend. Her friend then turned around and had the bag framed for her."
Bitz: "Probably the art we frame for our annual student art shows. The seven Great Frame Up stores in Chicago owned by David Klitzy sponsor student art shows for local high schools. We mat and frame works for 28 Chicago-area high schools."