Frame of Mind
The Frame Shoppe Helps to Preserve Memories and History
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
Treasures are in the eye of the beholder, and helping local people preserve and protect those treasures from the ravages of time is what Sandy Saenz, the owner of The Frame Shoppe, does best.
Her customers often bring in artifacts and memorabilia from a loved one, and wish to have their special items framed. When that happens, Saenz is privileged to hear their stories, which bring an inanimate object to life.
One customer found their grandmother’s sweater from her high school band. They brought it to The Frame Shoppe to have it framed, and presented it as a gift on the grandmother’s 75th birthday. Another customer asked Saenz to frame menus, an apron and memorabilia from a Walkerton restaurant once owned by the family’s grandparents.
Saenz knows how framing a family heirloom can make a difference. She has a 16” wrench her grandfather used at his job with Uniroyal displayed in a frame in her home.
Whatever the project may be, Saenz is confident that she can find an appropriate frame. There are challenges, including very large or bulky objects, but she can call on her network of framers for suggestions.
Saenz has owned The Frame Shoppe for four years and is the third owner of the business, which has been around for 40 years. Her gift shop, Simplee Stated Gifts, is adjacent to The Frame Shoppe, and operated next to the shop for years. When she had the chance to purchase it, she jumped on the opportunity.
“I’m kind of a crafter,” Saenz says. “I did wood projects. My mom and I did sewing projects together – my bridesmaid dresses when I got married and the flower arrangements.”
As an office manager, Saenz discovered she had a talent for putting together gift baskets. This led to a home-based gift basket business, which in turn led to a pop-up shop in Martin’s Super Market and finally a vender spot in a local gift shop.
Armed with hands-on artistic skills and experience running small businesses, Saenz honed her skills for her latest venture by attending framing school. There are also opportunities for those in the framing business to earn continuing education credits.
“There’s always something to learn,” she says. “It depends on the project.”
Discussing a project with a professional framer can make a difference in the design and the longevity of the object being framed, according to Saenz. Light, moisture and other factors can cause fading or damage to artwork, documents, fabric and other more delicate objects. There are archival materials that can be used in matting and glass designed to minimize the effects of sunlight and other environmental conditions.
There are additional details that can give a project finesse, such as wrapping a paper mat with linen. Saenz used this technique when framing a collection of presidential papers for one of her repeat clients.
“It’s been a fun process to watch him get his collection together,” she says.
Presenting a gift that features a family heirloom, a child’s piece of art, or an art piece created by a local photographer or artist, can be thoughtful and meaningful. A children’s drawing can make a grandparent smile, and framing war medals inside a shadow box can honor the contribution of a family veteran.
“Everything is unique in its own right,” Saenz says.
Saenz enjoys helping her customers with projects that mean a lot to them. Recently, she framed a 6’ panoramic photo of a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. She also worked with a local funeral home in presenting a framed memorial portrait of a deceased loved one.
“People come in to pick up the framed portrait and tell me the story of their loved one – the how and the why,” Saenz says.
Customers can expect to learn a lot from Saenz when they come to the shop. Some of these customers might have unrealistic expectations about how they would like an object framed, and Saenz sees her role as working with them to achieve a desired result and educating them along the way. This is a service larger stores and online framers cannot always provide. Whether it is a simple framing job or something more elaborate or complex, Saenz can find a way to make it happen.
Some of the popular family mementos she has framed include quilt squares and doilies. Putting a frame around embroidery or cross-stitch pieces can enhance their visual appeal, and their status as reflections of family history.
When a customer brings in a piece to be framed, Saenz is already thinking about the conservation of the piece. She can provide conservation-friendly glass that has UV protection. She endeavors to use paper matting and backing that is archival and will not leach into the fabric or fibers of a document.
The Frame Shoppe also offers laser engraving. There are about 400 options customers can use to personalize a gift.
Saenz is a native of St. Joseph County. She met her husband Greg in 1986, and lived in Osceola for many years. In 2005 the couple built a home outside of Argos.
Having a business location on Garro Street in downtown Plymouth is an advantage according to Saenz.
“The downtown businesses are big supporters of each other,” she says. “We work with each other and encourage each other. Downtown Plymouth has a lot to offer. There’s a great diversity of businesses here.”
The Frame Shoppe is located at 100 West Garro Street in Plymouth. Call 574-936-5259 for more information.