McBride’s Framing Gallery is located at 6330 N. Oracle Road, the southeast corner of Orange Grove and Oracle roads in the Bed, Bath & Beyond shopping center.
McBride’s Family Gallery is owned by Patti McBride, and the store manager is Erin McBride.
Patti McBride got into the industry in 1995 when her husband, Tad, opened Deck the Walls, an art and custom framing franchise. The couple sold a previous business in the industrial market, and were ready to try something else.
“As I was an artist with a degree in art and music, this venture seemed to be a good fit,” Patti said.
In 2005, the couple completed their 10-year DTW commitment, and moved to the gallery’s current location as McBride’s Framing Gallery, an independent custom frame shop.
In September 2008, Tad passed away suddenly. While the family misses his presence and personality in the shop, he had been focusing on his photography, which is featured in the store.
With Tad’s passing, Patti and Erin were left to run the business.
“So actually, we haven’t missed a beat,” said Patti. “I do the business administration, the accounting and sales. Erin as the store manager and lead framer is responsible for production, vendor relations and sales.”
If she had it to do over, Patti’s answer is simple.
“I would definitely not invest in a franchise,” she said.
When it comes to women in business, Patti said independent frame shops aren’t really gender biased, though some are surprised to find out she and Erin do their own work.
When it comes to struggles in the industry, Patti said because they do their own work in the shop, they work with a wide range of tools, including an industrial double mitered power saw, a v-nailer, vises, drills, large dry mount machine, industrial glass cutter, computerized mat cutter, and a measuring tape.
“To help overcome the misperception that women generally don’t use tools and to show what goes on between the time the customer gives us an order and when they pick up their finished piece, we give frame shop tours and demonstrations,” Patti said.
Like most industries, Patti said the biggest challenge facing McBride’s Gallery is the economy.
“Custom framing is definitely a discretionary income item,” she said.
Besides the economy, Patti said big-box craft stores also poses a threat to the locally-owned establishment.
“They attract customers with their advertised huge perceived discounts,” Patti said. “Their business plan is to mark up their product so much to withstand those discounts and still make a substantial profit. With only 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population using custom frame services, these stores gobble up potential first time customers.”
Finally, Patti said a threat facing McBride’s Gallery is the cost of doing business.
“I’m not just talking about buying the materials to fill customer’s orders, but insurances, credit card fees, payroll costs, advertising, etc.,” she said. “All this with these economic times dwindling sales numbers.’
To combat those struggles, Patti said McBride’s strives not to not only meet, but exceed customer’s expectations, provide outstanding service with a quality product at reasonable prices and to be vigilant with cost and pricing.
McBride’s focuses on customers having a positive enjoyable experience when they visit the store.
“We can assist you by offering friendly design suggestions and information so that your art is framed attractively and appropriate to the art,” she said. “Customers have choices and we want them to be pleased they chose us. We are a full service, family owned frame shop with experienced framers and high standards of excellence. We not only do our own work, but we guarantee our workmanship and materials. After 17 years of being in business, we are often referred by our customers, hence our tag ‘Where Your Neighbors Frame’.”
When it comes to mistakes or missteps over the years, Patti said depending on the “status quo” is a big mistake.
“Understandably, it took awhile after Tad passed to begin to be able to think ahead,” she said. “Seeing that big picture and trouble shooting was always his job, I was the detail person. However, the last six months or so we have been able to refocus on the frame shop. We’ve refreshed the look of the sales floor by painting with color and adding new movable display walls painted in those colors.”
In January, Erin went to the Las Vegas Framing & Art Convention where she met with vendors, took seminars and workshops. She boosted her framing skills and expanded her experience. She made personal connection with other framers she had met previously through an online forum. They continue to be a valuable resource for ideas and support. To help bring attention to MFG, last November Patti self-published “Southwest Images or View Through the Big Guy’s Lens,” a coffee table style book of Tad’s photography.
“My sister-in-law and I did the graphic design and we printed it locally at Arizona Lithographers,” Patti said.
The book was advertised in The Explorer and other venues, and cards were mailed out announcing the book launch party catered by Baggins with acoustical guitar music by Dustin Jones.
The book is available through McBride’s store and web site at www.mcbridesframing.com.