How long has Time Frame Gallery been in business?
Time Frame Gallery had been at the corner of Robson and Seymour since 1977. It was probably one of the oldest stores on Robson Street. After forty years, the previous owner decided to retire, and I bought the business in June 2017.
I had been working for a large insurance company. They piled work on staff until everyone was burnt out. So I needed a change. Earlier in my career, I had worked for small companies. I liked the friendlier atmosphere where I knew the owner, and they cared about their staff. So I looked for businesses for sale and by coincidence or divine intervention, Time Frame was up for sale.
I’ve always loved art, crafts and woodworking. I’m now able to combine my interests with work. It didn’t take long for me to learn the basics of picture framing. But I continue to learn new things every day. Managing the business has been a bigger challenge, but I have great staff to help me. The biggest plus is that I now have the power to create a happy work environment that I had been missing.
Tell us a bit about the products and services that you offer.
At Time Frame, we do custom picture framing. This is the heart of our business. Picture framing is very creative, and there is no one way of framing something. You can go very simple or as elaborate as you want. We have hundreds of frame mouldings and mats to choose from. And we make our frames by hand. We don’t buy them from some factory in another country. So our customers are getting something unique.
We also have a great selection of greeting cards, from pretty and sweet to naughty. We can carry card lines that the big stores are afraid to. If someone thinks a card is too rude, I tell them, “You don’t have to buy it.” Many times we hear our customers laughing out loud because our cards are so funny. We have some fun gifts to go with your card purchase. And we also have an exciting selection of beautiful Vancouver images and other artwork by local artists.
You recently moved from your Robson/Seymour location because that block is being developed to high density towers. Has anything about the shop changed since the move?
We had to move from Robson Street because a developer purchased the building. They are going to tear down the old building and build an office tower. I was not anticipating this when I bought the business. However, this turned out to be a blessing because rents on Robson Street had increased past the income level of my store. It wasn’t easy packing up a store that had been in business, in the same place, for over forty years. But I found a great location at 1228 Granville St, which is between Davie and Drake St. It’s a beautiful looking block, and more shops are moving into the area.
One significant change with the move is that my store is smaller. We used to have our workshop and retail together in 2200 sq ft. That’s just not affordable in the downtown core anymore. So I have a smaller retail store, and my frame workshop is offsite in an industrial space. We also have less window space, so you have to come in to see what we have. But we can still offer the same services we did in the past.