Tru Vue® for the past several months has turned the spotlight on some of the amazing custom framers who use our products every day to bring the best in preservation, protection, and display to their customers. In this post, we feature Tami Phillippi owner of Frame Minnesota in Eagan, MN.
After more than 30 years in the custom framing business, Tami Phillippi remains as excited about customer work as she was when she left the technology business to open a frame shop in 1995.
“One of the reasons I like and have stayed in custom framing for so long is because there is no typical project,” said Tami. “That’s what makes it interesting. I try to say yes to customers as often as I can, whether it’s a simple job to refresh a piece that has already been framed or something I’ve never done before.”
Although some customers will come in with specific ideas about what they want in a framing package, most are best served by the guidance that Tami and her employees provide. Many come into Tami’s Frame Minnesota unfamiliar with the products and the processes, and her first step is to take away the uneasiness and make them more comfortable.
Educating customers is a part of increasing their comfort level, and Tami makes sure that they are aware of the impact conservation products like Conservation Clear®, Museum Glass®, and Optium Museum Acrylic® can have on a piece. She keeps the Tru Vue Glass Choices display on the counter and has hung several items framed with Museum Glass around her shop, juxtaposed with pieces without anti-reflective glazing. She estimates that more than 95 percent of the projects her shop handles use conservation glazing.
“The Glass Choices display and those on the walls help show customers the difference glazing with Museum Glass can make,” said Tami. “Customers always love their pieces when they see them completed without the glare and reflection.”
Tami appreciates that Tru Vue doesn’t charge for the Glass Choices display and the other ways we support custom framers in their businesses. The seminars at the West Coast Art and Frame Show and content on the blog, especially articles on pricing and profitability, are some of her go-to resources for staying updated on trends and reminding herself of the value that custom framers provide, and that they should charge a fair price for it.
Tami recently went through a transition in her business to position herself for success in the years to come. When asked about what she sees as the key to longevity into the future, she talked about the need to appeal to younger generations, like Millennials, who are beginning to settle into homes and reach the life stages where preserving memories are important.
“This is a generation that is used to uber customization,” said Tami. “I think we can appeal to them based on this, but it’s something everyone in the industry needs to get behind.”
Tami is adding printing and photo editing to reach this younger audience who capture so much of their lives in digital photography. Though it is something she thinks will appeal to this demographic, offering photography services is a natural extension of her business, given her experience as a landscape photographer. In fact, her experiences having her photographs framed influenced her decision to consider custom framing as a career.
Though she sees a need for the industry to try to appeal to younger customers, Tami believes that the same core values will drive success for the future. “We are a customer-centric business, so it has always been about service and listening to our customers,” she said. “It is so important that we continue to learn and be willing to try new things to attract customers. Regardless of what industry you are in, you always have to be learning.”
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.