Picture perfect

Marsha Braaten and Sam Falk at work in their Choice Framing shop at Elk Grove Boulevard.

Are you stuck at home and staring at a blank wall? Dear reader, you know the feeling. It’s time for some updating with some color, perhaps.  

So many customers are soliciting the services of Marsha Braaten and Sam Falk of Choice Framing on Elk Grove Boulevard to the extent that they are actually swamped in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are very busy, but it’s going to take an awful lot more coming through the door to make up for those two months that we were closed,” Braaten said.

People called them when their business was closed this spring under Sacramento County’s stay-at-home order. The callers anxiously asked when they will reopen.

True to form, customers did come in and often times they brought in several different items for Marsha and Sam to work on, even complicated projects.

“We are hoping this continues so that hopefully it does make up for the two months that we were closed,” Braaten said.

Being able to keep doors closed and work behind the scenes have facilitated constant labor for the pair, and if another shutdown comes this month they’re ready, she said. “If we had to close again, we would continue to be here. We would have the door locked like we did before. We would continue to work on the stuff we have in-house.”

The optimism just ever so slightly runneth over, as Falk voiced concern over the economic downturn’s effect on shipments.

“But as soon as we run out of material, that would be the end of it,” he said.

Braaten said that currently certain glass supplies are low, and doing her due diligence, she’s ordering extra.

A bittersweet state of affairs sparsely blankets the positive vibe, but they remain optimistic. While the majority of customers are repeat customers, some new clientele have come in.

“It’s exciting – we ask people: ‘How did you find out about us?’” Braaten said.  “A few people have been saying, ‘I want to support the small business.’ Perhaps the ‘shop local, support small business’ campaigns by the (Elk Grove) Chamber of Commerce are working. Even the state has been promoting ‘shop local.’”  

As custom framers, they enjoy seeing a wide range of individuals and the many treasures that are important to them.  

“They tell us why the items are important and we learn something about our clients as they speak,” Braaten said. “The information helps in determining the direction to go in to frame the items. The first step is to design a frame package to present the item in the best way possible.  It is so amazing to see how different colors and textures work together to create the final design. We say we have done a good job when the viewer notices the ‘art’ and not the framing.”

Prior to moving to Elk Grove and opening Choice Framing in 2007, the business partners were in the San Francisco Bay Area, both working in high-tech industries.  In their spare time, they frequented art galleries and often purchased art.  

In the beginning, most of the art was already framed.  After awhile, they started buying unframed art and worked with an exceptional custom framer.  During one of the slow times in the high-tech business, Falk underwent a battery of aptitude tests to see what he wanted to do next.  One of the top things on the list was picture framing.

Prior to pursuing picture framing, they researched the business by attending trade shows and conferences, took classes. Falk mentored with their framer for quite some time.  

In the meantime, the company Braaten was working for in the Bay Area moved to Elk Grove in 2001. Falk framed in the Bay Area during the week and spent weekends in Elk Grove.  In 2006, he moved to Elk Grove and, with the assistance of a framing consultant, started the search for a location for a frame shop and began the process of starting up a small independent, custom frame shop in the city.  They opened for business in March of 2007 and continue to attend trade shows and conferences as well as take classes to stay up to date on what is going on in the framing world.

Braaten and Falk are members of the Professional Picture Framers Association which is a great source of information and assistance from other framers.  Falk is a certified picture framer through the PPFA.  He retests every four years to keep his certification up to date.

In the 12 years they have been framing in Elk Grove, they have seen changes in the industry, namely  digital prints and LED lights.  

“One thing that remains the same is that as long as people want to protect, preserve and present items of importance, there will always be a need for custom framing,” Marsha said.

For more information on Choice Framing, visit www.ChoiceFraming.com.