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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/03/26/HO31339.DTL

San Francisco Chronicle: Wednesday, March 26, 2003

GET THE PICTURE / DIY framers know survival secrets

One of the few remaining do-it-yourself frame shops in the country, the Framer's Workshop in Berkeley, just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

"People tell us we're an institution," owner Kirstie Bennett said. "For us, this is lifetime work."

Bennett and husband Jeff Goldberg are devoted to helping customers choose framing materials and assemble their own framed art, an enterprise that flourished in the 1970s but has all but disappeared.

"Originally the idea was to save the client money, and it also was kind of crafty. People had more time in those days. It seemed like a larger percentage was do-it-yourself then. Now it's half and half," she said.

The workshop has two employees who exclusively help customers with frame jobs. After advising and helping select materials, the customer does his or her own glass cleaning, hinging the art into the mat, putting on backing paper and attaching hangers, wire and bumpers (Bennett helps Stan James of Oakland, right, frame Diego Rivera print, left, $87). There is an $8 joining fee for assembly plus the cost of materials.

Bennett said she carries more than 2,000 molding samples and does such a large volume that she can offer discounts. What has kept her business going all these years is nearby UC Berkeley, a reliable customer, and good service.

"In this economy, you fall back on your good service and your good name. We don't let anything go out of our store that's not perfect, and if anything goes wrong, we always assume the customer's right."

The Framer's Workshop is at 2439 Channing Way at Telegraph, Berkeley. (510) 849-4444. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. most days, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

- Laura Thomas



© 2003 San Francisco Chronicle