Making Each Customer's Day Frame by Frame
By Herbert Lowe
Marcus Warren is busy cleaning the glass before fitting a just-created cardboard matting around a customer’s valued poem into a ready-made frame at The Great Frame Up.
“I don’t think he understands how he’s making my day, right now,” Chenelle Lampley, tells her fiancé, Ron Eldridge, who had accompanied her to the custom-framing store where Warren works as the manager in Hyde Park in Chicago.
Warren, 26, does understand. A 2006 graduate of the University of Illinois-Champaign – he majored in sculpture – Warren has served thousands of delighted customers during his three-plus years at the independently owned franchise, located in a bustling business district in the city’s South Side. Generally, whatever someone brings in has special meaning – at least to them.
“A lot of people ask why would you pay more for framing than you did for the piece being framed,” said Warren, who has also worked in an art gallery. “A frame can make a $10 poster look like a $1,000 piece of art if you do it right.”
Warren says he works on 10 to 12 framing requests each day. Most are routine. But two orders definitely stand out. One customer brought in 300 miniature Hot Wheels cars; he used pins to attach them to a 6-foot-by-4-foot mat board. “The other one was an autographed Dr. J. jersey."
John Schaefer, 28, works as a framing associate at The Great Frame Up. He calls Warren a great boss. “His managerial style is more first among equals rather than a level above,” Schaefer said. “He tends to lead by example rather than by bossing people around.”