Framing after All These Years: An Entrepreneur Makes a 30-Year Dream Come True in a Cape Cod Frame Shop

By Tarateta, Maja | Art Business News, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Framing after All These Years: An Entrepreneur Makes a 30-Year Dream Come True in a Cape Cod Frame Shop


Tarateta, Maja, Art Business News


When customers enter the Cape Cod store called j miller, pictureframer, they don't have to look far to find the owner. John Miller greets every client who walks into his frame shop, personally works to meet each customer's framing needs and designs and creates every frame that leaves his shop. The owner of this one-man operation wouldn't have it any other way.

"It makes a difference to customers that the guy who greets them completes the work," he said.

Framing is a relatively new endeavor for the 53-year-old Miller, who opened the eponymous shop four years ago. "It's my fourth career and the only one I ever really wanted," he said. His past pursuits have included stints in radio broadcasting, the advertising/public relations field and the computer software industry. But he recognized early on that he could combine his talent for communicating with people, his creativity and business acumen and his affinity for technology and computers into a successful framing business. "Thirty years after I first thought about it," he said, "I'm finally doing it."

Miller said he learned as a boy what to look for in a fine frame, spending many afternoons in the shops where his parents brought pieces of their extensive art collection to be framed. "I always liked the artistic creativity and subjectivity, as well as the objectivity, involved in framing. And I've always been an entrepreneur at heart," he said.

He also always had a vision for the workplace he would create for himself. When he found a restored, circa 1780 stand-alone building in a limited business district in Yarmouth, he knew it was the right spot for him. "I wanted people to find me but not to be in a high-visibility location where I'd have to humor a lot of traffic," he said. He now occupies two floors and 1,800 square feet. A rustic, comfortable 800-square-foot public showroom displays more than 4,000 corner samples and some finished frames and prints. The rest of the first floor is used to chop and store molding and houses the production facility, where Miller has a drymount press, a glass cutter and a computerized mat cutter, which he calls his "profit center."

"I'm one of only 10 framers with a computerized mat cutter in Massachusetts, and the only one on the Cape," he said. A staunch advocate for investing in framing software and computerized equipment, Miller calls the purchase of the mat cutter "the singularly most prudent thing I've done in the business. The volume and capacity it produces is equal to one-and-a-half full-time employees," he said. "And it offers a lot of creative flexibility."

Further, "I can't imagine functioning profitably without framing software," Miller said. "There are never any worries about pricing."

The rest of j miller, pictureframer also suits Miller. Large French doors on the first floor open out onto a formal garden. The upstairs is used for storage and office space and is home to the shop's cat, Jessie. …

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