Carter Ave. Frame Shop Celebrates 30 Years

Carter Ave. Frame Shop has grown and prospered over the past thirty years, touching the lives of owners, employees, customers, and neighbors alike. It has striven to be a place of beauty, quality, and service to customers and to the community. The following brief history shows how far the shop has come.

In 1975, Mark Frederickson saw Milton Square while riding his motorcycle to a softball game. He had been dreaming of owning his own business and had been working in picture framing since he was a teenager. Mark immediately knew that the St. Anthony Park area was where he wanted to open a frame shop. He found a space in the basement off the parking lot behind Milton Square and began preparing the space. On September 29, 1975, Carter Ave. Frame Shop opened for business. Mark started small and grew little by little over the next ten years. Eventually, Mark sold the shop to concentrate on his other business, Commercial Framing Service. Mark eventually sold that business to concentrate on another business he started, Superior Moulding, which has become one of Carter Ave. Frame Shop’s main suppliers.

Meanwhile, Tim Smith, a student at Luther Seminary, was working part-time as a framer at FrameWorks in Roseville. He discovered how much he liked art and working with his hands. Tim’s boss, Tom Lind, invited him to buy Carter Ave. Frame Shop with him, with Tim running the shop. On November 1, 1985, Tim and Tom took over the shop. At first it was a one-person operation open Tuesday through Saturday. In December 1986, Tim became the fourth framer in Minnesota to become a Certified Picture Framer. Tim continued his senior year at seminary, going part-time until he graduated in May 1987, making him one of very few framers with a Master of Divinity degree. A small selection of art was added to the custom framing business. As business grew, Tim added Brian Lind, Tom’s son, as a part-timer while he was in college.

The “old, old store”, as the first location in Milton Square is called, had many unique features. Its 350 square feet held a sales area, an office, a bathroom, and a workshop. In the winter, because of the placement of the old radiators, it might be 80 degrees in the workshop, 50 degrees in the office, and there would be ice formed on the water in the toilet. In the spring, if it rained hard before the ground had thawed, there would be a waterfall down the wall by the windows. Because of the steps down to the shop, as well as the low ceiling and sharp turn into the shop, some oversized pictures had to be framed off-site. Plus the shop could only be seen from the lower level of the parking lot of Milton Square.

In 1989, Tim bought out his partner and moved the shop from Milton Square to a much larger and more visible location at 2278 Como Ave., next to the Bibelot, in the space currently occupied by Gustafson Jewelers. At the same time, more art was added to fill up the new gallery space. Brian became a full-time employee. More staff was added over the years — Glen, Jenny, Ruth, and Faye. The shop began to be open Monday through Saturday.

In 1993, it became clear that the lease would not be renewed, so Tim started looking for a new location in St. Anthony Park. Nothing appropriate was available. Tim approached the owner of the flat-roofed rundown duplex with a billboard on the roof at 2186 Como Ave., about selling. It took a year to get the rezoning to allow for a frame shop. Five months of gutting, putting on a new roof structure, and completely remodeling the building resulted in the store you see today. In August 1994, the whole shop was moved from the “old store” to the “new store” between 4:00 p.m. Saturday and 10:00 a.m. Monday. Of course, the shop could not move AND change its name for fear of losing customers. Hence, Carter Ave. Frame Shop has been on Como Ave. for the past eleven years. Over the years, more good people served on the staff — Lisa, Anna, Paul, Rachel, and Linda.

In 2001, the twelve-foot retaining wall at the back of the property had to be replaced. Since the excavation completely destroyed the back yard of the store, it was decided that this was an opportunity to plant a new garden. Since then, the garden has been planted and maintained on all four sides of the building. The garden was on the St. Anthony Park Garden Tour in 2003. It is probably the best frame shop garden in the Twin Cities. Of course, there’s not much competition.

In the long tradition of attracting excellent people, Harriet Graham was hired as Creative Director in October 2001, followed by Pam Johnson as Production Manager in May 2002. Carter Ave. Frame Shop was awarded the honor of being a “Top 100 Art & Framing Retailer” in the country by Décor Magazine in both 2003 and 2004. Now in 2005, the shop has been named again, with the added distinction of being one of the top eight shops honored with a special awards ceremony in Atlanta in September at Décor Expo, a national trade show. The shop will also be profiled in the October issue of Décor.

Thank you for being part of the history of Carter Ave. Frame Shop. We hope to be able to serve you well for many years to come.

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