When we were on Maui a couple of weeks ago I bought a photograph of a lone turtle in expansive clear waters looking out towards an infinite calm sea. I had been searching for something to put over my headboard ever since I bought some tropical-themed bedroom furniture a few months ago, and this was it. It’s a panoramic shot by the Sweets, well-known Maui photographers whose work was the first of several pieces of Hawaiian art I’ve purchased over many years. I didn’t initially think about the size being nonstandard so that it would require custom framing, which can be expensive.
Since the local independent framer I formerly used is now out of business, I went to the two big box art/craft stores that offer framing to get prices. They play the game of giving it a regular price tag of $800 with a “today only” discount of 60% off, plus another 10% off. The staff is friendly enough, but not particularly helpful or heartful.
Then I remembered another local frame shop that’s right across from my bank. I had worked with them once to find a piece of mat board that I needed to match. It’s owned and operated solely by an experienced, professional, mature couple, and their showroom is large and filled with an array of choices. When I went in, I didn’t have the art with me, but I knew the size and had brought a wood sample for color match. I told Greg I didn’t need a mat, but just the frame and glass, and he said “whatever you want, we are here to help.”
They both set about the shop, pulling options and helping me narrow down the selection. I realized it was a treat for me to feel leisurely rather than hurried, and I enjoyed the service and the conversation. As he was entering info into the computer to bid some samples, I began to tell them more about the Sweets and the Hana gallery where I bought the photo, about my artist friend who also shows at that gallery and her intricate paintings of ocean-smoothed beach stones, about my love of turtles and what they represent to me. Then it occurred to me that I might be boring them or taking too much of their time, so I said “oh, I’m talking so much,” and he said “you’re talking to two of the biggest talkers; please continue.” They both gave me all of their attention and were as immersed in the interaction as I was.
Greg told me the first choice was ridiculously too expensive, and he quoted me an “out the door” price on a couple more. Then he encouraged me to choose the third one, which was the least expensive and would be quick to arrive. I asked if the cost included assembling it all together, and again he assured “of course; we are here to be of service.” He handed me a copy of the sales order, and I asked if he wanted a deposit. “No, just pay me when you pick it up.” That type of trust and accommodation is so rare in today’s world!
After quite a bit of time (all of it enjoyable), I walked out with a receipt totaling twice what I originally thought I might pay, which was about $35 more than another store quoted. But I felt completely pleased with my purchase and uplifted by the experience of working with a craftsman with heart and soul. For the rest of the day, and into today, I am still feeling a warmth and satisfaction that even a 100% off coupon could not replace. And I am joyously looking forward to having a beautiful piece of art hanging over my head nightly, one that was created with passion and beauty and framed with genuine love.
When I head back to the islands in May, I might allow myself to be seduced just one more time by another piece of turtle art… as long as it requires a visit with Greg and Julia at Monterey Custom Framing.