In order to both drive traffic to my frame shop and support the local arts community, I have started featuring local artists in my shop. The walls are now filled with works by Natick artist Gregory Dolinkowski.
Image behind the cut )


Gregory Dolnikowski: Sunsets & Abstracts
December 1, 2006 - January 15, 2007
Baldwin Hill Art & Framing
41 Summer Street
Natick, MA 01760

Opening & Reception
Sunday, December 10, 2006
4:00PM - 8:00PM

508-720-0310, www.baldwinhillframing.com


I'd love to see my friends there!
Just an update on how the picture framing business has been doing lately...

For a while, it wasn't. During the time that we were house-hunting, house-buying, and house-fixing I did pretty much no framing at all. I did not like this one bit, but I was almost too busy to notice...

Things have started turning around lately... not only have I gotten business from friends, but my Yellow Book ad has started taking effect! What's ironic is that I'm running my "big" ad in Leominster/Fitchburg, because back when I took it out I didn't know I'd eventually be moving to Natick. I took out a small ad in the Natick book, which hasn't had much effect yet.

The biggest news by far is that I'm going to have a shop in Natick!! This guy had been advertising a commercial space for rent on Craigslist for months with no takers. A couple of weeks ago I wrote to him and offered a bit less for the rent, and he took it! It's at 41 Summer Street in Natick. It's not the prettiest space in the world, and it's off the main drag, but it's in Natick Center and it has a storefront in addition to a bunch of workshop space in the back. Oh, and it's just across the street from the Arts Center of Natick :) Wonder if I can take in any business that way?

Anyhow, I'm going to be fixing it up and moving over the next few weeks. I hope to be completely moved out of Leominster and operating in Natick by October 1 (watch for my grand opening!).

Speaking of grand openings, I finally have my e-commerce website up and running! I still need to do some tweaking on it, but I've uploaded about half of my suppliers' data and figured now is as good a time as any to go live. Check it out at http://www.baldwinhillframing.com

I'm also looking into taking a leave of absence from the day-job starting in October or so to throw myself into this full-time... wish me luck!
Executive summary: My picture-framing shop is back in business and now ready to hit the road :)

Here was my day today: First, head off to Fitchburg to do some paperwork regarding some land I'm selling (I'm selling part (only part!) of my Phillipston holdings to raise some capital for the business). Then it was off to Phillipston to care for the feral cat.

(sad note: I may have to put the cat down. Oh, near as I can tell he's healthy as an ox, but he's 120% totally un-adoptable, caring for him in the cabin is a real strain, and try as I might to place him as a barn-cat I've come up empty. grump.)

After that, it was back to Leominster. Turns out there's a print gallery in the mall that's going out of business and they contacted me to see if I was interested in buying any of their equipment. I popped in, said hi, chatted a bit. Turns out they're a chain that was mismanaged into the ground, so the judge finally ordered them liquidated. Poked around their back room with the manager. Noticed how some of their equipment was set up and had a few head-slapping "d'oh" moments. As in, they were *really* tight on workspace, so a number of their machines were set up vertically rather than horizontally as in my shop. In some cases it actually works so much better that I'm thinking of doing the same thing. D'oh.

There's a couple of toys I'm interested in, but I need to do some research before putting in any bids...

I then put on my marketing hat and asked her if their client list was for sale as well. She said "What client list?" She was as irritated as I was at this; the shop was part of a chain, so though she was the manager she had to do things the corporate way. This, apparently, did not include capturing client data for marketing purposes. I guess this is one of the reasons they're going Chapter 7...

Then it was off to Home Depot for some materials, then back to the shop for some building. Basically, I built a bunch of mobile frame-corner-sample display cases so that I could easily shift my sample displays between Leominster and Phillipston (and, BTW, be able to take them to client sites too!). Then I went to my computer and transferred my software and databases from the computer to the laptop, so I could take that anywhere too!

So the long and the short of it is, I can now see customers either in Natick, or in Leominster, or even onsite by arrangement!

I got a gig from the office already (the office mgr wanted some stuff framed for display, I told her I'd give her a good price :) ). Took delivery today of some materials for just that gig (it will be an exercise in seriously oversized work. Normal sizes are up to 32x40 inches. "oversized" is up to 40x60 inches. This piece is 42x60. I had to order 4x8 sheets of foamcore and plexi for this job!).

So, in short, I'm back in business! Yay!

Pan9?

Jan. 5th, 2006 12:56 am
Is anybody familiar with the "Pan9" art space in Boston?
I got the following from the Pan9 entry on myspace:


Pan9, for those unfamiliar, is an Allston art space that hosts private salons showcasing acts that don’t fit the mold of the Boston Art/Theatre/Music© scene. We've presented a lot of incredible acts: the Dresden Dolls (1st show here), Fluttr Effect (house band), Ad Frank, Valhalla Kittens, Uncle Monsterface, Beat Circus, Neptune, Daredevil Chicken Club, and many others.

"The Noise said about us: "Not unlike Andy Warhol's New York avant-garde Factory, this factory is an eclectic mélange of musicians, dancers, live painters, singers and poets... PAN 9 throws a party about once a month. PAN 9 does not advertise. PAN 9 has no web site. You pretty much either just know about it or you don't. Now you do"


The reason I ask is that Tam and I looked at a live/work studio space in the same building as they are (20 Rugg Rd, Allston). It's one floor above them. Since this is a walkup, anyone coming to our space will have to pass them to get to it. The hallway outside their door is illuminated only by a blue bulb and christmas lights, and the banners and graffiti on the wall have a definite "grunge" vibe to them.

The space we looked at is big and versatile. We would like to turn it into a combination living space, exhibition space, gallery, and frame shop. I'm wondering to what extent (a) our customers might be turned off by their vibe as they pass their space to get to ours, and (b) whether we'll be able to sleep at night when they're having an "event"... we're going to be targeting the art-collector demographic. We're not sure how their presence is going to affect us...

So, anybody more familiar with what they're up to?

Waaaaah!

Dec. 13th, 2005 12:03 pm
After all that trouble, it looks like we're not getting the South Boston space after all. I thought we were past the jinx point when I posted yesterday's entry, but when it comes to Boston real estate anything can happen...

Today I talked to the landlord... it turns out that the portion of the building with the space that we viewed has been scheduled for demolition when they start construction on the new building next door. We're not taking a space only to be booted out of it inside of a year... that's what Tam is trying to get away from in Fort Point.

The landlord was effusive in his praise of us, said that we're exactly the kind of folks that he'd love to have and that he'd try to find other space for us, but we're not hopeful. He mentioned shell games involving existing space in the building (another unit is open, but another tenant in the building is interested, yadda yadda...).

The space we looked at would have been perfect because it was on the first floor and actually had its own private entrance... perfect for salons and gallery openings. I doubt he'd have anything else like that...

Keeping my fingers crossed, but also back to combing Craigslist.

If anyone gets a line on live/work or studio space in the Boston area, please let me know!
So here's more of the scoop on the previous cryptic entry:

Tam and I have been looking for space for her to do her art for a while. At the same time, we thought it would be nice if we could live a bit closer to each other than we are now.

Tam and I have been keeping an eagle eye trained on Craigslist, hoping for something to come up sooner or later. Last week I saw something that looked pretty good: 1600 square foot live/work space at the Distillery in South Boston, for quite affordable rent (at least for us). The plan I figured out was that this would be my living and working space for the frame shop, and she could have a portion of it for a working space along with sleepover privileges :)

Last Thursday we made arrangements to go look at the space. The tenant was there but the landlord was not; we looked around, liked most of what we saw, figured we could deal with most of the rest, and made a short list of things that the landlord needed to be aware of.

Today we met with the landlord, looked over the space some more, and chatted with him. For over an hour. The more we chatted, the more we realized we were all on the same page. He told us stories of rehabbing the Distillery space, we told him stories of rehabbing the house and of some of the huge mill properties we looked at and passed on.

Throughout the process, I kept wondering if we would "pass muster". He spoke of needing to present credentials as an artist (portfolio, resumes, etc). I pointed him at our websites. Today during the application process I asked if he wanted us to attach our credentials. He said "You already did", referring to the websites. Still, we handed him a bunch of papers and he was impressed by how organized it was... guess he's more used to dealing with flaky artist-types. He was also impressed with our knowledge of construction and building codes. In addition to flaky artist-types, he says he's shown his properties to people who see "loft" and think "luxury loft". When he saw the amount of grey in my beard, he was concerned that we might be that type (i.e. older folks looking for a Nice Place), but we soon convinced him otherwise.

So, unless something terrible happens, I'm going to be moving to South Boston to set up a frame shop and gallery there, and Tam's going to have a studio and exhibit space as well. I really want to set up the space to be comfortable and inviting so we can have shows and salons and soirees and the like there... it'll be great to be clsoer to many of my friends. I'm still keeping the day-job for a while, so I'll still make it out to the western suburbs to see far-flung friends as well...

I'll let you know when the housewarming is :) Chances are we'd take occupancy in January but I'd be moving in gradually over the next couple of months. The place needs a bit of work, and I've vowed never again to live in the place I'm working on :)
So Tam and I have been looking for space. She wants to be in Boston in a stable studio situation, and I've been wanting to move my frame shop and my life closer to civilization too.

A couple of days ago, Tam sent me a posting from Craigslist advertising 1500 square feet in Allston, on the third floor of a former firehouse, usable as live/work space. It's *right on* Harvard Ave, near the Sports Authority. The space is beautiful, it was a former gallery (though the guy mentioned "performance art" there were a number of sculpture stands around as well).

Thing is, the rent is rather a jump from what I'm currently paying for home & shop, and the utilities are NOT included. This could be a big deal this winter (It's heated by gas, and there's talk of possible gas shortages this winter). I'd also have to figure out the parking thing... I'll probably have to rent at least one space and figure out what to do with the truck... So the outlay would be a substantial risk. I *think* I can make it, especially if the shop starts making money.

So it's a risk/reward thing. Do I risk financial tightness (or even insolvency) if I stretch for it? The potential upside rewards are substantial: I'd be located much closer to a potentially large customer base (and closer to more competitors, that's life). Tam and I would be able to see each other much more often (that's been an issue as we've been trying to figure out our relationship), and I'd be closer to the Boston social scene (heck, I could even take to hosting OPN in my gallery eventually :) )

The guy who showed it to us was not the building owner, I guess he's a caretaker or go-between. I asked him to ask the owner what's the best he could do on the rent if we agreed to a three-year lease. I hope to get a call back tomorrow.

After we looked at the place, Tam and I went out to dinner (Island Hopper). Nice food! When the check came, the amount was exactly $42.00. That number has been a Sign in our lives... we're never quite sure of what, though. We had a similar 42 moment when we agonized over the mills in Holyoke and finally passed them up.

I'm still figuring out if I want to go through with this...

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