Framing the future: PT shop merges manual, virtual services to thrive despite COVID pandemic economy

Luciano Marano
lmarano@ptleader.com
Posted 9/29/20

Business is booming at Frameworks Northwest, a framing shop in downtown Port Townsend, and owner David Wing-Kovarik knows that’s because of, and definitely not despite, COVID-19.

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Framing the future: PT shop merges manual, virtual services to thrive despite COVID pandemic economy

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Business is booming at Frameworks Northwest, a framing shop in downtown Port Townsend, and owner David Wing-Kovarik knows that’s because of, and definitely not despite, COVID-19.

People can only look at their walls for so long, it seems, before they feel the need to tinker.

“They’re home, they’re tired of looking at the blank wall or they see something that needs to be repaired or replaced,” Wing-Kovarik said.

“They’re taking things out of their closets and wanting to frame them,” he explained. “They’re finding jobs that they always had intended on having done. They’re looking at something and going, ‘You know, I never really liked that frame.’ Or, ‘Can we do this better?’ They’re finding prints and original pieces on Etsy and they’re having those framed [or] their kids’ artwork; we’re doing a lot of that.”

The shop has been serving quality-seeking aesthetes since 1989 and now, in its latest location
(211 Taylor St.) continues the tradition, adding increased virtual services to the offerings.

“We started this conversation some months ago, about doing virtual framing,” Wing-Kovarik said.

“Part of what’s happened with COVID is it’s brought framers together from all over the world, actually. And we’ve all been sharing different things. What are you doing and what aren’t you doing? And what’s working? And let’s modify this and how do we combine resources together?”

Now, after some experimentation, through a multi-camera setup Wing-Kovarik and his staff can work with customers from near and far without leaving the shop, while still giving them a good-as-ever experience.

“That way, when we have someone who is out of state, is not in the Port Townsend area, we can do the whole thing there,” the owner said. “We can bring in shipments of stuff. We have collectors who collect things and ship them here. We have people who buy things at auction and ship them here. And then we do the whole thing live using Zoom and Google Meet … and then they can see the molding wall, they can see everything that we’re doing exactly like they’re in the shop. It’s all done here and they can be sitting out back in their car or in their office or in their home or some other state.”

The multiple cameras allow Wing-Kovarik to see exactly what the client is seeing, which makes all the difference in his line of work.

“We took our time and took a couple months of experimenting, trying to figure out what would work, what wouldn’t,” he said. “How to set the lighting correctly so that you can see this white looks more blue than this white does. Or, here are the different types of greens or grays or anything along those lines, because it doesn’t always transfer well. So we had to set everything up to optimize that as best as possible.

“Now I know what’s not working or, let’s adjust this, and then the client doesn’t have to say, ‘I can’t see that,’ because I can already see it. It makes it fast, simple and easy and it’s not complicated.”

The actual shop is open as well, of course, albeit with a slightly modified floor plan. It boasts separate entrances and contactless pickup, distanced work stations for client consultations.

Wing-Kovarik’s background is in business, but even before acquiring the well-known shop several years ago he was no stranger to working with his hands.

“I grew up building boats and building houses and this is very much the same thing,” he said. “We’re constantly designing things and improving them and fixing them and building them. And taking something that might look flat on the surface and bringing it back to life again.”

The maritime tie is, naturally, fitting given he is regularly called upon to frame a certain poster in particular.

“We do a lot of Wooden Boat [Festival] posters in here and people collect them,” he said. “We have people that come in here with armfuls of collections of posters, particularly the Wooden Boat [Festival] ones, and we put whole galleries together for them.”

Wing-Kovarik has a special affinity for collectors, and in addition to framing his shop offers consulting services — even online, via video — for those looking to better display their lovingly assembled treasures.

“People will show us their wall and we know we’ve already worked with them on three, four or five pieces; we have two more pieces in,” he said. “As they’re moving it around live online we can see it and go, ‘Well, OK, if you adjust it this way, this is the impact that will have.”

Visit www.frameworksnw.com or call 360-385-3809 to learn more about the shop’s services or schedule an appointment.

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