Port Orchard framing store thrives in niche

Custom Picture Framing owner Mallory Jackson says her normal customers aren’t gone, they’re just hiding for the time being. - Charlie Bermant/Staff Photo
Custom Picture Framing owner Mallory Jackson says her normal customers aren’t gone, they’re just hiding for the time being.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant/Staff Photo

Mallory Jackson believes in keeping the customer satisfied, and she’s convinced it’s this commitment that’s helped to keep her in business while others in downtown Port Orchard have folded their tent and moved to some other town in order to succeed.

“I survive because I am a specialty shop,” she said. “I run a unique business. I provide good customer service and finish all of my orders on time. That I am the owner, and I am down here every single day, keeps people coming in.” 

As owner of Custom Picture Framing on Bay Street, Jackson, 47, has spent the past 13 years providing her customers a way to preserve their memories in a unique way.

While there are other local framing avenues — such as craft and do-it-yourself stores — Jackson’s niche is her ability to meet or beat the chain store prices.

Jackson’s success isn’t based on a complicated formula, beyond knowing her market and determining customer preference.

“I always ask customers a series of questions to get an idea of what they need,” she said. “Like where it will hang in their office, and what colors in the room they want to draw out. This determines whether I recommend metal frames or wood frames.”

Jackson also bases her recommendation on her own personal observations, such as how the customer is dressed.

For instance, someone dressed in a suit may be looking for a more formal display.

Much of her work involves the preservation of family treasures, with the three-dimensional “shadowbox” process especially popular. Here, an old doll or family keepsake is given the highlight treatment, where it is prominently displayed within a frame.

“A good frame is like magic,” she said. “If you’ve ever seen anything poorly framed you will notice the difference. It can be as simple as changing the mat color.

“And it shouldn’t get in the way,” Jackson said. “People never look at a piece of art and say ‘what a beautiful frame.’ The frame is there to put the art in the proper context.”

Jackson acknowledges that her business has fallen off recently, but credits wise investments and a good business sense with keeping her afloat. She said that a lot of downtown businesses fail because they make poor decisions, or because they don’t even have a business plan to begin with.

“I saw a decline in my retail customers about a year ago,” she said. “I haven’t lost them, they’re just hiding. They are holding onto their money, to spend on gas and groceries.”

In the meantime, she is surviving with higher-volume corporate accounts, like the Sheriff’s Office and local restaurants.

She also spends a certain amount of time on auction sites and fulfilling Web site orders, but says, “This is an in-person process, no one wants to select a custom frame over the Internet.”

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