By Joshua Maloni
Yes, Susan Sullivan can match mats with the best of them, but her true gift of framing lies in conversation – something that was sorely missed when a fire destroyed her Center Street storefront one year ago.
Sullivan worked from home in the first seven months that followed, continuing to bring treasured pieces new life and a better way to be showcased.
But it wasn’t the same.
So, residents rejoiced when Sue’s Frame of Mind returned to Center Street in late-June. They left no less than 100 messages on Sullivan’s Facebook announcement – not to mention smiley face and handclap emojis. Posts included sentiments such as “Makes my heart happy,” “We are all grateful that you persevered and began again,” and, of course, “So happy to hear this I need a portrait to be framed.”
Per a website bio, Sue’s Frame of Mind specializes in “all those special projects that need a distinct and unique presentation. … Sue will guide you to a perfect framing choice for your home or office. … We offer competitive prices, and guarantee your objects receive the best of care from start to finish.”
Sue shared more about her new location – and the significance of the Lewiston Christmas Walk weekend – in this edited Q&A.
Q: You are observing two significant anniversaries: One year since the fire and, on a more pleasant note, 14 years since opening in Lewiston. I would suggest a common thread is the support you’ve received from the community. Residents have told me how much you and your business mean to the River Region. When you reflect on these two dates, what thoughts come to mind?
Sue: At the time I opened my shop in 2009, I had been working for a framer in the village for 16 years and was saddened when he closed his business. There was no question that my own framing business would be in Lewiston; and opened Christmas Walk 2009. Over the years, I've enjoyed working with my customers on their unique and special artwork, helping them to find the right frame and presentation for each individual piece. My shop was my creative sanctuary.
When the fire happened on Nov. 30, 2022, I was devastated at the loss – as were the other tenants and building owner. I was, and am, honored and humbled by the outpouring of care, concern and support. That event just reemphasized that each day, and the people in it, are a gift.
As I reopened my shop this year, I thought of a quote, which I've adapted for my circumstances: "Where else would I rather be than right here, right now, in this village and with these people?"
Q: Tell me how the new location is working, and what appealed to you about this site?
Sue: My current location, at 900 Center St. (lower), came to me through invitation. My current landlord reached out to me. I went to see the space, and saw the possibilities. Although I'm still settling into the space, it is light, bright, and inviting.
Q: As people ponder their shopping options for the next two weekends, why should they consider “shopping small” and patronizing locally owned businesses?
Sue: Small businesses thrive on the support of appreciative customers. Customers that see the unique and special goods and services that are associated with small businesses. What you find in a small shop, most often, is not found in a large box store. Whether shopping for a gift, or for ourselves, we all love finding that item that's perfect!
Q: What will you be offering for Small Business Saturday and Lewiston Christmas Walk weekends?
Sue: In addition to being a custom picture framing shop, several local artists have their artwork on display in my shop. Original artwork makes a wonderful and unique gift – stop by and see if there's something special for you!
Q: What is the best way for customers to utilize your special skills and services this holiday season?
Sue: Special photographs, children's art, memorabilia, needlework – each piece deserves special attention so that it may have an honored place on the wall in your home. Stop by and show me that special piece and, together, let's find the perfect frame for it.
Sue’s Frame of Mind, located at 900 Center St. (Submitted photo)
More About Small Business Saturday
The U.S. Small Business Administration states, “Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, is Small Business Saturday – a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. This year, we know that small businesses need our support now more than ever as they navigate, retool and pivot from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Please join SBA and organizations across the country in supporting your local small businesses by shopping at a small business.
“Founded by American Express in 2010 and officially cosponsored by SBA since 2011, Small Business Saturday has become an important part of small businesses’ busiest shopping season.”
In honor of Small Business Saturday, Niagara Frontier Publications presents its annual spotlight on local merchants.
In the 2023 American Express Shop Small Impact Study:
•The majority of small business owners (88%) said small businesses need the support of customers in their community given the current economic environment.
•More than half (55%) of small business owners anticipate Small Business Saturday will make a significant contribution to their overall holiday sales this year.
•Consumers are ready to rally behind their local neighborhood businesses and be a part of the “Shop Small” movement. In fact, 78% of those surveyed agree small businesses are essential to their community.
So, #shopsmall this year.
To learn more, visit https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/benefits/shop-small/.