ART

Getting Framed: Art shows are back at The Frame Up shop in Oxford

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Inside picture of The Frame Up shop. Photo by Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward
Oxford Stories
rcward@go.olemiss.edu

If you’re hoping to get framed, The Frame Up shop on the Square can help.

The longtime Oxford business once hosted several art shows, but stopped because they took up too much time. Now the art shows are back.

“I have recently hired someone who does nothing but run my gallery, and he does all the promotion, set-up, and parties,” said San Antonio native Tommy Cribbs, 43. “Our gallery now has 10 shows a year made up primarily of local artists.”

Cribbs’ dad grew up in Oxford and attended Ole Miss. Cribbs did the same. After graduation, he began working in The Frame Up at 125 Courthouse Square 19 years ago.

“My Dad told me I needed grow up and get a job,” Cribbs said.

The Frame Up is a local frame shop on the Square that has been in Oxford for 34 years. Cribbs bought the shop four years ago. The transition from employee to business owner was simple.

“I became the manager of the store after working here for six or seven years,” he said. “So I had been running the business anyway. Other than making ultimate decisions, I had been waiting on all the customers, doing all the production, and ordering everything, so the transition to owner was only a matter of paperwork. You just have more of it.”

A typical day for Cribbs begins with the “production phase,” which involves mounting and matting frames. The Frame Up opens at 9 a.m., and customers typically begin coming in around 10 a.m.

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Colorful frames that will be used soon. Photo by Ryan Ward.

“After 10 a.m., we do production, put pictures together, wait on customers, and take new orders,” he said.

Cribbs sometimes receives unusual requests. He said the strangest item he has been asked to frame was a century-old lock of hair.

“It is called a mourning lock,” he said, “and it is typically when a grieving person would take a lock of hair from a deceased loved one. But all-in-all, we see a lot of cool stuff because people don’t come in here with stuff they don’t care about.”

Cribbs said his favorite framed item was signed Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, and Deuce McAlister jerseys.

Employee Mike Stanton said his favorite framed piece was “some of Picasso’s prints, and the goal post from the Ole Miss victory over Alabama in 2014.”

Stanton said his new favorite thing is dyed coconut paper made from coconut fibers.

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Tommy Cribbs getting ready to frame dyed coconut paper. Photo by Ryan Ward.

There are challenges about being located on the Square. Parking is the biggest issue.

“We are primarily not a grab-and-go business,” Cribbs said, “so we get a lot of foot traffic on game day weekends, but what they are typically looking for are smaller prints that they can take with them easily. However, we are not more expensive because we are located on the Square. In fact, it is cheaper to go through us than it would be to go to a larger store in Jackson or Memphis.”

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Tommy Cribbs happily helping a customer. Photo by Ryan Ward.

“More often than not, our clientele is comprised of those who have more disposable income and more resources,” Stanton said.

Cribbs said the greatest problem he faces as a business owner is advertising because people aren’t reading newspapers as often.

“It is difficult to advertise our business on social media due to our clientele,” he said, “because they don’t use social media often. Radio advertising is tough because you essentially have to advertise on every local radio show or podcast, and we simply can’t do that.”

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