Growing up in a family business, at the age of 12, Shauna Francis was gift wrapping during the Christmas season. Now, years later, she is the second generation owner of Koerten’s Fine Framing and Gifts. In the nearly five years since she took over, Shauna has brought many new ideas to the former Koerten Gallery Ltd.
Her parents, Al and Linda Koerten, started the business as a small framing shop inside their paint and decorating store in 1974. By 1980, with the custom framing taking up more of the daily operations, the business split, and the frame shop became its own entity. By 1985, Shauna’s parents were building a strip mall with room to house both businesses. Koerten’s moved into its current location that fall, a nearly 5,000 square foot retail space with a full custom frame shop housed below.
Koerten’s offers a selection of over 2000 frame options, a wide selection of artwork from inexpensive open editions to original paintings, and a vast selection of artisan quality gifts with an emphasis on local and American made products.
“In all honesty, growing up, I never thought I’d take over the family business. I knew how hard my parents worked, how unpredictable things could be for small business owners,” Shauna says. After working as a secretary and as a travel agent, Shauna returned to the family business in 2005 and eventually took over in 2011.
“Growing up working for a family business gives you a very different perspective on things. You learn very early that every job, big or small, plays an important role in how well a business runs. These are things employees in larger businesses rarely notice. Someone is employed to come in and dust your desk and empty your trash and you never even think about it, but it matters.”
Shauna feels that the values and work ethic she developed working for her parents were vital in how she conducts her business today. “I was taught to take pride in my work. To this day, I won’t let anything leave the store that I wouldn’t take home myself.”
When ownership changed in 2011, so did the name. Shauna explains: “The business was Koerten Gallery Ltd. for over 30 years, however, when I took over, I changed the name to Koerten’s Fine Framing and Gifts. “Gallery” confused people. Some customers didn’t realize we did custom framing, others had no idea we offered gifts. Some thought we only sold high-end artwork. The new name was really meant to better explain what we offered.”
The new name was just the beginning, as Shauna has continued to evolve from an art and framing store into so much more. She has worked to expand the stores merchandise offerings, upgraded the stores technologies, and has worked to improve marketing to appeal to a younger clientele and embrace local artists.
Shauna continues to add new lines of products, each carefully selected. Many are American made, or fair trade with an emphasis on local or state made items. All are unique and high quality. Art glass, wooden boxes, carved antler items, hand bags and Navajo jewelry are just a few of the items that fill this one-of-a kind store. A hidden treasure is the card room, filled with greeting and note cards hand selected by Shauna and her mom, Linda Koerten. “I get customers in the store who come in just for cards. They by 6 or 12 at a time. Some spend over $50 just on cards. I suggest they tell their friends if they like our selection so much. I’ve been told more than once that they won’t tell anyone, because then everyone would know where to they get their cards.”
In addition to updating the gift and art selection available at Koerten’s, Shauna has updated the framing department as well. She installed a computerized mat cutter, or CMC, around the time she took over, and has since invested in new state-of-the-art frame joining equipment. “A computerized mat cutter allows for extremely accurate and detailed mat cutting in a much shorter amount of time. Complicated layout that would have been previously laid out and cut by hand are now programmed into a computer, which allows us to cut multiples of the same layout with much more efficiency. In addition we can now cut complicated shapes, arcs, and overlapping openings with ease. Plus the machine offers us the ability to emboss or write directly on the matting, allowing for endless possibilities.” Customers can get standard frame jobs completed in just 2 weeks, while complicated items, like shadowboxes and jerseys average 3 weeks.
Beyond recent product and technological advances, Koerten’s puts an emphasis on supporting local arts. Whether it’s the many local artists they carry in their store or supporting the youth arts by donating mats to the Boys and Girls club’s annual art show every January, Koerten’s has a long history of backing the local artist. Shauna says, “We are passionate about supporting local arts, especially kids. We donate all our scrap matboard and foamcore to area schools and after school programs. We even work with a local Optimist club, hosting their annual Art Dollars for Youth fundraiser every April. In addition to raising money for local youth projects, the club also honors 8 student artists at the event. Each student gets their artwork custom framed (provided by Koerten’s) receives a medal, and even gets a monetary gift. It’s a big deal to those students and their families, to have their work on display in the store.”
Visiting the shop, one soon realizes that a family atmosphere with great customer service is what has kept Koerten’s a shopping and framing destination for years. Along with Shauna and both her parents (who are still working for her), you’ll find some wonderful staff. Kathy Blake, a local business owner herself, offers wonderful assistance to customers shopping for the perfect gift, while Laura Miller, a part time professional photographer, works most evening and weekends.