By Sharon Gittleman
FERNDALE-For the past 47 years, eager art lovers and photographers have come to Ferndale to add the finishing touches to their treasures at Rose Frame Shop. That’s not breaking news to some – John Rose’s father and grandfather opened the doors of the frame shop for the first time in downtown Detroit, not long after WWII.
Rose said he’s watched the fortunes of his adopted hometown of Ferndale change for better and for worse.
“We’ve seen the neighborhood go from great to very poor 20 years ago to becoming a nice place again,” he said. “People who live in the city got rid of all the tawdry elements. There were prostitutes up and down Woodward. It wasn’t a great place to shop. We stuck it out and now we’re happy.”
Both LGBT and straight customers come to Rose Framing.
“We run the gamut from young singles to 78-year-old ladies we’ve been framing for 30 years,” he said. “Our whole philosophy, and the whole reason we advertise in the gay paper, is we like people. We want to support all different kinds of people.”
That welcoming attitude isn’t respected by everyone.
“People told us you shouldn’t advertise in that paper because you’ll get all sorts of strange people. There’s a lot of people out there with poor opinions and they’re not shy about letting you know what they think,” said Rose. “My response to that was the more diverse the better.”
A few years ago, a handful of customers were even more forceful about their views, said Rose.
“We had people who said, ‘If you’re going to advertise to that community we won’t come in again,'” he said. “I said then don’t come in.”
Today, things have changed a bit for the better, Rose said.
“I think things have become not quite as blatant as they used to be,” he said.
At Rose Frame Shop you can choose between custom or ready-made frames.
“If it can be framed we frame it,” he said.
One recent visitor to Italy came to the store asking for the perfect frame for an intricately designed woman-shaped cookie. Rose said she’d bought the confection at a bakery near a fountain famed for a statue with a three-breasted woman. The cookie shared the same unique endowment.
“We framed one lady’s daughter’s hair,” he said. “When she cut her daughter’s hair she was so emotionally overcome by the experience that she wanted to keep it on her wall forever.”
While customers have asked to immortalize everything from a pair of eyeglasses to a soccer jersey, most come to the shop with artwork or photographs in hand.
“We can frame things to museum standards with special matting, glass and ways of holding the art in the frame,” he said.
The store has mats in a wide selection of colors, designs and sizes, as well as wood, metal and even gold leaf frames.
“We try to offer what’s new and fresh but keep some of the classic profiles and patterns,” he said.
The biggest mistake many individuals make is choosing the wrong size mat or frame for their artwork.
“Most people don’t follow proportions. I see so many things done poorly with a too-wide or too-narrow frame or with a frame not big enough,” he said. “Partially, it’s economizing, partially people are afraid to use a big frame.”
Rose said he gets his greatest satisfaction from his business’ creativity.
“I grew up just about teething on corner samples,” he said.
Many customers visit his store year after year, Rose said.
“There’s a certain amount of trust. It’s like establishing a relationship with a doctor or a dentist,” he said. “We’re dealing with the grandchildren of some of our original customers.”