I am Marc Volpe and I am, quite simply, the World’s Greatest Picture Framer, and as such there are several questions I am often asked.

What sets my shop apart from other frame shops?

To begin with, I am dedicated to customer service. I will personally greet you at the design table, walk with you through the selection process, purchase, cut and assemble your selection and present your complete  product – yep, one guy start to finish. Not to mention, I have been noted by former art critic of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Kevin Costello, to be the only person he has ever met that can distinguish between 15 shades of light gray!

So how did I become a picture framer?

Simple – women.

The year was 1984 and I was working as a carpenter for the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. I also happened to be dating two women; one who had a poster for framing and another who worked in a frame shop! I had come across an extraordinary plank of cypress and together, with my friend and fellow wood dog, we milled that cypress plank into a frame. I then took the frame to my other girlfriend’s shop for glass and matting.

When the owner of the shop saw my frame he asked me where I’d gotten it. After I explained that I had made it myself he asked if I would make some standard size frames for him to sell. We agreed on the terms and for some weeks I did exactly that. Before long the owner asked if I would like to take over management of his shop. We again agreed on terms and two years later I bought him out.

And how exactly did I become the World’s Greatest Picture Framer?

Over the years it is been my good fortune to have many customers turn into friends. One such customer, and friend, is Art from Philadelphia. Art and his wife were winter residents arriving annually the first week after Thanksgiving. Shortly after returning Art would always call me and ask, “Is this the world’s greatest picture framer?” and I would laugh and say, “Hello Art, yes it’s me, glad to have you back.”

Of course you’re aware of the devastating effects the recession of 2007-08 had on our local economy. In my industry, however, it was more like a depression. In fact, between 2008 and 2010, 40% of the shops like mine across America closed their doors never to open them again. As I sat  in the fall of 2008, making in a month what I usually made in a week, Art called and asked the usual question.

After we had our annual laugh and hung up, I got to thinking back to my preteen years and a fellow known as Cassius Clay. Some of you may remember the refrain that made his a household name, “I AM THE GREATEST!” And I thought, you know that worked out pretty well for him, I think I might try it myself. Of course Mr. Clay could back up his claim, and so could I. Everyone knew it was true it just needed to be said.  If not by me, then by who? Besides there’s no promotion like self-promotion. At that moment the World’s Greatest Picture Framer was born.

And now, as the commentator Paul Harvey used to say, you know the rest of the story.
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