After nearly two decades of operation in the iconic red and purple building at 909 West Fifth Avenue, Reed Arts is on the move once again. This 35-year-old business will be relocating a half a mile south to 943 West Third Avenue in two weeks. The old building won’t be sitting empty for long though, as Zauber Brewing is already working on a similar short relocation from their shop right around the corner at 1300 Norton Avenue.
We spoke recently with Tim O’Neill, President of Reed Arts to find out more about what we can expect at the new location closer to Grandview Yard. Our full Q&A can be read below:
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about the history of Reed Arts?
A: The company was started by John Reed in 1978. He was a neighborhood small businessman, working out of a small space at 233 West Fifth Avenue in Victorian Village. He called it “Reed Arts and Crafts” at the time. Aside from picture framing services, he also offered some art supplies and did frame repair and refinishing. John was a great wood-worker, and we actually still use some of the custom cabinets he built more than 30 years ago.
In 1985, John was looking to retire and sold the business to Barbara Baker, a native of Worthington. Her father, J. Wallace Baker, was a local artist and his kids had grown up immersed in art, even creating custom frames for their father’s paintings. Barb wanted to focus on the “custom” part of custom framing, and cultivated a clientele that appreciated and desired the fine quality products and service that people know Reed Arts for today. She grew the business sunstantially in those first few years, adding a second location in Dublin to serve the growing population there.
I came along in 1992 as shop manager, and we had six fulltime framers with the company at the time, which kind of unusual for an independent framer. In 1994, we consolidated the two locations into one at 909 West Fifth Avenue near Grandview. It gave us more much-needed space in the workshop and a larger showroom for art and accessories. By 1993, Barb and I had constructed a plan where she retired as I took over the helm, and I have been steering this ship ever since.
2. What prompted the move to the new location on Third Avenue?
A: It was kind of a “perfect storm” of events. Our lease was up for renewal anyway, so I think we were due for an evaluation, a fresh plan, and something new. I’m a big believer that to thrive, a small business needs to always look for that next move and that next big thing. If you just sit back and let things happen to you, things can get stale. I also knew that my landlord was trying to sell the building, and that made me a little nervous about our future here… what if a new owner decided they didn’t want us as a tenant? It made sense to me that we take control of our own destiny. I started looking around, and options in this neighborhood with the footage we needed were pretty limited. I didn’t really want to move too far away as our clientele is comfortable with coming to see us in this part of town, and we’re close to OSU and Downtown, which are good sources of business.
There are some milestones to celebrate this year, too. It’s my tenth year as owner, and Reed Arts’ 35th Anniversary. So why not shake things up a bit?
Q: The info I’ve seen has touted the location as being in close proximity to Grandview Yard. What drew you to wanting to relocate closer to that new development?
A: We’ve been watching the activity near Grandview Yard for a while, knowing that it was going to have a tremendous effect on the neighborhood. Years ago when the project was first being discussed, I actually considered it as a possibility for a future Reed Arts move. But the scheduled time of completion is just not right for us. The old Yaeger Graphics building we’re moving into is recently under new ownership, and a couple of the spaces were available. It’s only three blocks away, so It’s in the right neighborhood, and the size is right. There’s going to be a lot of new traffic in the area, so if we can weather through the construction activity, we’re set to be right on the edge of a very active corridor.
Q: What can you tell us about your current moving sales and the planned grand opening at the new location?
A: In preparation for this move (which is a tremendous effort by the way… have you ever moved 18 years of stuff?), we decided to take a look at our current inventory and selections to decide what we want to continue to offer, and what we’d like to retire. Again, it’s a chance to reevaluate, reimagine, and redefine ourselves. The things we’ve decided are not making the move are drastically discounted right now, up to 80% off on selected items. It makes no sense to me to carry old inventory around for years, so this is a great opportunity for folks to pick up some great deals. In several cases this past week, customers have bought discounted framed art for a song, and then reused the framing materials for their own art pieces.
Custom picture framing is what we do best, so in moving forward I wanted that to be our main focus. We’ll be showing the largest selection of frame styles that central Ohio has ever seen. Certain sidelines we’ve offered continue to be strong draws — the artwork and merchandise featuring images by Charley Harper, in particular. We’ll also continue to show a few tabletop frame lines and original works by artists that have been consistently popular with our customers.
We plan on opening up for business in our new digs on July 1st, and I can’t wait for our clients to see our new home. We had a lot of fun designing the layout ourselves with the assistance of architects Frank Weaver and Deepti Pradiyar at WSA Studio, and it’s exciting to see the new shop take form, all under the supervision of Tom Sintic at Diamond Building & Remodeling.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add about the old building on Fifth Avenue?
A: Our Fifth Avenue building has been called “iconic.” Obviously, part of that comes from the unusual architecture, but a lot of it is also the stamp Reed Arts put on the facade. One of the first questions people ask about our move is whether or not we’re taking our “giant picture frame” with us. The frame and the koi pond mural below it are the the amazing work of Greg Ackers, and I hate to lose those pieces. I really struggled with that, but in the end, those pieces were created specifically for where they are, and trying to retrofit them to fit our new space doesn’t work. I feel they would always look forced, so no, we’re not taking them. I’m excited for Columbus to see the “new icon” that Reed Arts is going to create on West Third Avenue. Once again, we will be hard to miss.
For more information, visit www.reedarts.com.