Historic downtown Ridgefield, Connecticut has a new inhabitant on Bailey Avenue, right off of Main Street: The Frame Shop of Ridgefield, which opened its doors to customers and the arts community in November of 2012. The store, owned and operated by Sean Kilroy, a Brookfield resident, offers custom framing and features local artists in the gallery at the front of the shop. Kilroy, who double majored at Western Connecticut State University in both illustration and design, has been working in frame shops for over a decade, and The Frame Shop of Ridgefield is the result of aspiration and perspiration.
“It was a long time coming, I’ve wanted to do this for the better part of five years,” Kilroy said in an interview at the shop. “I realized that I was getting to a certain level at it and I was running stores for other people, virtually alone. So I decided to get into it myself.”
Kilroy’s vision didn’t stop at just owning and operating a frame shop; his goal was to create a frame shop with a personable and recognizable identity.
“I wanted to create a quality, wholesome, old-fashioned frame shop,” he explained. It was no coincidence he chose the quaint town of Ridgefield as the site for such a shop.
“Location is key,” remarked Kilroy. “This is a really artistic town, we have the Aldrich Museum and we have a number of other galleries… It’s a great little town and I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to find this spot, to get into a downtown historic district scene like this.”
Kilroy personally remodeled the interior of the store, which offers an open, well-lit gallery with a brick floor.
The space is currently exhibiting the works of four local artists, including New York City native Suzanne Benton and Bethel woodworker Alec Jordan. Kilroy wanted to do his part to support the local artistic community in his store’s first exhibitions.
While the The Frame Shop is a place to view and purchase artwork, it is primarily a place for customers to frame…. anything.
“Fine art is just a fraction of what I’ve framed,” Kilroy remarked. “The range of things I’ve framed in this business is extreme. I’ve framed some things you’d never think a person would want framed[…]Anything from rock posters, rock memorabilia, signed guitars, vinyl records, a lot of sports memorabilia…a lot of it is three-dimensional objects so it’s not just about putting it in a frame. You’ll have to customize the frame a lot to an nth degree to make it work.”
Despite the various design differences between framing a 15th century map and a diploma, Kilroy said there is always one constant he strives for to set his frame shop apart from the competition.
“I would say the most important thing is craftsmanship and putting it together,” he reflected. “Because you can design a great piece, but if you can’t put it together it’s not worth it. Taking the extra time to make things as close to perfect as you can get it, which is usually impossible to find, but I try to get it close.”
Kilroy believes personal attention goes hand in hand with delivering quality. He mentioned that framing and purchasing and viewing fine art are two areas of commerce that can’t be replicated in a virtual marketplace.
“That’s one of the cool things about this business,” he said. “Until there is true virtual reality shopping, it’s really hard to get what you get in a store like this online[… ]A person can bring in a piece and we’ll design it to a T, to spec, we design everything to the 16th. You’d like that personal experience, especially when you’re getting things custom made for you. Because they can talk to me and tell me exactly what they want. It’s a pretty intricate process.”
Kilroy said the personal interaction with customers is one of many rewarding aspects of owning a frame shop and working in a creative and dynamic line of work.
“The best part about working in a frame shop is I’m constantly surrounded by art and I get to make something different every day, and I get to work with a lot of cool people too…It’s a fun job.”
Those interested in keeping up with the The Frame Shop of Ridgefield’s art exhibits can visit the shop online at theframeshop ofridgefield.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/The-Frame-Shop-of-Ridgefield. Additionally, Kilroy welcomes visitors to stop in with all related inquiries.
“I’m really open to anything, stop on by; I’ll check out the work and we’ll go from there.”