In 1984 a young Stephenville man, George Wooley, decided to pursue his dream of owning his own business. That dream not only came true, it turned out very well to boot. On March 22, Frames Etc celebrated its 30th anniversary and the Wooley family plans on the business being around for at least 30 more.
In these days of big business and anonymity, it’s less and less usual to find a local, family-owned business still alive and going strong. Here’s what we learned from Wooley and his daughter, Julie Wooley Lowrance, who now manages the store on a day-to-day basis.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your experience in starting Frames Etc back in 1984?
A: Wooley: I was young and brash enough to quit a secure, good paying job and go into my own business. It was the support of our great customers that kept us going in those early years and still does today.
One of those first customers and friends was Brad Thompson. Brad was a mentor during that time, providing a ton of valuable advice and encouragement.
It wasn’t easy to start a business. If I’d known the challenges we’d face and how hard owning a business would be, I’m not sure I’d have done it!
Q: You credit much of the success to the employees you’ve had over the years as well as the help of your family.
A: Wooley: I’d have to give a lot of the credit to Joan Ary, who worked at Frames Etc for over 20 years before she retired, for her contributions. She was known and loved by many customers and she tried very hard to keep me in line. And I appreciate all the fine employees we’ve had over the years. Every one of them is important to the success of the business and to me personally.
Q: Frames Etc is truly a family business, which is rare in these days of big box stores. Have other members of your family worked here besides your daughter, Julie?
A: Wooley: Almost all of the Wooley family has worked at one time or another in the store. My parents helped in the early days, as well as my wife and both of our daughters.
The lion's share of any credit for our success has to go to, my daughter, Julie Lowrance, who started helping out in the store from day one, and has been working here ever since. Julie IS Frames Etc - the framing expert, the problem solver. Whatever needs to be done, she does it or she oversees it.
A: Lowrance: I’ve been so fortunate to be able to share in the lives of our neighbors in Stephenville and the store Dad started and turned into such a success has made that possible.
I’ve framed all sorts of family pictures – weddings, baby pictures and school pictures, a little of everything. We do more than frames, here, though.
In addition, we specialize in shadow boxes - which have held almost anything – family memorabilia, belt buckles, awards, jerseys, and even chaps and wedding dresses. We also have a bookstore and gift shop in the store and we carry the exclusive Tyler Candles line, which we have on display here.
We’re avid supporters of Stephenville ISD and Tarleton. Last year I designed a special mat celebrating the Jackets winning state in football. I had the mats and frames made before the final game so the families could get them the next day.
One of the most powerful experiences I’ve had here was the privilege of meeting the parents of Chris Kyle as they came in to choose a frame for a painting done by Blu Dornan as a memorial for their son that will hang at Tarleton State University. What a blessing to be a small part of honoring a great American hero.
[The late Chris Kyle was a Navy Seal and author of a bestselling book about his experience in combat, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.”]
Frames Etc is located at 221 N. Belknap Street. Store hours are Monday - Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.