Meet Your Merchant: 50 years and going strong at Rogers Picture Framing
Rogers Picture Framing
Art gallery, art appraisal, art restoration, art sales
210 Spring St., Nevada City
By appointment only
What does a modern day Renaissance man look like? Chances are Allan Rogers just might be it. The Nevada City veteran of the Korean War is a trained butcher, accomplished painter, vocalist, art restorer and conservationist, gallery owner, community volunteer, clogger, appraiser, art dealer, picture framer and apparently one hell of a “gut bucket” player.
The name of his Nevada City store on Spring Street, “Rogers Picture Framing,” doesn’t begin to describe all that goes on inside the spacious shop, which is tucked away inside a historic 1870s Odd Fellows building.
“There’s a lot going on in here,” he said, with a sweep of his hand. “But these days we only operate by appointment only. I rarely advertise — all of my business is by word of mouth.”
When Rogers says “we,” he is referring to his wife Betty of nearly 60 years, and local artist friend Jim Lee who regularly comes in, “hangs out and helps with art restoration.”
The Rogers, both now in their eighties, were raising their family in the Mariana Islands of Micronesia when Rogers’ brother first opened Rogers Picture Framing off Highway 20 in 1965. Several years later, the Rogers — Allan and Betty — moved their family back to the States and the two brothers created a business partnership. Rogers became the sole owner in 1977. This year, the store will celebrate its 50th year in business.
Growing up, Rogers’ father had been a Sacramento painter with countless artist friends who were always in search of affordable frames. Young Rogers and his brother seized the opportunity and began salvaging wood from local burn yards and making frames to sell. It was a skill that would serve them well.
Years later, before the manufacturing of picture frames skyrocketed overseas, the Rogers brothers could barely keep up with the wholesale demand at their small shop.
“We’d load up the van full of frames and drive to San Francisco — we couldn’t sell enough,” said Rogers. “We had 17 employees at the peak. Then the overseas market took over. But that was OK — I didn’t really like being a boss to that many people. It was like herding cats.”
But the demand for meticulous custom framing has remained steady over the years — at least at Rogers Picture Framing. Nonetheless, early on Rogers was eager to expand his skills and studied art conservation at the University of California, at Davis. Many of his projects today include restoring art that has been damaged through fire or other natural disasters.
“Many of my customers prefer to remain private, but business has always been good because I’m affiliated with so many artists,” said Rogers. “They’re wonderful referrals for me and we have a shared passion. I love that every piece of art has a story, and we’ve added to that story.”
Rogers’ son, Jim, worked alongside his dad in the shop for many years, and built up his own clientele through refurbishing, caning and restoring furniture. An avid cyclist, Jim was tragically killed by a distracted driver in 2010 while riding his bike on Highway 174.
These days, Rogers focus is primarily on art restoration, custom framing, fine art appraising and serving as an art consultant. There is also a wide variety of artwork for sale at the store by numerous artists, mostly local. In addition, he has been very involved with the interior restoration and maintenance of the historic Independent Order of Odd Fellows building that houses his store.
Despite being in his eighties, Rogers says he has no intention of retiring.
“Allan will never stop working,” echoed his wife Betty, with a laugh. “I know he’ll just be standing there working in the shop one day and just keel over.”
“I am so proud that this business has survived these 50 years,” said Rogers. “I am so grateful for the support of family and friends, not just monetarily. Fortunately I’ve never had a corporation telling me what to do. I just love my customers — and my wife.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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