Local retailer: giving back to the community

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized


Published on February 02, 2011 with No Comments

It is better to give than receive, and for Framing Concepts of Chesterton, that motto could not have been closer to their hearts when deciding to sponsor the arts enrichment program at Opportunity Enterprises (OE), a not-for-profit organization aimed at helping people with disabilities.
Since 2007, Framing Concepts has partnered with the organization, which provides people with mental and physical handicaps with the opportunity to develop their artistic skills, while teaching them to become self-sufficient individuals.
Ken Baur, owner of Framing Concepts, has been working with OE since the opening of his third Framing Concepts store five years ago. He remembers how he felt when deciding to work with OE, giving their clients a unique learning opportunity.
ìIn every community that we have a gallery, we find one place to help out,î Baur said. ìSo when we opened up five years ago, we made a contract with OE and we told them that we would like to help with their art program.î
Baur said the goal of the art program was to raise enough money to allow everyone who attends OE the opportunity to take art classes.
ìWe felt that after talking to them this was a good release and good way of these people gaining skills in some capacity that they donít have in their regular life,î he said.
Channeling OEís clientsí talents into artistic mediums, Framing Concepts puts on a yearly auction known as the ARTability Art Show. During the auction, Framing Concepts opens its doors to loyal customers, supporters of OE as well as the OE artistsí friends and family.
With nearly 250 people in attendance, Framing Concepts auctions the OE artistsí work, profiting from the event as well as giving these artists the confidence and ability to stand on their own two feet ñ an opportunity they might otherwise not have. Each work of art sells for the average price of $200, and considering Framing Concepts profited $10,000 last year, each artist was able to sell quite a substantial amount of their art.
ìThe government funding only paid for a certain number of people to partake in the program and get credit for the certain areas they were being trained in, and only about 60 percent of the people that go to OE qualified for the art assistance program,î Baur said. ìWe said our goal would be that we would raise enough money in five years that everyone that attends OE could have the option of taking art classes.î
Steadily reaching their goal, the ARTability Art Show has grown both in attendance and profits during the past three years. In 2007, there were 100 auction attendees and the event brought in $5,000 in profit. The eventís numbers had doubled by 2009, with 250 people in attendance and making $10,000 in profits, far exceeding the original fiscal goal.
Picking the right organization to support can have a tremendous impact on the success of a business. For Baur and Framing Concepts, this has proven to be true with their collaboration with OE resulting in additional sales and solidifying Framing Conceptís reputation as a business leader in the community.
In turn, the community has played a significant role in the success of the event, not only through their auction attendance, but also by giving Framing Concepts additional business.
ìCustomers come in and we even have an OE marketing code in our register because so many people have cited the fact that they are there because of what we do for this organization,î Baur said. ìOur advice would be that every gallery should try to give back in a way.î
But even the success of the auction has not kept OE immune from the recent economic downturn. The government decided to pull OEís funding, putting the arts enrichment program in a compromising position. As Baur explains it, OE no longer has the money to hire teachers and the question of whether or not to continue the program has been called into question.
Baur regularly attends meetings, listening to the organizationís and artistsí challenges. But until any major decision is made, Framing Concepts is keeping a positive attitude, having employees donate their time and resources in order to keep the arts enrichment program a success in these trying times.
ìThis is the first year that we will have less art because the artists canít produce enough art in the hours theyíre given,î Baur said. ìAs far as our major hurdle, we are still having the event at Framing Concepts. We are trying to do even more for them by donating our time and helping them to get the work done, but if that ends up being cut down, weíll have to find another way to help.î
Thankful for his fourth DECOR Top Art & Framing Retailersí Award, Baur credits the success of Framing Concepts to his fearless attitude of reinvention as well as a competitive spirit, constantly willing to try new things for the benefit of the community and the business. Recognizing the importance of new business models, Baur constantly tries to find different ways of attracting new customers, including e-marketing and revamping the storeís Web site to include an interactive e-commerce element.
Maintaining relationships with other business owners and new customers is essential, acknowledging that when creating a unique product for a customer a special relationship is formed, which can make or break a business.
ìRewarding people that shop with you and getting them to recommend others is what itís all about,î Baur said. ìThat sort of ties over into the award, the idea that we want to continue trying new things and never settling for who we are today is why we keep participating in this award program, because we are always trying to do something new.
Framing Concepts has locations in Chesterton, Valparaiso and Crown Point. For more information about Framing Concepts, call 219-926-6000, or visit www.framingconceptsonline.com.
OE is located at 2801 Evans Ave. in Valparaiso. The site is home to their Simply Amazing Market, where their dedicated team hand produces and packages gourmet treats, such as popcorn and fudge, with care and quality. For more information about OE or their Simply Amazing Market, call 219-464-9621, or visit www.oppent.org.

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