"Everyone leaves here happy."
It's one of the things George Newman likes most about his job.
As owner of Keys Framing & Art Supplies, 1103 Truman Ave., Newman's goal is the look of delight that brightens a customer's face when they see the painting or photograph -- the one that's been propped for months behind the couch -- finally enhanced and surrounded by the ideal frame and mat.
"The art itself is great, but I get to make it pop," said Newman, who will mark his second anniversary on Truman Avenue in April. "Everyone's happy when they leave here, because whatever they brought in always looks better than it did. It looks the best it can look."
Newman offers a dizzying assortment of frames, mats and glass options for artwork of all shapes, sizes and media.
He custom cuts all his own mats, and if he doesn't have the perfect color frame in stock, he'll stain one himself to ensure the color is right to highlight the artwork.
"People are getting to know we're here and that we offer some of the lowest prices in town," said Newman, who owned two similar framing shops in Palm Beach before selling them to move to Key West, where he resides on a houseboat and spends his Sundays fishing and snorkeling aboard the charter boat business he also runs, Open Water Adventures.
"I got into this business after owning a construction company in Chicago for years that specialized in building custom closets and closet systems for people," he said. "But I got tired of running around, always going to other people's houses. This way they come to me, and I make them happy."
The abundance of artists in Key West convinced Newman to incorporate art supplies into his inventory.
"We're the only art supply shop in Old Town," he said, pointing out row upon row of oil, acrylic and watercolor paints, along with brushes, sketch pads, rollers, sponges and handmade art boxes in which to store it all. The boxes, like the coffee tables, television frames and other items in the shop are made from reclaimed wood that was once a lobster trap.
"Some of it's already been in the water, but some of it is just the wood that the traps are made from, Honduran pine," he said. "So it's either reclaimed or new lobster trap wood."
And the workshop out back proves the builder hasn't yet left Newman, who cuts his own frames and builds his own lobster trap furniture and other items.
Those too can be painted, stained or left in their natural state.
"Everything is really up to the customer," he said. "I work with them and make sure they know and see all their options before they make the right decision."
The shop at 1103 Truman Ave. is open weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays until 5 p.m. and Sunday by appointment -- if Newman isn't out catching fish.