DARIEN — When it comes to framing items, Geary Gallery owner Tom Geary has seen it all — from clothing to shotguns and canoe paddles.
“We do a lot of things like this. A lot of mementos,” Geary said, recalling a Ridgefield customer who asked him to frame her children’s first hats and sneakers.
His team was able to mount the objects in museum boxes.
“The difference here is the personal touch,” he said. “I’ve based my entire business on service, the most important thing in the world.”
The 67-year-old Norwalk resident has owned his framing and restoration business in Darien for over 30 years. His first foray into framing came while working with his wife’s brothers in craft stores in Florida.
“I had previously built houses and built a restaurant, so I had some mechanical knowledge,” Geary said.
With no formal training in framing, Geary said he picked up the craft through repitition and constant work.
“I learned as I went,” he said.
After four years in Florida, Geary moved back to Connecticut and decided to open his own store in Darien. His current store started off as only 1,000 square feet, before eventually expanding to include the Geary Gallery, which now features a collection of artwork from various artists.
“There was a learning curve involved,” Geary said of starting his gallery. “Getting to know the artists, who the artists were, and trying to figure out what people in the area liked.”
His decision to start the Geary Gallery came after taking over a similar business of a friend. When his friend moved to Maine, Geary decided to officially merge the business into his framing shop.
While likes and dislikes in art have changed over the years, his core base of customers has stayed consistent.
“As we’ve seen the tastes of our clientele evolve over the years we found it’s important to have a large diversity of artwork available to them,” Geary said. “So we keep a pretty diversified mix of art.”
This mix includes everything from realistic and impressionist paintings, to even abstract paintings.
“You never know what someone is going to like when they walk through the door,” he said.
Although Geary and his wife grew up in Stamford, their famliarity with Darien comes from years of running other businesses in town. Geary was involved in the opening of Rory’s Restaurant, and being involved with the community influenced his decision to open his framing shop.
“I knew from that restaurant what the people in Darien were like. I wanted to be here,” Geary said. “This town is very unique. The people are great.”
As a local business owner, Geary said mom-and-pop stores are vital to a community.
“There’s still people who want to get a quality piece,” he said. “If they have an issue they want to be able to go back and talk to someone.”Read Full Article
Geary said he doesn’t look at his workers as just employees, and instead works to create a family environment. He extends this same ideology to his customers.
“A couple of people have asked why I haven’t opened more stores,” he said. “I’ve done that. I don’t want to do it again. I want to keep it personal.”