ROANOKE — Ann Shive, owner of Crestwoods Frame Shop and Gallery, spends her days framing small pieces of history. Sometimes, that piece of history is a black-and-white photograph of a client’s in-laws on their wedding day. Other times, it’s a client’s painting that depicts her childhood memories of the Middle East.
“Basically, we’ve framed about anything from football jerseys to Picasso,” Shive said, “so it’s been pretty fun. We love when people bring in unusual things.”
Shive has owned and operated Crestwoods for nine years of its 59-year history. The frame shop is housed in the renovated space of Roanoke’s coil factory, which produced high-demand electrical coils during World War II.
Now, 70 years later, Crestwoods finds itself in what may be the most influential historical event since World War II: the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Having a frame shop and an art gallery is a very, very difficult business to be in, in general,” Shive said. “I believe — just talking to the artists, to the suppliers — that people are hesitant to buy art right now.”
Shive said the causes of this trend are unclear.
“We’re not really sure why because with an art gallery, unless you’re in New York or Chicago or someplace, you don’t get huge crowds coming in,” Shive said. “It’s usually one at a time.”
Over the past 10 months, Shive has noticed a decrease in the store’s typical trickle of customers.
The store is divided into two large, open spaces: one for the frame shop and one for the art gallery, an ever-changing showcase of works by local and regional artists. Last month, Crestwoods had an art show featuring work by Gwen Gutwein, who has painted depictions of at least two barns in each county of Indiana.
“It was not well-attended even though you can see that we have plenty of space for social distancing, even in a crowd,” Shive said. “But I think people are just afraid and are worried about it.”
In the meantime, Shive is using social media like Facebook and Instagram to engage new customers with regular posts about the art displayed in her gallery. She also updated the Crestwoods website.
Her regulars have been a steady source of business, especially when the statewide lockdown first lifted.
“A lot of people, during the time they were totally at home — they just really went through their houses and they pulled out things, that, ‘Oh, it needs a new matte,’ or the glass broke,” she said.
Overall, Shive said Crestwoods has “suffered” but will continue to push through this moment in history.
“I’m hopeful that the vaccine will become more available and we’ll get back to the quiet ‘normal’ of Roanoke,” she said.