Erin and Pat McBride

Pat and Erin McBride work hard to keep McBride’s Family Gallery going, even in hard economic times.

courtesy of McBride’s Framing Gallery

McBride’s Framing Gallery is located at 6330 N. Oracle Road, the southeast corner of Orange Grove and Oracle roads in the Bed, Bath & Beyond shopping center.

McBride’s Family Gallery is owned by Patti McBride, and the store manager is Erin McBride.

Patti McBride got into the industry in 1995 when her husband, Tad, opened Deck the Walls, an art and custom framing franchise.  The couple sold a previous business in the industrial market, and were ready to try something else.  

“As I was an artist with a degree in art and music, this venture seemed to be a good fit,” Patti said.

In 2005, the couple completed their 10-year DTW commitment, and moved to the gallery’s current location as McBride’s Framing Gallery, an independent custom frame shop.

In September 2008, Tad passed away suddenly. While the family misses his presence and personality in the shop, he had been focusing on his photography, which is featured in the store.

With Tad’s passing, Patti and Erin were left to run the business.  

“So actually, we haven’t missed a beat,” said Patti.  “I do the business administration, the accounting and sales.  Erin as the store manager and lead framer is responsible for production, vendor relations and sales.”

If she had it to do over, Patti’s answer is simple.

“I  would definitely not invest in a franchise,” she said.

When it comes to women in business, Patti said independent frame shops aren’t really gender biased, though some are surprised to find out she and Erin do their own work.

When it comes to struggles in the industry, Patti said because they do their own work in the shop, they work with a wide range of tools, including an industrial double mitered power saw, a v-nailer, vises, drills, large dry mount machine, industrial glass cutter, computerized mat cutter, and a measuring tape.  

“To help overcome the misperception that women generally don’t use tools and to show what goes on between the time the customer gives us an order and when they pick up their finished piece, we give frame shop tours and demonstrations,” Patti said.

Like most industries, Patti said the biggest challenge facing McBride’s Gallery is the economy.

“Custom framing is definitely a discretionary income item,” she said.

Besides the economy, Patti said big-box craft stores also poses a threat to the locally-owned establishment.

“They attract customers with their advertised huge perceived discounts,” Patti said. “Their business plan is to mark up their product so much to withstand those discounts and still make a substantial profit. With only 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population using custom frame services, these stores gobble up potential first time customers.”

Finally, Patti said a threat facing McBride’s Gallery is the cost of doing business.

“I’m not just talking about buying the materials to fill customer’s orders, but insurances, credit card fees, payroll costs, advertising, etc.,” she said. “All this with these economic times dwindling sales numbers.’

To combat those struggles, Patti said McBride’s strives not to not only meet, but exceed customer’s expectations, provide outstanding service with a quality product at reasonable prices and to be vigilant with cost and pricing.

McBride’s focuses on customers having a positive enjoyable experience when they visit the store.

“We can assist you by offering friendly design suggestions and information so that your art is framed attractively and appropriate to the art,” she said. “Customers have choices and we want them to be pleased they chose us. We are a full service, family owned frame shop with experienced framers and high standards of excellence. We not only do our own work, but we guarantee our workmanship and materials. After 17 years of being in business, we are often referred by our customers, hence our tag ‘Where Your Neighbors Frame’.”

When it comes to mistakes or missteps over the years, Patti said depending on the “status quo” is a big mistake.

“Understandably, it took awhile after Tad passed to begin to be able to think ahead,” she said. “Seeing that big picture and trouble shooting was always his job, I was the detail person. However, the last six months or so we have been able to refocus on the frame shop.  We’ve refreshed the look of the sales floor by painting with color and adding new movable display walls painted in those colors.”

In January, Erin went to the Las Vegas Framing & Art Convention where she met with vendors, took seminars and workshops.  She boosted her framing skills and expanded her experience.  She made personal connection with other framers she had met previously through an online forum.  They continue to be a valuable resource for ideas and support. To help bring attention to MFG, last November Patti self-published “Southwest Images or View Through the Big Guy’s Lens,” a coffee table style book of Tad’s photography.  

“My sister-in-law and I did the graphic design and we printed it locally at Arizona Lithographers,” Patti said.

The book was advertised in The Explorer and other venues, and cards were mailed out announcing the book launch party catered by Baggins with acoustical guitar music by Dustin Jones.

The book is available through McBride’s store and web site at

(7) comments


Great story but I have to admit I miss the deck the walls in the mall. I always got great art there and I just haven't seen anyone who had that kid of selection since they bailed on the mall. I always heard people talking about it when it was there and had no idea they even moved. I just figured they closed. You should think about going back into the mall.

Sarah Metz-Wood

Agreed Tony. I miss the old store in the mall. When it left I found a new shop called Arizona picture and frame gallery. I had bought many things from Deck the Walls. I was surprised to find out that they didn't close and clicked the website link to see what they offered now. However, I giggled when I clicked the link to go look at this website. It isn't working. I then searched Deck the Walls and theirs came right up. I guess part of not being a franchise anymore means you end up in a newspaper article with a chance to drive traffic to your site and your website doesn't work. I'd tear my web guys a new one if I were you ladies.

biased and snarky

I'm surprised more stores haven't left the malls. I wonder how stores are able to afford the high rents along with % given to both the franchise and the mall in addition to any forced remodeling and sharing the expense of any mall renovations. You do get the foot traffic, but at what cost?

The comment below was just plain rude. Do you have any idea what the cost and obligations are to being a franchise owner?

I guess part of being passive aggressive means you end up writing stupid comments in an online newspaper article rather then contacting the owners of the site and letting them know about it.

I think you're confused with who needs a new one torn.

Sarah Metz-Wood

Actually I do know what it cost to own and run a franchise since my husbands family owned several franchised restaurants successfully in Phoenix for many years before selling. They are still up and running very well. You sound like the owner of the business with the way you've approached this. Biased and snarky indeed. As to mall rents and things along those lines I can't comment on that since I've never been involved in it but since you are obviously the business owner I'm sure you can. I came back here to see if the website was working yet (which it doesn't seem to be) so I could check your business out. Now that I see how you handle things, I'm just not interested. Oh, and before you go claiming you aren't the business owner, just keep in mind that very few people out there besides the business owner would know about the items you are discussing. rents, forced remodels, sharing expense, cost and obligations of being a franchise owner, etc. Busted! Maybe if you were still part of the franchise they could have coached you on how to properly answer a question that wasn't even rude so you didn't come across poorly. Or maybe they would have helped you to make sure that you had your contact info in an article about your store so that someone COULD contact you. You have a chip on your shoulder that is clearly showing. Best of luck to you. Stay classy.

biased and snarky

Busted! BUSTED? What are you 13 years old?

No, I'm not the business owner. I'll bet she's too classy to respond to you here. I subscibe to a message board for framers and gallery owners and saw this link. I read the article and the rude comment you posted and felt like replying.

That site is called The Grumble. Feel free to drop by and darken the doorstep of that site if you care to. My name is Mark and I'd be happy to waste my online time chatting with you there.

Do you really think I need to be the owner of this business to know the inner workings of being a mall franchise owner?

Unlike you I am also a business owner. I say unlike you because you mentioned your husband's family owned several businesses, not that your husband (or you) were owners. I'm going to guess that two possible reasons you and he weren't brought into the business were:

#1- They were angry with him for marrying down.
#2- He wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

I'll place my bet on #2, since that would account for # 1.

I know the type of customer you are. Always whining how the customers is always right. Thinking all shop owners should put up with your nonsense because we need your money. Newsflash sunshine... shop elsewhere.

Having just read your post again, I'm beginning to understand the problem. You don't think what you wrote was rude. Perhaps you're just ignorant.

What question did you ask that you feel I responded to poorly? As for contact info. The name and address of the gallery is in the first paragraph of the article. Is that not enough for you, or is your ignorance showing again?

Do I have a chip on my shoulder? I certainly do. It's for customers like you. The kind retail clerks see coming and say to themself, "Not HER again".

You're obviously the kind that needs to have the last word, so by all means...


Great article ladies, congratulations on making your business a success.
As a small business owner, I too know how difficult all the odds and ends can be to master. Over head is always a concern and I applaud your decisions to leave the franchise machine behind and remain a truly locally owned business. Kudos!


It is great to see that you two are doing so well. In this economy it takes a real business mind and a successful business with great customer relations to survive. As a former Deck the Walls owner I find the comments of the lady below both funny and totally uninformed. First of all she is right in that she has no idea as to what it is like to do business in a mall. The cost are crippleing and now that most malls are not drawing the customers they once did it is simply not worth it. And then there is the matter of the francise. Maybe her husbands family's francise was very supportive but Deck the Walls was not. They had gotten away from the DTW's business when they tried to expand into other business and ended up leaving all of the DTW's owners standing out in the cold. That is why most of us left the francise and did what you did. Created a very successful business on our own. Congratulations to the both of you.

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