ALTON – Picture this.
A husband-and-wife team turns a hobby into a successful local business. More than 20 years later, they turn their dream over to someone it turns out they have known since he was in diapers.
Ken and Glenda Link, who have owned and operated Picture This and More since 1992, retired on July 31, turning the store over to Quint Long, who previously had spent 10 years designing kitchens at Fischer Lumber, and partner Tony Phillips, who will continue to serve as Professor of Biology at Lewis and Clark Community College.
Last weekend was bittersweet, as the foursome celebrated the retirement with customers and friends as well as the new era for the business.
“We have worked full time for 50 years,” Glenda said. “It’s time, although we will miss our customers, who have become friends.”
The couple plans to bow out of the rat race, happy their dream will live on and continue to provide a service to the Greater Alton area for years to come.
Ken and Glenda’s legacy
Currently located at 520-A West Delmar, Picture This and More actually opened in May of 1992 in the North Alton business district. Glenda was involved in a cross stitch group and Ken, who had spent years with his woodworking craft, provided frames for the group.
“We turned a woodworking hobby into a custom picture framing business,” Ken said. “Glenda was in the travel agency business and decided she would like to get out, so we just decided to open a location and do this the right way.”
It wasn’t long before they realized they were doing more than simply providing a service. People came in and trusted the couple with the most important, intimate events for their families, which created strong bonds with customers.
“People are not just a transaction to us,” Ken said. “We are interested in them, their families, the things they bring to us. We have an opportunity to hear them tell the stories so that we can best present it in a framed display that presents that story.
“We always wanted to provide the best quality, but we also wanted to provide the best customer service of any custom framing business in the area. That has been the endearing quality that has allowed us to continue.”
When Picture This and More opened, it was one of six custom framing shops in the Greater Alton area. Over the years, as other shops closed one by one, Ken became a Certified Picture Framer with the Professional Picture Framers Association and was elected to the National Board of Directors in 2008, also serving as President of the Board from 2010 until 2012. He retired from Boeing in 1999 and joined Glenda in devoting himself to the business full time.
The store also has twice been awarded the RiverBend Growth Association Business of the Month, both in 1999 and again in 2012.
The decision to retire was not an easy one, but Ken and Glenda, who have been married 50 years, are anxious to spend more time with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchild. Ken says he wants to focus more on golf, music and photography (although Glenda already has a “honey-do” list in the works).
“We all knew this would be a good fit.”
When Quint Long’s mother put a bug in his ear the Links were looking to sell, the pieces seemed to fall into place.
“I have known the Links as long as I can remember,” Quint said. “I came on for a 90-day period and we all decided at the end of that time we would decide if this would work out. It was a no-brainer; I got along with the staff, and this involves design, dealing with the public, and being hands-on.”
What won’t change is the staff, including employees Kella Marchal, Clyde Totten and Joy Hoeft.
“I think this is an exciting adventure for all of us,” Tony said. “The Links have the opportunity to retire and enjoy that retirement, and our goal as the new business owners is to provide the same quality and professional services that the Links have provided for more than 20 years.”
“This is like buying a business from family,” Quint added. “They are the reason this was able to happen for us, and I am honored to do this.”
What services Picture This and More provides
Picture This and More offers custom framing along with certificate, poster and needle art framing. It also can create high-quality shadowbox dioramas and offers digital restoration, transfer of home movies, photographs or VHS tapes to DVD, and creative matting, where a framed memory can jump to life with children’s names, school logos, geometric shapes and more.
Acid-free mats and ultraviolet filtering glass protect valuable photos from light damage and harmful materials which can erode and destroy antique photography.
The shop also has become very popular with its assortment of memory box options, where smaller treasures such as Christening dresses, diplomas, military medals and more can be protected and displayed with both care and pride.
In addition, the new owners plan to expand the shop’s art gallery and exhibits.
“Custom framing will always be the focus, but I also want this to be the place where people look for art for their homes,” Quint said. “I want to offer pieces for people of all tastes. I want to have beautiful art everyone can afford to hang in their homes; anything from a $10 photograph to a $5000 painting.”
He said he already has begun reaching out to local artists and hopes to build up that end of the business throughout the fall.
Picture This and More is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call (618) 466-0940 or visit the website at www.picturethisandmore.com.
And yes, this article is 1000 words long (you can go back and count). Some may argue the picture could have said it just as well.