Photography, framing shops make move to Bedford together
BEDFORD - Jeff Dachowski and his wife, Carolle, figured they'd be in the photography business another 20 years. That being the case, the couple decided to settle the business in Bedford and add a building to their portfolio.
"We either pay rent for 20 years or own something and make it better," said Jeff Dachowski. "We really liked the idea of let's build something better."
Formerly based out of Langer Place - a Manchester mill building dedicated to creative businesses - Dachowski Photography opened in 2003, a year before Sullivan Framing. When they purchased a building in Bedford's historic center, they invited framer and long-time collaborator Sullivan Framing to join them.
As part of a long-term plan, they bought the building at 15 N. Amherst Road, the former home of the Flower Cart, and before that Wagon Wheels.
Low interest rates and property values also made the move appealing, and Bedford is attractive to both businesses because many of their customers live in town.
Though the recession was just around the corner when they got started, Dachowski said things haven't been bad in New Hampshire. The business' strength is partially thanks to the importance of photography in people's lives. "The first thing you grab when there's a fire, it's your family portraits, it's your pictures, because it's the only tie that we have to the past."
Their work focuses mostly on people, in addition to some ad campaigns and commercial photography. Though he said his prices are competitive with photographers of the same caliber, Dachowski noted that portraits can be had at Walmart for a fraction of what he charges.
"At Walmart you get 172 pictures for 10 bucks, and you're not going to like any of them," he said. "For us, you could spend $1,000, but you're going to love their images."
Dachowski is confident that his customers know the difference, which he said is like eating at McDonald's versus fine dining.
For nearly 10 years, Dachowski Photography has worked with Sullivan Framing, which has been based out of Langer Place since 2004. When they told Amy Sullivan of their plans to move to Bedford, she asked to join the Dachowskis in the 5,000-square-foot building.
"Our businesses are separate but we've worked together," Sullivan said. "I've done framing for him and his clients since the beginning."
Sullivan wasn't even looking to move. But when Dachowski got the space, she realized there was an opening for a framing business in Bedford.
Previously there were several framing shops in town, she said, but now there's only one, a home-based business.
She also saw an opportunity for an art gallery in town, and sees herself in a position to make it happen. "There's just so much talent around this area that I don't feel is represented very well here," she said. "I'm excited to be able to have a place for people locally to show their work and for the community to be able to see just how much talent there is."
The frame shop will host quarterly art shows, with a grand opening to be announced. Art will always be on display, including Sullivan's own work. Though she has clients in Bedford, Sullivan knows relocating to a new town carries the risk of losing some of her current base. But she thinks they'll stick around.
"I work with a lot of artists, painters and pastel artists, and I have a feeling that they will follow me," Sullivan said.
The two shops are hoping to open on Wednesday, pending approval by town inspectors. The photographers' website is at dachowskiphotography.com. More information about Sullivan Framing can be found at sullivanframing.com.