Rick was in the restaurant business and Peggy was still a sales rep in the beauty business. Rick continued to want to open a card store. Peggy did not. Somewhere around 1999, they went to the Florida State Fair and bought a kit with equipment to cut picture frame mats. And the Crafty Framer seeds were planted.
Rick out grew their spare bedroom quickly and moved into an industrial rental unit so he could frame at night and on weekends. His customers were neighbors, friends and the guys he worked with. The seed was again growing. The more Rick framed, the more he wanted full time in his own store--no longer resembling a card store. So, in January 1999, they made the leap and The Crafty Framer was officially born.
But the vision was not quite clear in 1999. Rick was framing and loving it. Peggy learned to do the designing and found she loved doing that also. But the 'crafty' side was a gift shop of home crafters bringing their things in on consignment. Framing grew nicely. Gifts did not. But everytime someone came in with something stitched to be framed, they complained about having no where to buy cross stitch. It seemed the name Crafty Framer did not intimidate the first time customer and Peggy had been a big cross stitcher in Minnesota, so she loved to see all the beautiful pieces people were bringing in for framing.
Where did the customers buy all the wonderful patterns, fabrics and floss? With that thought, the half of the store that today is all counted cross stitch was born. They went to market with $4000.00 to see what would happen with selling cross stitch instead of trying to be a gift store. And that was the beginning of what they are today--another seed planted. Business continued to grow and flourish so in May 2015, they moved from Ulmerton Road to their present location on East Bay Drive in Largo.
Today, Crafty Framer is the only full service, full cross stitch store in a 7 county area. They carry 7 lines of floss, multiple pieces of various counts and colors of fabric and over 7,000 patterns. Plus the rest of the store has every piece of equipment or embellishment you could imagine.
So while Rick is busy framing diplomas, art work, shadowboxes AND cross stitch, Peggy stays busy with retail customers. They offer classes, seminars, a stitching cruise and a summer retreat. There is never a dull moment at the Crafty Framer.
Meet Gracie, our 12 year old poodle. She "works" everyday and greets just about everyone who stops in to see us. She's always in our shop and sports a different outfit each day . . . thanks to her "Dad" who dresses her!
2480 East Bay Drive
Suite A 6
Largo, FL 33771
Owners, Rick & Peggy Wittlake
When Rick and Peggy got married in 1987, Rick had a career goal -- to someday own retail store. But he wanted a Hallmark card store - a far cry from custom picture framing.
They left Minneapolis in the summer of 1989 and bought a home in Largo, Florida and resolved never ever to shovel snow again.