Edmonds Frame Shop owner celebrates 30 years and ‘an enriched life touched by many’

Barbara Mercer is celebrating 30 years since founding Edmonds Frame Design and Atelier. (Photo courtesy Barbara Mercer)

November 2020 is a special month for Barbara Hege Mercer, owner of Edmonds Frame Design and Atelier. Thirty years ago — in November 1990 — Mercer opened her picture-framing business in Edmonds. In the past three decades, she has experienced the joy of business growth and the tragedy of near death when a car crashed into her 5th Avenue South shop in 2007, sending her to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

Thanks to a supportive Edmonds community and a loving husband, she recovered. And the passion for her work continues as she serves customers who bring her treasures of art and memorabilia to be preserved and framed for their individual environments.

“I’m lucky, in all those years I’ve experienced life in all its richness, gave my best in my work and I’ve been fortunate to know what it feels like to live an enriched life touched by many,” Mercer said.

A native of Germany, Mercer received her master of fine arts degree from University of California Berkeley, and in San Franciso studied picture framing from Paul Frederique, the renowned personal picture framer for photographer Ansel Adams. 

Noting that she loves Edmonds because it reminds her of her small, picturesque hometown in Germany, Mercer arrived here from California in September 1990. At the time, Mercer only knew one person: the mother of a friend and colleague that she had worked with at UC Berkeley.

Mercer had worked for the experience at some frame shops in the San Francisco and Berkley area, but she realized her most valuable education from Paul Frederique. Her goal was to open her own shop in Edmonds, applying her art and framing education to the highest standards. She celebrated the grand opening of her upstairs framing atelier at 4th and Dayton on Nov. 9, 1990.

How did customers find Edmonds Frame Design? A sign board downstairs on the street corner, an advertisement in the telephone book, social meetings through Edmonds Chamber of Commerce,  and a lot of prayers and trust, Mercer says. The frame shop made it through the first year, and lasted for 12 years at 4th and Dayton before Mercer lost her lease because of new owners.

She relocated to her current 5th Avenue South location, and has been there every since.

In 2007, a car traveling at high speed crashed through the wall of Edmonds Frame Design, crushing Mercer and sending her to Harborview’s ICU for five weeks. While her survival was touch and go for a while, through it all, two things were constant: the love from her husband Charles and the support of her many friends in Edmonds. 

The community came together for Mercer, who received many notes, loving cards and even monetary support. After she recovered, she courageously decided to return to that same spot in her frame shop and get to work. After six months of healing, she threw a grand re-opening party that brought a full house of her Edmonds friend, customers and business supporters, who danced and celebrated with joy. 

Mercer found that reopening her business and gradually doing all the physical work assisted with her healing, as did her contacts with her customers.

“Somehow, (it) pulls us through hard times and brings a special connection to one another,” she said. Offering thanks for the community’s support, Mercer said with a smile that the next 30 years look even better.


12 Replies to “Edmonds Frame Shop owner celebrates 30 years and ‘an enriched life touched by many’”

  1. Barbara composed and framed a remarkable piece with photos of our great grandfather shaving a customer in his barber shop in Rockford, Washington and his son (our grandfather} assisting customers in his auto parts store in Lake Oswego, Oregon. It will be treasured and passed on to future generations.


  2. Different generations in our family have enjoyed your work.
    We are so fortunate to have 30 years with you! Congratulations!


  3. Barbara has framed many special pieces for us – all were enhanced by her recommendations of color/style/size of frames and borders. How lucky we are to have her as a friend and gifted craftsperson. Thank you My Edmonds News for recognizing this special person.


  4. Barbara, you are a much-appreciated part of our community. Thanks for decades of grace and making sure we have our art properly framed. Best wishes and much love for many more years.


  5. I also have many paintings and artwork framed by Barbara in my home. They are distinctive and she incorporates colors from paintings into the mat designs…a wonderful asset for Edmonds. My friend for all of those 30 years!
    Bonnie Mott


    1. Dear Bonnie,
      Thank you so much for your lovely feedback! 30 years — you became a friend and customer right
      from the very beginning, and gave me understanding support when I needed it!
      I love and treasure you!


  6. What a gift you are, Barbara. The Old World European craftsmanship and artistic magic you create sets a perfect stage to make pieces sing. We are lucky to call you our friend. Many congrats, dear friend!


    1. Caroline,
      My Friend!
      Thank you for your special words of recognition. It means so much to me coming
      from you, wonderful artist with a special eye!
      I treasure our friendship and meetings of the minds, related to art and life around us!
      To many more years of enriching times!


  7. What a wonderful milestone. It’s great to see you celebrated, Barbara. I miss our time together in the womens investment club. Be well:)


    1. Lisa,

      How great to hear from you! It has been a long time, and I did enjoy our meetings at the women’s
      investment club. It was a nice group.
      I hope you are doing well and would like to see you again!


  8. Yes, I was fortunate to have two pictures that needed careful framing. I was so glad to be able to meet and work with Barbara recently. Her experience, background and artistic expertise resulted in the perfect framing of my art. It was a revelation to me what a difference it made in the enjoyment I have looking at the results.

    Plus meeting and talking with her was such a joy. What an incredible lady. We are so lucky to have her shop in our little Edmonds. I send many fond good wishes to her


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