Every weekend we swear we’ll go out and get stuff done, and most weekends we end up sleeping in, eating lunch at 3pm, catching up on our blog feeds, watching movies…does this sound all too familiar?
Well, this weekend we lived up to our promises, and spent Saturday scooting around a very humid Guangzhou, finally scratching some key items off our “To Do” list.
Now, here in Guangzhou, there is pretty much an independent store that exists for any service you may need. Sometimes it’s not even a store, sometimes it’s a lady posted on the sidewalk with a sewing machine who will hem your pants for a few kuai (bucks). Okay so that’s just one example, and most are indeed actual stores. Unlike anywhere else I’ve seen, and contrary to a logical business model, each store is located next to tens of other stores that sell the exact same products, or provide the exact same services. For example, the store that sells goldfish will be located next to ten other stores that also sell goldfish. The place to go to buy medical furniture will be next to the all the other medical-furniture warehouses (yes, these places actually exist and do legitimate business). Though you would think this to be convenient for a shopper, these clusters of stores are spread out in pockets throughout the city, making it so the task of running your errands can literally take you running– from one end of town to another. More than that, planning an afternoon of errands takes more than just making a small “To Do” list, it also means google-mapping the approximate location of every market and its cross streets, writing the Chinese translations down in case we get lost, mental-noting the side streets to take, making sure we have appropriate canvas bags to take things home, and making sure we have good recommendations or business cards from our friends who have done the same exact thing.
One thing down on our list this past Saturday was to visit the framing market. No, there’s no Michael’s or Aaron Bros. here in Guangzhou. I know, shocking. So to get anything framed, logically a Guangzhou resident would take a trip to the street where ALLLL the framers are located. Spanning one stretch of a large street combined with a big mall full of little shops dedicated to framing artwork and Chinese scrolls, the framing “market” was just as overwhelming as every other shopping-type experience I’ve had in Guangzhou.
We finally settled on one– not because its products were superior, or that it had evidence of good work, but simply because the people looked friendly and there were a lot of samples of frames hung outside. Is this kind of like choosing wine based on the label? Hm, maybe.
Altogether we brought with us seven items to be framed– the smallest ranging from 11x17 and the largest 15x35. After spending a few minutes picking out the frames we wanted and laying everything out on the table, we were quoted a price. Now, we had heard this market was cheap, but when she quoted us a final price– 270 kuai for all seven pieces, I thought for a second she was quoting the price for our largest poster. And then she held up her calculator for me to see the final price, nodding her head and smiling as if to say, “Yeah, it’s good, right?”. I re-calculated in my head just to make sure I did the math right. Forty bucks to get our pieces matted (if we chose), with Plexiglas panes, and brand new custom-built frames? She might as well have told me they would do it for free.
We picked up our pieces 24hours later (after visiting the “Coney Island Hot Dog” shop…but more on that later this week!), partially afraid that we were about to pick up all our posters framed onto one giant plexiglas. But as usual, my fears were quickly dispelled. And let me close by saying that after coming home and hanging up all our beautifully framed new works, we’re now looking to see what else in our home can use a good framing.
update 6/10/11: Here are some images, below, of a few things we got framed– really cool mod-style Star Wars themed art, an Ork poster, a Williams print I received while working at an art gallery a few years ago, and oh yeah– a super offical certificate signed by a couple of important people!