Sterling Framing

Sterling Framing Interior – Sterling Framing; Exterior – Arlington Artist Alliance

Established in 1978, Sterling Framing has become a Lee Highway legacy business under the leadership of current owner Chuck Kipp. But when Sterling Picture Framing was founded, Chuck was like many who live in the DC Metro area; a government employee. In our interview with Chuck he shared how he found his way into the art and framing industry, how Sterling Picture Framing found its way to Lee Highway and some fascinating stories about serving the DC Metro community. Like so many others we interviewed, what Chuck believes set this business apart is not the content of his sales, but the quality of the care he displays for his work and for his customers.

Originally moving to the DC area as a recent graduate who had passed a civil service exam, Chuck worked in Alexandria for a year before he realized his calling was somewhere else. “I was taking art classes at the time, and I ended up with a bunch of artists. And that’s how I got in the studio, I got in with a bunch of GW artists and became sort of an apprentice to some of them. I was very young then. But that’s how I ended up in the art studio,” Chuck shared. He got into business with Mr. Sterling who founded the business a few years later. When asked why he didn’t change the name upon owning the business for himself, Chuck shared that he thought Sterling Framing, “sounds nice.”

While in business he has experienced ups and downs, all the while serving a very interesting market. When asked about some of the most interesting people he’s had as customers, he shared that among them is undoubtedly former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Chuck shared that, “he’d come in and look around and we’d frame some things for him and then he’d go around and get a video. Yeah, he was just a nice guy.”

And while the burden of owning a business is not far from Chuck’s mind, the theme of personal care for the people he works with and for ran through all of his stories. “In this business, you really get to know people,” Chuck shared. “Because they bring in diplomas… they graduate, or their kids graduate….over the years. It’s really kind of interesting. It’s not like a retail business where people come and go and [you say], ‘we’ll see you later.’ You get to work with them for an hour and you get to talk with them.”

2103 N Pollard St
Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 522-8393

“I think we have a very friendly atmosphere in here. I think we have always taken time with people to give them what they want. We aren’t pushy.”

Chuck Kipp, owner

“In this business, you really get to know people. They bring in diplomas when they or their kids have graduated. They bring in vacation photos, you get to talking. They bring in family archival things, so you really get to know people.”

Chuck Kipp, owner

“Chief Justice Rehnquist was our most famous customer… It was a little unnerving when he first came in- the third most powerful person in government. I think he just liked coming in.”

Chuck Kipp, owner

Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7

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