COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — Bud Chrysler’s road to semi-retirement took a turn shortly after he moved Eastown Frame Gallery to downtown Coopersville.
After 30 years in the Eastown area of Grand Rapids, Chrysler found business to be slow at his new location.
“I had to make a move to do something," Chrysler remembers. Almost by chance, he placed a couple of antiques in his store window. That changed his business and his life.
“I sold some items right away, high-end items.”
Now antiques and framing are about 50-50 in his business.
“The antiques are a lot of fun. And I meet so many people that bring things in are looking for something. And I'm learning, I'm kind of new at the antiques.”
Asked about the most memorable item he has seen, he doesn’t hesitate: “A piece I have right now, a piece of linen, three by four inches that was used to wrap a Dead Sea Scroll.”
Even though he’s new to antiques, Chrysler knew to look beyond the documentation behind the linen and has been in contact with the Israel Antiquities Authority and same person who is supervising efforts behind the recent discovery of scroll fragments in Israel.
That’s quite a journey for a man who had the dream of being a professional drummer.
I lived in Los Angeles, played drums and had the dream, and framed pictures out there to pay the rent because you played for free. And there was a little old man in a place called Larchmont, by Hollywood. And he had an apron on and classical music playing, a he had little hammer, and pounding frames together. And I thought, I would like to be that or do that. And when I moved back home, I opened my frame shop ... and it just took off. And now here I am, 30 years later, that little old man.”
Though Chrysler had to close his shop when COVID restrictions were introduced, it wasn’t long before he was working again.
“Maybe once a week I'd come in and check on things and do some book work. The phone started ringing while I was here.”
Chrysler’s theory on the uptick of business is rooted in the pandemic itself. “People have been home looking at their walls. And they're also looking at their own mortality with the situation today, and they're deciding what's important to them, and what's important to them Is family.”
"And I'm framing family pictures like you wouldn't believe.”
Chrysler is happy he kept the name of the store the same as when he was in Grand Rapids. People remember him, look up the name of the store, and there’s his current phone number.
But it’s the antiques that draw people into the store, and he looks forward to when people come back. Much of his foot traffic is generated by the Coopersville & Marne Railway, which – in normal times -- runs excursions during the warm months.
“I have a store full of people before the train goes and after. And that's a joy. There's a creaky floor in here. And when there's a dozen people or more, that's creaking sound, it's really loud. And that's the way this store should be. I'm looking forward to that day when the train runs again and we get people back in here.”
Eastown Frame Gallery, 265 Main St, Coopersville 616-384-3236