Al Trapani specializes in preserving memories. And now the owner of Trapani Art & Frame, has brought his craft to Garden City. In the past few weeks, he’s moved into the space formerly occupied by Sunflower Fine Art Gallery on Seventh Street.
As is the case with his Manhasset anchor store, this satellite location is a custom frame shop and fine art gallery that provides museum quality framing to customers, interior designers and businesses. Trapani’s work is done in-house and with Garden City’s square footage being roughly half the size of his North Shore branch, orders are processed in the other store’s basement workshop. And while he’s been in his new digs for only a short time, the amiable Trapani has been thrilled with the response he’s gotten so far. On a recent sunny day, temperatures are in the 70s and the foot traffic is fairly heavy, a fact that considerably pleases the East Williston resident.
“Garden City is an entity unto itself. They control the stores and storefronts, so it’s a nice mix of shops,” he explained. “You see what’s going on right now—75 degrees out, people are outside eating and browsing the windows. There is traffic here, but it’s controlled. People are safe crossing the street. They do have an exorbitant amount of restaurants on this block and one is better than the next. I’ve tried a few already with my wife who works in town, and we’ve been enjoying ourselves having lunch this year.”
Just as he’s done with his Manhasset store, Trapani has made a point of developing and supporting local artists by selling their wares through his stores. It’s a part of the business he immensely enjoys.
“I think art is very subjective—either you like it or you don’t like it. It has nothing to do with hidden meanings. Obviously, I’m not the type of gallery that’s going to sell avant-garde stuff that’s way out there. My job is to sell attractive art at a reasonable price,” he said. “People do appreciate the fact that I’m pushing the local artist. It’s like shopping locally—kind of like going to your local deli or dry cleaners. And the artists appreciate that too—that I’m trying to push the Long Island artist. That’s where it got nice. In terms of the town itself, it’s only been six weeks, so I’m still trying to find a niche for what people like. We’ve made quite a few art sales and I must admit that I’m quite pleased about that. Being in the business this long, I kind of sense that it’s a very similar client base here, as in Manhasset. Kind of a conservative, traditional buyer. [Artwork] with local scenes seem to sell well.”
Among the local artists whose work you’ll find at Trapani Galleries are East End favorite Daniel Pollera, abstractionist-turned-naturalist Connie Foley and renowned instructor Howard Rose. In landing in Garden City, this move wound up being one that Trapani wasn’t looking to make. That is, until the closing of Sunflower made this space available and a Garden City realtor who had never met the Manhasset business owner cold-called him to apprise him of the opportunity to plant a flag on Seventh Street. It’s something Trapani wouldn’t have considered were it not for the trust he has in his veteran staff.
“I’ve got a great crew that I can rely on. That’s the only reason that I did this. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t know that the Manhasset store, which is my bread and butter, wasn’t in good hands—which it is. Elaine [Karton] had her own gallery in Gramercy Park [Gramercy Park Framers’ Workshop], so she’s in this business for about 30 years,” he said. “My other right arm is Ramona Janson. She’s in the Manhasset store right now and has been with me for about 12 years. She takes all my pictures, as does Elaine, and they categorize them. I’m not that organized and I don’t have the time to do all of that stuff. But God bless them. They take care of it for me. They do the website and Facebook page. And we’ve got one gal, Deb, who has been with me a good 15 years at least. She’s strictly production but God bless her. She is amazing. She does all of our shadow boxes, needlepoints, sports jerseys and memorabilia. Ninety percent of my production goes through her and then we’ve got a couple of part-timers that are helping.”
Trapani also wound up with a major local score when Kenny Kegney, late of local outfit Neptune Photography, came around looking for a job after seeing a sign that Trapani was about to open a new location. Having been downsized by his last employer, which was also in the process of getting out of the picture framing part of the business, Kegney had 35 years of his experience under his belt and had also run the Garden City Gallery over on Franklin Avenue. It wound up being a most fortuitous hire for Trapani.
“I wasn’t ready to take on a full-time employee—I was looking to ease my way into it. But [Kegney] brought his whole clientele with him and that’s actually been a blessing,” Trapani said. “He got a job and I got an instant shot in the arm, so that really helped jumpstart the business, plus the community knows him really well. Essentially, we took the clientele that Sunflower had as well as what Neptune was doing, and we put it under one roof. Slowly but surely, people are getting a feel for us. We do things differently than Sunflower did, but we’ve got a good business plan that seems to be working like it does in Manhasset.”
With the Belmont Festival upcoming, Trapani is looking forward to his inaugural taste and on the same date as the kickoff of this year’s Friday Night Promenade, he’ll be officially launching his new store.
“We’re probably going to have an official grand opening June 17. We’ll stay open late and serve some Prosecco,” he said.
Trapani Art & Frame is located at 172 Seventh St. in Garden City (516-414-8521) and 447 Plandome Rd. in Manhasset (516-365-6014). Visit www.trapaniartandframe.com for more information.