There is only one place in Waco where you're going to get this kind of attention, quality, and care. NO! Not the hospital, silly! Penni Wise Custom Framing! Here's the story: big box stores (not gonna name any naaaames...) may have a lotta frames in different sizes, but they lack variety. Quality.
If you’re looking for specific or custom frame options, styles you won’t find just anywhere, you’ll want to make a trip to see Penni Litzau at Penni Wise Custom Framing in Waco. She's basically your fairy godmother of framing, mkay? Mkay. Trust me.
How did you get started?
“When I was around 19 or 20 years old, I was looking for a cashier job. I came to the Old America Store and they were desperate for someone to work in the frame section. They asked me if I could read a tape measure, and when I said yes, they immediately hired me. I hadn’t really thought about doing custom framing before, but I instantly fell in love.”
So you’ve been framing ever since?
“Well, I worked there for about a year, but then I had to move to a different city. I wanted to continue framing, but it only paid minimum wage. I decided to go to college, and I got an electronic technician degree. I was good at it but didn’t really like it. I liked the mathematical aspect of it, but it wasn’t for me. I eventually decided to get back into framing. It can be difficult to find someone with framing experience, so I was able to get a job at Hobby Lobby pretty easily. I worked there for 16 years.”
How did you transition to starting your own business?
“For one thing, the quality of merchandise was going down. I didn’t feel good selling the merchandise that was available. It was getting harder to help people in the way I wanted to help them by giving them good merchandise and service. It got to the point where corporate wanted you to pump it out like line work. I had customers coming up to me all the time asking me when I was going to open up my own frame shop.”
It sounds like there was definitely a need for a custom framing shop.
“Yes, there were a couple of small shops but mainly big corporations, and they won’t give you the customer service or the quality you can get in a small shop. I had friends in one of those smaller shops; they were always encouraging and helpful. They were always telling me who they got their stuff from, who has good quality products, and who doesn’t.”
“Now at my own shop, it’s just so much easier now. I can offer something that is quality. I won’t give anything that I don’t put my full self into. I really pay attention to quality and the colors as well. I have friends that will say they can’t believe how, when I look at a color, I see all the colors that are mixed in.”
So, A Customer doesn't just get a frame from you?
“Right! I want to give them my expertise, my knowledge, my connections. That's how we came up with the name for the shop. A lot of people know my name through working here for so many years, and I wanted to do a play on my name that reflected me. 'Penni Wise' is a nod to my long experience and the fact that I don’t try to just spend your money, I try to give you the best quality job. If you want to spend less money, I will figure something out and give you options.”
(Be right back, I'm so touched by this kind soul.)
“Very rarely is there a time when my customers have to settle. I am really good at coming up with suggestions based on what a customer tells me they are thinking, and I will go out of my way to get the right item. I ask them what they want to accomplish with it, I find out how much money they want to spend. We find a way to make them as happy as possible. Fewer options that are less expensive. I just pull out what I think is going to look best.”
(Okay, I'm back but - can I bold that entire paragraph above?? PENNY! You're killin' me! Amazing.)
From a business owner's perspective, why do you love Waco?
“I have lived in Houston and San Antonio. What I love about Waco is that it has a small town feel. People always know each other. When multiple shoppers are in here at a time, they often know one another. Waco has changed its focus in the last 10 years. They are really trying to pave the way for smaller businesses. Even though Waco has become more popular with all the work they are doing downtown, it still has the small town feel that I love.”
And I’m sure the small town feel helps with the customer relationship?
“You know, I will go to church and people will come up to me with what they need to get done and say, 'Do whatever you want. Call me when you're done.' That's how much they trust me.”
Hop onto Penni Wise online or step into the Waco store to be met with a hospitality the world has never seen! Oh, and find the perfect framing options for your home (obviously).