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UES framing shop in the picture for 89 years

J. Pocker has been in business on the

J. Pocker has been in business on the Upper East Side since 1926. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

In a city where the commercial picture is constantly changing, it's surprising that a business could stay alive for nearly a century.

But despite changing economic landscapes and the rise of digital technology, Upper East Side picture framing shop J. Pocker is now in its 89th year of operation.

Jacob Pocker opened the shop at 780 Lexington Ave. in 1926 and moved it to its current location at 135 E. 63rd St. in the 1950s.

The store is now owned by his granddaughter Robyn Pocker, who's been so successful she expanded to three more outposts -- one in Bronxville and two in Connecticut.

Framing shops, like most businesses, took a hit during the economic recession of 2008 and recovered at a rate of 2% growth between 2009 and 2014, according to an IBIS industry report. As of Sept. 2014, framing was a $2 billion industry with 4,495 shops in the United States, IBIS reported.

Though millennials tend to archive pictures using Facebook and Instagram, and big-box stores like Target and Kmart have aisles of cheap frames for sale, Pocker said nothing beats custom framing.

"When people have something they really treasure, they want to be sure to take care of it," she said. "A person who cares about preserving the art they own or art they have created, they search for someone to help take care of that art."

Pocker's customers say she is exactly what they are searching for.

One longtime patron, who asked to withhold her name, said she's been a customer of J. Pocker for more than 20 years. She first saw the shop while walking to Bloomingdale's.

"It was very intriguing to me because I'm a decorative art historian," the customer said. "So I popped into the shop and it was love at first sight because of the quality of their workmanship, the myriad assortments of styles and frames. I was in a world that was a visual feast for me."

Robert Pachter, an art collector on the Upper West Side, said the staff at J. Pocker has helped him solve not just framing problems but design dilemmas in his home as well.

"[Robyn] has a solution that fits everybody's budget and everybody's needs," Pachter said.

The shop serves demographics from teenagers to grandparents and offers framing options at price points from around $50 into the thousands.

In its 89-year time frame, J. Pocker's customers have included some notable names. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, "Eloise" children's books author Kay Thompson and former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland have been in its client roster, Pocker said.

And they've all had one frame of mind: to preserve their personal histories.

"When your framer uses archival material and glazing, that will prevent fading. That's where we come into the picture," Pocker said. "How the art is attached to a mat and protected internally in the frame is hugely important to preserve that art and those memories."


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