by Rachel Petty 

As you cruise down Main Street in Carthage, it is almost impossible to miss the green awning and bold block lettering that adorns the corner storefront at Kim’s Frame and Art. By now, it is surely a familiar sight.

Kim Winfree’s shop, located across the street from the Historic Courthouse, has been a staple of the downtown landscape for over 40 years.

Kim’s Frame and Art first opened its doors in January 1978, so the dawn of a new year is the perfect time for Kim to reflect on how far she and her business have come.

Even back in 1978, Kim was no stranger to the world of custom framing. 

Throughout high school and during summers and Christmas breaks when she was home from college, Kim worked for Leslie van Hook at his frame shop in Lebanon, Tennessee.

When Leslie decided to close his shop in Lebanon, he began looking for another potential shop location. A spot in downtown Carthage caught his eye.

He and Kim agreed to be partners in the new venture, and soon enough, they opened for business. At the time, Kim was only 20 years old.

Leslie remained a partner with Kim for 3 years. After that, Kim took the reins and began to run the business by herself.

Today, Kim is proud to be one of the few mom-and-pop framing shops still around. 

“It has been a very good thing. I have enjoyed what I do,” Kim told Smith County Insider. 

Kim’s Frame and Art specializes in custom framing of all kinds, with hundreds of options to choose from for frames, mats, and glass.

Kim says her favorite thing to frame is the unique items that her clients bring in that have a lot of meaning for them personally. 

For example, Kim recalled a man who had recently come to her shop with a collection of medals that he had earned over the course of years in the armed forces and law enforcement. 

As Kim works to preserve and showcase these special keepsakes for her clients, she can’t help but think of the special place they will occupy in people’s homes.

When asked about her “secret to success,” Kim revealed that she believes success is founded on good relationships with customers.

“That’s what keeps me here,” she said. 

Through the years, Kim has seen businesses come and go in downtown Carthage. She can remember times where more storefronts seemed abandoned than occupied, and she remarked on how difficult it can be to make it as a small business owner.

Lately, though, Kim has been pleased to see a bit of a resurgence in the downtown Carthage area.

She described what she sees as a community of small business owners in Carthage, ready to lift each other up and help each other out. 

“The more we can have here, the more it helps us all,” Kim said.

In closing, Kim explained that her goal for the shop was to be in business for 30 years. Each year after that has simply been an added bonus.

Here’s to dreaming of what the next decade will bring—for Kim’s Frame and Art and for downtown Carthage. 

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