“You name it, and we have framed it,” he said. “You get to meet some of the neatest people and see some of the nicest artwork.”
Tate; his wife, Sandy Tate; and his son Greg Smith run the business, making all items in-house with the exception of home accessories. Randall said he sees his craft as a way to help Bay Area residents commemorate special moments.
Once Randall took over the business in 1977, the shop expanded and began selling home decor goods in addition to ready-made frames and custom framing. The home decor side has continued to blossom over the years, he said.
“There’s nobody around here as good as they are,” said Melissa Vaughan, who has been a customer since 1983. “They’re very creative.”
A custom frame job takes anywhere from seven to 10 days, Randall said. Hundreds of different framing style options are available; once the customer selects one, the appropriate size and shape is cut from an 8- to 10-foot stack and placed around conservation glass.
Randall’s father met and did custom jobs for “just about everybody that went to the moon,” and Randall has framed pieces for various foreign dignitaries, he added. Custom pieces done by Tate’s are even hanging in the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space, Randall said.
However, the most memorable custom jobs for Randall are the ones that involve creating a snapshot of a moment in time. One such notable customer came to the shop in the late 1960s with a newspaper clipping from a famous event and a letter explaining what life was like then, he recalled.
Randall encouraged residents to bring in such mementos and objects for framing.
“The things people frame are important to them,” he said. “It means something to somebody.”