BERNARDSVILLE – In a building from which crews once rushed to the fires, the movement of people is now much less frantic.

An architectural firm leases space upstairs at 35 Mill St., the borough’s former fire station. On the ground floor are sister companies Wallflowers, a framing shop, and Gallery W, which exhibits and sells contemporary art.

The framer and art gallery are owned by Michelle Mendez and Christine Sutherland.

“It was a bay for a truck,” Mendez said recently, sitting in the design area surrounded by frame molding samples, “and it was a bay,” she added, pointing to his workshop, where carpets are cut and frames are put together. “Real old building.”

Wallflowers, which opened in 1996, has always been a Bernardsville business. It takes its name from the antique floral prints that were the mainstay of the Partners’ early framing efforts.

The borough contains a number of galleries, and within a few years of starting Wallflowers, Mendez and Sutherland began offering wine and cheese to attendees of weekly art walks. The artistic connection grew quickly and Mendez and Sutherland later launched Gallery W as a sister business to Wallflowers.

“Framing keeps the doors of art open,” Mendez said. She went to art school and has art studio training. “I do art because I love it, but unfortunately it will never pay the rent.”

Three years ago, Mendez and Sutherland moved the businesses about half a city block — from bustling Olcott Square to the old Mill St.

Although a short distance, the move caused major headaches. Mill is a side street. Some people use it as a way to avoid traffic lights in the square. Others don’t know it exists.

“We thought if we sent out cards and let people know and put up big signs, they would get it,” Mendez recalled of the move. “But a lot of people think we’ve gone bankrupt.”

The move, and an economy that remained soft after the 2008 economic recession officially ended, hurt sales at the framing shop and the art gallery, according to Mendez. She is optimistic that 2015 will be a good year for earnings.

“It’s starting again,” she said. “Certainly, this year I see a big change.”

The staff consists only of the two owners. Sutherland does design work, but focuses on the book work required of any small business. Mendez does many of the designs and most of the framing. In his workshop, an automated device is used to produce mats used for the back of framed objects.

“I call him my employee,” she said. “He cuts all the mats perfectly for me.”

Both stores are closed on Sunday and Monday.

Gallery W’s inventory changes frequently. It sells pieces entrusted to it by various artists, but also hosts shows for artistic groups. Works by members of the Pastel Society of New Jersey will be on display at Gallery W this month. A few weeks ago, the gallery hosted a juried art exhibition for Bedminster’s Center for Contemporary Art.

“Art? It’s kind of my passion,” Mendez said.

Mendez has framed numerous diplomas and sports jerseys and ballet slippers, but also hockey sticks and a giant brass cross. She has never turned down a managerial job.

“It’s always a challenge,” she said. “There’s no manual. You have to understand the mechanics of how it’s going to sit in there.”

The amount of time Mendez has to spend on a mission influences its cost. The same goes for the molding used on the frame. Ornate casting need not be expensive, as it could have been made on a machine.

One of Mendez’s favorite moldings is made from the wood of an olive tree. Hand finished, it is imported from Italy. Other parts are expensive because they are valuable.

“This is golden gold,” Mendez said, running a hand over a yellowish sample. “It costs a hundred dollars a foot. The manual labor that goes into it is tremendous.”

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