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A Frame Shop is a Frame Shop is a...

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Val, Feb 17, 2007.

  1. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    ....gallery? Not anymore. It's 4 a.m. and I just came to a eyes-wide-open decision...finally.

    I want to be a frame shop. Just a frame shop. Not a gallery. Not an Ebay hooker-upper for tired artwork that no-one wants anymore shop, not a rent-my-art shop, not a charity-to-hungry-artists shop, not a can-you-frame-this-for-free-and-hope-my-art-sells-and-you'll-get-paid-when-it-does shop, not a did-you-sell-my-pitchers-yet-and-why-not (because they're ugly!)? shop. Not a nobody-else-will-hang-my-stuff-but-I-know-you-will-because-you're-so-nice shop. Not a storage unit shop, or a pawn shop, or a bank shop. Just a Custom Picture Framing Establishment shop.

    The sign on the window and front door says "Custom Framing and Gallery". I inherited that. the guy before me inherited that. I want to scrape off the "and Gallery" part.

    The last straw was today, when a local artist that I had agreed to frame and hang her weird stuff in my shop, came in and asked why her weird stuff wasn't framed and hanging yet? I told her because I've been so busy framing for (paying) customers that I haven't had time to frame hers (for free) and wait for it to sell to get paid for the materials and time invested. She said she'd "give me another week" and then pick it all up and take it "somewhere else where it might sell". I said "Framed? As in Paid-for, framed?" she said "Well, I'll pay you for the framing when it sells at the other place!"and dashed out before I could respond. I will call her tomorrow and ask her to pick everything up and wish her the best of luck selling it, unframed, or paid-for-framed at "the other place".

    I will call the folks who dumped off a trunkload of tired old do-little and deer and antelope framed "stuff" for me to find an Ebay seller for them, because they're tired of it and don't want it in their house anymore, and ask them to please come pick it up now. I'm tired of it and don't want it in my shop anymore, and they can find their own Ebay guy. I'm a framer, not an Ebay-guy-finder.

    I will call the guy who left his 27 shrink-wrapped fuzzy photos of deer and antelope with the previous owner 3 years ago, who promised me he would be in to pick them up 6 months ago, and tell him please come get them now, or they will be stored in a box in my basement. I can't threaten to sell them because....they won't sell!

    I will call the guy in Hollywood who can't find a framer in Hollywood that will deal with him anymore, who a friend-of-a-friend found me for him (must be the "S" (for sucker!) on my forehead), and tell him I will no longer store his 47 autographed photos of dead movie stars while he tries to come up with the rest of the money (check's been in the mail for a year now!) to pay me for the framing (one of the rare times I didn't get payment in full up front, shame on me!) that I won't finish until he finishes paying for them. He's terrified I might try to sell them. Or lose them in the mail. Don't tempt me.

    I will scrape "and Gallery" off the window and front door.

    I'm a framer. I'm busy framing. Period.

    Maybe it's just because it's 4:30 in the morning and I'm grumpy because I haven't slept all night for thinking about this, and I don't have my D'ammit Doll, and because I'm mad at myself for taking so long to come to this decision, but "Do what you do best" keeps ringing in my ears, and I feel guilty (not!) that I can't devote all my time to helping these poor starving artists sell their poor starving art, but I can't want to anymore. I'm busy framing. For real customers. Let them go to "the other place".

    My own darn fault. Because I'm so nice.:p

    Is this normal?:nuts:
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  2. D_Derbonne

    D_Derbonne PFG, Picture Framing God

    Val, you aren't the only one that has been through this experience.
    You've made the right decision.
  3. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think its great when sombody decides that they aren't the whipping boy (or girl) for the rest of the art community. I just wouldn't toss the water out with the baby. Water can be good.

    I'll agree that framed art is not selling as well as it has in the past but it's still moving. With the right images at the correct price points it can be another source of income. I'm still tweeking that but am happy with my current approach.

    I know the current mantra is to get out because nobody on earth is buying art from a frameshop/gallery and that every preframed image is from China. These people have given up and are stuck doing things they way they did 15 years ago. They are wrong.

    Fight the good fight.....
  4. D_Derbonne

    D_Derbonne PFG, Picture Framing God

    Okay, let me clarify my response.
    Val, you've made the right decision not to let people take advantage of you anymore.
  5. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Well Val, there are art galleries and then there are other art galleries.

    I buy my own art, I own it, I frame it, I hang it where I want, I sell it. No one tells me when, where and how to frame it or display it.

    Although art is usually no more than 30% of my business, it sometimes is a big part of the business. I inherited tons of "art" from the previous owner, that was not selling. But I found out what kind of art this town and area like to buy and have been doing very nicely selling art, even in the slow months. I became an art gallery that people seek, as word spread that we carry "good" art.

    I have art displayed in my window, which I rotate on a regular basis, that draws in a respectable number of people.

    Art really saved the bottom line quite a few times. And the profit margin in art beats framing, substantially, any day.

    It's just a matter how you want to sell your art, Val, You may want to rethink not selling any art at all.

    BILL WARD SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    " I can't threaten to sell them because....they won't sell"

    heard that!!!!! I actually had to threaten to put stuff out by the dumpster for one idiot to pick up---had called him no less than 8 weeks in a row to come fetch-----finally said..you have tonight to think it over, tomorrow at noon it goes to the dumpster..on your head be it!" he was waiting by the door when I opened and "promised" to never darken my door again (I thanked him profusely as I held the door open and asked only that he be TRUTHFULL about this unfortunate incident--of course HE will be the injured party & wont mention anything about the overdo bill or the extra 3 mos of free storage etc etc):nuts:
  7. Lisa in New Jersey

    Lisa in New Jersey CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

  8. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    Why do inspiration and insomnia seem inexorably linked?

    Though I don't have much myself at the moment, I think framed art is important to the display in a retail setting. Sure you can focus on any part you like...I watched the numbers for years and framing makes up 95% of my income even when I was selling art and had 40% of my space as a gallery. When I moved in '89 I did away with a dedicated gallery space.
    I think that once you regain control of what is being shown in you space, that you may rethink the issue.
    Send a certified letter to "Hollywood" saying that he has X days to retrieve his belongings before you turn them over to a liquidator (Certified Check or Cash). Find out the bad photographers address and ship the stuff back to him COD. Wish the weird art person "Good Luck" finding an "S" framer.
    Don't scrape the Gallery off you window...the left-over signage will be asymetric, and you might end up having it put back on....of course you could scrape off the "and G lery", replace the "and" with "by", and insert a big Pink "V" where the G was:kaffeetrinker_2: ...
  9. Framerguy

    Framerguy PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm not sure how art is selling in KY but that is our main business here on the Panhandle of FL, started out that way and is growing by leaps and bounds!!! They were selling framed art before I arrived to open their custom frameshop and were doing well enough to hire me at a premium wage. Our retail sales in original art rose by double digits last year and is already topping out last year's monthly figures for this year.


    As it is for so many facets of framing and operating an art gallery or frameshop or both, it depends on what is prevalent in your particular area of the country. I read so many times some blanket "rule" that somebody has followed for trends or selling items or dropping lines from their offerings and you would be wise to take those "rules" with a grain of salt and measure them according to what is popular in your economic environment. There are many art related items that sell in one part of the country and not in another. That is just basic economy and the type of area that you are in that is driving the interests and pocketbooks of the consumers.

    If you aren't having luck with the art or prints that you are offering then maybe it is time you back up and regroup and think the situation out. That seems to be what you are starting to do. I wouldn't rely on intuitive urges at 3:00 AM to be the only driving force in my decisions to alter my business but, it that feels right, then expand on it and weed out the dead wood and get some fresh ideas going.
  10. JbNormandog

    JbNormandog SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hey Val,

    Could you do me a favor and hang up some art for me in your shop?

    I have 12 oversized photos of my feet in different pairs of bunny slippers (all different colors of course)

    Also if you could frame them for me and you'll get paid when they sell, if that's OK.

    Thanks in advance.....Bye.

    Just testing you!!!!

  11. JDS

    JDS CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Way to go!!!!

    I knew there was a reason that I fell in like at first sight with you!!!!

    Great decision . . . go with it and don't look back.

    Jerry S.
  12. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have felt the same way for several years now Val.

    I will be adopting your business plan soon, and will be replacing art sales with another service oriented revenue stream.
  13. jframe

    jframe <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    A gallery and a frame shop are two different businesses. It is almost impossible for one person to be successful at both with only one or two extra employees. It's a lucky gallery owner who has a competent employee like Tom to run the frame shop while she can concentrate her time on the gallery.
  14. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    I agree that this line, like any other, needs to be approached intentionally. Throwing a few random pieces on the wall haphazardly will probably pay off according to the effort. But if it is "almost impossible" I guess I beat the odds. Preframed art has been as strong as it ever has in the last 6 months.

    There was a recent issue of PFM when either Jay Goltz or M Bluestone said something to the effect that they didn't think "framing only" shops were going to have an easy future and that those that are exploring other lines would have an easier go at it. I think that is accurate.
  15. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Congratulations on making a good business decision Val. I don't know that the gallery is as much a problem as the choices you made were. If I had more wall space and more lookers for art I would love to add some consignment pieces. But I would only take what I know would sell and would also enhance the image of my shop. It sounds like you were making more emotional decisions than business ones. That was a hard lesson for me to learn too.
  16. stud d

    stud d SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I don't understand what all of this is...why would you be doing this ebay stuff? Why are you messing with art that you think is bad? Or with artists that are a pain? How long has this been going on?

  17. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    You asking me Patrick?

    16 years this month!
  18. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    Okay, the scraping-the-And Gallery-off the door was Insomnia talking allright. Having a couple of hours sleep has brought me to my senses, kinda.

    Looking back on the past year, I realize that I've had a decent success with some gallery sales....but mostly art that I already own, that came with the shop when I took over, or what I purchased outright, framed properly and hung, like PaulN said....some originals and some limited edition prints, framed and hung up. A handful of local artists' art has sold, mostly photography, but really not much of that.

    I have several bins full of nice, signed L/E prints, shrink-wrapped, that I've "intended" to frame for the gallery walls. they don't sell well in the bins, but do sell about as quickly as I can get them framed and hung up! Go figure! So why haven't I pursued that? Because what little wall space I have is taken up by the local artists' stuff that isn't selling! In my desire to be part of the "art community support", I've missed the retail (business) boat, and now must make some changes.

    So, it isn't that art isn't selling in here.....just that what I have on the walls is not what the buyers are looking for, and I must acknowledge that, and give them what they want and ask for and what I already know works. Duh!

    3 local galleries have closed recently, they are not frameshp/galleries, just galleries. They carried mostly local artists work, mostly framed in yard-sale-chic. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for supporting the local artists, and I do, by offering them a discount on framing, not much, but some. Last week 2 artists that actually paid for custom framing here, came in to tell me they entered their work in an artists asscn. show, and sold!!

    Gotta go...phone calls to make this morning. Coffee and common sense and a bit of courage are on board.

    Thanks for all the input....I can still be a nice guy, can't I?.....but a sensible business woman, too?
  19. jframe

    jframe <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    Jay, what do you mean by preframed art? Is it mass produced or original fine art?

    I have to admit that my old school definition of a gallery is a shop that shows original one of a kind art without the added tag of frame shop.

    Good for you, Val it is so hard to make those decisions.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
  20. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    I haven't been messing with Ebay stuff....just said I would look into it for them after they showed up with it, unannounced. They offered 25% of any of their stuff that sold....I looked into it and decided not to do it. Let them do it themselves. 25% of nothing is still nothing. I learned a lesson there, didn't cost me anything but space (I know, that's valuable, that's the whole point of this thread!)

    I'm looking at all the lessons learned here, flogging myself for them, have out down the wet noodle now and realize how am I going to learn, but by experience? Hence my signature line.
  21. McPhoto

    McPhoto MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Val -
    I like Paul's answer - You seem to have made a decision that will greatly reduce the stress in your life. Regarding those "deadbeats" that haven't paid you for the framing - give them an ultimatum - come & get their "art" NOW or else its in the dumpster. :fire:
    You can always get art that pleases you (and your customers) frame it your way to show as an example of your framing skills. Hang a price tag on it - just in case somebody wants to buy it.
  22. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Art that is pre-framed.


    Carry on.
  23. jframe

    jframe <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    :kaffeetrinker_2: :rolleyes: Ya got me there, Jay.

    Preframed could range from Sotheby's to Big Lots, but I have a feeling most of us think of it as closer to Big Lots. I was hoping for a bit of discussion as to what types of preframed art you are selling, without, of course, disclosing your sources.
  24. equineart

    equineart CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    My business is divided down the middle, Equine art gallery/ Custom Framing. January was the best month I have every had. December was the second best month. I have sold so many pieces off the walls that over a third of the gallery space is empty. I have not had time to frame new things for the gallery, because of the orders for customers.

    Finding the right pieces for your area is the key. I have pieces that were already framed when I got them from the artist and pieces that I have framed. The ones I have framed sell faster. I am trying to make it mostly my framing. Some times time or money just does not allow it.

    Gallery pieces also show what you are able to do. People will say I have an unframed piece similar to that, Wow! I will bring it in and see what you can do with it!:thumbsup:

  25. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    "I was hoping for a bit of discussion as to what types of preframed art you are selling,..."

    Well why didn’t you just ask?

    Mirrors and anything on canvas is selling very well, specifically large canvases. The only paper that moves is local prints. Specific images that sell well here are of course anything horses and the trendy wine images. The most expensive piece is about $500 framed. I only have one of these left and sold 4 in December. $60 - $90 is a popular price point.

    In the interest of disclosure, it has slowed down drastically since Christmas but I’m not abandoning this line.

    Carry on.
  26. Natalya Murphy

    Natalya Murphy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    $60-$90 FRAMED? Are these small prints in metal frames or the kind of stuff I see at Office Depot?
  27. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Art Publishers Association did a great survey a couple of years back that profiled consumers response on what and how much they spent on preframed art.

    The numbers are off the top of my head, but over half said they spent around $100 with very few (I'm remembering single digits) spending over $299

    When Jay mentions price points, it is in regards to those areas where his greatest sales occur. It may be less than what you expect it ought to be, but it is where the consumer decides

    And, we all know who wins that argument

    If you continue to offer products priced beyond the "acceptable" price points, then you further reduce the number of consumers that are likely to buy. I guess it goes back to either listening to the consumer or attempting to educate the consumer. And, see the prior paragraph
  28. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Natalya, I'm hesitant to give wholesale prices on a semi-public forum like this. I'll assume you know the cost of SRM mats and a lite of glass. You can get decent wood moulding for .40 to .80 a foot, to the door, all day long. Toss in a $20 print from a local artist and your still in the 30% COG range.

    My good friend Bob once told me to filter everything through this concept, "Don't offer anything that would bother you if that was all you sold." At $60 - $90 it wouldn't bother me one iota if somebody put in an order for 10,000 of them.
  29. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I did a lot of research in 1988, when I decided to start a frame shop. Originally I thought I would sell a lot of art, but in visiting more than a hundred frame shops & galleries, I had this shocking revelation: In frame shops that sold art, the framing paid the bills. In art galleries that did framing, the framing paid the bills. Art galleries that did not offer framing sold something else that paid the bills.

    Of course there were some exceptions, even back then. But in most cases, the art was touted as the primary product, but it did not produce enough profit to pay the bills. Framing just turned out to be a way to use back-room space to cover the profit shortfall.

    I vowed never to allow art inventory to take over my FRAME shop. To this day, I sell art only casually, and I have seen several art galleries come and go over the years, simply because they could not sell enough art fast enough to pay the bills. One poor lady had over $100,000 worth of art, at retail value, when she finally closed her business, which she said averaged about $180,000 per year in sales. What's wrong with this picture?

    I have heard those predictions that framing-only businesses will die off, and that it will be necessary to sell other things to thrive. Yes, our segment of the industry is shrinking. However, I see preframed art popping up for sale in retail establishments every month or so, where it never was before. I predict that it will become increasingly difficult to sell art of any kind in a small retail storefront, because consumers will be able to buy decent-quality preframed art imported from Korea at every corner pharmacy and gas station. It's happening now. So, I choose to sell something that will not be imported cheaper or better than I can do it -- at least not in my lifetime.
  30. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Jim: (it was really nice finally meeting you at the Chinese dinner in Vegas, by the way).

    There is no denying that pre-framed art is selling and will sell.

    But I also submit that those customers who bring art to be framed and choose quality framing, many of them would rather not be caught with cheap pre-framed art in their houses.

    Those who know about conservation framing, museum glass, and gold leaf frames, will not run to Target or Pier One to buy art in a plastic frame and thin plexi. Unless it's a gift for the mother in law....;)

    It also depends on the demographics: All those cheap imitation Rolexes and Tag Heuer watches on the streets in Manhattan did not drive Rolex and Cartier stores out of business.

    As I mentioned in my earlier post, one needs to find the right balance and know the limit of what will and what will not sell.

    I was lucky enough to visit many houses of my customers, whether for a art-installation job, consultation or a social event. Looking at what they had on their walls helped a lot.
  31. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    However, there is a percentage of the population who will buy a $ 500.00 framed print and an even smaller percentage that will buy the $ 500,000,00 framed original masterpiece.

    When I sold high end writing instruments our lowest priced pen was aboout $ 20.00 and, yes, we sold a much larger quantity of the $ 20.00 pens than we did the pens ranging in price from $ 250.00 to $ 5000.00. However, the bulk of the sales in dollars came from the higher end items. I'm also sure that the local Office Max sold Bic pens by the thousands, yet I chose not to sell them at all.

    What I'm attempting to do is draw an analogy between the above example and the selling of framed art. A downtown Chicago Michigan Street high end gallery doesn't sell any framed art for less than say, $ 500.00, with the bulk of their sales being in a much higher dollar range. In fact they not only don't have greeters at the door ...the doors are locked!!! You have to ring a bell and they decide if they will admit you.

    There is no right or wrong approach to the market, per se. Each requires a different approach from the bottom to the top of how you set up and portray your business to the public. You can use a shotgun and try to hit most of the flock of customers in your market or you can use a scoped rifle and target and shoot just the few that you have identified as a segment you can reach with a more specialized product range.

    Neither approach is wrong as proved by the success of properly established and managed businesses representing both types of merchants.

    Is one more difficult to do successfully than the other? It depends on many factors. Is it easier to compete in a market where many are trying to reach the mass market or easier to survive and thrive selling a high end product to a small percentage of the population? Only an individual entrepreneur can make that decision after looking at their own market and individual temperment.

    What will spell success or failure of any enterprise is properly identifying and effectively reaching your potential customers with appropriate products for the segment you identify as your target market ... and having made sure the market is large enough, or has the potential to be developed to profitably support your endeavors

    Dave Makielski
  32. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    It wasn't the art, but the artists!

    15 years ago the shop I own now started out as a frame shop. They were in a poor location and didn't do well, so the next owners moved it to present location and concentrated on selling limited edition prints, with framing secondary, mostly for the prints they sold (Doolittle, Bateman, etc). It did well for awhile until, the print market took a dive when folks started ordering online, and their business dove with it.

    Next owner thumbtacked the shrink-wrapped prints all over the place, called it a gallery, opened when he felt like it, and framed when the occasional collector walked in. It didn't do well (duh!) and he sold it to me 14 months ago. I have concentrated on framing, have been as busy as I can handle, and my print sales have vastly improved over his (they're no longer thumbtacked on the walls!)....because the ones that sell are framed well, and hung up. And what's framed is what I continually hear people walk through the doors and ask for... "Western art", G. Harvey, etc. It's weird, but "If I build it, they will come" does, in fact, apply in my shop. Framed Art doesn't stay up very long....it goes home with a happy customer.

    My problem was that I thought original, local artists work would sell well, people would be more inclined to support the local artists' community and I wanted to support the local artists too (hoping they would support me!), and I've found that has not been the case. Framing ablsolutely pays the bills, has from day one, and the occasional art sale has basically become a way to sell the framing. Unframed art rarely sells I have art from $3 (cards) to $60 (matted only) to $500plus(framed) and it's the $500+ that sells better than the $60 stuff!

    Hence my decision to limit the low-end local art that just sits there, taking up wall space, by the artists that think they've blessed my shop with their presence and think that without it I would probably go under. It will be replaced with the well-framed, what-customers-have-asked-for quality signed/numbered and framed art, and go back to what works. It was an experiment and a learning experience. It's the artists drove me nuts!! A couple have been great though, and sold well, and I will to continue to show their work, but framed properly.

    I also haven't had much of the gallery-framed art up lately because I was was too busy with framing orders to do the gallery framing, but I've made the commitment to myself to frame one gallery piece a week, pretending it's a customer's piece (well, it might be a future customer's!)

    What started this thread in an insomniac fit wasn't the art, but the artists! And yesterday I made all the calls and will see how that worked....gave them a week to respond, then....to the basement or worse (I need to research the legalities of sending it to the dumpster) One woman came right in and paid in full what was owed and took her stuff home. And.....I sold a gallery piece (shop inventory, framed!!) yesterday!!
  33. jframe

    jframe <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    Isn't that just the way things go, Val. I can just see you shaking your head in wonder.
  34. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    Yeah, wondering why it takes me so long to do these things!!
  35. danny boy

    danny boy PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have a small area for designing and limited wall space. I have corner samples and framed examples on the wall as thats how I sell. I am a frame shop. Period. One day I may venture into black waters but this works for me now. And I love it.
    Sounds like someone has been thinking out loud, and heard what she has been saying all along. Well done.
  36. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Most decisions in life are a process. Good decisions usually come from either gaining more experience or vicariously learning through others willing to share their success and failures.

    The balancing act is knowing when the time is right to make a decision and committing yourself to it.

    Sounds like you're there, Val!


    Dave Makielski
  37. Rumblebelly

    Rumblebelly Grumbler

    The wife and I thought it might be fun to visit a few frame shops in town. I'm an artist, thinking about getting into framing. Maybe at first to do my own frames, potentially making a little money at it in th future. We'll see, things could drastically change.

    Anyway, we went to four frame shops. The first doubled as a gallery with nice original work. Not top of the line but really nice. I liked the opportunity to see how original pieces looked in particular custom frames. The gal at the counter got me turned onto a type of frame, on a painting in the showroom, I would have never considered before. She offered me to take the sample home to see how it looks with my stuff. Offered up a quote too. She was chatty and was very helpful. I was impressed.

    The second place just had some prints a glicees hung up. Ideal location, big store. But the gals were too busy messing with inventory and talking smack to each other about their employees. Saying what a pain in the arse it was to train new workers...very unprofessional and we left quickly.

    The third was in also in a great location. Some originals and prints were framed. As soon as you walked in, you realized the art was primarily a showcase for the frames. The framing was beautiful and you could tell they catered to more high end customers. The lady showed me the Wizard set up, was bubbly as all #### and very open to my questions. She treated me like a king and I wanted to just hug her. She gave me a quote which I couldn't afford, it was pretty nice moulding though. Of course, I'd definitely use them if I knew my art was worth more than the frames. LOL.

    The fourth was Jerry's Artorama. She was nice but I was looking for tools which I didn't find. Funny thing is that she warmed up to me after I told her I was interested in making my own frames. She said it was great fun. I didn't tell the other frame shops this so I really can't compare my experience with it. However, I've had stuff framed at Hobby Lobby and Michaels, not the best experiences in the world.

    Going to a homebased framer today. We bought our house from him and I'm curious to see what his place is like. His niche is going to customers homes and businesses, showing them his samples and delivering the final product.

    Anywho, some local artists might appreciate seeing some original artwork hanging up. It made me think about frames more and it made me relax a bit. I guess if you are considering the gallery thing, the thing to do is only display artists you respect and like. I'm a newbie with this whole thing so...I probably don't know what I'm talking about. ;)
  38. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Greg ...it certainly would be more enjoyable to sell the artwork of artists you respect and like!

    Thanks for sharing your guerilla research with us. I believe most of us have a difficult time being objective about our own businesses because we are so close to them that they are almost like our offspring ...and of course there is nothing wrong with our own children ...:faintthud:...

    You made some great observations and noted well your reactions to them.

    Dave Makielski
  39. J Phipps TN

    J Phipps TN SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I too have been visiting frames shops lately and it does help get your perspective right.

    It has helped me alot in making some big decisions at my shop!
  40. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    Care to share, Jen? Which "big decisions" and how did the other shops help you come to them? (Do this/don't do that, etc)
  41. Rumblebelly

    Rumblebelly Grumbler

    Well, I have no idea what percentage of frame customers are artists, collectors, photographers, hobbyists, etc...and I'm sure it varies from frame shop to frame shop. Plus, I'm getting the feeling that many framers are artists too.

    I had the homebased/delivery framer frame one of my pieces. Mostly because he's a neighbor, he only moved a couple of blocks away. We got to chatting and I guess he got in the business as a watercolorist, did the galleries and show thing. Found out he couldn't stomach the artist lifestyle but made good money at it. He got into framing because he needed to frame his own work, started doing stuff for friends and neighbors, got so many word of mouth referrals he's able to make a living at framing instead.

    Sorry, I kinda got off topic.
  42. Elaine

    Elaine SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Rumblebelly - I sent you an email. You are welcome to visit my shop in upstate, NY when you are here. Where in Upstate are you moving to???

  43. J Phipps TN

    J Phipps TN SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Yes Val, I'll be glad to share.....

    First big decision I made was Not to move! I was really looking heavily at moving, and after looking and visiting other shops, I realized that (for me) moving would be a huge waste of money.

    I just need to re-do , get organized and re-think my space!

    I got some great ideas about remodeling and in what areas I needed to improve.

    I talked to my landlord and he has agreed to build two new walls. Taking out a useless window and door and another one to seperate the work area a little better. That will give me more gallery space and won't take up any more floor space. I'm going to do the hanging systems for those two new walls, for a larger fresher feeling.

    Also I realized I need more "sample" framing instead of Art!

    The other frames shops also showed me some great ideas for signage and marketing tools. Somethings I had never thought of!

    I hope by summer the shop will be where I want it to be.

    I will try to post before and after photos.

    And watch out you Grumblers, you never know when I will be stopping by for a visit!

    I vistited Tessa shop last week and she has a great store with a very nice "up scale" feel. The best part is she carries that off with out it being too intimidating!

    Very nice Tessa.

    Another great shop I visited last fall and learned alot from, was Applewood Gallery in Charlotte.

    Tony and Kassandra are so kind and have a beatiful gallery. Very up scale and professional.

    I've been to several that aren't grumblers and some of them had some neat ideas too.
  44. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    Jen, your "list" sounds very similar to the list I started after I got back from WCAF, and have been checking things off one at a time, slowly, but doing it! Looking at my shop with fresh eyes, and looking at other shops (via Rob Markoff's slideshow in his Creating a Retail Space class) and reading the ideas and suggestions here, got me motivated.

    I also took someone's suggestion here, and have starting asking my reps for suggestions when they come in, only 2 so far, but have gotten some good suggestions, since they see a lot of shops. I asked them to look around at the other shops for me, be my eyes, so to speak, and be thinking of other suggestions for me. Simple things, like paint color, window coverings, de-cluttering, vignets (theme walls), more model framing, signage, design counter arrangement, even music! We're re-doing the moulding walls on Monday.

    Update on the deadbeat (gallery) artists situation that prompted me to start this thread:
    I made all the phone calls I said I would. All but one have come in and picked up their stagnant art, a couple didn't want to pay for the framing, so they got their art back naked. Two paid for the framing and took home, one gave me the go-ahead to reframe and paid up front for it.

    This week I have framed and hung 3 gallery pieces (from frame shop inventory) and one already sold. Woman bringing her husband back today to look at one. Several more on the workbench waiting to be finished and hung, including a couple of mirrors. I will no longer hang artists' work with anything less than quality framing. Period, no exceptions. This is a frame shop, not a thrift store.

    The three customers who have not picked up their finished orders in a loooong time, upon receiving my final message of "it will be going to the basement", suddenly found a way to pick up and pay in full. Tomorrow I will be boxing up the remainder and they're headed to the basement....for once, I'm following through. And it sure feels good.
  45. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God


    What is in your basement that presents such a threat to your deadbeat customers??? I have a basement which refer to as "Freddy's Basement" and if anyone could see it - it is truly horrifying.

    I have a deadbeat job (was a "rush" for Mother's Day - last year!) and I have left countless phone messages for the previously good customer - her last message will be "You can pick up your diploma and the photo any time but I am selling the frames to the next person who wants 'em."
  46. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    Our basement is dry (it's the desert...duh!) and totally safe.....I know that, but...what does a "basement" bring to your mind? Dark, damp, bottomless, critters.....like sending their artwork to he11?? Ours isn't, but apparently, they think otherwise, even though I say it's totally safe, I'm just taking it down there to "make room in the shop". Phsychological scare tactic? Well, it worked, didn't it? I didn't have to threaten to throw anything to the dumpster (legal ramifications), just "wrap it up and store it in the basement"....and it worked! I didn't threaten to sell it, because if it could've been sold...why is it still there???

    As of late this afternoon, I have heard from every single person I contacted this week. I haven't had to make one trip down there (ow). All but one has picked up and (miracle!!) paid for...the last one, who now lives in another state, has made arrangements for a friend who lives nearby to pick up for them by this weekend.

    I don't know why it worked, but it did! I didn't even have to get nasty.

    Val's Basement....Broooohahahaha!
  47. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Val, ...now you never get nasty , do you?

    I'd run down and pick my work up too if you called and acted mean like that...poor customers... :icon20: ... They were probably terrified that you were going to throw them in the dungeon next!


    Dave Makielski
  48. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    "Hi, this is Valorie at Heart & Home Framing. I've made many attempts to contact you about your artwork that's been here for...uhhhh, 3 years (6months, 1 year, 7 months, etc). It's a shame that it's sitting here under the counter, rather than on a wall somewhere, being appreciated, where it belongs, and I'm thinking maybe you haven't gotten my message, or something unfortunate has occurred that is keeping you from returning my calls. So, until you can let me know what you'd like me to do with your artwork, I will be packaging it up and storing it in our basement. I'm not sure what will happen to it from there ,and I really don't want to take it out to the dumpster.I'm sure you can understand my dilemma. All I ask is a phone call to let me know what you'd like me to do with it. I'll be happy to dispose of it, if you'd like, at no charge."

    Now, does that sound nasty???
  49. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    .............. :shrug: ...................

    ...but it sure sounds effective!


    Dave Makielski
  50. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    Smoke and mirrors...baffle 'em with you-know-what. If it works..., great, if not....figure out a plan c,d,e,etc. But DO SOMETHING. Even if it sounds silly.

    Hey, it worked this time!!:nuts: :D
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