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Art.com Introduces "Frame Your Own Art."

Sponsor Wanted

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
They are targeting the younger, first-time buyers who live on the Internet. Most of what they claim is wrong - we're slower, and more expensive, or price unpredictable.

I've got a few signs comparing price and quality, and they work. But the easy winner for me is being in another country - cross-border shipping is a real pain.
 

Keith L Hewitt

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
They have been in Europe for quite a while. I believe their base is in Holland, and from there they ship all over Europe. Joe Public in UK has no idea their order is being made in another country - does it matter where its made, so long as its delivered in a few days ?
They are very successful and I've heard from a reliable source LJ's Holland's largest customer.

Tedh says that cross border (UAS >< CANADA) shipping can be a pain. Each year I order calendars from a UK site, and the delivery comes from Holland - without a hitch.

Now what is clever :) - if I open your link to the USA - www.ART.COM it knows I'm in England and redirects me to the U.K. site to process my order.
 
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JFeig

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Hasn't ART.com been doing the framing for years with their poster sales? FrameBridge has a more competition than they think for their not wo new idea.
 

cvm

PFG, Picture Framing God
Interesting that art .com's pricing structure is the exact same as Framebridge.

I'd say the players right now are:

Framebridge . com
Simplyframed . com
Framedandmatted . com
Art . com


I don't see any barriers to M's selling through this channel as well. Artistree is already set up to roll.
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
That's what I can't figure out. How to get the word out that framers rock.

Just ask our customers.
 

cjmst3k

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Interesting that art .com's pricing structure is the exact same as Framebridge.

I'd say the players right now are:

Framebridge . com
Simplyframed . com
Framedandmatted . com
Art . com


I don't see any barriers to M's selling through this channel as well. Artistree is already set up to roll.
At least one grumbler should be added to this list, as I've seen their online business mentioned many times by people in other forums who collect collectable posters. Not sure I want to have a list of competition on our forum adding to google search results for them.
 

cvm

PFG, Picture Framing God
You mean the cheapy guy in so cal?
 

cjmst3k

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
You mean the cheapy guy in so cal?
I think its someone else. The one I'm thinking of has a very patriotic name, again not wanting to add to this list.
 

justawhitemat

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
It still boggles my mind that people are willing to send their art to someone/somewhere they will never meet/see? I would assume they aren't sending anything valuable or irreplaceable. I guess I'm odd enough to think that art (and subsequent framing) is a personal experience.
 

Sonny

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
They are the new Michaels. We get a 50% off notice every week.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
It still boggles my mind that people are willing to send their art to someone/somewhere they will never meet/see? I would assume they aren't sending anything valuable or irreplaceable. I guess I'm odd enough to think that art (and subsequent framing) is a personal experience.
I think this is what we are all banking on, but the reality is that besides art with sentimental or monetary value, we are losing the everyday bread and butter framing that we used to routinely enjoy. Moreover, competing on an online palying field is much more difficult than it used to be.

This is an old question for this forum, but what are everyone's ideas for countering the growing number of big money competitors? What has been successful for you?
 

Paul Cascio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
This formula of people having to pack and ship their art, and the absorption of two shipping charges, seems flawed.
 

FramerInTraining

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
If you want to join the party you should look at the new program that Mo Elyas has just offered from his shop --"FrameMe.com".
With this program you can handle the I-Phone/Smartphone customer and make the sale from your shop.
Thank you Boris for the shout out. I think if we can combine forces and come up with even a small but sustainable budget we should be able to counter those online businesses. We already have the framing infrastructure in place.
As Boris mentioned, I am excited about the FrameMe.com marketplace app. I understand it's not exactly what everybody wants but it's a starting point. I can add and improve on features based on what's needed.
 

David Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
It still boggles my mind that people are willing to send their art to someone/somewhere they will never meet/see?
We have people give us (who they've never met in person) 10s of thousands of dollars for product they've never seen. Granted, sometimes it's by CC so they have some protection, but still. I think our largest sight-unseen order so far is about $40k.
 

wldman

True Grumbler
small custom frame shops are going away... give it 5 to 10 years 90% of custom frame shops will be gone, the ones that are left will be the ones that do high end art for museums and such... that's not a statement that is a fact unfortunately...
As more and more people take pictures on there phones it is so much easier to just send it away to someone on the internet then go into a custom frame shop... More and more people around my age (26) would rather just send it off to someone on the internet, as we have to work long hours don't have time to go to a frame shop. I know if I did not working in a shop i would never go to one i would much rather just send it to someone on the internet and not have to worry about it. Yes Mo's app will help a little but in the long run not going to help as much as needed... came a little to late... the custom frame shops needed this 3 years ago before the big companies started offering online framing.

sorry this is a bit of a rant but its the truth... i know i am going to **** some people off by saying this but it is what it is... I have been in and around the framing industry since i was a baby, so those of you who are going to say that just because i am young I don't know what i am talking about consider i have been around framing since i was 3 was working in my dads shop when i was 5 till i was in high school took a little brake for high school and now back doing it since i was 18... again sorry for the rant. I get a lot of people come into my shop and say i don't know what i am doing since i am young.
 

FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
small custom frame shops are going away... give it 5 to 10 years 90% of custom frame shops will be gone, the ones that are left will be the ones that do high end art for museums and such... that's not a statement that is a fact unfortunately...
As more and more people take pictures on there phones it is so much easier to just send it away to someone on the internet then go into a custom frame shop... More and more people around my age (26) would rather just send it off to someone on the internet, as we have to work long hours don't have time to go to a frame shop. I know if I did not working in a shop i would never go to one i would much rather just send it to someone on the internet and not have to worry about it. Yes Mo's app will help a little but in the long run not going to help as much as needed... came a little to late... the custom frame shops needed this 3 years ago before the big companies started offering online framing.

sorry this is a bit of a rant but its the truth... i know i am going to **** some people off by saying this but it is what it is... I have been in and around the framing industry since i was a baby, so those of you who are going to say that just because i am young I don't know what i am talking about consider i have been around framing since i was 3 was working in my dads shop when i was 5 till i was in high school took a little brake for high school and now back doing it since i was 18... again sorry for the rant. I get a lot of people come into my shop and say i don't know what i am doing since i am young.
Actually I think your opinion is very important to the conversation. Your generation is the demographic that we need to target in order to have any chance at surviving into the future. Do you have any ideas on how we could better handle marketing and catering to younger people. What would you like to see from frame shops to make them more appealing?

Ed
 

Paul Cascio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
small custom frame shops are going away... give it 5 to 10 years 90% of custom frame shops will be gone, the ones that are left will be the ones that do high end art for museums and such... that's not a statement that is a fact unfortunately...
As more and more people take pictures on there phones it is so much easier to just send it away to someone on the internet then go into a custom frame shop... More and more people around my age (26) would rather just send it off to someone on the internet, as we have to work long hours don't have time to go to a frame shop. I know if I did not working in a shop i would never go to one i would much rather just send it to someone on the internet and not have to worry about it. Yes Mo's app will help a little but in the long run not going to help as much as needed... came a little to late... the custom frame shops needed this 3 years ago before the big companies started offering online framing.

sorry this is a bit of a rant but its the truth... i know i am going to **** some people off by saying this but it is what it is... I have been in and around the framing industry since i was a baby, so those of you who are going to say that just because i am young I don't know what i am talking about consider i have been around framing since i was 3 was working in my dads shop when i was 5 till i was in high school took a little brake for high school and now back doing it since i was 18... again sorry for the rant. I get a lot of people come into my shop and say i don't know what i am doing since i am young.

It's not the truth, it's just your opinion. You're entitled to that opinion, and you express it well, but labeling it as anything else is inaccurate.
 

Bob Doyle

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I think widman has a point, but that it is also a self centered point. By that I mean that the bulk of my customers are not 20 somethings. They are too busy getting established in life, moving from job to job, city to city, and from relationship to relationship finding their way in life. I miss those years personally, and at the same time wouldn't want to struggle through them again!

My customers for the most part are older, more established in life and more settled. They aren't looking to get a picture on the wall quickly but to get it up there in the best manner possible. They aren't trying to get a frame to match a couch, they've already done that, now they want to be able to get the frame and matting to best highlight the artwork. They are not the 20 somethings they are the parents talking about their 20 somethings. They come in and frame their 20 somethings' artwork for them, usually at XMas or frame their 20 somethings' diplomas for them as a gift to show them how it should look best.

I think Widman will be framing art when he/she is older and settled and looking to enjoy their home not just slap art on the walls of their current apartment. When that day comes I hope Widman looks at my sticker on the back of the framed work his/her parents gave him/her and calls me! Since we are using a computer I should be able to pull up the files and work on matching or complimenting the previous jobs.
 

wldman

True Grumbler
also just FYI everyone I do own my own framing shop. I am not just working for one... (yes it was my fathers but he has since turned most of it over to me)

to answer the question that framercat has I have been asking myself that same question since i took over my dads business... unfortunately i have not come up with a good answer. me personally at my shop have a TV in my showroom showing the process and few other specials i run hoping that will attract people in the door (it is playing in the window of my shop) other then that i am still trying to figure out how to get more people in the door...

for Paul yes it is my opinion but it is also based on observations i have made with regards to how many frame shops are closing around me. also i have made friends with some of the delivery drivers and they are saying that the # of frame shops they deliver to anymore continues to go down from shops closing.

for me personally i am struggling to get people in the door. trying to hold out as long as i can before i go fully online, but it will be coming fairly soon.
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Couple of ideas thrown out for comments:

- frame shop displays should be aimed at kids. Not being a kid, I can't tell you what would work, but my kids would gravitate to sports and entertainment themes, zombies and goth.

- pricing should compete with Walmart

- kids do not want the art their parents display at home

- frame shop inventory, ready-mades, should be plentiful and should cater to the impulse buyers. An example is Neilsen line of 117-fluorescents. These attract attention.

- front window displays should emphasize crazy prices and youthful images.

My shop has done all these, and it helps that we're in a tourist-rich area with big walk-by traffic.
 

justawhitemat

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
small custom frame shops are going away... give it 5 to 10 years 90% of custom frame shops will be gone, the ones that are left will be the ones that do high end art for museums and such... that's not a statement that is a fact unfortunately...
As more and more people take pictures on there phones it is so much easier to just send it away to someone on the internet then go into a custom frame shop... More and more people around my age (26) would rather just send it off to someone on the internet, as we have to work long hours don't have time to go to a frame shop. I know if I did not working in a shop i would never go to one i would much rather just send it to someone on the internet and not have to worry about it. Yes Mo's app will help a little but in the long run not going to help as much as needed... came a little to late... the custom frame shops needed this 3 years ago before the big companies started offering online framing.

sorry this is a bit of a rant but its the truth... i know i am going to **** some people off by saying this but it is what it is... I have been in and around the framing industry since i was a baby, so those of you who are going to say that just because i am young I don't know what i am talking about consider i have been around framing since i was 3 was working in my dads shop when i was 5 till i was in high school took a little brake for high school and now back doing it since i was 18... again sorry for the rant. I get a lot of people come into my shop and say i don't know what i am doing since i am young.
I am only a little younger than you and I respectfully disagree that most custom frame shops are going to be obliterated. I haven't been around framing my whole life but I have been framing since I was 19, perhaps it also helps that I grew up surrounded by my parent's extensive art collection (which I ensured all had conservation mounting/glass once I began framing my own pieces). So for another ~millenial~ perspective:
I know many people my age who care more about price than quality, but it is usually out of strict budget more than a choice. I also know many people my age, generally my more creative or design-oriented friends, who really respect craftsmanship and uniqueness. It is all about someone's priority in their spending combined with their patience. When it comes to discretionary (not groceries/bills) spending I would personally rather save up a bit and spend more on something that I know will last, than to spend less up front only to have to spend that same amount recurring. For others, it is a buy-it-now regardless of cost/benefit.
I might compare it to boots. I know if I spend $100+ on good leather/suede boots they will last more than one season, and can be maintained with a little cleaner/polish. But if I spend only $40 on a pair of inexpensive faux leather boots then I will have to buy them again next winter and the next. I see it as my job to explain to potential customers (especially younger and/or more budget conscious) why it is worth it to choose to invest in whatever they're framing. And I don't expect people my age to frame everything they can, just what really matters. I think there is still appeal to longevity and quality.
Just because McDonalds exists doesn't mean fine dining establishments are disappearing.

(just my two cents)
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I think markets change and evolve and perhaps small independent shops rely too much on their opinion instead of fully understand the marketplace. BobD brings up a valid observation on the 'graying' of his core client. t's been a few years, but I was involved in some market research tat clearly identified that condition. Face it the client he has today was 'conditioned' to get framing done at neighborhood shop; there were no internet options, big box stores, The younger consumer of the 80's did see those BB's and internet options on a smaller footprint, also shopped malls, The millienums couldn't find a neighborhood shop because the majority of the 'retail' biz is .com

For those in biz in 80's or 90's probably sold posters. Anybody do much in that category today?. Ask any 30 or under where to buy a poster? I'll bet you will hear art.com a lot and you probably won't hear a single frame shop

My point? Framers, in my opinion, keep thinking they 'know their customer'. Maybe so, but they need to understand the customer they don't know. Instead, many claim the 'quality' component. Consumers care much more about 'perceived price value' and convenience. Again, it's been a few years but market research stated consumers didn't perceive much difference in 'proficiency' . in essence they expected the framer to do it correctly

In BobD's example example some of those 'fade away' either through death or having less framing done, some of those do follow the crowd to these 'alternatives'. The remainder become 'core'. Sure, you will continue to see some others shop with you all the while UPS parks a trailer at art.com for daily pick
Suggestion: find out why consumers are not coming your way and find a strategy to recapture. My opinion is consumers are brand loyal as long as 'perceived price' and convenience are met

Not saying it's easy, just worth it

That's just my opinion based on research for growing my internet biz
 

FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
for Paul yes it is my opinion but it is also based on observations i have made with regards to how many frame shops are closing around me. also i have made friends with some of the delivery drivers and they are saying that the # of frame shops they deliver to anymore continues to go down from shops closing.
Wldman, you are getting your information from the right source. I had this very same conversation with one of my delivery guys (who I've known for twenty-some years) this morning. Sales reps and educators (not a shot at you Paul, you know I respect your opinions and ideas) will tell you things are great because it is in their best interest to do so. Drivers see what is really going on and are as concerned as we are because their livelihood also depends on the brick and mortars. What you do with that information is important though. I usually use these downturns to my advantage and expand my business to fill vacancies that I see opening. This week I expanded to a fourth location. Try to pull strength from the weakness of other business models.

I can't tell you how excited I am that we have at least a couple of intelligent and invested millenials participating in this conversation. Both of you should keep giving your opinions. I think they are very important to the future of our industry. I started my first shop when I was 25 (after having worked in other frame shops for years) so I have been where you are, but that was a generation ago and a lot of things have changed since then.

Ed
 

Paul Cascio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Ed, as you pointed out, someone leaving creates a vacuum that you move to fill. Many of my students are sent by their employer, so some businesses. including yours, are growing.

I believe the industry is now on the upswing, as is the rest of the home furnishings industry. The recession, and especially the housing crash, was devastating, but those events are behind us. What hasn't happened is for the next generation of home buyers to emerge -- millennials simply are not buying houses yet, and don't share the dream of home ownership that previous generations did. And can we blame them? Heck no, they saw the market crash.

However, I also don't think that most framers do enough to court younger/first time customers. We need them to keep the pipeline full, because our existing customers aren't forever -- they move, or simply run out of wall space.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
May I suggest that when a competitor leaves a market for some reason, those customers are not transferable so easily. For some reason, they did not shop with you before. If that 'objection' hasn't changed, they may come to you or not, they do have other options and might be drawn to a client with 'higher name recognition'. Ed with multiple stores that is a huge advantage. For single shops, much lower

Understand the consumer and react/adapt might attract those 'freed' clients and more importantly 'new' ones

Not active anymore, but wouldn't it be helpful to hear some 'this is what works for me' testimonials
 

FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Bob, that is very true. Increased name recognition or at least marketing can be helpful. The way that we are being found is changing. Google searches have been our most effective marketing (and that doesn't cost anything). Just do your best to get to the top of the page for your area. Sometimes buying a customer list from a closing shop can help if they have a good, detailed and easily transferable list. I wouldn't pay a whole lot for it though because you may not get as many customers out of it as you hope.

Ed
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I think the trend is a big concern, but I don't see this particular service from Art.com as a danger yet. If I'm understanding the site correctly, they offer 30 frame styles and five mats. I think that limits the appeal.
 

FramerInTraining

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I think the trend is a big concern, but I don't see this particular service from Art.com as a danger yet. If I'm understanding the site correctly, they offer 30 frame styles and five mats. I think that limits the appeal.
I think they have it right. If you offer 1,500 frames and 500 mat options, you are asking for trouble. People using web sites and apps like simpler rather than more complex options.
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Well, if they do, it's going to be a bold, new, happy day for me because I can shed all these frame and mat samples. If I can just set 30 frames and 5 mats out and tell the customers to write down what they want, I'll save thousands of dollar on the labor required to take orders.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey Bruce While art.com has probably 'tested' what works for them vs what today's internet customer expects, your customer has other expectations. That is probably the main reason they do shop with you. But, there really is something to learn from them. Imagine if Baskins Robbins had 131 flavors? Sometimes today's consumer might be equally daunted with 3000 corner samples.

Truth is many framers 'take pride' im showing thousands of corners thinking that is what consumers expect splitting their 'buying advantages' amongst 8,9, or 10 suppliers. Framers would benefit by learning what the consumer really expects.

I wonder how often this happens: designer shows a bunch of corners, client decides, designer inputs ino POS and Up Jump the Devil but it's no longer available and they have to start again. While 30 may be 'too little', 3000 might be just a tad too many

Just an opinion from a now consumer
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
We do, in fact, have way more samples of everything than is really sensible. The reaction from customers we are looking for (and actually get) is "if I can't find it here, then it's just not available." I probably sell 90% of my customers one of maybe 200 styles. All the rest are to convince them they will never need to go anyplace else.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hi Bruce-I accept that framers will have a gazillion samples. And you might be correct that it reassures your clientele. I can't remember walkouts because of not enough options, but not meeting their expectations. That might be price, it might be uninspiring design or it might be intimidation. Or, all three LOL.

I have a framer friend that has just about as many corners under the counter as on the wall

Point is I have no idea if consumers see that as an advantage, disadvantage or have an opinion

Logistics: when you have t hat many samples how do you ensure selections on wall are current?

Practical: with Sales Reps visiting trying to place more samples on wall, how do you determine what comes down to make room for latest?
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
The suppliers and their reps keep us current on what's been dropped, but it does take a lot of work culling the herd.

We just evaluate how attractive the new stuff is relative to the old and prettiest wins.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
Logistics: when you have t hat many samples how do you ensure selections on wall are current?

Practical: with Sales Reps visiting trying to place more samples on wall, how do you determine what comes down to make room for latest?
Managing discontinued sample is a big part of the framers job. Some suppliers make it easy and some make it hard. I favor any supplier who makes it easy. Pictures are the biggest help.

In recent years the number of discontinued is close to the number of new so the wall number stays close to the same.

Doug
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hi guys

From a poor memory, very, very few suppliers sent any type of notification of disc mldgs. We were pretty lucky in that we bought mostly from local suppliers and had reps in the stores frequently checking for NLAs. But did have one out of town supplier and only saw rep spareingly. My concern with a couple of thousand samples, it can't be easy to keep wall 'clean and up to date'.

We used to consider our wall space as an asset, much like grocery stores view shelf space. If Vendor A releases new product of 20 samples, you need to remove 20 or so samples to make room. We often parlayed that into an advantage; better discounts, promotional pricing. Bet nothing makes Vendor B put on his tradin' britches quicker than the thought of 20 of his corners coming down to be replaced by 20 of Vendor A

Or has industry changed that much?
 

all 10 fingers

True Grumbler
Just because McDonalds exists doesn't mean fine dining establishments are disappearing.
Exactly! We are also selling a service. I can cook all of my own meals, I can order on-line or even from my phone and have food brought to my house. But I'm also willing to spend a little more for the experience of getting dressed up and spoiled by a server in a nice restaurant. I'm not going to spend a special occasion at Burger King. I'd rather pay for the experience of having someone help me choose my wine then clean up after me. Getting people in the door is the trick I think. Technically I am not a millenial (I'm 35!) but a lot people I meet around my age seem to never have thought about custom framing as a real thing unless their parents were into it. Once you get them in the door though, they're hooked. It's special and makes them feel unique.
 

CB Art & Framing

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Sorry, but I dont agree. "Getting Customers Through The Door". The geographic range for attracting customers for most retail stores is probably 5-10 miles. Selling online gives you access to the whole US and beyond.
 

David Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Sorry, but I dont agree. "Getting Customers Through The Door". The geographic range for attracting customers for most retail stores is probably 5-10 miles. Selling online gives you access to the whole US and beyond.
I would argue that, unless you are trying to be an Art.com or FrameBridge, Documounts, etc, that there is more business than you can handle within a 5-10 mile radius of most stores in moderately populated areas.

I believe there are two basic approaches to selling - you can either give people what they want, or make them want what you have. For the first approach, opening the net wider will catch more fish, while for the second, you need to make the bait more attractive. Ideally you will be able to use both approaches in concert.

Of course, as the business owner, you have the choice as to where and how you attempt to get business. There is no "right" or "wrong" answer as long as it gives you your desired results.
 

CWG

True Grumbler
I would argue that, unless you are trying to be an Art.com or FrameBridge, Documounts, etc, that there is more business than you can handle within a 5-10 mile radius of most stores in moderately populated areas.
How many people do you define to be in a moderately populated 5-10 mile radius ?
 

David Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
A small town like Northampton, MA has about 30,000 in 36 SqMi, or a radius of less than 3.5 miles.

Your town of Georgetown is 55,000 in 48 SqMi, or a radius of about 4 miles.

Boston, MA (pop 650k) has an area of just under 90 SqMi, a 10 mile radius circle is just under 80 SqMi.

So, most small-medium areas should have 50-200,000 in a 5-10 mile radius.

The point was getting them in the door. Not, if you build it they will come.
 

CB Art & Framing

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
A good exercise might be to find out what percentage of the general population might use a custom framing (physical) store and then do the math as to potential customers.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
used to be around 5% but can't remember if we broke that down by population

My first thought-too many variables.

For example a MID-SIZE town with a major BB might still have a 5% potential consumer base yet the BB might have a 30-40% market share

my guess is the larger the market the more difficult to attract new faces
 
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