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Hobby Lobby selling Museum glass?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by GreyDrakkon, May 22, 2015.

  1. GreyDrakkon

    GreyDrakkon MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I had a customer come in doing a pre-price check (he didn't have the artwork with him, but was putting out feelers for what the cost would be on a 24"x24" piece). He mentioned that the company he is ordering a print from advised that NO GLASS be used (?!) unless it's museum glass "if it's going to be in a very dusty environment". Then he says he had been shopping around online and found that Hobby Lobby sells museum glass, and of course it's at a much much lower price than what I can sell it for. He was a bit skeptical if they actually had real museum glass or if it was a knockoff. Can anyone verify if they actually have tru vue museum glass? I can just imagine now people going there for cheap museum glass and bringing it to me to put in a better quality frame than what they get at HL. Can't wait to start coming up with reasons why I'm not going to take the fingerprint smeared super scratchable glass that they got for so cheap.
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  2. Kyle Henson

    Kyle Henson CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Recently, a new HL opened near me. I price shopped them. I did not see the TV box but their signage does say Museum Glass. On the larger size lites, my prices were just a tad lower. On the smaller size lites their prices were much lower than mine.
  3. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    I believe it has been their "Default" glazing for about 6 years now. They don't sell non protective glass at all, except on some of the asian imported readymades.

    I believe they have it branded/marketed as "masterpiece", instead of "museum" - but its the same thing from TV.
  4. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Oh hobby lobby. sorry. I meant Michaels. HL, last I heard it discussed, had different minimum (material) quality standards depending on the region.
  5. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hobby Lobby sells it and their price is low
  6. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

  7. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    the customer shopping online to just look at prices are the nightmare ones. HL probably orders quantities I can only dream of. That's why I don't price out separate items for the customer to see, unless they specifically ask what the glass costs.
    Good luck.
    shayla likes this.
  8. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Don't you have installation charges for using materials brought in by a customer? If not, you should.

    My favorite restaurant doesn't allow me to bring in my own bottle of wine without a corkage fee.
  9. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    What about bringing your own steak?
    :cool: Rick
    cjmst3k, Keith L Hewitt and shayla like this.
  10. Zenadier

    Zenadier Grumbler

    I used to work for Hobby Lobby as a framer. It is all TV glass. Not renamed or the like. The price is very low and if a customer uses a 40% off one item coupon (which they have every week) on the museum glass it gets ridiculous. I remember selling 16 x 20 museum glass for $12. Unfortunately most of the framers do not properly check the glass and they have no method of returning bad batches to their warehouse. You will often see the reflective specks and light scratches from abrasion on most HL sold museum glass. I have also fixed more then a few pieces from HL with the museum glass installed backwards....
    shayla likes this.
  11. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    there will always be certain itemsthat you simply won't be able to compete on price wise. Mus glass at HL is just one of them

    default position for some seems to be to denigrate HL or suggest the product they sell is inferior to yours. It isn't

    my suggestion? Some battles you just won't win

    My solution? For that 1% of situations that arise like this I might 'match' the price if it's a good client or a good sale. If I stocked and sold much MG, it might not be a big hit. If I didn't stock much or sell much, I'd print out that 40% coupon, drive to HL and buy it from them LOL

    I guess it all depends on if you wish to keep the sale or the client.

    last thing i would do is to try and explain to client why I couldn't compete. Sounds pretty desperate and clients will pick it up in a heartbeat,

    how about 'That's a great price Mrs Jones and I want to earn your biz, so, we'll do it. Plus, as a bonus, you're going to get me to do your work'

    I think we ought to 'sell' every job not to get this project, but the next project. What's the value of a long term customer? A lot more than a few bucks on MG

    But, that's just me

    I do appreciate fixing 'framing errors' by some BB's but I'll bet we've all seen horror frame jobs over the years from frame shops A-Z. We did. It's just easier to find the villain if they are from the Evil Empire LOL
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
  12. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I’m having a hard time understanding the direction of this conversation. Are we now advising framers to sell their products at a loss? If what Zenadier says is true and HL is selling 16x20 MG for $12, to match that price would be selling at a loss, a very big loss no matter how well you buy.

    I don’t know if HL has the same policy as Michaels, but I tried the trick of buying the glass from them with the coupon. Discounts are not applicable to glass purchases. Even if they were I would still have to sell at a loss to be able to give them the same price when you take into consideration sales tax and travel.

    I think the best advice you are going to get from this forum is to suck it up and let the big boxes take your business or lose money on these transactions. Nobody is going to offer a good way of combating the big box pricing model because there is none. Tru Vue is giving the big boxes a quantity discount that you will never be able to achieve. It’s not fair and it’s not right, but there is nothing you can do about it.

    I hope somebody can come up with a real solution, but all I hear from the experts and their brainwashed minions is to let the big boxes have the majority of the industry. You can absolutely take a loss on this job to get the next one, but you’re going to take a loss on that one too, and the one after that, and the one after that. That sounds like a terrible business model.

    Personally, I hate that Tru Vue wants me out of business so that they can make the easier and more profitable sales to the big boxes, but most don’t share my outrage. There is not enough demand so there is no competition, and we as an industry continue down this path to self destruction.

  13. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Has anyone asked tru vue what quantity they need to purchase to get similar buying power. If you buy it through your local suppler ask them. Your supplier may be able to get a better deal if framers all band to gather and pre purchase. i.e it may takes 100 framers to buy $3000 up front to their supplier. Then their supplier has $300k to go to tru vue with and negotiate a better deal.
    Your supplier may already be doing this, knowing they are going to sell that much in a year and keeping the discount for themselves.
    But you never know.
    If you are that unhappy with tru vue then you could all start switching to artglass. it may not have the same properties but then again you may be able to negotiate a better deal with them to start being able to compete price wise with HL. This may cause TV to rethink their pricing policies as well. If TV have pricing policies for buying bulk then they should be upfront to give everyone the same opportunities.

    But on why HL can sell at a loss is that they don't care about profits on individual jobs, they care what the framing departments makes in a year.
    I have a friend who sells cheap chinese stuff on eBay. He turns over $10m a year. His items have no reserve. He told me that they aim to have a 9% return.
    Now i don't know any individual framer that could survive on that. But a HL store, that type of profit is probably still feasible to keep the department in operation.
  14. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hobby Lobby does sell Museum Glass. Back in December their Retail prices were $25.00 for an 8 x 10 and $150.00 for a 32 x 40. I don't fully understand their discounts, but I was under the impression (and please someone correct me), but they have coupons for 40 to 50% off one item. (not the complete frame). So If you are doing a complete frame, you have a choice of the discount on either the frame, or the glass, or another component.

    One problem I have on comparing costs of just components is I could (theoretically) price my museum glass at my cost, but then mark up everything else, so the total is the same or more than competition. When price comparing, do the price on the total, not components.

    Also, (and again, my specialty is paper based media), 90%+ of my paper based framing business includes at minimum, a painted bevel, which non of the box stores are allowed to do. So if a customer wants to match total price, they can't.
  15. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    hey Ed-I'll try and clear up my idea.but first, let's acknowledge that very few customers will put you in this situation. The fact that a consumer is giving you a shot is all about capturing a customer. Most of your existing clientele is yours to lose to another competitor; same is true for BB clients. It helps to understand what motivates their client. Can't tell you anymore the Balance of Sale of MG but the pct was small, single digit

    So, if I decided to 'win' a customer and my cost on MG was breakeven, the balance of that sale would be at normal Gross Profit, correct? But, if I 'lose' that sale (and that future potential) my gross profit is zero.

    sell at a loss? Not intentionally? Take a reduced profit to create a new customer or save an old one? In a heart beat. Run the numbers on the same project with you paying for a lite of MG at matching HL, and then the same project with buying at HL cost/retail. Did you lose money on either transaction?

    I use HL coupons every week for different things in my etsy biz. I buy MG often with coupon. Go into any HL and they have a fitting table opposite the framing counter. They will have several laminated price cards laying aroundand all that info is right in front of you

    But, please-get out of the habit of thinking they sell anything at a loss

    they don't

    Ed-I can't swear to it but a 16x20 was a lot moire than $12. I use mostly 8x10 and 12x12 and would take forever to even use one box, but I know the 8x10 is more than $12 with coupon. I'll find out next visit. But, it isnt Armagedeon, my friend
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
  16. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Group buying savings is a myth. Who is going to pay (or be paid) for warehousing and shipping to myriad locations. The"group" would just become another distributor, and if really stupid, not operate at a profit for the real estate and labor.

    A Large chain already has the infrastructure in place to act as an in house distributor and the scale of volume allows operation at lower margins than a mom and pop.
  17. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Honestly, I’m only going by the statistics I am seeing in this thread. I am not familiar with HL. My shops compete against Michaels and AC Moore, so I am making assumptions about the entire BB industry. I understand the idea of trying to make your profit on other parts of the framing package, but in the case of M’s, they have pricing on suede mats that are ridiculously low. The discount they get from Larson is way better than anything I can get. It is tough to compete and the fact that a lot of indies have thrown in the towel is evidence of that.

    As to how frequently this happens, a few years ago I was selling almost exclusively museum glass, but when the times got tough people were no longer willing to spend the amount I have to charge for it. The BBs have MG as their default glazing, which increases their volume and gets them even better deals. If I were to set MG as my default it would just scare away customers, and I wouldn’t come close to selling enough to get those kinds of pricing breaks.

    Bob, I agree with you that the BBs are not using their framing departments as loss leaders. They are buying better than we can and profiting on it. I also agree with you that they are not offering inferior products and services. Unfortunately we independents are forced to in order to compete on price. They offer Larson mouldings and museum glass as their defaults. Most of us offer conservation clear glass as our default and sometimes have to resort to lower quality knock off frames from companies like Décor or Omega.

    If this is not Armageddon for our industry, how come so many of the wisest people on this forum have left the retail framing business and refuse to return to it? I hope you don’t take this the wrong way because I think you are an intelligent person who is very capable, but you don’t intend to come back to framing, do you? You can tell us that you have personal reasons but the fact is that there is too much competition from the BBs, we are now competing with our distributors, we have to deal with out of stocks and discontinueds at an unprecedented rate, having employees is more complicated and costly than ever, and lots of other difficulties have arisen in the last few years. To paraphrase another of our educators who is no longer in the trenches as a retailer, you can see the righting on the wall.

    Bob, just to pick on you a little because I know you can take it and I can’t wait for your clever answer, if the $12 number is not accurate and you think that an independent can compete at a lower profit margin with the prices at HL, why, as a champion of the independent framer, are you buying from HL and not from an indie?

  18. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ed - I've never met you, but from your posts here I conclude that you're a pretty savvy operator. However, I have to disagree with you as to the reason a lot of indies have thrown in the towel. I would say that very little has to do with cost/price and more to do with marketing ability.

    Let me tell you why.

    Let's turn the tables around. I bet that the BBs local to Jeff and Warren (if their local stores have savvy managers) complain to the home office that they can't compete with these indies that buy stuff at closeouts or by the pallet, have "low overhead" (no modern high traffic shopping center rents), don't have a home office G&A expense, blah, blah, blah. "And then there's Suzy that frames in her basement without even paying sales tax, doesn't even have insurance...". You get the picture.

    Further, we have had multiple examples of how indies beat BBs on price all the time.

    I would be willing to bet that a well run indie is more profitable than the average BB frame shop. "But Michael's makes a lot of their own moulding. That's worse than a distributor selling direct to the consumer - they're the manufacturer! There's no middle-man, they make all the profit"

    Again, let me explain why it's not quite the way it looks.

    A vertically integrated company (one that cuts out as many layers between raw material and the consumer as possible) is a good idea. But generally not from a profit standpoint. Unless one of those layers is abnormally profitable compared to the others, it's not just free money.

    Let me give an example:

    Say you own some property with trees on it. A guy says he'd like to buy some trees to make firewood to sell. He'll pay you $10/cord and is going to sell it for $200/cord dried, cut, split and delivered. You think, "Hey, I could make another $190/cord if I sold it direct myself!". You know where I'm going with this, right? Yup, to sell direct you have to buy a chain say and skidder to get the logs out, a wood splitter to split it, leave it sitting for six months to dry, and then buy a truck to deliver it. Not to mention insurance, gas, oil, and all the time required to actually do the labor, answer the phone, do all the paperwork, etc.

    The fact is, it takes investment to integrate vertically. And any savvy business owner is not going to want to make an investment without getting a return on that investment. So every layer needs to generate additional profit to make it worth while.

    The biggest advantage of vertical integration is not additional profit, it's control of the supply chain.
    shayla and FramerCat like this.
  19. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    David, actually I agree with you. The biggest advantage that the BBs have is their marketing ability. Their discount structure still has a definite impact. I don’t know a lot about their particular manufacturing process so I don’t know how profitable it is, which is why I was just sticking with the discount structure in my rant. We can all certainly compete, but it is much harder if we are making apples to apples comparisons. This is why a lot of us offer options that they don’t, like lower end glass and moulding.

    You are also right that we have much more room to adapt to our conditions and make changes. I’m just a little greedy and ambitious, and the idea of simply sticking to what I can do and not trying to fight for every advantage is distasteful to me.

  20. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Consider the cost of renting 1200 sq ft in a strip mall vs a 100,000 sq ft Big Box building.
    Consider the marketing cost of designing and advertising a coupon for 1 store vs 700 stores.
    Consider the cost of 8 ft of moulding delivered via distributor vs 250,000 ft shipped direct from the Orient.

    Museum Glass is but one small thing to worry about.

  21. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    hey Ed-I appreciate the give and take-it's civil and it's easy. My 'exit' was planned, just not as quickly LOL. I hang around because it's an industry packed with good people; some of whom tell me they enjoy a little 'experienced wisdom'. When it's not fun, it won't be me answering. Another thing: some 'experts' I know did other things before framing and are doing things after framing. When I got into it, it was an orchard filled with low hanging fruit and I had a vertical hydraulicly operated lift. Made a lot of money; same reason the BB's got into it. Different market today. But still plenty of opportunity for that guy that does it because he loves it. That often is the guy I try and help

    Come back? No, not enough juice left. My vision way extends beyond my capacity LOL. Our concept 35yrs old is dated and staying in the trade for 25 yrs was longer than any other LOL

    May I share my opinion on matching pricing? Fool's Gold. But, if you pick your battles, you can do a lot.

    For example, I really like some of Jeff's views. He has created a 'marketplace impression' that is self-sustaining. And he's a shrewd enough operator to understand what his consumers want and what keeps 'em coming back. Is it price? Absolutely; to get 'em in the door. But, what keeps 'em coming back is his quality, his service and most importantly, HIM. If he loses any of those, it's back to price and that's the wrong hill to die on. Now, where Jeff and I may not agree is that I tend to have a little more 'greed' in me. On those areas where the other guys can't, don't or won't I say the sky's the limit. So, I might have more a multi-tiered mdse plan where so much of my biz will be aggressively priced, some strong 'market based', ans some Top of Line pricing for things that 'just ought to cost more'. Ever see a Jim Miller shadowbox?

    Lot's of ways to compete and prosper but you have to look to the horizon. Many indies have a 'did it this way yesterday, do it that way today, going to do it same way tomorrow'

    which way are you looking, my friend?

    David-can't swear to accuracy but your vertical integration example brought back a story of Wal-Mart had 70% of it's inventory on a truck at any given time. Staggering
  22. GreyDrakkon

    GreyDrakkon MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    There's lots of good discussion going on here and a lot of good points.

    Ylva, I've read in PFM about how some framers just hand over the total price for a framing job, and I was baffled that any customer would allow that to fly. Maybe it's a regional thing, but I'd say 90% of my customers appreciate having the pricing broken down for them, and at least 75% would be suspicious if I tried "hiding" it. Even car mechanics have the parts/labor spelled out when you go in now. Not that I think it's a bad thing to just hand over the price whole cloth, I'm just a bit amazed that it doesn't get questioned.

    Installation charge: Yes, I do, but I suspect it's too low for the amount of hassle it usually produces. That's on me though and I need to fix that.

    As for pricing against HL, I know I'd go right out of business if I tried doing that. Fortunately, I have a wide pool of customers that come to me because of word-of-mouth, knowing that they'll get a personal honest experience from someone with experience, flexibility, and creativity with no high-pressure sales going on with only what's best for the artwork, their situation, and goals in mind (while staying in business). That, along with a strong distaste that people have for HL, is what keeps people coming back to me, not because I'm the cheapest prices in town.

    I'm fortunate that this was the first time I've encountered the museum glass/HL scenario, I suppose. If he comes back in, I'll lay out the options for him again and maybe give him a discount if he's slightly waffling. I'm willing to bend a bit with some customers, but not willing to be rolled over and as FramerCat mentioned, giving a customer such a great deal that I take a loss, and build up the expectation that I'll take that loss every time after that in a desperate attempt to keep a customer away from HL.
  23. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I generally go with "this is the price". I do not break it down to frame, glass, fitting, filling, mounting, mats, decor elements, etc., as it can be too confusing, and I try not to talk price, but I certainly talk differences in pricing options.

    At the beginning of a discussion I get a general feeling for what they want, and generally, price. I will say, "Museum, for this piece will only be $45.00 more. " (not $60.00 if museum is $60.00 and if CC is $15.00 but differences). Or I might say, "These frames are part of my 'Collector' complete frame package and the complete package is $160.00 in this size. But these other frames that are a better match for your xxxx are only around $40.00 more".

    And generally I talk price differentials when I know the resultant price will be more than they expect. And a few times, I have placed humor in the pricing by saying something like "oh, it is for your mother-in-law? How well do you like her?" Then, depending on the answer I might say "well normally I would recommend the "Museum" but because it is for your mother-in-law do you really want to spend the $45.00 extra for the better choice?"

    If you do talk component pricing, for me I have had more success in talking about component pricing differences.
    John Ranes II CPF GCF likes this.
  24. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'd say that 95% of my customers are fine with the total number. And often I am pricing up "Option A" "Option B" and "Option C" so they see how the total price goes up or down based on either a change in the mat, or in the frame. Some customers will ask "What's the majority of the price" and I'll let them know the frame they like is $218 of the $350, and mostly they don't care about the rest, but occasionally when I have someone watching their pennies and the total package is $185 and they want it closer to $150 I'll say "well, if we go with a single mat instead of a double mat that will bring the price down $30" rather than pricing out all the nuts-and-bolts. We do have price sensitive customers too, but so far very rarely do people ask us to break all components and labor down for them. We're glad to do it, but its a rarity.
    framerjim and Dave like this.
  25. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Who remembers the olde phrase "Recommended Retail Price"? There was a time when suppliers held a tight grip on what price their products should sell for. Any retailer caught discounting was fired. OK, negotiate discounts from suppliers based on quantity, but sell for the same price, or close to, as everyone else. That way you make more profit, which is fair enough, but don't squeeze the little guys.
    I've known big firms employ this tactic in a blatant attempt to close small businesses. As soon as they have the monopoly they hike the prices up. Good business or sheer greed? Some have come seriously unstuck doing this I not sorry to say. :rolleyes:
  26. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I say that 99% of my customers wouldn't ask for a break down in price. I handle it pretty much the same as Russ and even the same humor (since you're giving it away, I might not go for the MG but keep in mind that it exists and splurge on yourself next time you bring something in to frame).
    Same if a customer just needs to have MG because they love it the first time they see it ."I should say it comes with a warning, once you use this, there is no going back".

    If a customer asks what makes it so expensive, I usually point out that the frame they picked is a more expensive one, or that it is labor intensive or whatever the biggest chunk is in the quote.
    shayla likes this.
  27. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I've never broken down a price for a customer nor have I ever had a customer ask me to do so since I installed a POS system (FrameReady) many years ago.

    I always show the best design for the piece without regard to cost. Often the less expensive design is a better design than the Taj Mahal design. If I sense the budget doesn't allow for the suggested design or if the customer expresses their concern about budget, then I'll show a great design that doesn't bust the budget.

    The last item I usually talk about is the glazing. I point out the differences in glazing options then give the price with Museum Glass. If I see a raised eyebrow I'll quote the total price using MG vs CC but never try to push one over the other. I let the customer decide what is right for them.
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
    shayla likes this.
  28. Zenadier

    Zenadier Grumbler

    I don't think you could get a 16 x 20 sheet of mg for $12 anymore. It is probably closer to $20 after a 40% off coupon now. There was a restructuring of glass pricing for HL about 2 or 3 years ago. They had been expecting most 16 x 20 sheets and below to be scrap from larger sheets. The scrap museum never seemed to come out in that size or it got damaged before it was sold. Add that onto the regularly broken boxes of glass in transit and the time that the warehouse had a pallet of 30 x 40 mg collapse and take out a few more on the way and they began to see a slight loss. They raised the regular price from $20 or $25 for a 16 x 20 to $35 for a 16 x 20.

    They also seem to have changed their matting prices recently. They carry almost exclusively crescent now and have removed all decorative/non acid free mats from the store. I probably need to go take a look at what they are exactly now but it seems like the prices went up just a touch from when I worked there and that what they call a "C' grade or conservation grade mat has expanded a fair bit.
  29. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Zen- Appreciate your insight into their operations

    May I make a general statement that the customer that is going to HL is probably 'captured' by them as the 'default' framer. The occassion they might return to you might be pretty slim? I would love to know what their market share is today? It's been years since we used to follow that but the BB'S had a steady increase in Market Share but at last I remember they had tipped over the 50% share. I'm sure there must be some Grumblers with access to that type of info?

    I'm guessing if a HL consumer might be 'price comparing' it might be a golden opportunity to re-capture. Again, if it were me I would find a way to get 'right' on pricing for that one sale to that one consumer. Might be a long time before you get that chance again LOL

    These guys have pretty smart operators
  30. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Just to clarify Zenadier, the AF mats they now have on display (in the full sheet bins) which are like $9.99 or $7.99 are mostly or all Crescent?
  31. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Has anyone really purchased a piece of museum glass from a BB with a % off coupon? Did they sell to you?
    I'm talking about a sizable piece, not 8x12 that might otherwise be garbage.

    My thought is this: Over the years I've read a lot of nasty Grumble stuff about our suppliers selling direct to our customers. Why not turn the tables a bit and buy this expensive stuff from any BB who will sell for less. Let the distributors take up the issue of falling sales with the manufacturer.

    In the days of film sales I purchased tons of film to re-sell outside the normal distribution channel.

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  32. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I tried Michael's and AC Moore. No, the discount does not apply to glass. At least not here in Maryland.

  33. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hobby Lobby operates differently than ACM & M's. ACM coupons vary by time more than M's coupons so there are times when you could buy just a discounted piece of glass. M's promos are more rigid and regular than the other two.
  34. Zenadier

    Zenadier Grumbler

    I would agree that most customers that came to the HL frame counter considered us the default framer along with the M's that was just across the street. We did have a surprisingly high rate of repeat customers, though that seems to have dropped a bit since a few framers and myself left. I work in an interesting area that has HL, M's and a Craft Warehouse all on the same block. In addition to this there is a small shop that specializes in shadowboxing, another that specializes in high-end/conservation work, and a third shop that works very closely with the artist community. All of these shops and the BB's are within 10 miles of each other.

    With that in mind I would say that most of the customers who came to me while I worked at HL brought me things they thought where easy or safe for an inexperienced framer to work on, or that they had no clue what framing was. With all the local shops around we sent a LOT of work to other shops, especially if it was something they specialized in. HL very much wanted to make the custom framing they did more of a fashion item that was changed out seasonally, or something that was used to show off a completed project that didn't have to last all that long. As a co-worker and a few managers liked to say, "We are the fast food of framing."

    Yes all the matboard that they carry in the bins by the frame counter to sell as whole sheets are crescent board now. They made that switch about 6months to a year ago depending on location.

    When I worked at HL I regularly sold customers, restorationists, and other framers 60 x 48 pieces of museum glass with the 40% off coupon. If I could get away with it I would give them a single lite in a 2 lite box so it wouldn't get damaged on the way out of the store. The HL coupon does not apply to their frames or already discounted items but it does work on anything else. If they don't sell you glass with the coupon there is a manager's intervention causing it. We had one manager try that and after a few people called corporate he quickly stopped and let people use the coupon on the glass.
    shayla likes this.
  35. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    hey Z thanks for your insight.It's been a few years ago,but, I remember majority of our work was pretty pedestrian stuff-posters, diplomas, wedding pic. The Wedding gown, complex shadow box-those things were 'once in awhile'. We did a fair amount of jersey, sports memorabilia only because we showed a lot of examples and marketed the line successfully, but most everything else nice frame, dbl mat stuff.

    Used to be framing depts at Ms did about $750k and thaet was about 20% of store. Do you know the HL numbers?

    I haven't had any problems using coupons there but haven't had any custom projects there, either. They do seem to run 'specials' in depts I use on a 'scheduled' frequency LOL. I did see a jersey picked up that would have never left our stores, but client seemed pretty happy
  36. Zenadier

    Zenadier Grumbler

    At the two HL's that I worked at the frame shop only brought in about 10% - 15% of the stores income. When we where busy frame shop or slow for the rest of the store it could get up to 25% but that was rare. Our bread and butter work was simple photos or numbered prints with two to three mats con-clear glass and a medium sized frame. We did diplomas fairly often but I tried to keep the shadowboxing down to a minimum there. I was the only framer that could do anything beyond the basics and some of the orders I had to repair where things we never should have taken much less let an inexperienced framer damage :(

    Using coupons on custom framing at HL seems to be a little different for each store and it changes as customers find new ways of using the coupons. By and large they can use the coupon on any one item of the frame order that is not already discounted or a labor charge. The custom frames are ALWAYS at half price. They even changed there signage and promotional material to clarify this. There ready made frames are on an every other week rotation for 50% off between open backed frames and frames with glass. So just about any other material used in the framing order other then the frame can have a coupon used on it. Usually it is used on museum glass or on a fabric mat.

    Some shops apply the coupon on the paperwork but most have required the customer to use the coupon at the register to prevent customers using a coupon on another item and the discounted item of the order as well. HL does not have registers at the counter and framers never run a register.This usually requires a framer to be called up to the register to confirm that the coupon can be used on that part of the order.
    cvm likes this.
  37. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Zen-thanks for info. I have purchsed both open back and with glass wall frames so I know the rotation LOL. I have purchased from HL at less than I pay through whlse mfgrs plus no freight. Am friendly with store mgrs, even though they change fairly often. Order Mon, pickup Thurs

    You may not know this but they don't scan barcodes. For example I may pick up 8 different Scrapbook paper; maybe 27of thiis, 19 of that etc. The cashier punches in 27 items at .49 cents, 19 at .59 cents. I will often get receipts 2-3 ft long. I always buy 2 candy bars, you know the 2 for $2. Eat one while the poor cashier counts out 150 sheets, then give her the other one. I keep trying to get MGR to let me order pkg of 25 and just ship to house but have to go in

    All in all staff has always been pretty good and accomodating in both stores I shop. Can't speak to complex projects but think how much biz (and how many customers) they must do and still turn a fair amount of work a w ay

    says a lot about the market, industry and consumer.

    thanks again for insight
  38. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hello Zen

    Thanks for you insight. Here are my question about your BB store experience.

    Is the sales of readymades and photoframes part of the custom frame shop sales figures?

  39. Zenadier

    Zenadier Grumbler

    Hi Doug,

    No the readymade and photoframe sections were considered to be separate from the frame shop. When I was working at HL I think the combination of both those departments was maybe an additional 5% to 10% of store business. A lot of the frames in the store where considered to be part of the home accents, and all of the pre-framed artwork and the like was considered to be part of the home accents department. I seem to remember the margin on photoframes averaged out to something like 35% maybe 50% and the wall frames came closer to the 50% mark. Compared to the home accents pre-framed art that had 200% to 300% margin. There where times I would manage to sell cases of 100 ready made 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 frames to the point we had trouble getting them in the store and photo frames was still only about 15% of sales for the week.

    The departments that make up the bulk of the stores sales are usually seasonal, home accents, and scrap-booking. I have seen the seasonal and home accents departments each pull in over 30k on the same day before, because of this the frameshop is often not considered to be as important as most of the other departments. The only reasons the managers usually care about the frameshop is that they get extra hours for payroll from corporate depending on the the chops the frameshop sells/orders. While those hours where supposed to be used to cover the overtime required when the frameshop got busy or needed extra hands that was never how they where used.
  40. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hey Zen, great insight, man. I know that scrapbooking introduced a lot of folks to the idea of 'preservation'; at least as a general concept with regards to photos, ephemera, memorabilia, etc.

    In your experience, how knowledgeable or demanding is the typical HL custom framing customer in that regard? Even if they don't really have an understanding do they seem to be concerned at all with terms like 'acid-free', 'uv' or 'preserving'?
  41. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm guessing you mean Markup, because you can never have more than 100% Margin.
  42. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Zen-it's been awhile, and you've been there, but it used to be 'included' in Framing category was all custom framing and the 6 or seven aisles in front of counter including 'wall' frames both open and glass, precut mats, shrinkwrapped posters and such. Again, your experience is more current. The Balance of Sale percentage was a little higher than your numbers, but if they have separated only 'custom' framing sales i would have guessed that percent, too LOL. Seems the rule of thumb was if a framer 'touched' it, it was framing. Like client selects wall frame w/glass, precut mat and has 'shop' fit client art. But, it's been awhile and I could easily be wrong

    One thing I can absolutely speak to, is they use what used to be called 'Engineered P & L' where Sales of each lineal/sq foot space was measured. Some space, like open wall frames, didn't generate as much sales/ft as say easel back frames. Those figures were then multiplied by the margin of the line to create an 'value'. No mistake that higher margin, denser lines like easel back frames are up front, more likely to be 'impulse sales' rather than 16x20 Gold compo that was in back that was a 'destination' product.

    Like scrapbooking product, people go to the 'back' because that's what they want. BTW margins on scrapbook paper are great as they 'produce' their own line 'Paper Source' and may show 48 lineal feet of paper-do the math LOL

    Vic-a few years back someone, I think Nielsen, did a survey on terms like 'green' and 'acid free'. The idea was if terms like 'zeolite' had a marketing advantage. I'm pretty sure the findings were generally 'some what important' but not much higher with lot of 'not important. The research was prior to launching Bamboo frames, I think. Anybody remember those? Since I had a little knowledge of that type of research and always had an opinion, I saw a share of those type of projects. Amazed I remember much LOL

    Then, the general impression was terms like those responded highly to those committed to 'green' and often swayed the buying decision but purchaser rarely if ever confirmed the authenticity of claim. Much like fast food people that touted 'No CFC's' in styrofoam cups, even though it was no longer produced, had a 'positive' reaction even though the cups were environmental nightmares LOL

    The term 'acid free' was credited to scrapbookking industry as a term the consumer didn't really understand, just knew it was desireable

    Always thought the same when framers would go into great deal describing the properties of UV glass when a simple 'it'll protect your art and make it last longer' was sufficient LOL

    That's all i have from an old memory and would love to hear an updat
  43. Zenadier

    Zenadier Grumbler

    It was always interesting dealing with the scrap-booking customers. I would get a few that cared about acid-free or conservation framing but they where few. Most of them would be happy if the framed project lasted a year. They usually where of the opinion that if it was going into a frame instead of a scrap-book then it didn't need to last. Often it would be copies of pictures or practice pages from a project and so they didn't care too much about how it would last. The one thing that would catch us up once in a while was when they wanted to make sure everything in the frame package passed the photo-activation test. The buffering in some of the mats we used really didn't like rc photos over time.

    The ones that would come up to us and have very clear expectations for conservation and how it HAD to be done where the cross stitch and needle point customers. You would run into the odd customer that just wanted us to glue it down on tack board or the like, but most of them wanted it needle stretched over unbleached un-sized muslin with the matting floated 1/4 of an inch above the artwork and anything coming in direct contact to be wrapped in more of the muslin or batting. They where usually my favorite customers.

    I think you are right about it being the markup. I know it would cost the company about $20 to make and ship us a 96 x 40 framed art piece and we would regularly sell them for $200 - $300. They always listed it on our margins list but the numbers for some items had to be markups.

    Yeah they changed the formula a little bit for figuring out what to count as part of what the frameshop brought in. Anything that we used in a project would get written up as part of frameshop sales either as a quickfit or as a custom order. Anything that was not within the frameshop (glass, acid-free foamboard, custom matting, etc.) was under a separate department and was counted as being separate from the framehsops numbers. The framers where still in charge of stocking and ordering the wall frames and easel back frames but the store still counted them as belonging to another department. There are a few busy shops where the framers never touch those departments and the store hires someone else to cover the ordering and stocking of them, but it is a very rare HL frameshop that is that busy.
  44. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Is anyone who carries crescent concerned at the price its being sold for?

    If I carried crescent and saw the pricing undercut so dramatically direct to consumer, I'd wish them luck, drop the brand, and never look back.

    I was kinda on Crescent's side during the "emancipation" from LJ (LJ spawning Artique to compete while distributing crescent) but it seems like Crescent is just on their own side.
  45. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I retail full sheets of mat board with Crescent's Berkshire name on it for $4.95 so their pricing is helping me out.
  46. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Are they same quality?

    (plus factoring in, your business model is fairly unique in the industry)
  47. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Many of them are the exact same board with different printing on them. My best selling board is Berkshire Seaside #514 and is Crescent's Olde Tan # 1041. As time passes the Crescent line is a match to the Berkshire but smaller number of SKU's. There are still some older numbers that are different colors but the same other than that in the B line. Once those paper surfaces run out the line will be a match using fewer colors.
  48. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Chris, what are the boards that you saw at Hobby Lobby for 7.99 or 9.99? I know you said they were acid free but were they Crescent Select? If so, no Berkshire is not the same quality if you are comparing conservation levels. I don't think Berkshire even tries to claim to be acid free. They are purely decorative. Jeff's 4.95 is a reasonable mark up so his business model has little to do with that particular pricing.

  49. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ed, I recall a sign saying something to the effect of "Now all acid free mats" or something. I hope I'm accurate on that. I may have to go and check, but I'm 95% sure it had an acid-free claim. Before I could see the mats had that yellow-tinge of paper mats along the edge, but now they looked jet-white like other af mat boards, so visually a noticeable difference from the edges. I didn't pull any out to see what was written on the mats, and I'm unfamiliar with Crescent (rarely use them) so aside from possibly seeing Crescent or B, etc, I'm not sure I could distinguish.
  50. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    All of the primary supplier's boards are "Acid Free" but not necessarily conservation. They sell white core decorative mat boards. I don't sell any white core decorative board since it is a bit deceptive to those who use or buy them thinking they are the same as conservation. If I were to cross this line I would gladly sell the white core decorative boards at a $9.95 retail price.

    I have held firm in that anything coming out of my store with a white core is a conservation board so if it has my name on it and the core is white there is no confusion or deception.
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