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How important is your front store gallery?



I'm looking a retail spot in San Antonio, Texas and love the price as well as the location. The problem is that it is about 1000 sqft. For Texas standards thats pretty small. Its only 650 a month which is great buy but my concern is fitting everything into such a small place. With a large Morso chop saw and also a miter saw, a prep table,a matt table with a 60" matt cutter, a dry mount press and all the other equipment needed to run a frame shop, how can I fit all this stuff into a 1000 sqft shop and have room for a showroom of any decent size?
To add to the problem, the ceilling is only eight feet high and can not be raised.

Is the showroom really that important? Am I better off using most of my space for production and have a small gallery with a handfull of examples of my work or should I split the shop down the middle at 500' for the front and 500' for the back and deal with it the best I can?

I have seen some shops have their prep equipment in plan site and only hide the saws and heavy equipment behind the false wall.
I think it was BogFrame who showed use his shop and I could see the oval mat cutter on the left and other equipment in plan site of the counter. It seems to be working well for him cosidering the rent is Broklyn is brutel.
I know everyone of use would like a seperate room for every stage of the framing process but rent **** .
I guess what I really asking without dragging this out too much longer is, do you really make enough money off your preframed artwork and gallery to justify the space lost?
Thanks for your input and help.
Rick Colunga, San Antonio, Texas

If you don't take care of your tools, they won't take care of you.
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I started mine in 790 sq feet last year. The front is only 20 x 12. I do have a full 10 foot ceilings. I have about 14 feet of vertical molding racks for about 4 - 5 thousand feet of mouldings. I have a miter saw and bench for metal and a chopper. I also have a Wizard, Fletcher 3000 wall cutter, seal 500T, Amp 4 +2 underpinner, 4 x 4 bench, and a rack for matboard, lets not for the desk, computers, and toys to keep me happy. All I have out front is a 4 x 8 table for taking orders and a small 2 x 4 counter for taking money it also hold the framing order computer. I use the whole 10 x 20 wall for corners samples. I make very little off the walls but I do have some sales from it. I'm a custom framer not an art gallery.

Yes I've already out grown it but it's a start.

To me a location needs the following.

1. Visibility

2. FREE easy parking

3. A 10 foot ceiling

4. A Plan

[This message has been edited by framer (edited July 01, 2001).]


PFG, Picture Framing God
Give yourself as much shop space as you can. Put you shop, or most of it, behind a wall.
Have a small showroom, carpet, plants, gifts, make it as nice looking as you can.

This is your customers first impression of you and your business.

You will get real good at compacting your shop space once you are in there, in fact you will amaze yourself just how good you are at it.

In your shop do not have any bare wood on benches, cabinets, racks etc. showing. Paint everything, it will make you look a lot more established and permanent. You will discover a lot of your customers will have occasion to be in your shop space over the years.

Don't be ashamed of a thousand square foot store, that is a darn good size for a custom frame shop. I'll be willing to bet if you had the footage of every shop in the country, 1000' would probably be the average.

Remember, the front of your store represents you and your business, right down to the music you play and the smells in the air.

Try not to smoke in your shop at all, go outside if you must. Every little thing counts when your trying to impress the public. The one thing about our industry that is common to all of us is, none of us can afford even one walk out before we've even had a chance to show them a design or quote a price.

Good luck to you,


Lance E

Make a plan to scale, have all the machinery cut out of paper to scale (include the whole footprint) and try as many variations as possible to have the biggest showroom you can get. The area you merchadise and promote product is simply the most important part of any retail business. As John has pointed out there are many aspects to consider for a showroom that far too often get overlooked, I would like to add one, soundproofing between the workshop and showroom.

Having a professional designer on hand can make the layout a much less challenging task, keep them on a tight leash though as its you that will have to work there. In the past we have had to store moulding horizontally and it was no major headache for quite some time, the projections of your volume will be very important for deciding if a low ceiling is a problem. I have also seen moulding kept on 45 degree angles with success but the cost of building the racks was very very high.

"If at first you DO succeed, try not to look astonished!"


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Good luck with your new shop.
In Ireland most ceilings are standard 8ft. in height, a trick that I use and other framers use is to rack across the ceiling down about 12 inches for your mouldings in an area that will have little use ie. that you won't be standing under all day this way you wont feel that the ceiling is coming down on you.
You may have to get your local metal shop to weld up some racks to fit your area in the shop, then cover them with some light carpet this way you wont damage the mouldings when you slide it in and out.

ON THE EDGE Picture Framing


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

Does this mean you have moved your business out of your apartment already? Good luck.

I cut the mat, I pet the =^..^= cat.

[This message has been edited by ArtLady (edited July 02, 2001).]

Kit aka emrr

Rick - congrats on the move.

Have you considered buying all your moulding as chop? Would the extra expense be off set by what you would save in space by not needing a chop saw, mitre saw, storage for length, etc.? Just a thought.


Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana


PFG, Picture Framing God
Rick, all these are good ideas. John's right about your showroom. There's an old saying, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Even if you don't have a showroom, per se, try and make the 'public' area of your shop as attractive as possible.
Most of our customers are ladies, some of them are elderly, so having a chair or two available for them, in case they have to wait, isn't a bad idea.
Your signature indicates you are a 'tool man' like me, so keeping your tools organized won't be a problem. I'm almost a fanatic about keeping stuff in the same place all the time. I don't even have to look to grab something.
Your rent sounds very good. 1000 sq/ft is not a bad size. Kit has an excellent idea about buying chop. We do. We don't have room for a chopper, and definitely don't have room to store length moulding. You can save money on a joiner, or, if you prefer, a thumbnailer. I'd prefer a joiner.

Good luck to you!!

I'm not totally worthless. I can always be used as a bad example...

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Rick-The one point that sticks out like a sore thumb to me is the rent is only $650.

There is only one reason the landlord is asking $650-It's because he can't get anymore. If it were worth more you can bet your Tony Lama's he would get more.

I'm a big advocate of getting the best you can afford-be it equipment, product , help. While you can pay too much, I think paying too little artificially limits your ability to grow.

I would also get a smaller space in a better location than a bigger space in a secondary location.


Thanks for posting in so quickly, I don't have time right now to answer back but will reply tonight. See everyone later
Rick Colunga, SATX

If you don't take care of your tools, they won't take care of you.

Ron's dog's flea's brain on acid

MGF, Master Grumble Framer

I agree with Bob; retail space going for $7.80/ square foot does not seem to scream "location, location, location" to me either.

I know and understand that there are a ton of things for you to consider. However, one biggie should be:
"How much more are my marketing expenses/efforts going to be in order to make up for the lack of substantial exposure to potential customers?"

Even something as simple as being able to get by with a 1" in-column Yellow pages ad as opposed to shelling out for a 1/4-page YP ad can allow you to make a significantly larger contribution to your monthly nut of rent & CAM.

Just some stuff to chew on... Good Luck!
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