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I couldn't belive what I learned first handed.

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by BUDDY, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have been involved in a lot of threads about whether or not BBs are really less expensive. I have frequently said they are fooling a lot of consumers.

    Well add me to the list. But more importantly the local Michael's shocked the heck out of me with how true this was.

    Recently My Mother in law wanted to have a wedding invitation framed and asked if I'd do it. well I am no longer in business and as such I have no equipment and can't buy wholesale supplies. I also feel rude to ask any of my friends to discount the work.

    So I took it to three local shops for a price. Actaully I was happy to do it.

    First surprise was they all suggested framing it straiht under glass on top of a mat . No second mat and no spacer. they were even more shocked to see me ask for a suede mat. One even suggested when I asked for TWO mats, covering the suede with a regular mat. Why would you coverthe more expensive mat?

    But the biggest shocks came from Michael's. First they were almost $15 higher for a single mat job then the other Higher end shops were for a Double mat. The first two wanted approx. $60 -$65 for the 11 X11 double in a Nielson 58 and Michaels wanted $75 for a single straight under the glass.

    Then I really got shocked. I thought I'd buy a RM and save all the frame cost and buy a couple of mats and assemble it myself. The price of the 11X11 suede mat at Michaels ( with no opening) $35 . Now I was curious . So I asked what if I wanted the 11X11 regular float Glass ? What would that cost?

    How about $15 ? Marie and I setteled on a 10 X10 RM with Glass for $15 , I bought Dexter and will scallop the edges of the second mat to match the Invitation ( reason for floating the Invite.) and probably carve the same floral pattern in it's sides as are on the invitation. I will Use a Suede Mat that a friend bought for me at $25 and not counting the dexter , compass and Exacto knife etc. I bought for my own use and gratification the job will cost, about $45 Toatal. And I will have most of the Suede mat left.

    The biggest shock was one of my suppliers was concerned when i was considering reopening since he didn't want me to LOW BALL the other two "HIGH END" shops whose prices where much lower than even I would charged and they are competing with Michael's . I was told those guys have the exuberant Mark up of 2.5 and better. #### I charged that and I was always called cheap and leaving money on the table. But these guys have all the business they want and even contact frame to Galleries in N.O.

    What is wrong with all of this picture? and how are we all being fooled.

    Sponsor Wanted
  2. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Just a few comments

    Actually, it's kind of long.

    1. Your supplier should stay out of your business, and also stay out of the business of your potential competitors. There are anititrust issues that come into play in this.

    2. Your evidence is anecdotal, but there is plenty of other evidence that is not.

    3. What a BB, or any framer, charges is not as relevant as the deceptive and unfair nature of the advertising that produces such sales.

    When you run a sale too frequently, it becomes your de facto regular price.

    Failing to state a "reference price" when claming a "percentage off" is deceptive, and specifically prohibited by some states. Seventy percent off of what?

    What every indie framer should do is clip offending ads (save the whole insert) from your local Sunday newspaper. Document these violations. Then, send a letter of complaint to the Attorney General of your state. Use Express Mail for impact, and proof of delivery. It will be the best $14 investment of your life.

    Get your fellow indie framers together and ask for a meeting with the AG's office.

    It's time we started working together to fight deceptive and unfair trade practices.

    Almost all state have a "Little FTC" act, that targets such practices. Unlike the federal FTC act, these state acts provide for private remedies - that means you can sue the offender. In many states, you can even collect attorney fees and punitive damages.

    California has one of the strongest such acts, known as the California Unfair Compeition Law, but more than 30 states have something similar.

    Here's a link. Read it, I think you'll find it very interesting and relevant. It's not a tough read either. Need occasional vocabulary help? Go to www.findlaw.com for a quick law dictionary.

    4. Antitrust Issues. We as an industry have failed to explore the antitrust implications of unfair and deceptive trade practices.

    Perhaps you are under the impression that Antiitrust simply means having a monopoly. It's much broader. In fact, having a monopoly is not illegal per se. However, the likelihood of having one can be. It's how you achieve it that counts.

    The most interesting aspect of antitrust law is the "Unfair Trade Practices" component, (the FTC Act and Little FTC Acts are closely related to antitrust laws).

    According to the courts It's one thing for a company to grow through the use of "skill, foresight and industry," quite another to use deception and unfair practices.

    If a company is commiting per se (on their face) violations of consumer protection laws on advertising, I don't think it would be a reach to consider those acts unfair in an antitrust action.

    Is telling the public it's "50%-off, but only through Saturday" then running a similar sale the next week and the next, an example of skill, foresight and industry?

    I believe such ads also carry an implied message that competitors prices are "50% Higher."

    Also, at the same time an industry is being damaged, the consumer is also being wronged. It's a great business model - screw everybody.

    I hear indies harping on Michaels, or Jo-Ann, or BA about quality, but I think they do fine job of framing. When you frame that many items, you're going to have a few problems, but overall I think their technical quality is fine. We see them because when customers are unhappy they go elsewhere. Ours do the same, we just don't have as many.

    Our focus needs to be on the business practices of our competitors, as well as our own marketing practices. Your fellow indie framer is not your competition; not your enemy.

    We need to begin collectively focusing on what we can do about unfair compeitition, and on what we can do to better compete in the marketplace as a group. We need to do it market by market. Want more info? Send me a private message with your phone number and email address. I promise to call you.

    I'm not an attorney, and of course I'm not giving legal advice, but we all have the ability, and an obligation, in this era and marketplace to educate ourself. We can do it rather easily easily too, using the internet.

    Do a Google search for "unfair trade practices" and include your state name.

    Search these terms too:

    antitrust unfair trade practices

    truth in advertsing laws

    little FTC acts
  3. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    No underhanded collusion or even an attempt.

    Paul the supplier was acting in good faith despite my poor attempt at saying so. They were trying to warn me of the difficulties I'd encounter IF I decided to enter this areas market and why.

    That supplier really has no statistical information on what I nor the other shops in this area mark their framing up to. What they were basing their personal opinion on was the fact that the two other shops had earned the reputation of being the most successful in the area and why( one because they had increased their Mark up to slow down their work load and still did a brisk business. The other had opened a second shop just 4-5 miles away and both were doing well and some Galleries from as far away as 25-30 miles brought their framing to them for production pricing to facilitate resale.

    The point I obviously FAILED to make is that as much as I, the supplier and the general public think they KNOW which shops will be able to and do offer the best pricing and WHY ,we all are being fooled.

    That supplier thought those other shops were High priced and they aren't , he thought there was a clear distinction between the type of work they offered and subsequently their pricing and their wasn't. However the supplier clearly KNEW that the BB would have the HIGHEST price for the comperable work or even lessor, but I and the general public would bet dollars to doughnuts he wasn't completely right.

    However I much like the general public thought the BB would have a cheper price for the lessor matted job and they didn't. In fact they were higher than the double matted work of what was thought to be a couple of high end shops.

    My point is I and even a lot of Framing Knowledgeable people or fooled by perceptions ( Both higher and Lower) and many consumers are paying more for what might be less and HAPPY to do so because they KNOW??? they have been given a discount.

    Is it just me or doesn't $15 for an 11x11 regular Clear lite of glass sound high? And if not that price how does $35 for a BLANK ( no opening of any kind) 11X11 suede mat? But also is it just me or isn't a 2.5X markup on the low side? I sure have been told that when I priced things that way I was "Leaving Money on the table." And that was advise I got right here in River City ( TFG) LOL

    But what was also srpriseing to me had nothing to do with Prices. they all suggested to slap the Invitaion on a mat straight under the glass and offered to suggestion of how the Inviataion might be better preserved. They all started with the Ceapest simplest way to frame it. I always thought we should offer chices and start with the best and then work down. But no one did it that way.

    So don't be too hard on that supplier he was trying to give friendly advice with out being as specific as we are here. But he, I and I'll bet many here would have thought as i that those figures just couldn't be correct . Only I am not just speaking about the BB and not just the inflated prices but how low what is thought of as high end is in this area.

    I appreciate the Attorney General tip but I am no longer competing and unfair practices nor fear of the competition are not my main reasons for not doing so and still may one day, especially after doing that little pricing survey.

    Maybe others would be equally as surprised to learn what is truly being charged and done in their areas despite what they THINK they or others KNOW?????
  4. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thanks Buddy

    I interpreted your comment to mean the supplier was attempting to interfere in your commerce. I understand now that was not the case.

    Pricing perceptions - value perceptions - are an obstacle that needs to be overcome with cooperative marketing.

    BILL WARD SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    anyone in/around Florida & would like to hear more of Paul's take on life & times,
    check this out(& check out the full thread in the 'computer' section)

    Strap Yourselves In And Hang On!!!
    “The Guerrilla Framer” is coming, Sunday, April 22, 2007.

    You asked for marketing help! You asked for a powerful system that will help you close more sales and do it in less time! We’re bringing it to you!!!
    Discover a design system that’s fast, simple to use, closes sales, and builds customer loyalty. Buy your advertising for a mere 12 cents on the dollar? It’s true! Learn how. Learn how to take back your market. Fight back and win the battle with chain stores.

    We are privileged to have Paul Cascio, better known as “The Guerrilla Framer,” from his long-running column in Picture Framing Magazine, as our featured speaker for the April 22nd Spring Fling Seminar and Trade Show.

    The Director of The American Picture Framing Academy, Paul Cascio is arguably the industry’s #1 marketing guru, a top instructor and one of the most enthusiastic and entertaining speakers in the industry. He’s recently become a Florida resident and has chosen our April Spring Fling to introduce what he expects will become an industry-wide initiative for the independent picture framer.

    If T H A T doesnt wet your whisle, nothing will!!!!

    SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2007! BE THERE!

    Plus! See new products from Roma Moulding, Ludwig Framemakers, Larson Juhl, USA Wholesale Supply, Crescent, Engelsen Moulding and more.

    When: Sunday, April 22, 2007
    RSVP is a MUST by Monday, April 16th to Susan Young at 941-794-6070. Please give your luncheon choice at that time.

    Where: Sarasota Cay Club Resort & Marina,
    7150 N. Tamiami Trail (US41)
    Sarasota, FL 941-355-2781
  6. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    Buddy has echoed things that I have lamented many times before.

    The vast majority of independent framers that I have met absolutely provide better quality, faster turn around, and yes lower prices than the Big Box stores. However, the public is turning to the boxes in large numbers.

    Is it all just marketing? Is it?

    There is one independent framer in a near by town that has had a banner hanging in front of his store so long that it is faded. It has been there a year or more. Want to guess what the banner says?

    He has been successful with it.
  7. brian..k

    brian..k MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    No I want you to tell us
  8. stshof

    stshof SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    UH, 50% OFF SALE. maybe?
  9. gemsmom

    gemsmom SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think the implied message would be frame shops are 100% higher. You might take 50% off, but you have to add 100% to get to the same number.

    Well, Buddy, the frame shops quoted you a low price, yet you still walked. They might be wondering what in the world they did wrong. If they had offered you a drop-dead gorgeous design and priced it accordingly, would you have left the work? Or, since you are privy to wholesale pricing, be saying "the materials only cost $50.00, yet I'm being charged $150.00 (or more)"?

    Some people sell framing by what they can afford. Others make a judgement on what they customer can afford by how they look. Both approaches are wrong, of course, but it happens.
  10. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    ding ding ding

    Sue wins the prize!
  11. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Protesting this advertising is akin to my kids screaming "OUT OF BOUNDS" or “INTERFERENCE” every time the ball is kicked. No matter how much they cry, they'll never be a better kickball player nor does their crying make the ruling accurate just because they say so.

    I suggest that the BBs, and NOT independent frameshops, really determine the market price. Considering they frame 5 (or more) pieces to our 1, they are in a position of setting the "real" price.

    The only problem I see in Buddy's scenario is that the "high end" gallery was much too cheap. If Michaels sells matting and glass for that price please tell me one good reason why a high end shop shouldn’t also? If the high end shop can make it on lower prices then they should at least price according to the market (and not their opinion of it) and use their built in discount to win a few new customers.

    The best way to win at kickball is to play better kickball than your opponent. Complaining how they play will only make losing hurt worse.
  12. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    70% Off

    There's a shop across town that advertises "70 % Off Retail" in his phone book ads, coupons, and newspaper. He's been doing that for 3 years so it must be legal? It's not a sale since it is his "regular price".

    He is just a few blocks from Michael's so I'm sure they are his motivation for the ruse.

    Now Jay, I'm not complaining (much) but how should I compete against that type of advertising without stooping to such tactics?
  13. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thanks Pam. How did I miss that. You would think a guy named Cascio could do simple math.
  14. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Jay, I respectfully disagree. There's a big difference between a children's pickup game, and professional football. Professionals have to play by the rules that govern fair play and there are officials there to enforce those rules.

    Retailers, and especially large ones, must be held to a standard of fair play too. Until we see to it that the consumer protection laws, and Unfair Trade Practice laws are enforced, we're going to continue to see our businesses suffer. Someone has to stand up to a bully.

    I do however agree that Michaels, Jo-Ann, and other large stores do set the market price and we need to do a better job of accepting that. Some of us are living in a dream world as far as pricing goes. Responding to the market is a basic business skill.
  15. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Here's how you compete - put a stop to. It's not legal. How does he know what "retail" is? He needs to prove his claims. Write to consumer protection, and also the publisher of the directory. I'm guessing it's a small, private directory publisher and not a big telco, because they are usually strict about such claims. And while your at it, collect the flyers from the Michaels store down the street from him and include them in your complaint.

    If you, or anyone else here, needs help, or wants more info, send me a PM and I'll be happy to help you. We need to clean up this */?}.
    Anyone, regardless of size, needs to follow the rules of Truth in Advertising.
  16. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Paul, your in dreamland. The major players in retail do this all the time. You can't walk through a mall and not see 50% off signs in almost every window. And in most cases if they want to be legal they will offer it at full price 1 week out of a quarter. Trying to clean up the framing industry is like throwing an ice cube in the ocean, it's not going to make it any colder.
  17. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Dave, you can think I'm in dreamland -I do visit occasionally - and there are others who will share your opinion.

    I simply believe it's time for indie framers to start exploring options that are available to them, to help us compete more effectively. This place was named The Grumble for a reason. I think it's time for less grumbling and more action.

    Have you taken time to familiarize yourself with the Consumer Protections laws in Ohio? If not, I have located some info for you.


    In my limited research, Ohio's laws don't appear to be as comprehensive as some other states, but deceptive acts are expressly prohibited.

    I agree that such advertising is prevelant, but that's because no one has filed a complaint. People break the speed limit all the time too, but that's not a defense when you get a ticket.

    You can choose to do something about it, or you can sit back passively and do nothing. Everyone has that choice and I respect your right to make that choice. I'm merely trying to let indie framers know that there are remedies and I am willing to help you pursue them.

    If you collect the evidence and file a complaint, then it will be up to the AG of your state to decide what if any action to take.
  18. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    MTYHCONCEPTIONS? or just misinterpetaions?

    I read some of the replies and I am amazed at some of the personal spins that are being applied.

    First Pam I didn't reject any of the prices personally. I was shopping that job for my MOTHER-IN-LAW and while she often Brags on my ability to "DO BEAUTIFUL WORK" she is just like a lot of my former customers she really is trying to appeal to my EGO ti get something for nothing and has and like those customer probably will. Point being the lowest and most equitable prices ( for the basic and doubled matted job) were TOO high in her opinion ( not in mine) I was hard put to get the job done any cheaper and actually had to absorb some of the cost to get there( which is not unlike what I used to do in the shop).
    I was ready and suggested taking the Double matted job. But we all have family like that don't we?As was Marie But the result was we we told how we didn't shop enough and that someone also told her to go to Aaron Brothers in Covington, La. when there isn't a Aaron in the entire stae of La.( the closest one I know of is Houston Tx. abit far for me to save $15 -$20 But I am not sure about her on my Gas) She got this from personal friends who never may have had anything framed because Marie and I after 19 + years framing didn't know wher to find the best prices. Marie and I often say she is never satisfied but then that makes her like a lot of PIA customers doesn't it?( but I digress and am getting boering)

    The problem I see with the knowledge that the BB is truly much Higher than the others is that the public doesn't know the same thing ,or at least why.They pay the higher price all the while thinking they are getting a bargin beacuse after all they were told the price was 50% off or greater and that in most minds means that the COG had to be far lower than the other 50% or the sellar would go broke. Then the Other shops offer a lower price and instaed of being seen as saving the consumer money by takeig less profit they make the consummer feel well there must be at least a 50% ,or Pam is that 100% mark up, which means the COG has to be half of their $50 -$60.

    It is all PERCEPTION and even we Framers and some Suppliers are Guilty of it .But the problem is it is SELECTED PERCEPTIONS to fit the concepts that make us right.

    Point being the 50% off offered by the BB has to claculated the same way and at the same point in the COG calculations as all other Shops doesn't it? WRONG ! But the Consummer thinks so. Highly succesful shops who increase their Margins to decrease the work load must be working on a very high Mark up but definatly far higher than the BBs. Wrong!

    A single component of any job is directly proportional to the sum of it's parts in a total price at any other comparative shop. Not by my math. $70 total at the BB ( one sued mat -$35 ,an 11X11 Reg Clear Glass -$15) The other Guys ( plural) are selling Two suede mats and the same glass and frame for at most $15 less. The two mats alone at BB prices would have come to $70 - No opening , no glass , no frame (No Nuttin Honey)

    And the consumer walks out of the BB sure thay have cut their cost by 50% and definetly beat those High end prices of the other shops , who by even some here's opinion only want to do pure C/P framing for High $$$$ prices . All is MYTHCONCEPTIONS perpetuated by mistinterpataions and a lot of misinformation by some of our own all the way to you and me.

    The shame of it all is we are sure that EVERYONE can see through this sham and even we don't.But more importantly the consumers are avoidingour shops for the very same reasons they are getting taken at the BB and thankning them for saveing them from being misguided by Framer like us . Only in some ways we and others in the industry may be helping them do it.

    Is that any clearer?????
  19. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Paul, I have choosen to join them rather then be beaten up by them. We are still here and that is a lot more then I can say for other framers in this region. 5 shops with in 3 miles have closed in the last 2 years.
    We have grown.
  20. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Buddy, I have always said it's about precived value. I run discounts on my instock mouldings. I have found that people just want to feel like they are getting a value. If I offer them 30%-50% off of there frame they get that feeling, now this is not the same as M/JA 50 off of the whole job, but it doesn't need to be.
    All I have to do is to make them feel that they are getting a value.
  21. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I understand your point, and there are some framers, including you, who are astute enough to play at that table. But there is another way to look at it.

    The way I view it is there are five dead, but you believe you are immune to whatever virus caused those deaths?

    Right now you are benefitting, because there are less mouths to feed. But as skilled as you probably are, it wasn't necessarily through your skills, but rather through happenstance that you are enjoying a windfall today. Eventually, the virus that got them may also get you. Even if it doesn't kill, it certainly will cause harm.

    Too many indpendent framers have fallen. The numbers speak loudly. I feel I have an obligation to other framers and to this industry. I hope you and others will feel the same way.
  22. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    That is part of it Dave

    Dave ;
    You are saying one of the things I learned ( but have long belived).
    It isn't who offers th e best deal or even the cheapest price but who makes the consummer THINK they saved money that makes the sale. In fact you could inflate your prices and still sell if the consummer thinks they are getting a bargin.

    This isn't only true of "value Line " materials or wham bam Jobs but could be also true of very prestigious lines and state of the art techinques. the problem is Most consummers have been told that Framing is just four sticks of wood that encase a piece of art . And as such all are equally as good. ( material and Techniques) AND WE SOMETIMES HELP THE PERPETUATON of this myth.

    Case in point the other two shops I mentioned did nothing to show a better way and material or even design while I had to ask what even the additon of a second mat would add to the COST. Ther was no mention of what it might do for the presrvation of the work ( as slight as it may have been).

    Needless to say these shops were capable of doing much more they choose to only compete on PRICE and they were giveing the edge in that department to the BB. Worse yet was even the suppler ( who doesn't knows very little about our markups) knew full well that the BB was much higher and no better framer. So why are they chooseing to compete with them there after stakeing them an advantage?( Both Price and perception)

    I think we need to make the differance in what we do ( techniques and materials , as well as choices of both)and then show how our pices compare ( more for les even when not VISIBLE) or we will be seen as the profit taking VILLIANS to all the public ans some in the industry.And it is all BS.

    We are chosseing the rules of the game and they are stacked against us. Despite the fact that this is a worn out Mantra and boaring to hear agin we need to be sure to educate the public as all these differances when ever we have a ear to listen to us and not reost to doing what the BB does to save a sale with out making them aware that there is much more available and most probably at price that is cheaper than the lessor work from the BB.

    We also need to make sure that when we are known for Quality and finer art that it is common knowledge that we can do the quickie decrotive jobs as well and still probably cheaper than the BB or others.

    But WE need to change these perceptions because the other guys are getting rich and busy because EVERYONE KNOWS they can do the SAME????? work cheaper.And they want it that way.

    Same work is a MYTH as is CHEAPER . But Every one knows BOTH and some would have us become what we wish would be prevented.
  23. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not at all Paul, but it IS a game of survival, Outplay, Outwit, Outlast.

    It already has caused a great deal of harm, that is why we decided to join them and fight to get our customers back from the BBs.

    I don't feel this way at all, this is business, if they can't get off of their duff to do something other than to complain and whine then I am better off without them.
    Again this is business.
  24. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hi Paul-I, too, have been accused at tilting at windmills, but expecting an AG to get involved might be a little "optmistically delusional". Open any newspaper on the weekend and look at the car ads

    If that doesn't bother them, what are the chances of our itty-bitty industry

    May I add something on "Established Retail Prices"?

    We do this "xx% off what" argument as if it has any bearing

    One of the best educators (and businessman) offers in his classes to "establish your etail pricing" by marking up tyhe list chop price 3 times and add a fe wbucks/ft (I think it's three)

    Go to any vendor's catalog, pick any mldg, plug those values in and let's start with that number

    Then compare that same "ERP" to the cost of length

    Then compare that same "ERP" to your probable discounted cost

    Then compare that same "ERP" to the "list" price of box pricing

    Now assume that you are the 800lb gorilla in this industry and you probably pass less than this vendor for that box (because the vendor is still making money off you at box pricing) and compare that price

    Is it not fair for the 800lb gorilla to use the "retail" price as many others do in the trade just because the buy more effectively

    When we do our Market Research, we see the retail price for the exact same mldg swing wildly from way too low to astronomically high. I promise we see more than a 50% swing all the time

    And, I will suggest that the biggest discounters, in this market, anyway, never have the highest "regular" price

    Pick any mldg from any vendor and do the same drill as above and tell me which retail price is "correct"
  25. Framer Jim

    Framer Jim True Grumbler

    Michaels runs two types of ads which are different:

    1. 50% off the frame only and they charge full price on everything else(mats, glass, etc.)

    2. 40% off the entire framing order

    Also they run ads typically every other week for framing, because it takes them a week to catch up. During the off weeks they pull out a display rack of about 20 frames and just sell these at 50% off, and when the regular ads come again they put this rack under the counter.

    Big savings sell product and no one is stopping anyone from raising or setting their prices.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2007
  26. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Jim, the offers here go all the way up to 70% off the entire job. We have both JA & M here so it is not uncommon for them to try to out do each other.

    We buy lenght, and we buy pretty well. I retail for slightly higher then most of the other shops in my area, but then we knock it down 30-50% off of the moulding. 1 item you get 30%, 2 items gets you 40% and 3 or more takes you to the top at 50%. Since I buy my lenght at 25% of what the guy down the street pays for chops, I am not losing my shirt.

    buying advantage = marketing advantage = sales advantage

    You too can do this, it just takes the determination to make a change to the status quo.
  27. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    I am quickly getting in over my head BUTTT

    I read my last post and wish to explain how difficult it may have been to understand and also add some things I forgot to mention. I am suffering with a very stiff neck and as such I don't turn my head as I would like and miss some of my poor phrases and grammar, but most of all I forgot to address some of the replies that IMHO fuel some of the misunderstandings of this post and the info in it.

    I had no intentions of Solely Bashing Michaels . In fact now that I have discovered some hard facts I wish I were still in business . I am not but most of you are. When BBs Claim to be discounting and are still much higher than those that are considered to be "HIGH END" shops they are giving many the ammo they need to shot the BB down.And we should use it and thank the BB for supplying it.

    In one of the replies to my post I was reminded of some sage advice we got to PRICE our framing as to what it appear to be worth by comparison to other shops and the appearances of the materials and not the COG or any fixed markup rates.

    When Given that advise it was suggested that a survey of the comparable shops in the area would be most prudent towards establish a base line. In the past I have said I did so and found the local pricing to be far lower than most of what I see and read others here on TFG say. I then was told that I was selling too low and "leaving a lot of Money/Profit on the table. This was despite my assuring all that the pricing in this area was a lot different than others and to be competitive I was pricing accordingly.

    Now Jay suggest that even if most ( even with the additional shops in my new home's area) are priceing that way if Michael's is priceing HIGHER we all should rise to their level. I suspect some would suggest that we should do so by installing their same sort of promotions as well. Did I miss something important? I thought I was supposed to establish a baseline on what the MAJORITY of successful shop were doing not on just one or even ONE type of shop.

    However Isn't their unethical ( and according to Paul maybe illegal)practices just what most of us and a lot of other HONEST businesses want stopped?

    But more over why if the majority is honestly pricing one way ( and many are successful , even if the reasons aren't visible) why should everyone change to what ONE shop or GROUP is doing unethically or illegally ? Just because they are not being Legally challenged?

    However as I said I didn't intend to just bash Michael's or any BB. I wanted to address the misconceptions that if successful/profitable anything is correct . That could include "hidden mark ups, excessive charges for the same work, but also claiming to be better than others while pushing the same quickie work with no explanations of what else is available, giving up on informing the public of what we feel is best just to make a sale and many other things. We could steal our money or prostitute our principles and possibly make more also ,so is this another unexplored avenue?

    We bitch and moan about the unethical practices of some and give advise on how to become better but despite our lower prices we are chasing the same goal $$$$.If your going to TALK the TALK ( being better framers) then Walk the walk and don't point the finger at others until you point at the guy/gal in the mirror. The Public hears your comments but doesn't know who or why you said it until you explain and then if you revert to being like the ones you are running down is it any wonder why no one believes what you are saying.

    I once quoted herb Carithers who said jokingly," you have to tell the public what they need ,otherwise they don't know." But if you want the public to ask for and pay for better framing and all you show them is how to do it quick and cheap and you never tell them why good materials ,techniques and designs cost differently in YOUR SHOP than others and why the best may cost less than the other guys wham bam job and we all busy ourselves trying to be cheaper than the BB, is it any wonder that they can charge more and be seen as less expensive? We have created and are nurturing the very Dragon we wish to slay IMHO.

  28. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    This thread inspired me to send my employee to Michaels this morning to "shop" them. She took over a simple poster, about 22in. by 15in. I told her to let the salesperson take the lead.

    So before she got to the counter, there was someone ahead of her with a question about mounting a 36x48 canvas. The person didn't have the canvas present, but the Michaels employee told her the cost, at a 50% discount, would be about $175. My undiscounted price for mounting a canvas of that size is about $185.

    Another person ahead of her mentioned framing a large antique quilt. The Michael's clerk suggested ordinary glass, rather than conservation glass or, more appropriately for something of that size, acrylic.

    OK, so my employee gets to the counter. First, the Michael's employee presented a single-mat design. My employee had to ask whether a double mat might look better. They settled on a suede Bainbridge mat, and the Michael's employee's design called for both mats to be suede. When my employee asked about hiding all that suede on the bottom mat, the Michaels' guy responded that they didn't have any other mats in that color. She observed a very limited mat selection, in any case, and no fillets on display. The Michaels' employee also recommended clear glass, and didn't present any conservation glass option. My employee asked about acrylic, and had to prompt the Michael's employee as to whether the acrylic had any UV protection. So the final tally, for a double suede mat, acrylic with UV protection, and one of Michaels' house frames, all at 50% off, came to about $175. Michael's doesn't carry any mouldings that we carry, so I picked an inexpensive Omega moulding for our price comparison. Our price, at 50% off, came to about $250.

    My employee's observations:

    1) All the mouldings looked cheap (we carry mostly LJ and Roma, along with some Omega and Nurre Caxton)
    2) Very limited selection of mats, and the mat samples all looked dirty and dogeared (with the exception of the suede mats, which probably don't get shown much)
    3) The employee didn't seem particularly knowledgeable about design
    4) No attempt to offer even conservation glass, much less something like museum glass or plexi (we live in earthquake country)
  29. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    You should double check the glass comment. To the best of my knowledge, Michaels hasn't offered regular glass for years. The least expensive glass the have is ConClear.
  30. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    So you are saying that your regular price for a 22x15 image size with uv plex, dbl suede mat, and an inexpensive frame is $500.

    Our full price for that job with a 3" mat is $301 based on a studio 25801.
    I doubt if I ( like you said )would have sold a suede under mat though.
  31. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Cliff, I thought so too. My guess is that the Michael's clerk just wasn't knowledgeable, and wasn't able to discuss the glass in terms of features and benefits. We always talk about the UV-filtering of our glass, right before I hold up my empty hand and tell them I'm holding a piece of museum glass.
  32. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    My pricing was based on 3.25 inch top mat, 1/4 inch reveal, and Omega's 80605.
  33. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    A can't afford you guys.
  34. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hey, I've been running a 50% off sale on moulding for almost an entire year now, but I'm a new store so I need to be trampy to get customers. I could probably cut you a deal, maybe 10% off my fitting charge.
  35. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    You're a Slut!

  36. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Man's gotta eat, and unfortunately, with anywhere from $1100 to $2200 worth of dental work staring me in the face, it looks like I'll be eating cat food for a while longer.
  37. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Oh so you want a sympathy sale?
    Make it 15% off the fitting and you gotta deal.

    Oh, and cash, no tax?
  38. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    Paul, I have some Whiskas coupons. If that's your brand, I can mail them to you. I prefer Meow Mix with a nice Merlot.
  39. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    At this point, any brand with a coupon is my brand.
  40. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Pet Food and Picture Framers - What do they have in common?

    Customer loyalty is very strong for both.
  41. EllenAtHowards

    EllenAtHowards PFG, Picture Framing God

    To drag this conversation back to somewhat close to where it was before it flew off the rails... one of my former employees moved to Florida and now works in the local Michaels. On a visit back, she told me that in that store, they use both regular glass and paper mats! Now this woman is certainly knowledgeable enough to know the difference (after all, I educated her meself) but she said there is a lot of price resistance to conservation materials in her area, and so that is why they offer the lower quality materials.
  42. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think we sometimes get too caught up in believing that all good framing has to be "conservation." It doesn't.

    Sometimes people just want something to hang on the wall, but don't want it to last forever. I'm one of them. I personally am jealous of anything that will outlive me.

    I like things I can get tired of and not have to feel guilty about it. I buy cheap furniture that wears out so I can buy new in 10years.

    I pray for my computer and TV to die so I can get the latest and greatest. Gimmee Blu-Ray, Vista and 1080p. Oops, dropped my 2 year old laptop. Oh well.

    For my own framing, I use mats with extra acid, and frames with embedded larvae so everything will deteriorate at about the same time I get tired of looking at it.

    I give a Lifetime Warranty on all premium glass products. My lifetime, not the frame's. When I'm gone, tough sh**, you're on your own.

    I have a rule that I never buy an extended warranty that lasts longer than the loan.

    I believe in Conservation Framing, but only as an option, not a requirement.
  43. J Phipps TN

    J Phipps TN SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I agree with you Paul....

    I find out what my customer wants and then proceed with the sale.

    The way I see it, They are the posters for the kids room that are going to be thrown out in a couple of years, so have cheap frames for them....:vomit:

    Then there are the "prints" for the bedroom, that they will probably change in 5 to 7 years, have reasonable frame choices for that....:icon21:

    and then there is the special heirloom piece or oil painting for the living room, that has to be preserved. Have reasonable to high end framing for that...:D

    Then we need to have the "past to my grandkids" frames (Concerto) that we all know cost big.:thumbsup:

    My point is, we need to be able to meet all of our customers needs!:kaffeetrinker_2:

    I had one customer (big Spender) come in with a very special piece and a few other things. After spending alot, she tells me she had some other posters for her kids room, but she just took those to HL because she didn't want to put alot into them. :faintthud:
    That killed me because I probably could have done them just as cheap ,unless she bought those $20. poster frames.(the truth is I need to have some of those on hand too!)

    Just my thoughts on being a competitve frame shop.
  44. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Of coarse she did Jennifer. Your puking smily must transcend past the grumble to the design counter. Why would you have an opinion one way or another?

    I think the confusion comes in when we begin to think that good deals and good framing are mutually exclusive. Most industries have abandoned that thought and push quality and price at exactly he same time.

    We don't have many BBs here. One said "we suggest uv glass and a/f mats and backing on almost everything.” They have obviously mastered the hard sale and now they seem to be experimenting with quality angle as well. Why do we insist on focusing only on one side especially when we are already competitive on price? Why whisper that instead of shouting it from the rooftop?

    For the sake of argument, let’s say I think we should sue all these BB into the ground because of there "illegal" advertising practices (which of coarse I think is ludicrous). If they were forced to tweak their selling point would we be any better off? What if they shifted from the hard sale to "WILL NOT BE UNDERSOLD" or "Everyday lowest pricing"? Would that set us up for success? If so many shops everyday price is so much cheaper than the BB, then why isn't there a 20' sign out front advertising "We match Super Crafty Marts prices"? Sounds like matching their price might just boost your bottom line.

    Carry on.
  45. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well Jay that goes against the local sign code.
  46. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God


    Then the local chapter president of your industries professional organization would turn you into the city for code violations.

    Trust me on that.
  47. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well then vinyl on the window?
  48. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    Here we go again

    When I posted this I tried very hard to make it understood that Michael's wasn't the only framer that surprised me and MAYBE some of you. Y'all are ranting about the discount principles of Michaels in almost every state in the union and whether they use C/P materials or not. My point was they were unquestionably higher priced than even what was considered a High end shop or two by a Framing knowledgeable Supplier. The supplier knew the Michaels was high but had no idea how low the others would be because he was sure they made a big profit.

    But even more to the contrary of what y'all are all going on about none of these shops ( some PPFA members ) but both the other two , fine art framers even started by suggesting a C/P treatment and in fact deferred to the Cheapest way they could.

    This goes directly contrary to the premises that some are purveying that the down fall is that many ONLY suggest C/P ,High priced framing and leave all the other stuff to the BBs . THIS IS BS and well should be , but most important is a myth perpetuated by those who IMHO don't want to offer ALL forms of framing to ALL customers , by educating them as to why there are differences and allowing them to make the choice.

    I have also heard that some BBs have defaulted to C/P glass and maybe mats but be assured I after 19 years know the difference. But more importantly some are running down the MYTHICAL Framing Snobs who Only offer C/P and run all the other stuff to the BB, where they do a decorative quickie job and make loads of Volume business. WHICH IS IT? Do the BBs all now default to C/P Glass and Mats or do they offer a choice or are we working on assumptions that fit our arguments ?And better yet why are the BB going to C/P materials ( even in some places) is it that they see the quality ? Or do they see a better margin to be made/ both of which seem to be psitives to me. But then why are we trying to go 180 degrees and not do either and become what we say we dislike about them?

    I think what I was trying to say with out BASHING Michael's or any other Framer is that we assume a lot with no basis and perpetuate a lot of MYTHS that grow and grow as WE continue to spread the GOSPEL according to the Framing Guardings . When in fact most are fostering the arguments that make their prospectives seem most correct , and many haven't checked any of this information with facts even on a local level much less NATION WIDE where prices, practices and a lot else vary as the locations do.

    Dave I think I may have just given you some more material to add to your MYTHCONCEPTIONS class but not necessarily about materials or Techniques.
  49. J Phipps TN

    J Phipps TN SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Here's the only problem I see with that Jay, If I had a "I sell cheap stuff too" sign out front, she probably would not have brought me the good stuff.

    I think finding that balance may be impossible, because to be honest, I was very thankful that I was the one she choose for the "good "stuff. I won't make nearly as much on the cheap stuff.

    It seems to me, the customers are the ones making us choose. I know there is a market for the cheap stuff, but is the market as good as the high-end customer. I think I am going to stick with the high end look and advertising. Less work, more Money.
  50. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God


    Anything we do to the windows is fair game.
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