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Industry Wide Meltdown

Discussion in 'Grumble Archive pre 2004 Topics' started by Alex, Apr 16, 1999.

  1. Alex

    Alex Guest

    I would like to discuss the INVASION into the framing industry by industry GIANTS. I'm in the Pacific Northwest, and we are being INVADED by not one but TWO more huge framing chains, Aaron Brothers and Corners Custom Framing (formerly Frame King Express).
    Corners is is doing the equivalent of saturation bombing on the West Coast the next two years, opening 25 to 50 stores in EACH of the following markets--San Francisco (where they already have about 24 stores), Portland and Seattle. This info was relayed to me via the president of our local picture framing guild. The extent of Aaron Brothers isn't known yet.

    My question(s) to any of you is: Have any of you been in a market where any large chains like this have arrived and blanketed your area? What has been the effect/results? To a certain extent I realize that the large chains can't really provide the exceptional service and quality as we do as professional framers. Well, we like to fool ourselves in this fallacy a bit. But they are TRYING. And they will have established internal controls and policies to deal with customer disatisfaction. They will also attempt to fairly deal with requests for higher and higher upgraded services and design. With the question of computerization addressed and all the high tech tools available to them as well as us, I take this as a serious issue. I'm not in a panic yet, but I see continual inroads being made to our livelihoods. All due in part to the generally high gross margins seen in this industry. The business/investment world sniffs the blood of high gross margins and whammo! We are in for the fight of our retail lives. Witness the office supply business over the last fifteen years or so. As an aside, in 1980, there were over 2,000 mom and pop office supply stores in the United States. By 1995, there were less than 200. And today that number is even less I'm sure. Hello, hello, hello. What are we as individual owners in the framing industry going to do to address this? How have any of you addressed this? Has anyone garnered any insights from previous owners of office supply business owners, perchance? I wonder what any of them would say to us using their hindsight?

    I have a friend who is in the Chiropractic industry. About ten years ago many of them as individual owners of of small businesses got together and decided to create a unified "presence" under one name, but each still maintaining their individual ownership. Is a similar idea workable among us? Some kind of larger structure with a common identified national name? Certainly, the PPFA isn't going to come to our rescue. Let's not go there.

    One of my personal modes of operation has been to not seek answers for the answers sake, but to learn to ask the right questions. I hope maybe some of you are able to respond to this. I would enjoy dialoging with you.

    There are myriads of other pieces to this issue. Please bring up those questions and lets focus this discussion. Thanks for your ear.


    Sponsor Wanted
  2. jframe

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

    We've been inundated in our area. A few of them have gotten in such deep financial trouble that they are finally seeing the light. It is difficult for them give up the idea of undercutting any price, at any price.
    Several have joined PPFA and seem to be genuinely interested in doing the right thing. It has been devastating though.

    I'd recommend that you start preaching quality, archival, UV control, and service right now by direct mail to your current customers. I took Rob Markoff's class at the Dallas ABC show, and as he says, make going to YOUR shop an EXPERIENCE for your customers rather than just a retail purchase. Ever stayed in the Ritz Hotels? Clean, Courteous, Efficient, Customer is always right etc.
  3. Alex

    Alex Guest

    I have been reading Rob's articles and putting his suggestions into practice. I'm constantly on the improvement path.

    Say, "We" collectively, are doing all these things, as individual owners. We have a good client base and following. Let's just say, we're all doing all the stuff we're suppose to be doing. Now what? What are "we" going to do? The terrain is changing. There's a paradigm change occuring. Is there something more "we" might consider? Many of us are in a class by ourselves, in comparison to the market product. We are already in the "best of" category in the areas of quality, service, marketing, location, image, financial control with excellent margins, modernization of equipment and computer savy.
    What now? There's something happening in our industry and it hasn't reached top of the mind awareness yet of many individual owners. What are we going to do? Might "we" consider having somekind of national conference? National wake up? Discussion? This network that frameshop.com has instituted is certainly a godsend and step in the right direction. We all benefit from the insights shared here. Can we all come together and "create" a better presence in our industry? (I've lost complete faith in PPFA. I, personally, just can't go there anymore).

    An aside, about the digital watch industry. Two Swiss scientists invented the digital watch. They took their invention to the consortium of Swiss watch makers and presented their idea. This was at a time in he early 80's when Switzerland had 95% of the world watch making market. They were laughed at and scorned. The fellows got on a plane to Tokoyo. The rest is history. In less than two short years the Swiss control of the watch making market dropped to below 15%. Is that going to happen in our industry?

    Thanks for your reply.

  4. Mel

    Mel MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Yes, but those watches cost $1,000's and people buy them. I intend to be the Swiss watchmaker in my community.
  5. Grey Raven

    Grey Raven Guest

    Mel.... great attitude, me too!!
  6. TheFrameGuy

    TheFrameGuy Guest

    Alex, I'm assuming you got your information about Aaron Brothers and Corners Frame Shops from the article I wrote in the April issue of the Evergreen Picture Framers Guild newsletter. If you would like to know more, I have the newspaper article in which most of the information came from. It is from a Boston newspaper and the article has much more information than I put in my article. Contact me if you would like to see it.

    The Frame Guy
    Visit The Frame Guy Chat Room every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 9 PM EST to chat with other framers.
  7. ChrisW

    ChrisW CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Being a refugee from the photofinishing industry I would not like to see framing go the same way. Remember the 80's and the explosion of one-hour photo ( well, I do, I was installing the labs). Most of them are gone now and the big box stores have a major chunk of the industry. If big business sees a profit they will try to grab at it.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is we can't stop other people from doing what they want. Where I think we have an edge is design. Lets face it the computer mat cutters are going to get better, to the point where a highschool student at minimum wage could make a perfect mat, but neither computer or retail clerk can pick a mat design or colour that will enhance the art to the ohhhh...ahhhh stage. Yes, they may have all the choices but knowing which one to apply takes a proffesional, hey....like us!

    From personal experience though, I hope we don't see the explosion of framing stores as we did with photo labs. We've been framing for 6 years, it accounts for 3/4 of our sales and I enjoy it soooo much more than photo. Every day is different ( last week we framed a chunk of the Berlin Wall ). So display those 3D 4 colour channelmats with fillets and stacked mouldings in the window and show them why they should come in your door. What you do with them then is up to you
  8. jwc

    jwc Guest

    ChrisW - I agree that as individual/small frame shops, you must stress design, quality and professional quality. However, as a former manager of the first Michael's frame in Utah, what I saw were customers with no creative ability coming in to our sales (and we had at least one a month) with specific numbers, frame styles, colors, sizes and etc. It was obvious that the customer had been to a quality frame shop, gone thru an extensive design decision, and after obtaining the information, brought that info to Michaels (or any other discount type store) to get in on the sale price. Not that I work on my own, I no longer give away estimate sheets, my frame numbers are coded for my computer only, and I frequently point out errors to look for in display pictures to check on the quality ofthe framing. I still let Michaels (et al) have the 35.00 stitchery orders - I don't want them. But I stress quality of design, explain the design reasoning to the customer, and other functions that the Michaels store personnel are not aware of.

    It is a struggle - going head to head with a giant. But remember David - with the right equipment and the knowledge of how to use it, he succeeded.
  9. ChrisW

    ChrisW CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Alex- sorry, I really didn't answer your question fully.

    Many chain photo labs exploded across Canada & the US, MotoFoto being one of the biggest. They were the fastest selling franchise in the 80's ( in ANY industry) but like a out of control virus they grew too big and collapsed like a burst bubble. Unfortunately they did a lot of damage in their wake. Price wars, shrinking market share ( the pie being cut in ever smaller pieces) and cut margins caused an incredible number of casualties on all sides of the small business shop.

    To make matters worse, as a growing consumer commodity it attracted the intrest of supermarkets and department stores. Originally they sent out your films and you would come back a few days later. But if they could keep you in the store for, say an hour, waiting for your pictures, you might buy something else while you waited. They turned an entire industry into a lost leader ( or close to it ) just to get you into their stores to buy stuff they made GOOD margin on. The average grocery superstore with a one-hour lab processes a 24 exp. for about $4, I have to charge $13 for the same thing, my cost-of-goods ( paper and chemistry ) is about $5. This doesn't take into account aprox. $100,000 for the lab equipment. It's been brutal and bloody.

    On the up side, we frame a majority of the enlargements and b&w copies that we process in the store. But I do keep looking at all the space my lab equipment takes up and think hmmm..... mat storage here, wizard over there..... We will probably be out of on-site-processing by this time next year. It will break my heart trashing the $88,500 worth of equipment, but it just isn't my industry any more.
  10. Alex

    Alex Guest

    Chris. I heartily agree with you about stressing the design aspects of good framing. This is where the talent and skill for exquisite framing lies. I even use the word 'design' in the name of my business. Sometimes people confuse my business name with being a designer--which I am in a focused way, or a hair stylist or eye glass shop. To address the issue of 'cheapies' coming in to my shop for design workup and then take the estimate and design info to Michaels for completion; I've placed a notification smack dab on the design board, in 2" tall letters across the top for all to conspicuously see. It reads: "Quick estimates, five minutes or less-FREE. Creative custom designing charged at shop rate." I've used this now for over five years and I have not had one single person stiff me by getting a design done for free and then walking out. Sometimes an individual will ask what is the shop rate fee for design? I answer, "A dollar a minute."

    Ahh! The question though, is, Is there enough people out there who want good design to offset all the expenses one goes to to make excellent framing available? In many markets, yes. In other markets, not as many. Marginal markets are everywhere. Higher end and better design are where survival is going to exist.
  11. TheFrameGuy

    TheFrameGuy Guest

    The newspaper article in question is posted at www.myframeshop.com/tradeonly/

    You must have an Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the PDF file. A link to get the FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader is located at my Web site.

    Remember the chat is Tuesday night at 9 PM EST.

    The Frame Guy
    Visit The Frame Guy Chat Room every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 9 PM EST to chat with other framers.
  12. crecorn

    crecorn Guest

    If anyone out there is not worried about this they will fall to the wayside real quick. I started out in a craft store frame shop, there is no question these are " Fast Food Framers" but the customers do not know this. You would not believe the pieces we would get in. Prints, Antiques, and more worth $1000's. They trust these big stores.
    I have had my shop now for four years (April 1st) and this town if full of framers. My thought is to grow into one of these big boys and take over the area. I hate to say this but thats the way off business. Super Markets, Super Electronics, Super Pets supplies. "Grow or Die".
    I am not trying to be cold hearted but when these big boys come in, and they will! Some small framers will be lost in the wake. There will still be room for the small specialists but it will be a tough struggle.
    I have started pushing local our art and gallery. I have even started a wholesale side to the bussiness and putting together large events and art show to spread our name.
    I read at one point that only 20% of the people in your area custom frame. My intent is to raise that to fifty and have those new customers come to me.
    Don't fool yourself this is first a bussiness then a love. If you get too focused on framing and not watch the market shift it will be tough to catch up.
  13. Mitch

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

    I went to see my son this weekend in a town a hundred miles from the city in which I frame.

    I visited two frameshops. The first shop was located on Main Street,in a downtown that is struggling. My wife and son spent about forty five minutes looking at the mix of art, pottery, craft items and gifts, all produced by local artists. The frame shop/ gallery owner and I visited for as long. the store was about five hundred square feet (10X50)

    The second was in a mall. The shop had recently moved. It had been forced to move to a lesser location by a large clothing store. The frame shop seems to be making the best of the new space. There were many new corner samples on the wall (the Craig Ponzio collections were proudly displayed). Large newly framed limited edition reproductions and expensively framed canvas transfers greeted the customers. My son and wife didn't even walk in to look. The only person watching the store was an eighteen year old at the counter. He was helping a customer who wanted a mat cut for an 8x10 photograph. You guessed it he had to cut two mats because the first opening on the first mat was 8x10 and didn't allow for overlapping the image.

    So, What's the point? Management! The manager/owner needs to decide on the nitch they will serve and establish goals. They then need to hire the skilled personal to accomplish those goals. I am sure the eighteen year old was not ready to sell a customer one of the limited edition reproductions to a potential customer. A manager/owner if paying attention should not be afraid of competition. They may need to be flexiable.
  14. Ashley

    Ashley Guest

    The family owned store that I work in just had its 30th anniversary. We have many different departments. Framing is the newest. We offer photofinishing, digital imaging, computers, electronics, cameras etc, so we have had to weather the big retail giant storm in a number of different areas. My husband is the vice-president and general manager of the company, and every time there is a rumor of yet another big guy coming in he gets a few more grey hairs. It's pretty scary sometimes, but so far we have been able to compete by having the best product and the most knowledgable staff, but people often come here and spend hours looking at computers and deciding what they want and then go order it from Dell.
  15. Alex

    Alex Guest

    Just read the article on the Corners Custom Framing. They are planning as a strategic objective to offer full custom framing at 30% BELOW the current recommended pricing structures. How interesting. How many of you can take 30% off your price? Do you have an additional 30% hanging around in your net income area to absorb such a hit? I don't.

    And while the large chains will get into a price war, eventually, knocking some of them out, how long will that go on?

    In the article a custom framner was quoted as saying that chains offer simpler services. Oh yea? Really? The last time I looked at Deck the Walls, the wall surrounding the design/order area was filled with nicely shadowboxed items of every type and style. Okay, they weren't offering specialty fabric wraps of sculpted velvet with inlaid satin brocades and lace undermats. That won't be far away! But my point is that it is still upscale. And they do offer intricate and complicated services!

    I'm not as convinced as I use to be that impecable high quality in crafsmanship and outstanding award winning design is what it takes to close a sale with the average customer anymore. I agree, it is extremely important to be offering the very best. A more important question to be asking oneself is: Does the business I have alleviate a fustration experienced by a large enough group of consumers to make it worth my while?
    If it is unreasonable to assume that it can, then no amount of exciting, interesting, or appealing picture framing will.

    The ultimate truth is that people don't buy an "item". They buy feelings. They buy things like peace of mind, order, power and love. If they can get these benefits from a chain operation at 30% below what you charge, then they will.

    I'm personally skeptical about doing more of the same, to secure the financial rewards necessary, to maintain a base to make it worhwhile. That is, more of the same high quality, highest service, greatest construction and design, etc. I'm not saying I'm giving up. But I can't see where doing more of the same is going to garner any higher margins that it does now. There are no guarantees. I recognize the changes taking place in the industry. As individual framers, is all we are going to say and do, to approach the coming storm, is laud ourselves about how important quality and service is? What strategies do we have? Is there any interest in pursuing some approach to the (what many of us see as), the crisis?
    Is it time to be organized together differently? Or is it too late? Ought there even be any concern at all? I see something happening. Maybe I'm overreacting?

  16. crecorn

    crecorn Guest

    Alex you can't over react. You have to keep on your toes and keep ahead of the compatition. I agree with what is siad here the big chain stores can also offer the quallity you can. Don't be fooled by the 30% discount look at what the price is originally it's 30% higher then what it should be. A local craft store offers 50% off everyday but thier prices are twice as high.
  17. Chewy

    Chewy Guest

    Exactly. I try to keep our names in the paper whether it's advertising or in articles. We just entered a framing contest, we had a picture and a caption in the paper. I just joined FACTS, you can bet I'll have an article of what FACTS is and does and what it means to framing customers in the next big issue. The point is, to get your name out there. Get a list of potential residents/business owners for your area, send them a welcome packet...Take out ads (with other framers, too) on why people should use custom framing over the Home Quarters, Michaels, etc. Remind the public that kids making minimum who don't care are doing the framing at these places. Put an ad in that says..Yeah, they offer 50% off, but we don't overcharge you to begin with! Try to sell frames the big co.'s are too afraid to! Homebased or not, getting together with other local small framers and developing a strategy for competing without compromise or taking price cuts works. Brendles in our area offered framing and people were excited. They were lower in some areas but didn't really offer quality work. Now the co. is gone and bankrupt. We have a mega Lowes coming soon and I wonder if framing, like their competition has, will be offered.
  18. Ron's dog's flea's brain on acid

    Ron's dog's flea's brain on acid MGF, Master Grumble Framer


    We are coming to get you. To penetrate your market and and shift the basis of market share from you to us. And we ain't exactly Little Bo Peep. We have very deep pockets. We are experienced in management, merchandising, and above all...MARKETING! We have subsidised overhead, minimum wage employees, and economies of scale that you can only dream of. We are fully computerized. We can do quick-fits and simple framing jobs in less than an hour while you shop the rest of our megalithic store. Our buyers are very skilled in beating up vendors on price - we ALWAYS get the super-secret discounts. We pay our bills in 90-120 days, and guess what?...no supplier dares to cut us off. When we run one of our monthly framing sales we can always count on at least 1000 orders in a three-day weekend. Yes 1000 orders. We do over 1.25 million dollars /year average in custom framing services alone, and even with deep discounting and consistent couponing and sale running we still manage gross margins of around 50%. We are now even beginning to carry UV glass, rag board, conservation materials and a select line of finished-corner frames. And guess what? If we screw up an order, well, we try to fix it or take care of it best we can, but hey, in the long run WHO CARES? The influx of new customers is growing like a Tsunami and those customers who are displeased with our framing services still don't hold that displeasure against our store in general, and yep, you guessed it, that's the real reason we do custom framing anyway....To get the customers into our store to buy the stuff we REALLY make killing on. We are now even beginning to purchase delivery/pickup vans to service our customers, and you know what?, we will CHARGE for that service and they will pay! Yes, my friends...we know whatwe are doing. Don't be fooled into thinking we will just go away...we have only just begun to learn the intracacies of your market.

  19. MerpsMom

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

    Now, just what are we to make of that?
  20. JPete

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

    Who knows. Guess there is one advantage of living in a less populated area.....Anyone doing that amount of business won't show up here.

    I suppose you can run scared and find a new job or hang in there and enjoy what you are doing. They are out to get the market the rest of us don't have. More power to em. [​IMG]
  21. framer

    framer Guest

    MAX, Let me lower myself for once, excuse me a second while I throw up. Come to Rhode Island I'll take you on! What a attitude! What a jerk! Super-secret discounts THERE ARE NO SECRETS just BS.

    Come get some..................
  22. benreadin

    benreadin Guest

    Talk about longwinded, self-involved gasbags! Congratulations, Max, you take the cake.
  23. JOHNG

    JOHNG Guest

    jpete are there any home depots in your area? Remember murphy's law if it's not supposed to happen it will.

    JOHNG F&L Frames Rutherford N.J.
  24. What-How

    What-How Guest

    WOW! Max is a very funny guy. I just left Hobby Lobby (Bob Greens answer to good marketing) and they should be in a great position to have all the big discounts since they are owned by the supplier. (Greeco) Most of what he said about the drops and such are true. The only thing I differ with is his conclusions. Our frame department covered payroll for the whole store. The turn over is huge, but it is a fair training ground for employees, so they can go somewhere and make more than $6 an hour.
    Mikeys paid better but they are so bad that only the high schoolers would work there. Like most of the larger stores they have better people than they deserve.
    As to the prices HH was the cheapest in town. Was is the operative word! Their price on a paper 8X10 mat is $2.70. I don't carry the basic, my low end is White core at $2.00 for an 8x10 and I am almost ashamed to mark up that much. (almost! [​IMG] )

    [This message has been edited by What-How (edited 04-24-99).]
  25. Alex

    Alex Guest

    Well, the comments by Max just goes to prove that some poeple's bad manners are only exceeded by their bad manners.

    His comments come out of a feeling of contempt he holds towards others rather than from any genuine interest in engaging the conversation constructively. He is to be pittied.
  26. TheFrameGuy

    TheFrameGuy Guest

    You know what I hate? Wimps that flap their lips, but are too scared to put their e-mail address in their user profile. What are you scared of, Max?

    I am also a realist. Max is right about what the big chains are going to do to the small guys. Some small guys will live, but most will die.

    Also, did I miss something Max, what company are you with? Or is that a secret like your e-mail address is?
  27. Ben Phramin

    Ben Phramin Guest

    They don't get it! Do they Max?
  28. woody

    woody CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Max is right on one thing. Some of the chains do get special pricing. We have one of the small chains (but the same pricing structure as the biggies)in our area who receive a special, discounted price on moulding specifically. My understanding is they get length price, even though they only buy chop, in return for a guaranteed portion of their sample wall.
  29. Ron's dog's flea's brain on acid

    Ron's dog's flea's brain on acid MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    OK, OK, OK... I guess I'm sorry to those of whom I offended. I was really only trying to get a point across via sarcasm. Alex started off this string with a few very good leading questions; however, I felt that some of the subsequent replies were a little ho-hum and que sera sera. So my intention was to play Devil's advocate and try to stir up some furor over the invasion of the framing industry. And I hope that in doing so I was at least marginally successful in getting some of us here to understand that there is a real, tangible threat to the future livlihood of the independent framer (however tasteless some of you thought my method was). Oh, and by the way, if any of you who called me names took a few seconds to search any of my previous posts, well you would have figured out that I am a "good guy". It seems that Ben was the only one who figured that out, though.. Oh, well...
  30. Ron's dog's flea's brain on acid

    Ron's dog's flea's brain on acid MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    OK, OK, OK... I guess I'm sorry to those of whom I offended. I was really only trying to get a point across via sarcasm. Alex started off this string with a few very good leading questions; however, I felt that some of the subsequent replies were a little ho-hum and que sera sera. So my intention was to play Devil's advocate and try to stir up some furor over the invasion of the framing industry. And I hope that in doing so I was at least marginally successful in getting some of us here to understand that there is a real, tangible threat to the future livlihood of the independent framer (however tasteless some of you thought my method was). Oh, and by the way, if any of you who called me names took a few seconds to search any of my previous posts, well you would have figured out that I am a "good guy". It seems that Ben was the only one who figured that out, though.. Oh, well...
  31. Ben Phramin

    Ben Phramin Guest

    What a hoot! Explaining it to them and then posting it twice. Love it.
  32. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    Max, I must admit I'm impressed with your knowledge of the history of the Wal-Mart empire.At any rate I would like to say that even though your post was long I like it much better than the sarcasm which ,despite what some think,most recognized for what it was .
    Where and why did you get all this information.I only wish you had a valid E-mail adress so we could maybe tap this knowledge privately.
  33. Alex

    Alex Guest

    Okay Max. Your motives really aren't so off beat. Sometimes it's hard to know when someone is being sarcastic. Your attempt to generate some valuable thought provoking responses from a different tactic--as I was trying to do from asking some serious questions--has met the side of the independent framing industry with futility. Granted, there are a small handfull of independent owners interested in this subject, but I'm afraid not really enough take the threat to their lifetrade seriously. I don't know the reason why there is such a lassie-faireness. Might it be because our industry is populated with more of the 'creative' types versus those with a good head for running a business? I noticed a long time ago that no frame shop owners in my area drive Corvettes, Mercedes or BMW's. There are other industries that are being imploded just like ours--stock brokers (with internet discount brokers), baby & maternity shops (with the likes of Baby's R Us), pet shops (with PetSmart) and the eye exam industry, just to name a few. In each of these industries individual owners are being priced and shut right out of the market. Not because they didn't believe in quality or good service. So again, I ask, Is it time that individual owners come together to rethink the "independent-ness" approach? At least ask questions. Well, I'm sure you can sense my fustration.

    One of the rules of the new economy is to Jump Out at the Top. It's very tempting.

    Thanks for your prodding bomb!

    [This message has been edited by Alex (edited 04-30-99).]
  34. al

    al Guest

    Option is to form co-ops in local area for buying and advertising purposes. Buying power would allow members to advertise special sales as necessary to combat advertised specials (which aren't really specials) by chains. Difficulty is getting independent shops to not see each other as competition.
  35. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    Even casual co-operative ventures can pay dividends, as you suggest.

    The Art & Framing Council can provide to anyone, at cost, a professionally produced TV spot ready for multiple framers / gallery owners to share.

    Years ago, we did something similar to this before such support exhisted. A shop in Oshkosh, WI (30 miles south) and a shop in Green Bay (30 miles north) got together with us (in the middle) and we jointly shared the production expenses and broadcast expenses of two different TV commercials. As we all share the same television market, this was a slam dunk!

    We need to do it again. Find your "competition" that is not directly on top of you, and do a joint promotion!


    John Ranes
  36. woody

    woody CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    This topic was originally posted by Alex in April and I want to revisit. At that time my sales were falling but the accumulative impact had not hit me at that time. Now here it is September and except for a small upswing in early August sales continue on a flat path. The only encouraging aspect,if you can call it that, is that I am not alone in my area. If it was just me I'd wonder if the competition was beating my brains out. However, I am hearing the same thing from other framers and distributors in the area. Had a rep in the other day from the northwest and he reported a downturn there. Another rep for a print publisher confided that he had spent a whole day contacting customers in Florida and had made one sale. It seems the malaise is nationwide. Then I hear posts by people like OJay, who a year ago was optimistically setting sales goals, reporting that he is thinking of getting out of LED art because sales are so bad. Can we get off the "how to?" craft aspect for a bit and address this problem? Is the framing industry going through a pivotal shift? Are decorating tastes of the younger set such that they don't include framed pieces? Has our industry peaked? Has the LED bubble burst, and with it the better priced framing job? Utah is definitely "other world" but I am not operating in a vacuum here. What's really going on? Is it just a temporary lull until Y2K and the millenium thing is over? What's going on where you live? What are your ideas?
  37. framer

    framer Guest

    Lets put it this way I took a look and said no to opening up my own shop at this time. High labor, overhead and marketing costs might be the downfall of this business. Multi million dollar corp. will loose millions to get market share. I'm seriously thinking of looking there for my next job. Max may be right either go in heavy or you lose.
  38. MerpsMom

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

    framer, there's a depressing thought. In a conversation with a large supplier, he echoed woody's sentiments: seems to be a problem with keeping shops open and still maintain a decent living. His take was that while all things change, our industry started as a MomPop, and he wondered if the future for those just starting or looking to escape the rat race might be niche marketing,--and please don't blow gaskets-- in an off-retail environment (aka home-based). That solution will not look attractive to some, and may even breathe life back into discussion of business on this board, but as with any controversy, it pays to investigate all opinions even if we don't agree with them. I love what I do--and where I do it--are there others out there who feel the same optimism about where they do it?
  39. JPete

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

    MM, you have summed it up.

    Technology is expensive equipment which in turn has to be run by low cost labor which only makes money for the big guy, eg the farmers.

    I still question if the homebased at the prices most seem to charge would make a decent living without the income of another job.

    Is it the end of the boomers buying of quality and the beginning of the x generation shopping the wm's. I hope not.

    I intend to hang in there and hope my local economy does a turn around.
  40. framer

    framer Guest

    I have a lot of thinking todo. Hmmmmmm.
  41. Alex

    Alex Guest

    I discovered a small tucked away article in the Seattle Times-PI for Monday Aug 30, that announces: 'Art and frame stores plan new locales in the region.' It talkes about Aaron Brothers Art & Framing coming to Seattle, how they are breaking their own pattern for entering new markets, they plan on 5 new stores by October in the surrounding areas of Federal Way, Puyallup, Redmond, Seattle, and Aurora Square (N. Seattle area); and they plan on having complete 'model rooms', 'anything that brings a wall to life in the home', including framed art, mouldings, mantles and ledges, & ready-mades.

    Seems their trend is to not just offer framing, but to have entire rooms for the customer to walk into for a complete kinesthetic experience. Will be interesting to watch.

    As Woody mentioned, talking about the craft is fine, but some information on the business side can be very helpful. My last four years have seen growth of 20%, 37%, 56%, and 10% respectively. No complaints even with the 10%. Things are slowing down though. I've been able to maintain a Cost of Goods of 25% over that four year period. In some private discussions with several of you I've discovered that many shops are running a COG's above 40% and a few are running about 49% COG's. If any of you would like to join this aspect of the discussion, please use only a Verticle Analysis number ( a percentage number, not a dollar number).

    Christmas here we come.
  42. woody

    woody CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Rea an interesting article on the new in a major UK newspaper. Seems Levi Strauss is abandoning the foundation Levi 501 jeans in the Uk. Their market share there has dropped 16% since l997. In the US it has gone from 48% of the market to25%. What does LS attribute this to? They call it the "Jeremy Clarkson effect". Don't know who he as nor the origin of the term but simply put, if I may quote the article: "Kids no longer want to wear them (501s) because they were worn by their parents and grandparents. This is our most radical move in decades. We have rested on our laurels for too long and this (a new line significantly redesigned) is our first significant step to re-energise the market." Do we have the same effect going on in framing or is this a stretch? Alex, I tried to find your earlier post on vertical analysis but couldn't find it. I admit to being a slow learner but could you repost some of those ideas for a fresh look.
  43. MerpsMom

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

    And will someone's better memory than mine find and rethread the discussion about whether the huge framing operations will give copious amounts of time and expertise to their customers? Perhaps six months ago?
  44. JPete

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

    Ok you slow learners, you know the dark glasses beside each name.....click on those and a line will come up to seach all posts by the registered user. Try it, it works in ie anyway.

    My COg is still in the 23-25% range.
  45. MerpsMom

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

    Yeah, I got that part, but what if I don't know who posted the topic or the subsequent answers? How do you home in on the exact wording of the topic to bring it back up? Remember, the mind's going.
  46. JPete

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

    Thanks MM for not taking offense.

    I went to search (at top of the page) and typed in Big Chain Shops and came up with the topic you might want. 1/l/99 by Woody called "sometimes we worry" or something like that. Ok, first I put in franchise and got something else that led to the chain thing.

    BWTW my mind is gone!

    [This message has been edited by JPete (edited 09-02-99).]
  47. MerpsMom

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

    Well, if that's not just the coolest gimmick: I'm in danger of "searching" my morning away: thanx, JP, I found what I wanted. And just where IS Ort?
  48. jframe

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

    Smells like a recession to me. There is a huge gap between reality and what Mr.Greenspan wants us to think. I had my worst month ever in August, but I believe that part of the reason is the "Tax Free" weekend we had in Aug. Sales tax was not charged on school related items priced under $100.00. School related covers a LOT of merchandise, but not framing.
  49. woody

    woody CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I agree. August was the is the only month I've had this year that matched the same month last year for income. And August is typically a "bottom of the valley" month. Every month since last November has been down compared to the same month in the previous year. To cap a bad year my new landlord introduced himself yesterday and went on about how he is going to repaint and fix up the outside of the building. Since my lease is up in December I have a pretty good idea what that means.
  50. Scarfinger

    Scarfinger Guest

    I have been operating my shop for about 20 years. I have had to continuously change to keep making a living. Recently I looked back at some old trade magazines. Surprisingly they didn't look old. Framers are still trying to sell the same old thing. Sorry folks, the world has changed. Just 4 or 5 years ago I was selling open and limited edition prints as fast as we could frame them. I had more than 200 framed prints on display. Now I have only a few on display and rarely sell any. It was easy those years ago. I remember how excited people would get when they looked in my window. The print wholesalers sold only to framers. Now the wholesaler frames them and sells them to gift stores, drug stores, and even hardware stores. The customer is bored. The success of the print business a few years ago has kept the publishers putting out the same tired art. Art and framing are based on people's emotions. People still have emotions and walls. Their lives are far more than florals, wildlife, and scenics. We as framers have to come up with new prroducts related to framing. It can be a vast creative thing. The big box frame shops will be working the old formula and hopefully most independant framers will stay one step ahead. I intend to.
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