• WELCOME Grumblers
    Backup is now done at 3PM EDT. You may find the server down for up to two minutes at that time.

Michaels - 2 Weeks Wait, Extremely Expensive

zamber

Grumbler in Training
The local Michaels wants $300 to $600 (Depends on discounts) for a frame that a local shop will do for $79. They also have a two week wait for everything. The local store is next day for frames, same day for a mat. Michaels has 3 people working there at a time, and they claim everything is done in-house. I called stores in distant states and they also interestingly have a 2 week wait.

Every local place is way cheaper and quicker. Is there any theory why Michaels is so much busier with way, way higher prices? Don't people shop around?
 
Sponsor Wanted

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
What state are you in? Michaels was convicted twice for fake sales in New York, so if you're elsewhere, that explains the pricing. Can't explain the delays, though. Up here in Canada, Frameguild supplied Michaels' joined frames, but I have no idea what's going on down south.

Why don't people shop around? Because we framers have built a reputation for pricing off the charts.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
It's been a few years, but we did pretty extensive market research and then average M's did about 5 times average indy shop annual volume.
May I comment on price differences?

we did a little volume and can count on one hand the times a client came to us with an estimate to beat. Truth was their estimates were blank save a total and inv. number. We had no idea what it included.

Except we shopped, in person, many of our competitors every 6 months. So, we actually did know what they charged and for what. To no surprise, they weren't the highest ever; some items really aggressive, some market average. What they lacked was any packages or combos, but most items higher than average but never the highest

My suggestion might be take something basic, take something much nicer and take something really complex (each to a different store)and actually compare hard numbers. We found it very easy to 'crack' te pricing matrix

our experience was first two, they were middle of the road. Challenging, often referred elsewhere. We typically had M's very close to their stores and did re-cuts for them on mismeasured chops-they have no saws. In addition to our fee, they sent 'challenging' orders our way

Truth is, besides that type of project, the very few times we saw a M's customer was when they needed it quicker or starting about Dec 10th LOL

GO SHOP YOUR MARKET

May I suggest if M's truly is getting etween $300-600 then somebody needs a basic understanding of biz, their marketplace and the consumer. And, it ain't Michael's

just my opinion, of course
 

Mike Labbe

Member, Former moderator team volunteer
Michael's is selling perception, via psychology, in my opinion. They are marketing snake oil - and it works for them. Yes they are marking things up many times higher than local framers, and then heavily discounting every week, in an industry that doesn't have set retail prices. Their "50% off plus 20% off" weekly sale comes out just about the same price as a local framer (we have compared), but people PERCEIVE it as a genuine discounted price and also perceive that custom framing must be very expensive in other places. Do customers shop around to check? Probably NOT. After all, it is custom and Michael's has its own proprietary frames that wouldn't be apples to apples comparison.

Yea they have a 2 week turnaround, which is a long time in my opinion. They do the fitting and keep the art in the stores, but the frames and mats are done at their production facility - in another state. The results are then trucked in for the local clerks to do the fitting. Most local shops turn things around in half that time, which is an area where the local shops can provide some value.

A couple more coins for the opinion jar :)
Mike
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
People love coupons and assume big box stores are always cheaper. We have always been less expensive every time a customer has brought in an estimate from a big craft store. The rally huge differences in price come when the customer somehow doesn't qualify for the coupon deal. That's where you get the $600 bill for the $250 job.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Michaels (Aaron Brothers) do not do everything in store - the mats are cut one place, the frame is built in another, the glass may be at the store but not in all locations. All they do at Michaels is take the order and assemble, at least that is the way it is in my area.
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Every refugee from Michaels that we’ve captured has mentioned coupons. Big 50% off coupons which still give prices higher than ours.
Leads me to believe that they’re in violation of the consent order.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I am very familiar with HL and i'll share this much. All mldg is offsite and chopped and joined at a production facility (sounds smart to me) and art is kept in store where mats are cut, art is matted and mounted and fitted. Used to be they ordered everything in store including framing-chops, rm's, full sheets of matboards, etc and used to be delivered on Thursdys (i think) in their own trucks,
I haven't shopped framing in years but today call your local HL and ask for the price of a 15x21 lite of Museum Glass. It will probably be close to yours. Then apply the everpresent 50% off coupon. I still buy MG 'wholesale' locally, but find the 'one lite at a time' from HL to be more cost effective in all but the larger sizes. And, i'll bet we have over 75 pcs framed in our house with MG

someone said they no longer sell lites by themselves; i haven't experienced that here

may i suggest that when you buy a box of MG from LJ, you call that wholesale. Understand LJ buys that from TV at a much, much lower price, marks it up and sells it to you. M's and HL probably buy much more than LJ and probably buy at a lower price than LJ.

Let's use made up numbers and say LJ sells you a box (3 lites)for $10 and LJ pays TV $5 ($1.66 a lite), you sell the lites collectively for $30 or $10 a lite. Sounds reasonable

Now, M's buys a ton and pays TV $4/BX or $1.33. Wouldn't they be able to use that same $10 retail as their price? And if promoted at 50% off sell at $5 (with a $1.33 cost)?

Bottom line: They didn't 'mark' anything up to mark it down, they used 'their' tremendous Buying Advantage against their competitors using market prices; the oldest tool in retailing. When you go to trade shows, every vendor will have deeply discounted 'show specials'. Does that mean the product you bought the order prior was a 'rip off' or did you leave the show pleased with your bargains and how much you 'saved'? Just like many Michael's customers

More Bottom line: quit worrying about them but maybe steal some ideas and make them work for you. Try and understand the consumer better, fine tune your own buying strategies and make your pricing make sense. In essence, work your store harder and be a better retailer

Quit looking for villains; start looking for solutions
 
Last edited:

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
And don’t forget this, as crazy as it sounds: you can use the same pricing/discount strategy as Michaels, and, because of your size, you won’t attract attention.
My BIL, a lawyer, says that when you do it, you aren’t harming anyone. They don’t like it, they can go elsewhere.
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I think a small shop could run the coupon deal Michael's runs now (half the moulding on sale / half not), but we would definitely run afoul of the law if we tried to run the discount on everything all the time like Michael's used to.

Also, I've heard the statistic on Michael's volume vs. independent shops before and it doesn't jibe with my experience locally. I think we are a pretty typical shop and, if the average Michael's does 5X our volume, that's something on the order of 13,000 or 14,000 pieces per year. My local Michael's don't seem that busy.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
.... they used 'their' tremendous Buying Advantage against their competitors using market prices; the oldest tool in retailing. When you go to trade shows, every vendor will have deeply discounted 'show specials'. Does that mean the product you bought the order prior was a 'rip off' or did you leave the show pleased with your bargains and how much you 'saved'? Just like many Michael's customers

More Bottom line: quit worrying about them but maybe steal some ideas and make them work for you. Try and understand the consumer better, fine tune your own buying strategies and make your pricing make sense. In essence, work your store harder and be a better retailer....
This is easily overlooked. It's important to remember that they grew to this size by providing a service and product that many buyers prefer.
As with many industries, the streamlined homogenization of consumer experience, with a focus on convenience and perceived gain, thrives.

Bob's 'bottom line' note is worth repeating. Rather than resist, observe and learn. It also helps to know what we're good at. Easy to be discouraged by the success of others, but is that really our game? If it is, then play. If not, what do we do best? If our customers support that, it should* be where we put our energy.
.
.


*(Unless we welcome risk and want a change.)
.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Bruce it's been a few years since i was heavily involved in Industry Market Research and you may be correct. What is the average volume of an independent framer today? That same info for M's is readily available

might be fun to see todays averages. Using your numbers, sounds likes your shop does about $400K-500K in Framing alone. Add in other sales like ready mades and art and that number goes higher. Is that pretty typical?
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Well Bob, I wish we did, but we're in Fort Wayne which is widely known to be one of the most affordable cities in the United States and the price we can get for framing reflects that. Around here, you have to do a good volume of orders because the profit per piece is fairly low. At least I think it is compared to some other locations.

I've often wondered if independents can use the prices at the big boxes as an indicator of the price tolerance of the local consumer. Does a Michael's in Fort Wayne use the same pricing as one in Chicago? As I've stated before, we have never had someone come in with a quote from a box store that was within 15 - 20% of our retail price. You would think that would mean we could raise our prices by 15%, but, believe me, we can't. We have a noticeable drop off in sales every time we have a price increase.
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Just thought of a true life example that shows how frustrating this whole thing is. We had an artist who we have worked with for years tell us that she always takes her "simple stuff" to Hobby Lobby and her "complicated stuff" to us because she's willing to pay the extra to be sure the "complicated stuff" is done right. My brother asked her to bring in a "simple" piece so we could give her a quote. As usual, our retail was something like 15% less than what she had been paying and we gave her the usual 20% artist's discount. That made us around 30% less than the 50% off deal she'd been getting. She was surprised to the point of confusion. That's how effective the coupons and advertising are.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
hey Bruce-thanks for follow up. I really am interested in average volumes (the ol' market researcher in me). I used your numbers as a starting point

Back in the day, from memory
average indy did about $160K
Michael's from Annual Report Framing Dept did about $750K
Average Mall stores did about $450K

Today mall stores vanished, more and more BB's, online framers everywhere and you can buy framing supplies on Amazon at great prices and free shopping.

Two things for certain in this 'new' world: this ain't your daddy's frameshop and consumers still react strongly to promotions

my simple advice to you and your brother might be create some things that satisfy the 'simple' needs, price 'aggressively' to reinforce you are more than competitive (and promote it website and in-store signage) while still offering Top of the Line design and products and pricing profitably. Been awhile but while visiting lots of shops it was common to see the 'simple' client ignored (that's not our customer mentality)

just an opinion
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Kinda arching back to the whole price thing- the impression I'm getting from these posts is the big box stores are uniformly more expensive than independent shops wherever you go. Is that true or are the big boxes cheaper in some places? I'm not talking about ready-mades and bits and pieces stuff, but a whole custom framing job.
 

neilframer

PFG, Picture Framing God
I kind of scratch my head about the "2 weeks wait" part.
We have 7 people working and we have all 5 star reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Google and Angie's list.
And yet, we sometimes have a 3 weeks wait.

We are framing and doing large format mounting on plexi, dibond and laser cutting and etching and also large format printing.
We are just really busy with walk-in customers and we also have designer and commercial business going on.
Sometimes the designer/commercial stuff comes in with 50..60..100..200 pictures or mirrors at one time.

What we always do is ask the customer "Do you have a target date that the framing MUST be done by that date" and we get it done as long as we can get the moulding and materials when we need it.

Our customers just appreciate that we get the job done the way that they envisioned it and they are happy with the quality of the finished job.
 
Last edited:

FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have been the same as Neil. I'm also wondering how exactly you are comparing prices. You don't have access to Artistree mouldings or Masterpiece glass. You are certainly not comparing apples to apples. Are you counting museum glass as your default?

Ed
 

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Neil, you're not really competing with the box stores. They don't want to do that kind of work because they know they can't. I don't think customers placing orders of that size expect a quick turn around. Most of us do relatively small orders where speed is a factor. I'm convinced a large percentage of my shop's customers come in because we're cheap and fast.

Excellent point Ed. I think that, if the customer likes my apples marginally better than someone else's oranges, I'm golden. I don't use museum glass as a default because I don't sell it very frequently. It's very rarely a functional necessity. Some people like it enough to pay the extra charge. Most don't, so we go with a less expensive option which still fills their needs.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
my shop's customers come in because we're cheap and fast.
better be careful, sure recipe for criticism from 'slower and more expensive' competitors :)
They don't want to do that kind of work because they know they can't.
not sure it isn't can't (many framers that have worked at indies have gone to work at BB's) but don't market towards that 'niche'. It's been years, so numbers aren't probably true any longer. But MG had about 2% of market share in lites sold. BB's looking for a much broader part of the consumer 'Bell Curve'. I have mentioned many times i often buy single lites of MG from HL. And it is waaay cheaper with 50% coupon

I like Bruce's approach: find a way to sell more things to more people
 

charming

True Grumbler
The local Michaels wants $300 to $600 (Depends on discounts) for a frame that a local shop will do for $79. They also have a two week wait for everything. The local store is next day for frames, same day for a mat. Michaels has 3 people working there at a time, and they claim everything is done in-house. I called stores in distant states and they also interestingly have a 2 week wait.

Every local place is way cheaper and quicker. Is there any theory why Michaels is so much busier with way, way higher prices? Don't people shop around?

Yes there is a theory about why Micheals prices their framing so high. It is so they can take people's money without caring about being a responsible corporation or a good neighbor.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I am glad that Michael's exist, they take care of the customers I don't want anyway.
I'm not trying to be disrespectful but that is a mistake and would be a poor business decision. I have 4 Michaels, 2 Hobby Lobbies, & 2 Joannes within a 7 mile radius of my shop and if I go out to 10 miles I even have more Big Box Stores. I have gotten many former Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Joannes customers and I am extremely happy that I have. I would guess, and I mean guess because I don't have exact numbers, that I do probably $5,000.00 plus a year of business from those customers. The best part is that they keep coming back and they are sending family, friends, & neighbors. They may not write the largest orders, but they are orders, and their dollars help to keep my doors open as much as customers that have never used the Big Box stores for framing. Anybody is welcome inside my doors and I am extremely happy to get each and every one. Once here, if they do not like my prices or product, they are very free to go where ever they want and I will say that I cannot remember a single one that have left for those reason.
 
Sponsor Wanted
Top