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M's closing in our town

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Jana, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    The ones with the most money and most pull get the most consideration. Nothing new there. I believe indies are dropping like flies because they aren't keeping up with trends and the way people shop. They are getting run over without knowing what is hitting them. The industry has changed big time and most don't get it. Those of us here on the G are far more informed than the bulk of the industry is. Long gone are the days you can succeed by being just a good framer, you need to market and sell yourself and as an industry we have not achieved that. It is nice to blame the BB's. They look at framing as a biz and how they can make money and lots of it. What a concept.

    Doug, most of the BB's customers are entry level customers who would never seek us out. As I recall only 5-10% of the public has ever entered an independent frameshop. I believe the people framing at the BB's ony get framing done because it is the BB's. They aren't going to come look for us if the BB's disappear. I'm basing my opinion on my experience working in a BB or two. Those customers are much different animals than what you see come thru your door. They don't know or understand quality, they are there for the deal. If you want them you will need to get them there by offering a "deal". Perceived or not.
  2. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have never once even considered blaming the BB's on my shop closing. I am surrounded by them too. My shop closed because I did not set myself up properly and never got that critical mass. My fault plain and simple. If I had been better educated on business and had a bigger pot when I started I do believe I could have operated surrounded by BB's and still succeeded.

    I know people who are succeeding quite well surrounded by BB's. One in particular has HL across the street, a Joann store a half a mile away on the same street and a Michael's still on the same street a mile away. He flourishes. He opened his 4th store a couple months ago. He has worked his way up from the bottom. In fact, he bought his first store the same time I did and has managed to succeed surrounded by the enemy. By your comment he should have died on the vine years ago as the BB's bled him dry.

    Nope, we are failing because we as an industry have not been very business savvy. Our fault as an industry. Those who continue to operate will have to have some business instincts plain and simple. Blaming the BB's is a completely non productive waste of energy.

    The current economy has made it hard for everybody. That is a whole other animal too. Even those with biz savvy can have a hard time fighting the economy.
  3. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    yes and no. if this were completely our fault, then you would have to lump blame along with every other small town local business that has failed as buying habits changed from local to online and to bb shopping at discount prices. the inability to adapt to changes in consumer buying habits is also to blame. and yes, part of this is lack of vision and lack of capital. it is a very hard road to hoe for the average small shop.
  4. etlock

    etlock CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Picture frames and picture frame moulding have been my lifes work for fifty years. The two retail shops came over the last thirty eight years. There have been many ups and downs over fifty years and none of my downs can be attributed to a big box store or a supplier to the picture framing industry ! I have met with the CEOs of many
    industry suppliers due to the twelve years I spent serving on the PPFA board of directors. Their contributions to this industry, as with ours, has been overwhelming. They, as we, have to make good hard business decisions for the success of their firms. To think there has ever been a conspiracy to harm the independents or the industries sales representatives is ridiculous!
    Tom Pavlock
  5. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well said Tom!
  6. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Don't know of anyone claiming "conspiracy". Where did that come from??

    Our recognition of the BB's dubious business practices (pseudo "sales") does not equate to conspiracy.
  7. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Bingo Kathy! Stop using the BB's as a scapegoat folks, they are only part of this industry's problem. Now I don't think I am the best business person in the world, but I sure have learned a lot over the years. As much as I love being creative, trying new, fun projects and designs; the time I have spent actually doing that has shrunk dramatically. I am constantly reviewing what I need for this business to succeed....no one said that was going to be fun. But it is a must, now more than ever.

    I used to carry LJ, and haven't now for a few years. They are a great company, a decent product, and has marketed this industry more than any other supplier out there. I debate every now and again as to whether to bring them back on. The reason I do not is simple, my area is saturated with their product and I want to offer products that can not be found in every shop within a 5 mile radius of mine.

    While I did deal with them they treated me very well. I had known the rep and Dist manager for years previous to my opening, and they were excellent to deal with. Never once with a heavy hand or telling me what I had to do. As a business owner why would I anyway?

    As far as these companies supplying to BB's......many do. Do I like it...no, but I can't waste my time frettign about it. LJ has, Nielsen Bainbridge does, International Moulding does...I bet we can come up with a big list between all of us.

    So what are you going to do...........maybe we all just need to brush up on our business skills and be a framer second. :kaffeetrinker_2:
  8. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Amen to that sister and I think we can go an even 50/50 to survive and grow.
  9. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    To add one more thought to what Kathy said about the BBs and their customers, people go to BBs because it's a name they know and trust. I know that sounds odd, why should someone trust the Michaels framer over an indie, but Michaels has a brand name. It's an established billion dollar company with stores all over the country. People feel more comfortable going to that kind of a store, as opposed to Bob's Framing Store.

    Maybe this shakeout, with lots of big names going under in a very public way, will change some of that mindset, but I'm not holding my breath.
  10. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Those are some really interesting points. It makes me consider how people see us in the current marketplace. We have longevity but not everyone knows that, and even if they do what is to guarantee that we will be there tomorrow? By and large we are framing valuable things, either monetarily or emotionally. They have to trust that we will be around. We like to turn things around in three days but, again, lots of people do not know this.

    The risk of investing in leaving your valuables with a business for possibly weeks and not having them poof away in the meantime is more real than it used to be. If Joe's Frame Shop is no longer there one day what do they do? I think it's the prime reason we only sold one gift card this season. I wonder how many Ms sold.

    Just two weeks ago a customer gave us a gift card to a local restaurant as a New Year's gift. This restaurant, local and only one location, sold her the gift card knowing that they were closing their doors this Friday. That should be a crime. I have to find out what we can do to get value out of it but since they are closing up and actually leaving the country to go back home to Italy I don't think they will be very inclined to do the right thing considering they sold it in the first place.

    It was a pretty popular restaurant that has been there longer than the 19 years I've had my nearby location. Poof, and scamming on the way out. It would be much easier to get value out of an Olive Garden card. In this battle of consumer perception I believe the big box wins again.
  11. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Blaming the BB is the easy way out of not blaming yourself. Businesses succeed and fail based on the owner and the owner's decisions, nothing else. You can blame competition, economy, employees, suppliers, ect all you want but ultimately the owner is the one that can protect his/her business.

    As much as i hate the 50% off and other offers, I would say that the BB have done a lot of good for our industry. They are the reason for customer awareness of custom framing.

    There are very few in our industry that would have an advertising budget that woud make an impact when it comes to customer awareness of custom framing. Think about it, what if our industry only had the indees to rely on promoting custom framing.

    My opnion, the biggest problem with our industry is that we spend too much time blaming someone/something and not any time on how to compete against it or fix it.
  12. Maryann

    Maryann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Tim, I disagree with your first statement. I think there are often influences on our businesses that we have no control over, especially in this economy. What if the main employer in your little town closed their doors? Your town would not be in a recession, they would be in a depression. I believe there are many pockets like that in the country right now. 73,000 retail stores are expected to close in the first six months of 2009. Do you think all of those owners are out of touch?

    Having said that, I totally agree with your last statement.
  13. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    OK, just to play devil's advocate, Maryann you said you disagree with Tim's last statement; what do you and everyone else for that matter, consider to be the biggest problem with our industry.

    It may be hard to name just one. But I think our industry has been getting slapped in the face by reality for over a decade, but too many have been drifting down the river of Denial. I heard a figure recently, and can't be sure of how accurate it is. That our industry has shrunk from 15,000 shops in this country to 9,000. Is that figure a further indicator of a problem, or were there just too many of us in proportion to the small % of Americans who actually walk into a frame shop?
  14. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    A owner has to be able to look ahead and prepare for the future, are they out of touch if they don't...not necessarily but they may very well be in denial.

    The environment that is created within a business is the biggest influence on it's success. If one focuses on all of the negatives and then dwells on them, they become a negative influence on their business.

    My store took a hit this year, my problem was that I did not have enough products at the right price point that people were looking for. I framed greeting cards this year and sold them for 14.95, my COG on them was less than $5. I sold 792 of them, it was obviously a good price point and there was good profit on them. The bad thing was that I did not have more items like them. My fault, not anyone elses, I did not adapt to the changing economy as well as I should have.

    73K store closing, that number changes every day with each new report that is released. The fact is that there will be many stores closing. How many of them have been living on borrowed time/money and not watching their costs as well as they should have? Couple examples that I see are a couple of my neighbors,SunGlass Hut and American Eagle. SunGlass Hut ships each kiosk in the country their display suplies via next day air, that kiosk then has to have the display up within the next week or two....suplies do not need to be shiped next day air, they could cut costs by 2/3 by going ground. American Eagle does floor sets every 2-3 weeks, the employees are only allowed to do them after hours, sometimes they are there until 6am the next morning. The following day they will have 5-7 emloyees in the store with nothing to do except refold clothing, they could have done the floor sets during regular hours with regular payroll hours and saved thousands of dollars.

    What is going on right now in the business worls is the same thing that is going on in the residential world. The people/companies who have not made well thought out financial decisions are now paying for those not so smart choices that they made.

    The media is doing a good job of letting us know how bad people/companies are doing yet we must remember that there are just as many people/companies that are not in trouble because they have not made bad decisions and have adapted to the way the world is now.

    Some of the top employers here are Principal Financial, Wells Fargo, Meredith Publishing, and Allied Insurance. All of which have layed off emloyees in the past month yet people are still spending money, they are just more careful about with what they spend it on and where they spend it. It is up to us, the owners of businesses, to convince the consumer that we are the ones who deserve their business.
  15. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Tim and the rest of you, I hope so, but there's still so much beyond my control. I think I'm doing OK, my 2008 sales were only down 6%, and I have a plan for 2009 to improve profitability, even if revenue is flat. Even so, there are things I can't control that adversely affect my business. Right now we have 5 empty storefronts on the 2-block street where my store is located. That will increase to 7 empty storefronts in the near future. I'm worried that when we reach a critical mass of empty storefronts (I think it'll be 10), we are going to see an increase in crime, graffiti, trash, etc., and the street will take a nosedive. I worry that we are reaching a point of no return, when businesses are going to decide they are better off locating somewhere other than 25th Avenue. I'm trying to attract an affluent customer base that isn't price-sensitive, but are they going to want to bring expensive artwork to a store that's in a slum? Will they drive past boarded-up storefronts, trash on the sidewalk, graffiti on walls, and then keep on driving?

    I've got 2 years left on my lease, and then I can move if I need to, but I may not make it that long. I may be in a war zone within the next 12 months, and no amount of marketing, customer service, quality design, etc. may convince potential customers to park their car in a rundown, shabby, scary neighborhood.
  16. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I have also found that so many people want to blame the media for much of this as well. So many have said over the last 2 years that it is just playing on the panic and only reporting the negative. Many businesses have refused to respond by saying all of my customers are wealthy.

    The media was at least 1 year behind the economy when they started reporting because they did not want people to stop spending. Once the spending had stopped they started reporting the real facts. The signs have been everywhere and many discussions have been had on the G and many here refused to respond.

    Tim, you did a great job responding by putting out items at that price point. Could you imagine how bad sales would have been without nearly 800 $15 items. Chops and high end framing will always be a large piece of this industry but without value lines there is not a lot of hope to salvage so many jobs that will otherwise walk out the door.

    The economy is just starting its ride down now. The real estate industry has been saying the bottom has been reached for over 2 years now. The chief economist for their group had to resign after making that claim for over a year before he was declared a joke. The forcasts say that real estate will drop an additional 25% this year and another 5-10% in 2010. We need to accept the fact that people are going to be frugal or downright cheap for a couple of years now. It will be 5 years before things return to normal. We as an industry must be prepared. High end framers don't need to throw out their high end samples but they better have a good selection of value items.

    There are a lot of framers out there that are prepared for the storm. There is a much larger pecentage willing to try to wait it out. Those who are prepared will survive and prosper. Those wishing to believe that the economy will turn around in 2009 will disappear.

    The vast majority of home owners will not be able to sell their homes for a couple of years now. They also don't want to look at the empty walls they left that way because they were going to sell their homes and make big profits. Somebody will get to sell them the decor for those houses. Better us than Wally World.
  17. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    May it be so. Last year, I went to WCAF for the entire show and took a lot of classes, but didn't buy anything other than some closed corner samples from Rhonda Feinman, and a set of samples from Vermont Hardwoods. Both were good investments.

    This year, I'm going for 2 days and one night. I'm taking only one class, but I'm very interested in finding some mouldings to carry in stock as either value mouldings or to improve my cost of goods. Completely different approach to the show, and entirely due to the economy.
  18. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    How many closed corner samples did you pick up and how many sales did it take to recover the cost of the samples.
  19. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Rhonda Feinman had a great deal at the show -- you get a set of 10 drawing frame samples for only $150. I took an order last week to do 2 frames with one of those samples, total ticket was $1100.
  20. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Now that is what I call a bargain. I think that is a no brainer no matter what the economy does.
  21. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Her frames are really good quality, and she's a pleasure to work with. It's not that easy for us to sell a 3-inch closed corner frame for $6000, but a closed corner drawing frame on a small piece is much easier. At the very least, it makes selling an otherwise-expensive chop frame a bit easier.
  22. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I won't make any friends with this post, but that's never been my concern. I prefer tell it as I see it.

    While the chains are a problem, our failure as an industry to mount a coordinated response is a bigger problem. No other industry that I'm aware of, has done as little to collectively market itself, to create a positive public image and to combat predatory competition.

    The PPFA, while perhaps weak financially, has wasted it's resources duplicating already existing services rather than on providing the one thing our industry needs more than any other--marketing us as an industry to the public. Afterall, you are part of a marketing association. This is where your real efforts should be focused. You're also the defacto leader of this industry. We need you, but we need you to be different than what you are. In an era of email, you give us postcards. You duplicate a trade show model that's identical to one that took place just weeks earlier in the same venue. Innovate. Make it special. Give us a reason to attend. Give retailers a better reason to join.

    The trade magazines have failed us too, by using their bully pulpit to kiss up to advertisers and push its own agenda, while neglecting its responsibility to its readership and the health and prosperity of the industry it serves. These magazines have a right to make money, but they also have an obligation. That obligation is not being met. If that doesn't change, the magazines will eventually cease to exist.

    Suppliers are to blame too. Just this week, I had a student whose supplier rep pushed him to buy chopped and joined frames. This is a short-sighted, foolhardy and selfish practice that dooms a business to failure and ultimately costs the supplier a customer.

    This rep was from Larson-Juhl, but it could have been from almost any supplier in the industry. It's another example of the major players in this industry failing the retailer, and in the long run failing itself.

    Those who are receiving speaking fees, will naturally defend their sponsors, but I hope they will also be objective about helping to change and improve our industry and to have the courage to standup and influence that change.

    The economy is also a problem, but that's temporary, it's out of our control, and it's not exclusive to our industry. In fact, there's a substantial pot of gold at the end of this recession for the well-prepared businesses who hang around. When home sales resume, there will be substantial demand and fewer competitors.

    As for the businesses who failed, I have compassion for their owners, though their failure was for the most part inevitable. People who think that learning how to put four sticks together, and figuring out how to cut holes in colored paper makes them a framing business deserve their fate. We spend too much time being frame snobs who judge people by the backing paper they use rather than how little backing they provide to their fellow framers.

    When people fail, and most of us, including this poster, have at one time or another, they should learn from it and move on with their life instead of reliving your failure. The shops "dropping like flies" are moslty the ones whose owner sits around talking about shops dropping like flies. Had these people put as much effort and time into their business as they do yucking it up in chat rooms. Their habits after failure leave little doubt as to the cause of their failure.

    Yes, our industry has problems, but they are moslty solveable if only people would begin working together for the greater good rather than simply look at how much money can I make today.

    The suppliers, publishers, manufacturers, the PPFA and retailers need to recognize that we are all on the same team and that if we don't improve the whole, the parts will wither and fail. Either the PPFA, or Larson-Juhl or some other major player needs to show some initiative and we need to encourage them to do so. I'd love to see the PPFA create a task force that includes members of major suppliers such as LJ, Roma, CMI, Fletcher-Terry and others and get the ball rolling.
  23. Maryann

    Maryann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Steph, I said that I totally AGREED with Tim's last statement.
    I agree that too many owners are blaming M's for all their problems instead of taking care of their own business.

    In December when I was writing my business plan for 2009, I posted a thread on the Grumble asking fellow G's if they had any marketing ideas that have worked for them. There were about two replies, the thread died then it was revived a little later and there were a few more ideas. Granted what works for one person may not work for another but sometimes it triggers another avenue that you can take to get new customers. (Tim's idea of framing greeting cards at a great price point is something I need to mull over).

    In contrast, put a thread on the Grumble about the evil one and you get one hundred plus responses. Yep, Tim's right. We spend way too much time blaming someone else for our woes and not enough to improve our own business.

    And in answer to your question, Steph, right now I consider the economy and the media to be our biggest problem. The economy is bad but the media is harping on it so much, it has everyone paralyzed.
  24. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    That is a very important point, what works for me will not work for everyone. Remember I have much more traffic than many here since I am in a mall and I have adapted to the changing market to add more home decor and gift type items so there are more reasons for someone to walk into my store. A typical frame shop does not have amount of people walking into their shop in a year that I have in a month.

    THe key is to know your market and adapt to it.
  25. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God


    It's been my small shop experience that the purchase cost of closed corner samples through show specials, 2fers, and rebate plans have been easily recovered from all of the suppliers that I have used - LJ Concerto, Abe Munn, Regence, Thanhardt-Burgher, Wesley Allen, Joe's Elegant Frames, and a small selection of American choice. because of my sales, I have received some freebies, too. I've also gone a little further and framed sample art (with negotiated discounts) in closed corner frames. The bottom line results are absolutely worth the expense.
  26. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Mow many Closed Corner samples you hanging now Pat. Both the number of corners and the number of framed pieces.
  27. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    110 corners and 12 framed pieces. The most productive are a pair of 9x12 plein-aire paintings in $1000 Abe Munn American Expressionist frames. I have sold 6 of those frames by showing the samples. The frames are low risk - my painter paints in standard sizes - the paintings can go without the frames and be easily replaced. The ooh! and aah! factor is fun with those pieces.
  28. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    What do you guess your average cost per corner sample to be. Since these things vary so much maybe break them into 2 groups.
  29. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    You make a plea to industry to work together and at the same time righteously rip apart and dismiss an important segment of any suppliers customer base.

    Example: A growing market for any supplier are photographers who buy chop and join. Do you really see the suppliers as rip offs or the photographers as stupid.

    Part of our problem as an industry is that we're stuck in an old business model and unable to see viable options for future business.

  30. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Too much work for today. The basic price of most samples is the 1' retail for a 1' sample (2' of moulding). My most expensive is a 4 1/2" LXV carved corner Munn that retails for $314 a foot - sample purchased in a 50% off a discounted package price deal. A large number were purchased in 50% deals, some with rebates, but maybe 25% were freebie rewards as a result of sales. Shop frames were 10-20% off wholesale. The most important thing for me has been to learn the styles that sell best in my Antique Center location. The traditional Munn type antique reproductions are bread and butter. But, Regence, whose basic line is more NJ/NY Italian Chic, has a line of stunning antiqued, carved, wood finished frames with 22k gold "remain" and accents, that are perfect for many of my customers.
  31. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Only have a quick minute to respond, I'll catchn up on hte thread later. I completely misread that Maryann,....sorry about that. I will say that this industry has suffered from chronic whining.

    Now I have to try and get my car started. Bob, not using his head try to back my vehicle through the pile of snow at the bottom of the drive from the plows and then tried to force it out. Now my car won't even turn over. Ask me just how pissed I am right now. :fire::fire::fire: I have to see if I can figure out where the solenoid is so I can see if it's just snow pack.

    Hopefully Google will keep me out of jail.....Grrrrr
  32. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Doug, I wouldn't consider a photographer a custom frameshop. I think we're talking about two very different businesses.
  33. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Not any more. Photographers around here have moved framing to their front windows. Neon custom framing signs. Front window sample walls that are spotlight through the night. One has a framing area that is bigger than one of my whole stores. The last time I inquired at a new location the landlord told me that the photo studio held an exclusive for picture framing. The PMA owns the PPFA, the photo stores are trying to own the market now. Welcome to 2009! :)
  34. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Paul

    I think Doug has some valid points

    May I suggest that we ask the consumer that had their photo "framed" at the photographer's shop if they considered him a "custom framer" or if the project qualified as a custom framing job

    Two things are obvious

    The consumer couldn't care less and there is another project that will not be coming to a "custom frame" shop

    The missing component continues to be the failure to recognize why the consumer continues to look for alternatives to what most of us consider a "traditional" custom frame shop

    I am out of the Research Loop so I can not speak definitively, but for the 5 years prior we continued to see "shifts" away from the "traditional" model where in 2006 (base year; last year I studied) the Big Five BB's had a larger market share than all the independents combined. Without data (therefore making me just another jerk with an opinion) I would suggest that shift has not changed, but probably increased.

    Until we cure the reason for that shift, the rest of the argument is pretty pedestrian

    We need to provide what it is that the consumer wants, at a price the consumer wants, as conveinently as the customer wants-All at a price that allows us to be profitable

    Without those basic tenets, all we really have accomplished is to remain self-employed
  35. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    yes bob,

    convenience--one stop shopping and speed--and price.

    i know nothing about printing or equipment but adding photo services is one obvious answer if one could capture market share which would not work on standard sized internet orders. the photo shops, as we see at PMA are having a hard time as well and are framing as a side business to increase revenue, as are the phoographers.

    new world--yes. my theory is to be the best at what you do in your area--price, selection, service, speed with some sort of specialty. skill unfortunately would not rank as high in the average customer's mind. i'm talking about the average of all customers, not the select few who visit the average custom frame shop.
  36. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    you are paul, but the photo of the kids can easily be put in a ready made frame with no fuss and bother. the african rug, no. but what's more common?

    the answer here is so obvious. if the customer wants speed, price, and convenience it is up to us to provide multiple options for just that. throw in extra service that a frame shop can provide, and you probably have a winner. be the best at doing just that. can you imagine a frame shop as clean and spacious as the better bbs with all that ready made selection, great prices, and a freindly and efficient staff to fit on demand, wrap, and take it to the car? awesome!
  37. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    We have a photo processing and equipment store on the same street, and they refer us a lot of business. We try to return the favor. They are getting hammered right now by changes in their industry. Someone will come into their store, have one of their salesmen spend 30 minutes explaining the features of a particular piece of equipment, and then the customer will go home and order it online for a few pennies (or more than that) less. People are using digital media rather than film, and printing directly from their home printer on those few occasions they actually print. Or they upload the jpegs to an online photo processor who does the printing.

    I am not that worried about photography stores moving into custom framing, because their own business is on its deathbed.
  38. Elaine

    Elaine SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    If I'm not mistaken, it is a crime and should be reported to the attorney general. KB Toys tried to get away with that and got their hands slapped and have to honor the gift cards - they are filing bankruptcy. This just happened in NY, so I'm not sure if they were doing business in another state and got slapped there.

  39. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey PaulSF

    The photographer was an analogy, not a root cause

    The "death bed" comment was curious as there are many similarities between our industries
  40. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    We put this sign in our front window a few years back. May be time to resurrect it:












    Canal has donated over $xxxxx since 1999 to local causes, AND we have spent well over $xxxxx in Merrickville on rent, wages, and the purchase of goods and services.

    10. We appreciate your business.

    I XXed out the numbers because they haven't been updated lately. If you total up what you've donated, and what you spent locally since you've been in business, you'll be shocked. Kinda like George Bailley - what would life be like without your business?
  41. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God


    i would like to know more about how you do this:


    what percentage take you up on this?
    is there an advantage to having the consumer back in your shop to pick up?
    mileage limit?
    size limit?
    do you hang it when you get there?
    do you have a delivery day?
    extra staff to deliver?
    insurance for delivery?
    special van or truck?
    how many are you delivering per week?
    you must write the costs into your orders, yes?

    we write so many low ticket orders i can't imagine incurring this expense. perhaps your average sale is much higher.
  42. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    I wonder if they always deliver every one, or if that's just their official policy. We have a standing free delivery policy, too, but interestingly only about a half dozen folks a year take us up on it. Usually if the framing is oversized, a large number of pieces or the customer is elderly and frail. Otherwise, people seem to like coming into our shop and having the experience of oohing and aahing over it when they pick up. It works great for us to have this policy, but I know it's because we're in a small town and people don't ask us to do it too much.

    There might be people on here who say, "You should advertise the policy so people come to your shop rather than the others." I like it this way, though. People already do come to us rather than the others, and our regular customers seem to enjoy the fact that we offer it even though they prefer to come in and pick up. It allows us to maintain it as a service but not incur great cost from doing so. Someone in a more competitive urban market could use a lot of fuel trying to maintain such a service, and it would only be a good idea if your prices were kept high enough to cover such a value added service.
  43. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Shayla

    Count me as one that thinks you ought to promote/advertise that feature also

    That is a powerful advantage

    In this (actually, any) environment powerful advantages are those types of "tipping points" that really do make one choose one over another

    If I could pull that off, it would be on every thing we had
  44. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

  45. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    I know, and your point is well taken. But how do you actually provide such a service to every customer while still running a tiny shop and make any money? Wouldn't you agree that the prices would have to be even higher to make up for it? I like it that our customers think of it as one of our services that's available, but still usually prefer to come into the shop. They enjoy their experience here so much that it's part of why they bring their framing to us in the first place. I honestly thing that if most of our customers couldn't have this 'unveiling' experience at pick-up, they'd feel disappointed. This desire on their part to come back in allows us to offer the delivery service but not go broke trying to provide it to everyone.
  46. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm not sure that anything can be called a “policy” if nobody knows about it?

    I have been carefully contemplating that independent photographers. Doesn't it seem odd how they have every reason to fail and yet they out number frame shops in my phone book 20 to 1. I see many similarities in the way we do business. Different yes but still the same animal.

    They don't do any co op this or that.
    They don't rely on any national advertising for the industry.
    They have competition from every Sears and even Walmart in the country (remember when we were freaked out about walmart framing?)
    Their competitors are aggressively marketing PRICE with seemingly an unlimited advertising budget. A family portrait will cost about 1/10 at their competitors.
    Their main tool, the digital camera, is about as inexpensive and available as ever before.

    I have talked to many photographers who are down and crying the blues too. Still that industry is strong even in this economy and at a time when framers are dropping like flies. If I had to put a house payment on the line, I'd say photographers eat better than framers.

    I also don't get the feeling they have an opinion one way or another about their BB competitors. My own grandmother (let alone plenty of my customers) bring up Hobby Lobby and they are shock that I can stay open with competition like them. I can't say that a single photographer has even mentioned Walmart's photography studio. They certainly don't fret the way framers do our BB's.
  47. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    I wouldn't either.

    But I also wouldn't refer to my entire base of return customers as 'nobody', which is what this statement seems to infer. They are the somebodies who keep our doors open, and the fact that they know about this service but choose to only use it now and then is a win/win for both them and us. It isn't the only value added service we offer, but it's a handy one in that it gives them a good feeling about us without costing us too much. Are there services that some of you other Grumblers offer that succeed because of this same balance? I'm curious to know.

    Aside from that point, I agree that when you have a service you want to both offer and fulfill for everyone, it's a good idea to shout it from the rooftops.

    Jay, your comment about photographers is a thought-provoking one. It's an astute observation, and one that speaks to current changes in how things are processed. In our town, there used to be more photography shops, but now that a lot of our local photo guys have their own printer set-ups, these seem to have thinned out. Then you get the ones who pop up and seem to be doing great until the day they close a year or two later. As more people move to home based printing, I wonder how many of these photography shops will stay open. Am guessing that it's going to be the ones who do as you do, by diversifying with other services.
  48. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    You are correct Elaine. This is a restraint of trade and it exposes both the landlord and tennent to potential litigation. However, usually just a letter from an attorney is all that's needed to remedy the situation.
  49. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God


    We're 40 miles from a million people, so to get their business, we deliver back to them free. There are a few limitations - no delivery to the extreme ends of Ottawa.

    Either my wife or I are in town two or three times a week, and we schedule deliveries for whenever we travel. With three kids and two soccer teams and swimming, and a wife who works in Ottawa, we're always close to our customers. No extra insurance. We don't hang. Low-to-medium percentage. We plan ahead, and integrate deliveries with commutes or kids' activities.

    Some of the customers bring other pieces if they return to pick up. Happened today for some RMs.

    This policy has gained us a huge amount of customers, and repeat business, from Ottawa, since 1999.

    We also identified areas where we get the most customers, and advertise to these areas.

    Our town is the weekend getaway for Ottawa, and we capitalize on this. In preparation for '09 marketing, we asked our art suppliers where we rank in terms of purchases, and we're the second largest art seller between Toronto and Montreal. We're the top seller in Canada of McGaw's Angelina Wrona print-on-demands. More on this later.

    If we didn't have a hook to nail Ottawa clientele, we'd be dead.
  50. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    That was a very well thought out post Paul and I agree with everything you said. It is very obvious that you have put a lot of thought into our problems as an industry.

    I really thought you had a good solution with the group advertising. I really hate that it did not get traction.
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