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New Concept Michaels Stores

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by DTWDSM, Apr 22, 2009.


    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

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  2. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I realise it's a "concept". But it looks like a 10 by 10 craft fair booth in a warehouse.
  3. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    It looks too upscale for the image they've been building as the low-cost discount framer. I wonder how many people will approach that area, take one look at how sumptuous it looks, and turn around and leave.
  4. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Look at the rest of the pictures. I've not been in to many Michaels but those stores look to be a step in a different direction. I believe that a great looking shop can to a long way toward ELIMINATING price resistance. Before people crack the door open or you ever greet them, they have determined what they think a project should cost. The idea is meeting or coming in just under that expectation. By really sprucing up the look of the frame department, it will probably make them seem even more "inexpensive" than their aggressive marketing already does.

    When the opposite happens the whole thing falls apart.
  5. GreenTea

    GreenTea CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I agree! It reminds me of the "health food" section of Raley's. You go from normal grocery, to extra expensive grocery - from linoleum floor to polished wood. Deceptive advertising will always be successful with some people - frankly if I wasn't in the biz I would be misled by the 50% off concept, and probably not deterred by the polished look.
  6. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    And that could be the problem. A nice high end looking dept with price that are 50 - 60 - 70% off. OFF What you say? Well of course off of that dumpy little store down the street.

    Like one of the other recent threads asked. What image does your shop portray. More than ever we all need to consider that question.
  7. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    It's actually a pretty inviting look. They did this to our local stores some time ago, and re did everything with a better layout and better branding. (I posted a photo in an earlier thread. i swear that LOOKS LIKE our local store in your picture!) They also changed the LOGO of the company.

    The framing department is more inviting. No longer do they have the counter as a barrier between the back room and the customer. The customer can walk all around the design counters, and there are large visualization screens on the wall behind each design counter. The customers are able to see the screen of the POS, which is the only thing I didn't like.

    There are more framed examples, instead of just framed posters. Better signage. Lighting is improved, etc. The "halo" over the department makes it more visible from the rest of the store, instead of being hidden against the back wall (and usually vacant).

    The registers up front are re-arranged in a more logical manner, feeding from a single line. Some departments (Beads, etc) have their own registers. Price signage and merchandising are greatly improved, imo.

    We could learn a lot from this worthy competitor, IMO. I don't like the marketing techniques, but the changes are an improvement. :)

  8. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    I can't figure out where the cameras are for the visualization.
  9. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think it looks real nice. Michaels hired the woman who helped kick start Sweetbay Supermarkets. She did a great job with Sweetbay and looks like she's using the same facelift approach for Michaels.
  10. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    The last time I was in ours, a couple months back, they didn't have cameras yet. The large flatscreens were turned on but with a blank (BLUE) screen.

    Perhaps they aren't for visualization, that was just an assumption on my part. I think that's where the industry is heading, though, including big boxes.

  11. Amy McCray

    Amy McCray SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think it looks clean inviting and for those who think M's is a cheapie place, perhaps they are even more inclined to stop and take a look. My hunch is that most customers would prefer doing business at a place which looks tidy, giving them an assurance that their pieces will be treated with care. jmho
  12. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    The 'hanging frame' idea is great. I think I'll make one this weekend from some 5-1/2 inch moulding that's just gathering dust in my warehouse, and suspend it over our main design table.
  13. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Lipstick on a pig.:thumbsup:
  14. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think it's borderline brilliant.

    To wit:



    Pottery barn:


    CB2 (the younger, hipper Crate & Barrel concept)

  15. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    While some of us may feel this is "lipstick on a pig" or the like, I think it's unwise to dismiss this development. It's a trend toward giving an institution with vast marketing muscle more of the ambience and characteristics found in individual shops like ours. This is a wakeup call to maximize the kinds of advantages that small businesses have over corporate behemoths, and to keep your look fresh and inviting.
    :kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
    We're getting new carpeting installed tomorrow.
  16. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    I agree with Rick

    I have been working on slat wall for my engraving area.
  17. JRB

    JRB PFG, Picture Framing God

    As a person who at one time had the job of setting up Aaron Brothers Art Marts from scratch, with next to no help with merchandising ideas from Corporate, it looks pretty darn nice to me.

    I and my assistants, all of us under thirty, would be given the keys to a building and told to get it open and retailing in usually a month. This was our early big box stores. The old La Mesa store was a huge, (to me) empty, 30,000 square foot warehouse. I had myself, Joe Carter, and about five more people to get that behemoth designed, stocked, and in business within a month from the time we were handed the keys.

    I think it was about another year before Corporate got serious about having a more professional design team setting up new stores.

    I have to admit, it was a lot of fun having a completely free hand to do whatever I liked with these buildings. It was also a little terrifying in that I was never given a budget to accomplish these things, just get it done.

    Every time I spent any serious money I would be sweating out my job around the time Len Aaron would be receiving the bill. I don't know why I was worrying, he rarely questioned my decisions. Although every now and then, he would get a little cranky with me, he never gave even hint that my job was in jeopardy, the vice presidents would do that number on me, but not Len.

    It really is hard to design and set up large stores, so I really appreciate seeing well done ones like that new Michaels.

  18. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Looks pretty much like the Aaron Brothers do out here. Most of the newer Michael's, like say in the past 10 years, have had nice looking framing areas. They aren't the messy #### holes you all describe, at least not on the sales floor, some of the back rooms are scary places. Some of the older stores are a little rough. Looks to me they are shifting the Aaron Brothers look to the Michael's stores. Possibly migrating both of them together in the future? I've heard some rumors along those lines anyway.
  19. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    That pig is kicking most people's a$$ in our industry

    Just Sayin'
  20. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    Has anyone else noticed that there is not very many frame samples showing.

    I mean, not as many as usual for a Box store.

    Have they cut back on choices are am I not seeing them all?
  21. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think it looks great. To me, the biggest improvement is the interactive aspect of the layout.

    An upscale look for an indie could scare some people away, but M has already proved to people that they are their prices can't be beat. The upscale look only reinforces to the consumer that they are getting the best possible framing at the lowest possible price.

    BTW, I don't think this is a "concept" as in prototype. It looks fully functional to me, and a lot bigger than a 10x10 booth - more like25 x 25. I could be a study for anyone who thinks they don't have enough space.
  22. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    It still looked like they had the usual 600 or so very basic selection of frames. The picture only shows 2 sides of the framing area.

    Here's another (cell phone cam) photo, of the location closest to our house. It looks cookie cutter exact to the picture above.

    I do think it is an improvement. The lighting and hardwood floors make it feel "warmer". Its not as bright/intense in that section, with the usual sterile sodium lighting. Instead they have halogens on specific items, as a gallery would.

    I think there is a lot to learn from this.


    Attached Files:

  23. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm most curious about the big screen TVs. They are impressive.

    Are they really using them for visualization?

  24. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Proved to who? Your statement is completely false and misleading.

    Most of the independent and franchise framers here, and around the country, have prices that are the same or lower on comparable jobs. All without implying to the customer that they better hurry, because the prices will double after Saturday night.

    Michaels, and to be fair, other national chains, have been deceiving the public for years with their phony sales and deceptive claims. Putting on new clothes won't matter if they don't change what's underneath.
  25. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Paul, you're referring to reality and Dave is referring to perception.

    My customers are always surprised when I beat an M's quote at 50% off.

    People believe they are the cheapest. If they now have the "classiest look" it's a formidable setup. Their new "simple framing" that has secret add-ons may be our best leverage.
  26. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Cliff, that's not what he wrote.
  27. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Apples to apples I'm always 40% below their discounted price. Any customer that walks through my door will never think M's price is anything other than a scam.
  28. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    An important fact to acknowledge is that they are winning the battle of "hearts and minds"

    We may pontificate on the unworthiness of the perception, but no one should ever suggest that is not effective

    One thing for certain is that they are constantly looking for what works better; what resonates with the consumer

    While most of us probably haven't even done little things like change our layouts ever, we do tend to critique and criticize. We are aggressive "competition shoppers". We, too often, have our shoppers come back with detailed information of faults and deficiencies of our competition (that's folks like you and I), when the true nuggest are finding what it is that they do better or newer

    May I suggest we might be wiser to do the same?
  29. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Bob, I'll concede "minds", but not so sure about hearts.
  30. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I have a M's not too far away. My customers in general do not go there. I have quite a few that used to go to M's and are just too happy with me to ever go back there.
    M's would never be able to give the personal service that I can. My customers like to walk in, chat a bit and are starting to rely on my design and color sense. They know they are important to me and I express that by giving each and every one of them my full attention and advise.

    As for the new look? I think it does look nice. I think it's important to make your store inviting and we can learn from that. However, it's the people behind that counter, around that design table, that make the biggest, lasting impression (or not).
  31. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Paul, Cliff is right. I am referring to perception. You may disagree, but I strongly believe that perception IS reality. Therefore to someone who believes that Michaels is the cheapest, they are.
  32. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ok, I'll concede. So that is what, 500? No, let's say 5,000, out of 300,000,000.

    Look - I don't like what they're doing any more than anyone else. We don't sell to them and never will. Every indie they put out of business means less potential business for me. I'm just trying to be realistic.
  33. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    We'll just have to keep spreading the word until we reach the rest.
  34. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

  35. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I posted this so that maybe someone could learn something here...to be successful you have to change with the times.

    What I find interesting is that instead of someone saying they may be on to something, most of what I have seen is people bashing M's and their concept.

    M's probably put more money into reseaching this concept than many here sell in an entire year. It does not matter if you agree or disagree with their pricing strcture, unless you are doing over $750K, I really do not think that you can do anything but learn from what they do.

    When was the last time that you changed the entire look of your business due to the changes in our customer's world? My guess is that most still look the same as they did 10-20 years ago except...some may have a couple different pictures on the wall.
  36. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree Tim, I have made major changes in concept and display 4 times in 18 months. I opened here before I knew the market and have been adjusting my store regularly to match up with the population.
  37. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Mike clears throat :)
  38. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Mike-No surprise that you picked up on the "advantages" of a clearer point of view, my friend

    But, must agree that Tim's point on the criticism is a little wider and certainly more typical

    As Bob sighs

    Paul-Maybe more "minds" than hearts, but conditional behavior comes straight from the mind
  39. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    I believe I may have said something along the lines of the new look being 'borderline brilliant' and may even have given a few visual aids to bolster the statement.
  40. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ok people, if you said something nice then I am not talking about you. Read my post and you will see that I did not say ALL, I said MOST.

    Tim says "seesh" :)

    Adding one more thing...Mike aren't you on Vacation? There has got to be something better to do than the Grumble isn't there? Hope you have a great Vacation!
  41. danny boy

    danny boy PFG, Picture Framing God

    The 'Grumble is my vacation...
  42. danny boy

    danny boy PFG, Picture Framing God

    ...and school.
  43. danny boy

    danny boy PFG, Picture Framing God

    danny boy sighs...
  44. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    I was just making a joke there, about clearing my throat. :)

    Andy heads out tomorrow, my flight is on Sunday. My last day at the full time job was today, but i'll be covering the frame shop alone for the next couple days.

    So i'm technically "still here" :)

  45. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Okay David, thanks for clarifying.

    And BTW, I do agree that the perception of the public is that M's is cheaper. It's up to us to take every opportunity possible to dispell that notion.
  46. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Just because Michaels is big, and sells a lot of framing, doesn't mean they can't make stupid mistakes. Happens ALL the time. Remember New Coke? GM makes more mistakes than cars.

    Michaels has spent a lot of time and money over the years creating a brand in framing. That brand -- that set of expectations -- is that the framing will be a lot less expensive than those shmancy-fancy places. After all, they give you 50% off the inflated prices everyone else charges.

    The concept pictured simply does not fit that brand. I don't have the fanciest store on the planet, but I've had folks come in to the store, look around, and make an immediate assumption that they can't afford framing here. I've also had some very good customers come to me because my place looks nice, and they don't want to trust their artwork to one of those shoddy-looking discount places.

    I think the new concept is going to scare away many of those penny-pinching customers who will take one look at it and assume that they can't afford it. Looks too fancy. They chose to walk into a Michaels instead of my shop because Michaels looks like an inexpensive store, and now it doesn't even look inexpensive anymore. It looks pricey.

    So what is Michaels trying to do with this new store design? Are they just making a New Coke blunder? Are they going upscale, maybe integrating Aaron Brothers into their Michaels stores, as a means of phasing out Aaron Brothers? That actually seems plausible to me. If they bring the Aaron Brothers framing into a Michaels store, they can ditch AB and its expensive real estate.
  47. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Paul, that may be true. I think the perception of a Michael's customer with respect to value is far different when they are quoted a price then it is when they read about the Big Sale in the newspaper.

    I think the typical response is probably, "Is that before the 50%-off?"

    Having a more upscale look probably can't hurt, but I suppose there is a slight chance it could backfire.
  48. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    This is good advice, Bob. I had a negative online review, and the person compared me to Michael's saying I was deficient in one way: At M's he said that there are large displays with clear price choices with examples in each category. When he walked into my store he was confused and did not want to have to ask for prices. I still have not remedied this, but this post reminds me that I need to get to it. I also need to drop in the M's to see what they are up to these days. Most of my customers are not happy with M's but those are the ones who come to us. I need to see what is drawing the rest, besides price.

    Look at the lighting in that Pottery Barn photo!
  49. danny boy

    danny boy PFG, Picture Framing God

    Look at the lighting in that Pottery Barn photo![/quote]

    Cool stuff...
  50. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I have a Michael's 2.5 miles north, a Ben Franklins 4 miles north-west, a Ben Franklins 3 miles east... and I get customers telling me ALL the time "I bring you the good things, but bring the every-day things to Ben Franklins". Many of the other indy frame shops have told me their customers tell them the exact same thing. And in reality, they bring practically all their framing to one of the big box stores, except irreplaceable items, which is what we end up handling most - originals, limited editions, etc.

    I think that Michael's and/or other big boxes sprucing up their locations will only help them.

    Where will the cheaper customers go? ...still to Michaels (and Ben Franklins in our area) because there is no where else they can think to go. They could go to indy frame shops, but those "must be expensive". I think Michael's is trying to attract more affluent customers, and this change will probably help them do that. They won't lose the low end. They'll just gain the middle and upper end.

    I'd say these changes are something to pay close attention to.
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