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NY Attorney General Fines Michaels Stores!

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by FraminFool, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    Take all of your work to the guy who is doing 60% off and then you can make a profit without any of the work.:thumbsup:
  2. MabSadie2

    MabSadie2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Actually, Nic, he/she has a point.

    Custom anything usually has an off the shelf component to it too. We all want the customers who say, "I have this, work your magic," but in the world of "I know what I like when I see it," those other things are very motivating. It's a way to get people beyond the metal frame and single mat at least.

    Most craftspeople are also retailers. They need marketshare too. My earlier comments about people who actually DON'T like to shop apply here too. They may not like 1K choices, but they have money. We can guide them through the process, but it takes confidence on their part to say, "YES THAT" whereas preframed things settle those choices for them. It's about having something for every part of your potential customer pool, I'd say.
  3. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    While the main LIFE site is down as I transition it over from MSOL. I have a temp. redesigned site up now. (There are some broken links that are being fixed from the transistion) However on the resources page, you will find the NY Attorney Generals statement and at the bottom is a link to share it on social networking sites. http://www.localpictureframer.com/Beware-of-Phoney-Discounts.html
  4. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The key is to advertise to fit the reader/viewer/listener ...

    In the local free magazine, I advertise price and it works.

    In the local glossy architectural, garden magazine, you would advertising ... "I can make you something unique that your friends will envy." Becasue that's what they want!

    Advertising in a needleart pub, you say how much you care for their work and how careful you are with it. Maybe advertise credentials.

    In an antique pub, you might emphasize preservation.

    General local newspaper, price is king. NOT necessarily % off.

    One local furniture store advertised we have "Under Prices" and never mentioned $ or % at all. The y made it clear that their Under Prices were very competitive.

    There are lots of ways to skin the cat, but if you are using the wrong message for where you're advertising, you're the one getting skinned.
  5. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ive thought of that, but they don't have a computerized mat cutter, I cut mats for them once in a while, and their work is 60% off, lol. jk, They really do decent work. i think they have somewhat of the idea of Jeff. Jeff does great work!! I wasn't sure what i was going to find when i visited him since he does so much, but he does a good job. :)
  6. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    So EVERYTHING you do is different and unique???

    we all make 4 sticks of wood and some coloured cardboard into something that looks nice

    lets face it, what we do is not generally rocket science and generally aint gonna kill anyone

    so why make it more complicated than it needs to be

    PLEASE explain to me what is custom then, show me the difference between dozen frames you make tomorrow.
  7. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

  8. MabSadie2

    MabSadie2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well now you've lost me. Good framing takes an "eye" just like photography.

    Is your photography not unique or special because ALL you did was point and click?

    Show me how your photograph is custom compared to this polaroid I took of my toilet.


    Now I suggest we simmer down.
  9. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Custom made is custom made. Be it a dress a suit, curtains or a picture frame, if it is made to order/made to fit, it is custom. That custom suit could be made from the same pattern and fabric as 1000 others, but if it were made to fit you then it was custom made. :sleep:
  10. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    D ude..... what world are you from?? YOU USE CARDBOARD?? :shrug:

    CUSTOM....... as in.... you (FRAMER)..... make picture frame and matting... DESIGN....... . CUSTOMIZED to what your customer needs/wants/desires......


    I care about what comes in my shop...... and what it looks like when I'm finished with it...... ALONG with meeting the customers WANTS and price.
    How's that COMPLICATED?
    Thats custom buck0.......... want me to keep going? :popc:
  11. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    HA. this from a framer. do you give great prices because its 4 pieces of wood and some cardboard?
  12. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    sorry but i just dont agree

    design is design and thats fine, i agree.

    but if you get 5 orders tomorrow and your design all use the same moulding, and the same cardboard (what is mountboard if it ain cardboard) then what is custom about them anymore than 5 customers buying the same frame design from the wall

    thats what i offer, most photographers all want basically the same thing

    and yes if someone wants something different then fine.

    all i can say is it works for me, and each to their own

    like i said earlier my business has grown hugely, and i still have a full order book

    enough to pay 3 of us a very good salary

    and my suggestions were ment to help people who say they are struggling with business.

    as this is important, this is a business, NOT a hobby. so if it doesnt make money what the #### you doing it for. good design with no work doesnt put food on your table!!
  13. MabSadie2

    MabSadie2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    When I cut my leftovers into readymades, I always make them in typical portrait sizes. So I have no problem with that. I'd probably rather sell one of those and make a tidy profit than spend a 1/2 hour designing with somebody who's looking for something cheap and fast.

    But most custom frame shops have hundreds of samples on the walls, so what we're doing is different.

    I took your comments as trying to be helpful.

    You might want to rethink "cardboard." We don't really do that. Inert materials are preferred. Cardboard is like framing diabetes.
  14. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hard to say what you do, nothing is revealed in your profile.

    Most all of us are out here publicly. There are some hugely talented framers artistically and successful in the business sense here. I would tread softly before you step in toes.

    Please take some time and fill out your profile stcstc.
  15. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Now THAT is funny! :)
  16. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    out of those hundred of samples on the wall, how many get used more than once a week?
    or actually a better question is how many have been used in the past 6 months?

    clever busines is ditch the stock of all of the ones that havent been used in the past 6months and leave the samples on the wall, when someone wants one of them, order it in for them

    as it costs a fortune to keep that stock for sooo long.

    look at the local supermarkets etc, they wont want stuff on the shelf for 6 months would they

    as for the cardboard, ok i know i am over simplifying it, but it really is just fancy cardboard, and yes i used approx 500 sheets a month
  17. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Boy has this thread taken a frankenturn ;)

    stcstc, I would say that most of us that stock any length, only stock that which sells well and do special order the rest.

    stcstc, what kind of fancy cardboard are you using? papermat, I assume.
  18. MabSadie2

    MabSadie2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have about 30 frames that are my top sellers. They're what I like and you sell what you show. The other frames may only sell once or twice a year but the fact that I sell them means that's why the customer came here - for selection.

    I don't have to stock it, I buy it when it's ordered from me.

    I can't TELL you how many customers I have that come here because they couldn't find a single frame they liked in the 75 choices or so from the local BB.

    So as I said earlier, it's about having something for everyone in your potential customer pool. Your customer pool is your own photography, so it makes sense what you do. My customer pool is your photography, all of your competitors photography, artists of all genres, anybody who collects art, fishing lures, old records, whatever, and people who scrapbook their walls. I need choices for them.

    Perhaps YOU don't like choices. You sell what you show, as I said.
  19. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    sorry i didnt make it clear, my customer pool is pro and semi pro photographers, not me. although i take photos, i dont sell them at all

    fancy cardboard yes, i use daler board, get a very good deal as a buy enough

    and yes i have access to i dunno over 2 or 3 thousand mouldings from my main 3 supplier, so i do the same, although what i do is only keep about 10 -12 mouldings in stock, the ones i use every day. everything else comes special order
  20. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The fact that you sell a PRODUCT...... and not a SERVICE along with it.....
    Still gets my panties in a bunch.... :popc:

    Most framers have 100's of samples and a few they stock because its cheap and easy. SERVICE, DESIGN and SELECTION...... personalized for that customer.... TO WHAT THEY WANT.
  21. MabSadie2

    MabSadie2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Thanks for clarifying.

    Why do you think what you do isn't really custom? Is it because it's specifically neutral photography framing? Daler has two colors, I thought, white and offwhite. Are they all typically standard sizes?

    I certainly think what I do is custom. I spend about 3-10x as much time on the guts of a shadowbox than I do making and fitting the frame. Also a fair amount of themed framing, art nouveau frames for old biscuit prints and that sort of thing. They're all utterly random sizes, down to the 1/32".

    I do services and products. You want an 8 x 10? I have those, they are products. Do you want me to fit that for you and finish out the back? That's a service.
  22. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    i think we are talking about the same thing

    i just have a very focussed market, which allows me to slim down my offering

    sorry if it got panties in a bunch, not my intention

    what i was trying to explain was if your smart about it, and pro active. then you can fill the order book

    my opinion is that the want for art from customers is declining as photography becomes waaaay more accessable. so for framers personally i think the growing market is photography

    I was talking to the MD of one of the biggest suppliers in the UK a couple of weeks ago, he told me their turnover is broken down 20 traditional materials to traditional framers, and 80% non traditional materials to framers like me, that print, laminate, mount etc. which does tell me my opinion is correct

    sorry for going on, what i am trying to say is to gain work, if things are tuff, be smarter, look at things from business, not just the art of framing

  23. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    sorry its not that i dont think its custom or whatever. its i dont put much strength it in, and put more in what sells and how to sell it

  24. MabSadie2

    MabSadie2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I concur.

    I am seeing a definite uptick in photography of the very personal kind, such as portraits and landscapes the customer shot themselves. Marketed photography I see just as often as print art.

    I would say that shift is more to personal over generic. Limited editions prints have bottomed out, whereas it used to be a huge chunk of our business. People are realizing they were part of a bubble, I think. But original art, portrait photography and highly sentimental items have filled the gap.
  25. couture's gallery

    couture's gallery PFG, Picture Framing God


    I'm reminded of the old advertising information I used to tell my clients in mt ad agency

    " you can give away $100.00 bills all day long, but if nobody knows about it you won't have to give away very many ."

    Advertising pays...you just to do the right advertising.
  26. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    One of the biggest advantages today is you can direct customers to your website. That wasn't the case for the years you were in it. Just have to give them a reason to care about checking it out. I like to use 3 offers in ads to reach as many different consumers as possible.
  27. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Know Your Enemy

    Michaels' annual report is here:


    In 2010 they sold 28 million feet of molding, and six million mats. Reading through their threat analysis, we independent framers don't rate a mention, although "promotion regulation" does.

    They are vertically integrated. They have good managers, lawyers, marketers.

    To fight Michaels, we need the same. Seeing as how PPFA won't support their independent framers, we need an organization that does. We need to finance a core group to develop a common identity like those hardware chains. LIFE is a really good start. We need a common marketing approach. The NY AG has handed us a big, big weapon that we should be flogging to exploit a major weakness in Michaels' marketing. Opportunities to expose "duping of consumers" come along once in a lifetime. We need legal advice on how far we can push this.

    I don't know about you, but I want those customers back.
  28. FraminFool

    FraminFool True Grumbler

    It seems that this thread has fallen off course a bit. My original post tried to highlight how a little tenacity can help neutralize the false advertising of an aggressive competitor, and it has evolved into heated discussions of who's a better framer and what kind of ads work best. The fact is that "false" advertising works best - and it's working against legitimate framers. The real discussion should be about what else we can do to stop the other culprits.
  29. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Just to clue you in, I think the bristling at your postings are because you are looking at framing as a business not the "craft" of framing. It's kinda how the industry has run itself. I have to say how funny it is to see how animated people get when discussing any element of framing. It is hard to switch gears and look at it as a business. I wonder if you were a framer first? Or a business person who became a framer? It's easier to teach a business person to frame than to teach a framer to run a business. I'm living proof.
  30. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    yes i agree

    i do look at this as a business, if i dont, i cant put food on the table

    its them same in a lot of businesses, photographers for example, some people become great photographers but are rubbish at business, and so they fail, or struggle

    thats what i was trying to get across, if you only look at the craft, your going to struggle, and you know what if you run you Business like that then dont complain things are hard

    if your run as a business then commercial descisions help keep food on the table
  31. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    What our trade association can do to support the industry

    There is one thing the PPFA can do that could have a significant impact in helping the many thousands of small businesses in our industry. It will cost next to nothing.

    The PPFA needs get involved in helping protect its industry from the unfair and deceptive advertising and business practices. It can do this very simply and inexpensively by sending letters to every AG in the U.S..

    A letter from our trade association, on its letterhead, will carry far more weight than from individual businesses. And for about $5 each, they can be sent via Priority Mail, providing impact and proof of delivery. This is the absolute minimum that a trade association can do.

    Many of us believe it should have been done years ago, but the PPFA now has a another chance to stand up and for the people of this industry, while also legitimizing itself as a trade association. I believe it also has an obligation as our trade association to support its membership by helping ensure a fair marketplace.

    The window for change has never been opened wider than it is right now. That's why I encourage everyone here, including Kathy, Jim, Pat, Rob, Dave, Kristie, every PPFA officer and member, and everyone who's not a member, despite any differences we may have, to get behind this. Our industry needs a strong trade association, one that doesn't turn its back, but that steps up and helps its member businesses and its industry. The PPFA, as a trade association, has a unique power, but also a responsibility that it must not continue to ignore. I pledge my support and assistance and hope you will all do the same. Let's not let this rare window of opportunity close.

    Thanks in advance.
  32. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Perhaps you would like to bring that up for discussion/consideration on the PPFA forum (Framer's Corner) at www.ppfa.com
  33. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Good one, Mike!
  34. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Just FYI, I sent a letter (electronic - only thing they accept now) to the Attorneys General of the six New England states two years ago signed by me as President of the New England Chapter of the PPFA. The response from all was essentially (not in these words, but you'll get the idea.), "We respond to reports based on volume of requests. We're very busy. Multiple responses increase the potential for action. Consumers have priority over related entities."

    Essentially, you're incorrect in a lot of your assumptions.
  35. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Now that I have had something framed from M's. I am now one of their customers, and I have contacted a local TV station and their consumer reports section.

    i used the NY states decision as basis for my complaint. I told them I was a customer as well as a local frame shop owner who is concerned about the false advertising they are running, and how the corporate giants advertising is hurting us little guys.

    I also said I could get some of my customers in on it if she needed.

    I also said their advertising gets into my customers heads as well as in they need to try them out to see if we can really get a better deal... and that was a HUGE problem because that shouldn't even be in their heads at all. The name M's sure.. no problem.

    That their advertising does what it is doing, and consumers aren't saving anything... and as a consumer myself I want my real 50% off. lol.

    I figured if my friend could get on television over a 35 cent fee a popeys was charging, this would make a much better story since people are losing much more money to M's.
  36. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    It is nice of you to give PPFA another chance to legitimize itself for you, and the trade association must be very pleased that you finally want to pledge your support and assistance.

    When do you plan to discuss your suggestion with them personally? Be sure to let us know how it comes out.
  37. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Since it's hard to be really smarmy without a lot of confidence in the result, judging from a couple of the responses I'd say that you're doomed. Nice try though.
  38. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    That's hardly a reason to give up. Schneiderman has changed the game and given us a window of opportunity.
  39. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Laugh it up Chuckles.
  40. wvframer

    wvframer MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Name calling, even of a mild sort, seems inappropriate.
  41. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    A week ago I posted a huge copy of the press release in our front window, which gets a lot of foot traffic - tourists, mainly. Since then there have been lots of comments directed to us, all positive. Word is getting out, and some of the comments we've received have been that Michaels is very expensive.

    Everything helps.
  42. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    And not only are they expensive, but they deceive you into thinking the price would be twice as expensive if only it wasn't On Sale.
  43. EllenAtHowards

    EllenAtHowards PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not that this would apply to you, I am sure, but let me tell you of the custom magic I perform on some of the photos, which the customer has paid huge bucks for, and want custom framed.

    I crop out the electrical outlet in the photo next to the groom. I crop out the 1/2" of curtain that shows on the right.. I center the photo so that banister on the stairway doesn't have 4 balusters on one side and 7 on the other. Did I mention the fluorescent light fixture on the ceiling?

    You see, in order to make the photo 16 x 20, a photographer has to include more than should be included. A custom framer can fix that by using matting (cardboard, as you say) and producing a frame that is, perhaps, 20 3/4" by 26 1/2".

    That is what a custom framer does. And if the mother of the bride wants me to frame 5 of them for her family, then each one is custom.

    But sometimes, if the photographer has done a good job, then I can custom frame to 22 x28, or even 16 x 20.
  44. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    actually, no

    fixing the photo is the photographers job

    although yes i can do that if i want, having used photoshop for 15 years since version 1. something

    and generally mother of the bride inst going to come to me, as they have to get the permission from the photographer who owns the piece

    and if you make 5 the same how are they all custom???

    my point was, if you want to deal with the bix box companies, thats how they look at things, not the craft but the business.

    I dont see whats wrong with approaching a business in that way?
  45. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    interesting turn for this thread. I agree with both of you depending on the circumstance.

    Normal photos its the job of the framer in a way to do so at the will of the customer.

    if your paying 2 to 3 grand for a professional id say its their job to get the photos right.
  46. FraminFool

    FraminFool True Grumbler

    Once again, I'd like to try to keep this thread on track. The core issue is the use of deceptive advertising by Big Box competitors, and what we - as independents - can do to combat it.
    The small victory we saw in my State should only be viewed as a "beginning" NOT "the end"! We should start by recognizing that it was our "independence" that left the door open for this maneuver by the BBs - and it will only be our unity that will beat it. I'd like to hear more about what we can do collectively and less about what we are doing as individuals.
  47. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    contact your local consumer news reporter.

    see if they want anything to do with it to shed light on the subject in your state.

    they should love it since its a corporation vs little guy.
  48. Miranda Smith

    Miranda Smith CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Interesting to read that the AG departments give priority to consumers over related entities. I recently met with our Director for Consumer Protection (as they are called here)and he mentioned that although they take note of the volume of complaints about a particluar matter, they also respect a business's competitors lodging complaints. He said a fair percentage of successful actions occur as a result of the competitors notifying them of things. He said they get very few vexatious competitor complains (and he takes a very dim view of those he gets) but that competitors know what is happening in the industry and are in a good position to know when something is not right.
  49. FraminFool

    FraminFool True Grumbler

    Actually, my local newspaper (Albany NY Times Union) TOTALLY ignored the Attorney Generals' press release. I found it unbelievable that the only newspaper in the Capital City of the State that the AG resides in didn't even give a small mention of the action.
    I've taken them to task on this with letters to their Business Editor, as well as submitting a letter to their open forum Editorial Page. In both cases, I mentioned the temptation to draw a connection between advertising revenue and what gets printed (or not printed!)in their paper.
    No replies or results yet.
  50. FraminFool

    FraminFool True Grumbler

    Well Kudos to your Government! Sounds like they are looking at the situation the way we wish our States would. Query - has anything come of a "framing" complaint down there?
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