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"Positively" Out on a Whim!

Emibub

PFG, Picture Framing God
Okay, here goes. The Framerguy feared I was getting whiny so I thought I would put out a positive post about my store. Don't want to be whiny. I am however at this point very frustrated due to the lack of holiday sales. Although, I did take 6 orders after I posted my lack of business yesterday afternoon. But my December sales have a lot of catching up to do to beat last year......

Anyway, positive thoughts about Out on a Whim........

After nearly caving in this spring I decided I would do whatever I could to just hang on until fall and hope for a busy fall season. Well, I did much better than hang on. Each month since May has been up over last years business. June September and November in particular were off the charts, for my little operation anyway.

I have not taken on any new debt this year. I haven't really paid any debt down, but the store has paid for itself.

I took on a new accountant who doesn't know this but, I nicknamed him "The Bulldog". He is much more aggressive in making sure I am in compliance and explains as he goes along. He just recently told me it looks like I should break even this year. This is a good thing, maybe next year I'll get paid?

Somebody very smart told me he felt my biggest problem getting people in the store was my signage, so out with the old.....


.....in with the new. Ain't she purty?


I think this alone was my best move this year. I attempted to get the sign reworked when I first bought the store but it was a fortune and I din't know the importance at the time. I think I have noticed an influx of some new business. People who haven't been in before who aren't waving coupons in their hands. I know the results of the sign may not be that apparent but over time I am confident it will make a big impact.

I think I have finally made all the cosmetic changes to the store until I can relocate. The main one being redoing my design counter. The old one was too high at 38". I decided that desk height(29") was more comfortable for the customers. It in fact has been, it works well. Plus I had two 40x72 tables made instead of one big one. That way they are modular. Right now I have them next to each other but I have had them in an L and even a T shape. The important part is they are more customer friendly, they are open which creates the feeling of space and I can now help two people at once.



I also have added some fun tables for looks........




I have also started putting up panels for my corner samples. I have taken 4x8 pressed board and covered them in velcro black and mounted them to the wall. I then have taken nice moulding and framed the panels. I managed to get some more than reasonable prices on the mouldings since they are being used as displays and I need like 30 feet per panel. This looks so cool, I wish I had a picture of the first two I did. But alas, my digital camera seems to have vanished..........but it looks very finished and professional. Doing the panels this way is narrowing down the amount of samples I carry but I have close to 2,000 and have decided I need to narrow my focus as I go along.

Which brings me to my next positive thought. I have narrowed my focus on moulding companies. I am concentrating on my local vendors to save shipping costs. I also have worked out pricing incentives with all my vendors as a result of narrowing my focus. I have been waiting to have bigger numbers before approaching them on discounts. But, since I decided to narrow my focus and gave them more wall space I felt my numbers weren't necessarily an issue. It worked out for all of us. I get better pricing, they get more wall space and increased sales and I have the added confidence that they must see some glimmer of possibility in me and my store for future profits. This is a good thing.

I have reworked the hideously small back room with a small vertical rack to accomodate a small amount of length and built a couple new storage areas. I have also done what I can to update my hopelessly overused equipment. I have finally mastered my underpinner(what the heck was I afraid of?) Little things here and there to make me more efficient. If I am destined to work alone, I have to make it easier and faster.

This November I sent out a postcard mailing to my existing customers and I feel it was quite successful. It is amazing how many people said they had been meaning to come in........next year I plan on sending out 4 mailings. In fact I am just this week trying to work up some copy for the Roma postcards.


All that being said.....I am still in the fight of my life. I need results now, as I am running out of time. I feel like I have tried to make the best of a horrific situation. I'm still not quite sure what prompted me to even get into this, I guess the universe handed me something to do with my life and I am trying to make something out of nothing. If I can dig out of this incredibly deep, lonely hole it will all be worth it in the end. No amount of consolation or life experience gained will make it worth what I have been through if I fail. I haven't even allowed myself to consider the possibility of quitting because I think it would force me into inaction. I have to keep looking forward, no sideways glances or God forbid don't look down. :eek: I'd collapse for sure.

I have glimmers of progress and it is exciting, I have a good idea of what I need to do. I like this idea of being a retailer. I like the whole cause and effect as you watch people responding to what you have created. I've learned a lot, I've come far. My hands are tied financially which is keeping me going on a larger scale marketing wise. That is maddening. I am taking little bits and pieces and trying to make a whole business. I hope there is the possibility that I can grow and recover from this bad start. Otherwise why keep trying.

I hope this doesn't sound like whining. This store means a lot to me. I will be devastated if I don't get a chance to really make this work. I am fairly disappointed in myself, I've had access to the best minds in this business and I still haven't been able to rise above it. I have all the correct information, I have the right motivation and attitude, I just simply got started out on the wrong foot. But I am convinced if things can continue to progress I can see daylight again. Or at least pay myself from time to time.....

So, there you go, my official update. I have had so many of you guys ask how I am doing. It means a lot to me to have that support. I never intended on making my problems so apparent but I have pretty much lived through this whole experience on the G for better or worse I suppose. I know I have had a lot of people tell me they appreciate my honesty about my situation because everybody can learn from my situation. Personally I'd rather be learning from somebody elses situation but I guess somebody had to do it.

This was very cathartic, thanks for reading.....now where the **** are all the holiday shoppers that are supposed to be here to help me fund this popsicle stand?
 
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CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Your store looks beautiful, and your pride in the upgrades and the effort that you've made is more than justified.
 

Cliff Wilson

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Kathy, Looks wonderful!

Were the display pieces there when you bought the place or did you pick them up?

Although I did take a salary all year, break even sounds like a good thing to me. I am SURE we will get through this start-up phase!!

I am just starting to add some gifts and photo frames. There seems to be some interest, but I didn't want to tie up the money earlier. <Sigh!> Every time I try to save money (like your signage experience) I find I should have spent it.

A friend took this 180 degree picture of my showroom ...

http://www.barrysullivan.com/retail.htm

It should download a plug-in for viewing the panoramic. Click on the picture of my wife and I behind the counter. (I'm the one with the beard.) A separate window will pop up which you can scan with your mouse.

Hang in there, you seem to be doing the right things!

Cliff
 

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Wow, Kathy. Your shop looks great. Very cheery colors and nice merchandising. The improvement in the signage is vast. That should definitely help project a better image of what you do.
You are definitely on the right track and know what you are doing. Just persevere, keep up the good work, and you will do fine. Your plan for 4 mailings next year sounds good. Maybe you can theme them to the seasons.

Have a great holiday. Get some rest too, so you can start the new year with fresh energy.

Cheers!

:cool: Rick
 

Rozmataz

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Kathy -

I am VERY impressed!! You have done a beautiful job in your image, displays and I feel a real "warm fuzzy" without being there in person!!!

I think you are doing great and making it thru this economic valley - wait til we climb up to the side of the mountain. WOW!!

I wish you a great Holiday and New Year!!!

Rooting for your continued success!!

Roz
 

jframe

<span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><
Love it, love it, love it, Kathy!
 

lyoncat

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Wow, I am glad to see the pic's. The store is moving along very nicely indeed. I, too am impressed with how much better the entrance/signage looks. I also like your colors.(Lime green is my fav)
Sales have been slower than usual here as well, but I believe the New Year will be better. For all of us. Hang in there girlfriend.
 

JPete

<span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><
Kathy, great look.

[ 12-18-2003, 09:42 PM: Message edited by: JPete ]
 

Framerguy

PFG, Picture Framing God
Kathy,

Now you're cookin' girl!! You have done alot with your store and should be proud of your movement forward.

When you get to feelin' down about customers not coming in, just think about po' ol' Framerguy down there in all that sand and surf struggling away to get a business started from ground zero again. Your shop looks eons better than the store front that I have rented now. It is quite a change down from the huge 3 story gallery I had in I*******! I went from over 3000 sq. ft. of retail display space to just over 450 sq. ft. and still have about 70 framed pieces sitting in shipping cartons for lack of wall space to display them.

One thing that has really worked for me considering that I don't come out in the phone book until next March was joining the Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street groups here. I have networked with many businesses and have made some very good connections and have picked up framing from a dozen or so business people so far. And I go out on weekends and visit businesses personally passing out business cards and letting them know that I am open and ready to do their framing when the need arises. I have picked up new customers regularly from those visits.

I recently did a booth at a little street bazaar and have so far had 5 new customers come in for framing as a result of shaking hands and passing out business cards and fliers at that bazaar. They are planning a Senior Citizen and Snowbird Expo at the local convention center in January and I already reserved a booth for that event. If I have only as many people come in as a result of that Expo as I had from the street bazaar, I will have made my booth fee back and made more new customers happy with their framing.

This is important, I would have NEVER considered doing some of these things at my old gallery. Things were much different up there and you never know what will work until you try them. I am still coming up with new ideas to promote my business after almost 16 years in framing so you just don't want to overlook anything that could possibly bring some new customers through your doors. As I mentioned in another post, if you don't get them in the door, it really doesn't matter how classy your shop is or how many items you offer for sale. You just HAVE to come up with ideas to bring those warm bodies into your shop!

We have talked too many times about this and, if I picked open an old sore with my "whiney" remark, that was exactly my intention. You know my feelings about "crying in your wine cooler" about the negative aspects of your business, so it is very encouraging to see you post those fine shots of your signage and your shop. That shows that you haven't taken the hemlock yet and will be hanging around for the New Year. (whether you like it or not.)

Good luck and keep your sidewalk shovelled clean!!

Framerguy
 

Gerard

True Grumbler
Kathy,
Great job! I'll drive down for a visit one of these days.
 

Jana

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Wow, Kathy, your shop looks great! I really like the forks, polka dots, and the little dresses. You are quite creative and I wish you success.
 

Emibub

PFG, Picture Framing God
Thanks for all the positive feedback you guys. I really was down in the dumps the past few days, it felt good taking a look at what I have done this year. It is nice getting positive feedback from fellow framers. Since I have shared so much of my difficulties here it is nice to at least show you guys I am making some sort of progress. I just need more of it and quickly before I end up in debtors prison.

Cliff asked if any of this stuff was here before me. Well, I stopped myself from posting this picture earlier because it truly does embarass me. I don't want any Grumbler seeing what a pitiful dumpy store I actually bought because then it will leave no doubt that I am nutz. But I want to show that there is not one stone unturned. The only thing left in this store that was here when I took over is the Seal Press, Fletcher mat cutter and C&H wall cutter which is in desperate need of replacement. Everything else is gone. Everything.


I found a bunch of these pictures when I was cleaning out a desk drawer, they were taken 9 years earlier at the Grand Opening. I kid you not some of the "art" was still on the walls in the exact same place it had been 9 years earlier. Quite a bit of the "merchandise" was still here too. Can you imagine? Keeping merchandise for 9 years? More importantly can you imagine buying a store that had merchandise that was 9 years old prominently displayed? Its definitely a conundrum for sure.

There, now you have it the whole ugly truth. I feel cleansed. I don't want to wake up from a nights sleep to find I have been ridiculed for my purchase and obvious visionary abilities. Thanks in advance. :rolleyes:

[ 12-19-2003, 04:19 AM: Message edited by: Emibub ]
 

D_Derbonne

PFG, Picture Framing God
The store and sign out front look great!
Concentrate on getting the customers through your door in the next year...you will make it a success!

Don't forget to take a couple of days off to relax along the way!

Thanks for sharing.
 

Barb Pelton

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Kathy-
Sign and store is looking good! I like the before and after shots, and I must say, you've MUCH improved the look there.

So you've made some mistakes. We all have and now I bet you are at a turning point. Who ever advised a new sign and updated look on the front gave you very very good advice.

I think taking over a business that's "tired" is much harder than starting fresh, so you should be proud of your accomplishments. It's amazing how long it takes the general public to catch on to a change.

Best of luck to you and Merry Christmas!
 

Cliff Wilson

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Wow! Now I'm super impressed! I had bare primed walls and could do anything I wanted. To rework a store the way you did seems monumental! With those kinds of improvements and the plans you have, I'm am sure revenue will pick up steam!
 

Hobbes03

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Outstanding Kathy! There is one problem, however.
Why aren't you in any of the pictures??

-Mike.
 

Bill Henry-

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
<font face=madrone size = 6> Wow! Most Cool!</font>

Makes my place look like a dump.
 

Rozmataz

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Kathy, I love the before and after!!!! Gees - you have to have a vision to take that over!!! And you did it - YOU DID IT!!! Now continue to visualize SUCCESS - it is here!!!!

I went on the Aurora CO website - what a great area... looks gorgeous - quite a community to draw from... And how many other "shops" are there... cause yours HAS TO be the best!!! And it has you!!!

You go Girl!!

Roz
 

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
A man I know sold his manufacturing company for about $18 million. I once asked him what he considered to be the three most important factors in his success. After a few minutes of thought, he replied:

"I never gave up, I built on my successes and buried my failures, and I learn from everyone I know".

Hang in there.
 

TADPORTER

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Originally posted by Hobbes03:
Outstanding Kathy! There is one problem, however.
Why aren't you in any of the pictures??

-Mike.
Aye! I second that!
 

gemsmom

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Kathy, What everyone said! Your place is charming. All the hard work you have put in really shows. I am looking forward to seeing it in person next year when I am in the area. I am counting on you still being there!
 

Emibub

PFG, Picture Framing God
Wow! Thanks for the encouraging words everybody! I am quite chuffed that I have not been ridiculed for the original "concept".

I've enjoyed reworking the store. To tell you the truth it is one area I have been effective. I've done it all on a shoestring, of course, but it has been fun trying to create a homey place. The store has been through at least 4 incarnations at this point, I think I finally have it the way I can live with and it does reflect what I want my store to be.

My goal for the coming year at least until Gerard or Pamela come to visit is to not spend one nickel on the store that isn't required. Marketing, marketing, marketing and networking with a vengeance.

Last night I came home late and when I pulled into my parking space I noticed my porch light wasn't on. I sat there for a couple minutes afraid to go in because all I could think was I hadn't paid the electric bill and my power had been turned off. I was beating myself up thinking I was reaching a new low. I finally went in and turned the foyer light on to find I had power. It was simply a burned out light bulb. :eek: Long gone are the days when I see a burned out light bulb as just what it is, a burned out light bulb.......I think there is a profound analogy there somewhere, beats me this time of night......
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Kathy, there's no doubt that you have made a complete transformation of your store for the better. However, to me two questions seem to beg to be asked.

What was there about the original store that you thought was worth paying for? And how did the previous owner manage to hang in for 9 years? As a result of your due diligence you must have noticed the store's revenue stream; what happened to it? Either the store was making enough money to make it an attractive investment or it was on the ropes, and had been for a few years, and you got it at a fire sale price. If the latter, were you worried that the last couple of years of its existence might have poisoned the location? I know that's more that two questions, but they are all related.

I think it probably takes longer to work out of a poisoned location than to establish a new one. Your new sign should be a big help. You're getting a salary, it's just going into your dues account which you either pay for up front (buy a franchise or performing, established business)or a little bit over time.

Needless yo say, I wish you all the good fortune you deserve.

You need to get some personal cash flow and that might mean a part time job. These are just some thoughts that occured to me as I read through this thread. When we first started, we bought a float of secounds from a moulding company (Piedmont), made ready made frames and sold them at a flea market. We couldn't do that for a living but it got money flowing into the business. The flea markets were on Sundays, we manned the store Monday through Saturday and at the same time made the frames. We also did cheap mirrors and cheap framed, matted pictures. Anything. Warren
 

Emibub

PFG, Picture Framing God
All good questions Warren, I have answers to none of them. Sometimes things just defy logic. Take Pamela Anderson's popularity as an example, oops never mind, she defy's gravity. :eek: :eek: Anyway..........

I knew it was a dump when I bought it. I had an overblown opinion of my abilities of a framer, which since has become suspect just due to the ever changing industry and languishing at Michael's for 6 years. I assumed I could eek out a living with her paltry numbers and take my now suspect abilities and eventually go global with a whole fleet of stores. About a week in, keep in mind I signed my lease on 9-10-01, I realized I was in a heap o' trouble and even though I knew the business of framing I didn't possess one natural born ability to run a business.

So, here I sit two years later as a semi gifted framer, underfunded, overstressed and living the American dream of owning your own business, sitting outside my house afraid of a burnt out light bulb :eek: . Or simply put "Behind the 8 ball". My speculation as to why I bought this place is that I was needing a change in direction in my life and I just happened to be open to that thought when they came to me and said "Pssssst, wanna buy a store?" At least that is the Reader's Digest version....

I live eat and breathe this place everyday. I'm learning lots and most importantly I refuse to give up. Although I find myself at least once a week having to force myself to not run away and remind myself I'm allowed to cry on my way home only .

So, if I am successful I will have single handedly rewritten the book on how to go into business without really trying. If I fail, then I will be living in a box down by the river eating beans out of a can having nightmares about burnt out light bulbs.

[ 12-20-2003, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: Emibub ]
 

stud d

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Katthy darling sometimes it is not really spending money, but using what you have a bit better. Framergut recently posted a response on another topic about someone opening a new shop in Florida. One thing he said that might help you out had to do with those little cards that has your shop name on it.

Make an effort to hand out...20 buisness cars a week. Go to frr functions that have to do with art and crafts. Hand out those cards!!!The more your name is out there it shall help. You don't need to spend money to go to this stuff, just got to be there and talk to folks. You are a sweetie just turn that charm up darling!!!

d
 

Emibub

PFG, Picture Framing God
I just wanted to take the time to thank all youse guys for the positive feedback here. It helps fuel the fire for sure......It is amazing the personal response I got. It really does help you see you are going in the right direction, that is hard when you are so close to it.

It definitely continues to be a long bumpy ride.....but I do feel like I have made progress. I can't say enough about the personal advice and help I have gotten from this forum. Thanks everyone! Happy Holidays!

P.S. Cliff, I don't seem to be able to view your store even after the plug in was downloaded. I'll have to try from home...........I love seeing other people's stores too.
 

Cliff Wilson

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Hmm, The few people I have pointed at it had no problem. You get to "Barry Sullivan's" web page and my shop is the third picture down. You click on it and a separate window opens ... right? Then the mouse let's you zoom around the shop.

Since you say the plug-in downloaded, I don't know what else to tell you??? The plug-in can be acquired at www.ipix.com in case that might be the problem. If that doesn't work, I'll take some digital shots after the holidays. (Got three orders for Christmas today!)
 

Framerguy

PFG, Picture Framing God
Cliff,

Your panorama worked fine for me.

One question, why did you have that really expensive looking carpet insert installed?? :D

(They always figure out a way to get their little bit of advertising in, don't they?

Beautiful shop and nice visual presentation!

Framerguy
 

Emibub

PFG, Picture Framing God
In an effort to not let the Framerguy one up me I redownloaded the plug in and now I am able to view it. Very nice Cliff, I like the look. I especially like the free standing panels you have art displayed on.

The panoramic thingy was a bit hard to control until I discovered you could slow it down. I was actually getting dizzy. It even shows your ceiling, oh by the way, it looks like you have a bulb that needs changing. :D
 

Cliff Wilson

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Kathy, those "free standing panels" are eight panel doors from a very old house up on the hill (mansion really) that they were remodeling. They replaced All the doors in the house and threw these out in the trash. I grabbed them and painted them all off white and hinged a few together. I have some more, but haven't needed them yet. The ones in the shop are triple doors and I can change the angle and configuration as needed. Kind of nice. All art on the "doors" are local artists and art on the walls are "not local." (I was going to say national, but some of the local artists are national as well, so that didn't sound right??)
 
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