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"Super Expensive"


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
(this is meant to spur the on-going discussions on how to keep our beloved industry going.)

An IKEA Ad I just saw - I thought I'd share.


How do you define good quality?
Exclusive quality, old-fashioned
quality, hand crafted quality,
top-of the line quality. Unfortunately,
a lot of that quality is extremely
overpriced. Prices that made us
question the purpose of paying
a month's salary for a chair.

We've just finished our quest
for fine quality. We've created
a collection called IKEA STOCKHOLM.
And we've gone over the top,
quality-wise. We use materials
such as leather, mohair, and cowhide.
We have produced our most exclusive
collection ever. Our designers
were absolutely thrilled and our
purchasers were absolutely in
tears. Because it looked super
expensive. It felt super expensive.
(Don't forget we are cost paranoid
Swedes.) But it's still a galaxy
away from those outrageous
prices on all the exclusive stuff
sold elsewhere."

I typed this as it was written in the ad. This is the message, I feel, that is being pounded into consumers heads everywhere.

Custom Framing is expensive - we say - because of hand crafted - skills, time, etc. BUT our same customers say -"we can get the same thing done elsewhere - for less. Even if you say your quality is better, your products are better....I don't want to pay that much...."

Our retiring public is being educated on the benefits of living in Costa Rica - to "live in style" on your SS, vs lining "less well" the US.

Again just last night, news reports on CBS (CNN?) we showing "how not to pay full price for anything..."

Private business', I feel, take the brunt of this. I don't remember a customer at JoAnn's saying "I'll just give you this much for this item". At Menards/home Depot do you get to go in and say "I want this table saw - but I want it for $200 less." Corp employees can say no.

Here I hear "Oh - so much?" often. Yes, I realize "market positioning" may help - but-can we as private business, say no to "prices reductions" if we want to stay in the game?

If Business' like IKEA can keep this type of mind game - reinforcing that all cheaper CAN BE created equal....it give me pause as to what I place in my marketing campaigns...
I am not "cheap", but I sure need to stay competitive in the marketplace.

Then you have to determine, what keeps us competitive in this changing business market. Can we (as the industry) survive?

(note: I want to open my shop in Oregon in two years...I know I have to get very smart about staying competitive in this "nitch field! I want to survive!!!!)
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PFG, Picture Framing God
Fight dirty. Give IKEA a taste of its own medicine. Go into an IKEA store with a bunch of sticky labels and a pen. Find their frames, you know, the top quality stuff, and put a label on each one where there's a flaw. Not-so-level corners? Point that out to the consumer. Uneven finish or cheap veneer? Show it to the consumer, too.

Robert Kellum

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
I do not know the long, or short answer to your question. Having been open for 13 months I must say that few, very few have walked out because I was "too expensive." Yes, I have lost maybe 10 for that reason - one a month is ok, but could I have drawn in more if I was lower in price? That would, for me, take a lot more advertising than I can afford to do now. It would also mean hiring extra help to keep up with the "cheaper" prices.

Are we as an industry "too expensive?" this has been discussed much in the short time I have been on-line, and we each have our own opinion and "take" on the question.

Yesterday a man came in to frame a Beatles poster for his son. "I dont want to spend too much, what do you have thats cheap?" I showed him a small black frame, single mat, and glass for 110.
"No, I dont want to spend that much, what else can you do?" I offered the same frame, dry mounted and laminated with no mat or glass for 80. His decision? "No, I want it to look nice, I'll just do what you showed me first." And I got the order.

Was I "too expensive" for him? No, I was just more expensive then he wished he could pay for a poster. But last week, a man paid 600 to frame a Haunted Mansion poster from Disneyland. He paid 25 for the poster and was "expecting" to pay about 150 to frame it because, "Thats what Disneyland wanted to frame it." He grumbled a bit at the price, but he forgot all about the cost when he picked it up. He was thrilled!

Am I too expensive? Are WE to expensive? I dont know. Are most of our customers thrilled with the results we provide? Do we still get repeat business? Yes to both....All the time.

I still dont know the answer for the future. But I, like you, hope that I have a future in this business, and that I can survive, grow, and yes, maybe even make a living as a framer, because I love what I do.

Uncle Eli

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
... but could I have drawn in more if I was lower in price? That would, for me, take a lot more advertising than I can afford to do now. It would also mean hiring extra help to keep up with the "cheaper" prices.
This is a very good point. most of us are running shops that could not handle the volume that would come through our doors, if we dropped our prices to the bottom. Nor should we want to.

Paul N

In Corner

It is definitely an oxymoron to place "Ikea" and "expensive looking" in the same sentence.

Same thing with "good" and "Mexican food" (in the US at least, in Mexico, it's different), or "Budweiser" and "good beer", etc.

There are no such scary creatures, so don't ya have any nightmares now, ya hear?


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Paul's comment reminds me of this sign:



CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
IKEA :icon11: They built one not too far from me. People actually camped out for a couple days before the store opened. Crazy.

A lot of their stuff is so cheaply made and cheap looking. Every now and then someone will come in with one of their frames and wanting a mat cut for it. Their frames are worse then the real cheap ones we sell here.

Oh and we do have people saying "I'll give you this much to frame this" at my Joann's haha mostly from middle eastern people. Working near Dearborn, MI (home to the largest middle eastern community outside of the middle east countries) it's bound to happen.

I'm posting that "cheap, quick & good" sign in my shop!! haha


PFG, Picture Framing God
Why not forget about price completely and just advertise what you do? You get the job done properly, you use the best materials, it's done when you need it, unique things, made for your home, etc, etc, etc.



SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Having just spent 5 whole minutes paging though my dictionary I thought I would share the correct spelling of "niche" simply because it bothered me that I had to look it up and that it took me so long (dictionaries are really hard to use when you don't know how to spell a word!).

As you were.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I have three large prints in my shop right now (31X55) that a very good customer embarrassingly brought in for me to "fix up". She bought them very inexpensively at TJ MAX because they were large, cheap and she liked them for her dining room.

The corners are falling apart on the polystyrene frames, they have 1/16" plexi as glazing, the mat is a less than 4 ply board with yellowed bevel edges and they are backed with thin corrugated cardboard. Needless to say they are wobbly and won't hang flat against the wall.

There are "Made in Mexico" stickers on the back.

I'll probably be able to save the frames, put new glazing and mats on them, dry mount the prints and new backing.

She'll end up spending about as much as if she had brought the prints into me to nicely frame in the first place.

This is a customer who normally doesn't flinch at pricing or even want to know how much an order will cost until they pick it up.


Nuff said.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I am going to give you SAME MONALISA BY DAVINCI FOR LESS, would you buy it?
"Same for less" is definitely not "the same". In this case you buy appearance and pay less for it than for the real thing. In fact "the same for less" may very well be overly priced for what it is, just like plastic molding is less, yet more profitable than the wood molding for which it substitutes.

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
I have found the perfect recipe for avoiding the haggle and price resistance this thread addresses. I don't get either. Not one person in the last year has agressivly played "Lets Make A Deal" in my shop and I get so little price resistance its not worth mentioning.

Wasn't Jello discovered on accident? I can assure you that I'm not sure how I created the above scenero but I have. As soon as I figure it out, I'll share it here so that I can be told all the reasons why it will never work.

Carry on.


PFG, Picture Framing God
For what it's worth ..........

I have never seen an IKEA, and I have never been in a Pottery Barn or many of the other discount stores that are constantly mentioned on these threads. I don't know how they price or what their quality or selection looks like, but I am learning really quickly some new points in the retail selling racket.

First and foremost, wall decorations are always left for the last item on the designer's budget! And wall art is one of the few items that go into a new home construction that an owner, who can pay big or small for the art they choose, have a real choice. There is almost nothing that goes directly into the construction of a new home that can be "negotiated" by the home owner. You won't go into a Home Depot or Lowes and bargain down the price of a 2x4 or a sheet of plywood or drywall or a pound of nails. That just isn't done by the person who is ultimately paying the bill for the job!

Carpeting and furniture, in my experience, isn't shorted on quality and price. People usually will pay whatever the price for good quality berber or a piece of Henredon or Di Roma furniture or a R. J. Horner or Jellif antique piece for upwards of $20,000 a pop! Solid copper cookware, expensive lighting throughout, high quality tile and exotic wood trim at whatever the going rate may be for the appropriate rooms.

Then the final finishing of the home site, the landscaping, down here full grown palms at a grand apiece, sod from one end of the yard to the other, instant lawn, all manners of shrubs and flowering whatevers and succulents that take 40 years to grow to the size that are being planted in many yards.

Finally, it comes down to the cleanup and make ready for the open house where all the nosy uppities will come parading through your new creation and speak in undertones about what they would have put over there by the baby grand piano, etc., and the designer finally decides to come to your gallery for some artwork to slap up on those bare walls that everyone has worked around but nobody has yet to question. Since most of the budget has been long spent on all the other expensive doo dads that the owner wanted to make their home their ultimate castle, the designer is in a bind to buy something that, at least, looks good to hang up there where that great expanse of new paint resides!! They come in, pick out about 12 to 15 quality pieces that would go well in each room, and quickly ask for their "designer discount" before finding out the bottom line for all the art that they so skillfully picked out! "Oh, that is waaaay above my budget for art!!! Can't you do any better than that considering that I am a designer and am buying so many pieces??" This request usually comes from somebody who has never shopped in your gallery before, has not created any rapport with you as a designer and business person, established any kind of shopping and buying background with your company, yet expects you to bend over backwards to please them on the first visit when you know too well that they are only wanting you to pull them out of a bind so their client doesn't go ballistic when they find that there is no art treatment throughout the home!

This is an actual scenario down here and I sat back and marveled at how my boss, who has 16 years of interior design background, handled that case. It was a real classic!! I have been in the art business for 20 years and I am in awe of the capabilities of my boss as a sales person!! She fully understands that this occurs so many times and you have to be ready for the event beforehand or you will be put in a very defensive position when trying to make a large sale to one of these designers.

Admittedly, I am in a unique position here on the Emerald coast in that there are more affluent people (read filthy rich!!) in this area than in most and they don't quibble over price as is done in other areas of the country but some of the inadequates that they hire under good intentions don't have the experience nor the good taste to decorate a closet let alone an entire multi-million dollar beach estate. And we have to constantly take the client aside and tactfully suggest that there are other more appropriate choices to be made. Some of these so called "designers" shouldn't even be in business in my opinion!! They don't know any more about interior design than I do about flying the space shuttle!

When you come upon a real designer who builds into their decorating budget enough money for quality artwork, you will know that there is something special about this person and you need to nurture a good business relationship with them. One of these will make you more money than 10 of the other kind all things considered.

To answer your question Sue, yes you can say no to the ever present "Can you do any better on price?" question by creating a reputation for doing nothing but good quality work, offering only quality items in your retail area, and, as John Baker mentioned somewhere on this thread, concentrate your advertising theme on the quality you offer and the service you give to your customers. And you need to throw in good judgment in that, when a client is on the fence about a good piece of art that has occupied a place in your gallery for enough time to sell, you may need to, at your discretion, offer a "one time only" discount to move that piece out of the store and make room for new stuff to be sold.


PFG, Picture Framing God
To borrow from Rick Granick --

"Is that your best price?"

"I always give you my best price."


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Yes - a meatly discussion! Love it!

I find it most interesting that the "message" of quality is being merged
with "quality-like but cheaper", and THAT is what is getting so ingrained out in market.

Wal-Mart-ish along with internet framing, "cheaper than the local framer". Now WE understand the general quality received by the consumer, but they don't. And are they perceiving it "oh, this must be how things are framed everywhere..."

(I have a corp client who ordered 28 pieces off of art.com. He sent 25 back and was upset as he had to pay the return shipping charges!) He has spent 60K on redoing his office space, and now wants $25 poster quality to look like his offices. An education, learning, alternative type discussions are being held to get look and $ together!)

In the IKEA ad, the words that I "loved" was how the designers were ABSOLUTELY thrilled, and "in tears" or "outrageous prices" to name a few.

One factor I also try to remind some people , that as a business, cost of doing business go into the products were sell. A light bulb (generally) appears in their eyes with the understanding "oh yeah, it is a frame + leases, phones, electricity, payroll taxes, etc."
Those that don't understand - oh well.

Carry on!

It is gloomy in Mn - this may be the highlights of my day! (No more scary dreams lately -either!) I also love the sign - will have to put that up too!

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
The problem is if you want Ruth's Chris pricing, then you had better deliver Ruth's Chris Quality, Ruth's Chris Service, Ruth's Chris Ambience, in essence, the entire Ruth's Chris package

Way, way too many of us want the first, but simply do not and can not deliver many, if any, of the latter

We all tell each other how great we are, but until we start selling to each other, the message goes nowhere

Until the client thinks you are worth what you think you are; you won't attain either

We talk about quality and service as if they are assumed

Those great quality and service retailers truly do stand out in their mrketplaces and they don't much worry about the IKEA'S of the world

We often confuse what we think and what the consumers think and we all know who wins that battle


PFG, Picture Framing God
This is from the PMA newsline today:

Sue, The Wall Street Journal decided to add their two cents to your discussion.


Wal-Mart era wanes amid shifts in retail
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the Wal-Mart era is drawing to a close. Using a combination of low prices and relentless expansion, Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. emerged in the 1970s to reshape the world's largest economy. Its co-founder, Sam Walton, taught Americans to demand ever-lower prices and instructed businesses on running a lean company. His company helped boost America's overall productivity, lowered the inflation rate, and strengthened the buying power for millions of people, says the article. Over time, it also accelerated the drive to manufacture products in Asia, drove countless small shops out of business, and sped the decline of Main Street.
Today, Wal-Mart's influence over the retail universe is slipping, reports The Wall Street Journal. Rival retailers lured Americans away from Wal-Mart's low-prices by offering greater convenience, more selection, higher quality, or better service. Amid the country's growing affluence, Wal-Mart has struggled to overhaul its down-market, politically incorrect image while other discounters pitched themselves as more upscale and more palatable alternatives, says the article. The Internet has also changed shoppers' preferences.
As a result, American shoppers are increasingly looking for qualities that Wal-Mart has trouble providing. The big-box retailing formula that drove Wal-Mart's success is making it difficult for the retailer to evolve, says the article. Consumers are demanding more choice and more personalized service.
Retailing is a mirror to how we live and work, says The Wall Street Journal. Big-box stores thrived by selling recognizable national brands, which were fed by the growth of mass media and freeways, encouraging large stores in remote areas. Stores and brands together achieved scale efficiencies that allowed them to overwhelm local chain stores and regional brands, says the article.
But the Internet is transforming the retail definition of scale. At the same time, the cost of creating and sustaining a national brand is rising because of media fragmentation. Niche brands, created by Internet word of mouth, are winning shelf space and sapping profits required to fund big brands' advertising, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Creative Chicks

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
About a year or so ago I posted a thread on IKEA, and the shoddy craftsmanship of a readimade a customer had brought to me. At the time I wasn't aware of IKEA and never heard of them. Well, everyone chimed in and some of you loved them and some of you pointed out their obvious lack of good craftsmanship. Since then I have become a little more familiar with the company. Apparently this is a hugely successful Swedish company with inexpensive product. I had to chuckle as I read the advertisement because I was thinking what a great spin on a so-so product. They obviously hired a very creative ad company to write that. But remember, that is what the public reads and that is what the public believes. At least I hope my customers believe it when I tell how wonderful I am!!!!!!!!

I really enjoyed reading the article in regard to Walmart. Maybe the public isn't so gullible after all and our efforts to create a quality product for them will prevail. I hope most of us can keep it alive until the general consumer realizes you get what you pay for.

Message recieved: Advertise yourself, even if you think you can't afford it.


Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey Lori-Another messge might be that there is a huge market out there that simply responds to things different than what we wish

I wouldn't be so quick as to label them gulible

Using my airline (First Class vs Coach) scenario

How many in coach think those folks up in First Class are awfully gulible to pay double what they (coach passengers) paid when the aircraft gets there at exactly the same time?

A better message might be that there are different segments of consumers and the smarter "airline" might figure a way to attract more "classes" of customers. Relying upon only one class sure leaves a lot of "flyers" looking for another "airline"

Market accordingly
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