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The Rebirth of Mom-and-Pop Shops

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Framing:, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

    I have had a feeling for some time that the re-birth of small local shops may be under way……..hopefully my instinct is correct...

    This was on The Entrepreneur today and appears to support what I have been thinking…..

    ….. After getting crushed by big-box stores during the 1980s and 1990s, mom-and-pop shops are enjoying something of a rebirth among U.S. consumers….

    Sponsor Wanted
  2. EllenAtHowards

    EllenAtHowards PFG, Picture Framing God

    What I have seen is that people shop at mom&pops for a few small things, but when they need the big stuff, they look on the internet.

    I had an interesting, yet frustrating, conversation with a woman, local M&P owner, whose daughter is getting married. Where is she getting wedding invitations? Internet. Where is she renting table linens? Internet. Where did the bride's dress come from? Internet.

    I gently suggested that perhaps she might want to support other local businesses, but the words fell on deaf ears.

  3. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm With Ellen On This One

    While I'd like to agree with the OP, I think the lure of the Internet is unstoppable. Walmart gets the lowest-income 35% of the population, the M&P shops may cater to the top 5 to 10%, but the largest demographic, the 35 to 90% income earners want to save money, and we're not in their plans.

    And I think it can only get worse as the population ages and younger buyers turn into full-blown Internetters with their spending power.

    Local media up here regularly promotes "shop local". Frame shops have web sites. We use Groupons and similar Internet incentivizers. We showcase art that appeals to the younger crowd, to introduce them to frame shops/galleries. In spite of all these, new habits are overtaking B&M retailers.
  4. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

    Did you guys not read the article I posted !!!

    It is about a moms and pops business using the internet to move forward.... it is not about trying to make the old model of shop local work...

    I have a very small business with only a brochure website I have no shopping cart... I have being expanding my business, some of my customers are now in the US, France, UK, all are way beyond what I expected my customer base would be when I converted my business over two years ago to it's current model.
  5. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    You can't buy what we offer on the internet, and you can't get it at the big box stores. What we offer is expertise, and a level of quality and choice. Michaels and Hobby Lobby are to framing what Golden Corral is to fine dining.

    If that's what you want, or you've never been to Ruth's Chris, or Morton's, then Bonanza and Outback qualify as a great steak dinner, and what you get at Michaels counts as custom framing.

    When your taste and level of sophistication demands more, than you want someone who's training consists of more than how to operate the POS, and who's credentials are more than a smock with a name tag. We offer real custom framing for about the same price as the powdered version.
  6. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

    Have you tried to run a model that will work using the internet to generate sales !!!

    Something is not sounding right with your analysis ... you are saying the internet won't work..... yet over the years the amount of people who have posted on the G that the internet is killing their business has been huge..... something is not stacking up.
  7. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I think for the majority of us, it is hard to change into an internet business. Custom framing is not all that great for internet sales. If I look at my typical customer, what I sell is service and design. Very had to sell over the internet.

    Yes, you can offer frames the way other internet businesses do,but most of us are not set up for packaging and shipping etc.etc.

    I'd like to know more why this works for you, what you have done differently.

    As for the Rebirth of M&P shops....I am not seeing it. With or without internet sales.
  8. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    You misunderstood. Of course the interenet works if you're an internet sales business. You can sell frames, mats and art on the internet; many do. Those are the tangibles. You can buy a steak online too. The key is for us, and any business really, is to differentiate what we offer from what the world wide Golden Corral offers.
  9. DarthFramer

    DarthFramer CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Sell the sizzle - not the steak!

    After much thinking, I believe we must sell the Sizzle not just a good Steak. Paul, I now think we can beat the BB only if we offer the WOW factor:D. Darth
  10. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    That's sort of my point. Indy framers need to ask themselves, "What is it that we offer that the internet suppliers, and the chain stores don't?"

    Then, we need to get our customers to be aware of, and to understand those differences and the benefits they provide. We are the experts of the industry, the top chefs, the fine dining option. We're real custom framers.

    And in most cases, we can, and should, let the customer know that it only costs a little more to go first class. The key is to differentiate.
  11. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    i hope this doesn't come off as 'outside looking in' point of view

    i have argued for years that many had envisioned themselves as "RC Worthy" and therefore charged accordingly.

    I do have a moderately well-informed understanding of Ruth's Chris and the overall experience

    That experience so far exceeds simply using Prime meats. Plenty of steakhouses use Prime but that delicate balance being able to charge $8 for a baked spud and having the client convinced it is worth it is all the difference in the world..I've eaten at RC's a gazillion times (just not recently) and that difference is palpable and virtually every other client agrees

    My recommendation:

    Go eat at RC's with a notepad. make a critical review of the experience during the experience. Then do it again the next day and compare notes. If you find even a scrap of negativity, you might not fully appreciate what it is that makes them excel. if not, it might be too huge a hurdle to atempt

    Or, get an oil change at the Cadillac dealer and see the difference

    then, you might see what these masters of marketing are doing to 'meet the clients expectations'

    At the same time appreciate that there just aren't many RCesque operations.

    Worthy goal? Absolutely and if you can incorporate any/many traits it just might pay dividends
  12. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    One of the companies that I work for seems to have a great model.
    Excellent internet identity with great revues and a "we can do what you want when you need it with quality and experience" attitude.

    We are swamped, but if you've gotta have it, you're gonna get it on time.
    We do what we have to do to get the job done.
    If we have to make a special trip to the local warehouse to pick up moulding to meet a rush deadline, we do it.
    It really pays off in the long run. I hear the positives over and over from the customers.
    We don't make excuses, we just produce quality. No need for excuses.

    My employer comes in on Sunday to try to get ahead on the framing and I come in to help him without being asked.
    I like what I do and so does he and that can make a big difference in a business.
  13. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think the point this blogger is trying to make is that a small business can do a pretty good job of competing with BB's if they have a great website. It's good point that is most used by the younger breed of entrepreneurs . SEO and web stores are affordable for the small guy.

    PMA speaker Dr. Glenn Omura has studied the shopping habits of younger consumers. Their shopping trip always begins with a internet/ social media search looking for specials and locations. The good news is that it's a game we can all play. The bad news is that most established framers don't really get it.

    With the exception of internet marketing the world of commerce is unfriendly to the Mom and Pop shop. No need to repeat here the challenges of buying small, renting small and being small staffed such that going to the bathroom is a challenge. If their's a resurgence in Mom and Pop stores I'm sure not seeing it.

  14. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    The fine restrauant experience comes up a lot on the Grumble but I'm not sure it's a great comparison for 99.9% of framers.

    FWIW, I recently spent a weeks wages feeding 6 peoples at Manny’s steakhouse. (Same league as Ruth Chris). It was worth every cent.

    A meal experience at a super steakhouse may be the framers equivilant of a $3000 frame for an important print.

    A meal experience at Applebees may be the framers equivilant of a $300.00 frame around a decorator print.

    A meal experience at McDonalds may be.......well you get the picture.

    Ruth Chris make no attempt to attract an Applebees customer.
    Applebees makes no attmept at the dollar menu.

    I, however, see no chance at success without $3000 frames, $300 frames and el-cheapo frame solutions.

  15. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Internet vs. Mom & Pop is just a numbers game.
    With the internet you can attract the WHOLE WORLD as a customer base, with relatively low overhead.
    A Mom & Pop retail location is always at the mercy of rent and other fixed expenses.
    The other attraction to online is time saving for the shopper, and for the store owner to change products and info at the click of a button.
    I think shoppers, of all ages enjoy the hands on experience, but who has the time in this crazy world.
  16. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    99.9%? Wow. Must be that .01% using the restaurant analogy so often.

    BTW, if it takes someone an entire weeks pay to take 6 people to a Ruth's Chris type of restaurant, I think they shouldn't be eating there, or they're not very good with money.
  17. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Sitting here thinking about the comparison between fine dining and custom framing. And it hit me like a bolt from the blue - just as there are folks out there who never darken the door of what I can only call a "fancy" restaurant, so there are folk who will never darken our doors.

    If someone drags me to a restaurant, whether I have to pay for my own meal or even if someone else is paying, I always choose whatever is cheapest and plainest - usually whatever is equivalent to a grilled cheese sandwich. Or a tuna something. I always swear that the next time I get dragged out to a meal like that I will eat a cheese sandwich first (in my car if I have to) I can just order a nice diet coke and a dessert.

    To me, the furthest thing from a "foodie" on the planet, paying outrageous sums of money for food that will be gone from your digestive track in less than a day - well, folks, that baffles me. Celebrity chefs? Phooey! Even if I had all the disposable cash in the world I would not spend it on food. Yeesh.

    Why don't we have Celebrity Framers? Pay an outrageous sum for a thing of beauty that will be a joy to behold for a generation or beyond - not merely until the next morning.

    We as framers (especially those of you who are more la-di-dah kind of high end) must figure out how to appeal to the folks who pay a week's wages at a freaking restaurant.

    How can we do that?

    Just rambling here - sorry if I interrupted the flow of the thread.
  18. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    We do. Rob. He's a celeb in our community.

    But: if you meant why don't we have a framer who's a household word, who's the Justin of Juhl, then we need a reality show.

    Keep on buggin' those producers who bring in framing.

    Take a look at Parking Wars, Storage Wars, Lobster Wars, all those Thom Beers show, and think of how great a framing show would be with the loud music, short deadlines, high risk, interpersonal strife, money issues, big-box battles, high-value artwork framing, and Rob Markoff. Wow!

    Restaurants have gained lots of public sympathy. Why not do the same for framers?
  19. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Simply target those with money. There are people that like to pay more for the same thing so that they can brag about how much it cost them.
    i know a framer who did that. Tripled his prices overnight. he does less work but makes the same money if not more, and expanded his shop. Do his customer get anymore value for framing. no.
    but they do get extra staff service, and fluffing about.
  20. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We don't need to target the rich, just target customers who are buying their framing at Michaels, Hobby Lobby and the like. No one here lives off of $3000 frames. But if you can convince the consumer they can get real custom framing, with real professional design advice, at about the same price they're paying for the cookie cutter framing they've been buying, you can increase your sales dramatically.

    All of us know that our prices are about the same, or even better in some cases, so why not sell that which differentiates the work of trained, dedicated professionals, from the untrained, fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants advice of a minimum wage red smock? And for the record, that's not a knock on the store level employees at these chain stores. It's simply a recognition that they don't have the training, knowledge and experience that independents do. Most of them have never made a custom frame, and some have never cut a mat.

    We have competitive advantages that we're not playing up, and not taking advantage of.
  21. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I have never had a customer here who had been given a lower price at the BB's.
  22. D_Derbonne

    D_Derbonne PFG, Picture Framing God

    RC is about the experience, not the price.
    If you don't get it, well...
  23. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    We do.

    If you ever get out of the bubble you have made for yourself, you will find them at shows like the WCAF.

    Larson Juhl sponsored, Design Star - based on the popular TV series with judges of equal renown. You would have had an opportunity to see outstanding works by your peers and meet many of the division winners of the competition and also the grand prize winner, Meg Glasgow, who is an outstanding, creative designer.

    As a part of her prize, she will be collaborating on the design of a new line of moulding for Larson Juhl! In addition, LJ is working closely with the TV Series Design Star which may lead to better recognition of outstanding frame design. Nationally renown interior designer, Jonathan Adler has also designed moulding for LJ and was one of the judges of the competition.

    Tru Vue had a competition called the Champions of Conservation. All four finalists' works were outstanding and on display at the Tru Vue booth - and two of the four (and Grand Prize winners to boot) were at the Chinese Dinner. Mira and Cliff are celebrities in my book.

    The PPFA International Framing Competition once again had some of the BEST examples of framing anywhere. The winners again were your peers and several of them were at the Chinese Dinner. You could have traded ideas with them or been inspired.

    Re: Food- if you monitor the demographics of those who DO spend money on framing (again, a great resource from the PPFA) - you will find that those who spend money on framing are also those who entertain in their homes and also enjoy food. There is no way one can appreciate what they like, if you do not experience it yourself. Closing yourself off to the world by not traveling and limiting oneself by personal likes/dislikes will surely not yield high dollar sales.

    It should come as no surprise that I love to eat. In Las Vegas, the food offerings are as good as anywhere in the world. Saturday night of the convention I invited a couple (fellow framers) who we had not seen for some time to join us for dinner and sent them a link to the restaurant we wanted to go to as it is a "splurge" and may have exceeded their budget. They responded that they would like to come - so we met and went to Sage - a restaurant we return to yearly. We forgave theater tickets and made our meal our "theatrical" experience - and made an entire evening from 6:45-11:00 PM - our "experience".

    Everything about the restaurant is "theater" - from the interior design, the high ceilings, the dim lighting with hidden spots that illuminate your plates, the etherial music, the wonderful bar and well trained waitstaff, the uniforms of all the waitstaff- with different attire for each of the hierarchies of waitstaff, to the place settings, the choice of flatware and crystal- to the food offerings and platings, portion size, quality of the bread and how it is presented (not dumped in a basket on the table but served by a bread "concierge" with assorted styles/flavors)- to the soft butter and rock salt served with each piece.

    We were served an amuse bouche (look it up) that set the tone of the meal - and every course was better than the next. Both couples agreed that the octopus starter was the best octopus we had ever had. It was wonderful to discuss wines with someone who could deliver a wine with the taste and style as described - with appropriate crystal for each style of wine - and not have the dinner plates whisked away before all had finished eating. We were never rushed - and even the coffee service came with a delicious meringue cookie. The other couple said it was one of the best food experiences they had ever had- and was why we return. Personally I think the value of what we receive transcended the cost - just as we hope the experience of having something framed by us does. It is way more than how long the food remains in our digestive tract. The sooner one comprehends that statement, the closer you will be to appreciating the food experience.

    That's how one can sell 4 and 5 figure framing jobs and closed corner frames. Get out and see the world and experience those things that are important to the people whose business you want to attract. Belittling what is important to them - and not being able to recognize what they have and want may be a deterrent to successfully wooing the monied crowd.
  24. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think Rob's entire post above could be summed up as: 1) Value is about far more than price and 2) It's not just the product, it's the experience. But if your customers enjoy the cold cheese sandwich eaten in the car experience, then more power to you.
  25. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  26. Rebecca

    Rebecca SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think a clothes shopping analogy might be more apt than the steak house one. Restaurants are destination events - you don't usually go to one unless you are meal committed.

    Clothes, like frames, are for a more than a single moment event.

    Some people are more comfortable in a big box atmosphere where there is perceived value/volume for money (true or not), and no sales person to offend if they don't find what they want or are just tire kicking. Some prefer individual service and perceived quality for money at more specialized shops, but risk being uncomfortable saying no to more committed sales people.

    Unlike restaurants, the shopping experience is only a small part of the long-term relationship the buyer will have with the purchase.
    And unlike clothes, framing orders can't really be returned, so the shopper has to be quite sure of themselves and their decision; the discomfort potential of saying "no" is much greater than when clothes shopping.

    I think the internet gives customers a good opportunity to window shop, and enter a preliminary e-mail discussion to get a feel for what is involved, while avoiding the potential discomfort of perhaps having to say no face to face.
  27. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    That was an intuitive post. It's great that there could be a mom-and-pop movement. You do have to take care to see things from the perspective of the customer.

    Over the past several months people who make a point of saying "I always like to support local small businesses" have been the most likely to walk out after being quoted.

    Not all of them, of course, but a higher percentage than customers who don't make a point of saying that. Also, the ones who stay are more likely to make that statement when the sale is complete. The ones who lead with it are more likely to walk. I think what they are saying is "I'm trying this out and I really want to use my big box coupon so you better give me some awesome perceived value."

    The last one led off with "I really love supporting local business." and I said "Great, thank you!" She said "Oh, Larson Juhl frames, that's quality."

    I replied "Oh, a savvy frame shopper, good!"

    She said "I'm sorry."

    I said "No, that's a good thing."

    She said "Well I buy all my frames at JAs"

    I said "Thanks for giving us an opportinity" and we continued with the sale.

    Maybe selling "up" would have been better. Started with a wide frame, new Jonathan Adler liner, and museum glass between the two.

    $300 was a shock and she said "I'm not going to support you if you charge me 4x as much."

    Ooops. After several of these we're adjusting. Doug makes another great point about not only being high end and maybe, once a big box store has introduced someone to custom framing, it's best to not go hog wild on the design right out of the gate.

    Now I know what you can get for $75 and it's not a frame, liner and museum glass, and I know she was probably also exaggerating, but she did want a price point of under $100. We could have done that, but didn't get the chance. So she left to go to JAs and get her single mat with a 3/4" wide plain black frame, and use her coupon to only pay about $100.

    What I guess I'm saying is to be prepared for the culture shock if droves of people return from big box USA to Main Street USA.
  28. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Re: Celebrity Framers-

    How could I forget Eli Wilner? :)

    I think he fits all the criteria- including appearances on national television including CBS Sunday Morning and Martha Stewart (print and TV) -
  29. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I know Mar doesn't doubt that there are famous framers...but unfortunately, they are mostly famous among framers and not to the public. I do hope that LJ might change that and reach a bigger audience.

    Also, although everyone can be snarky about her grilled cheese comment....it is something to take seriously as not all of your customers will be the high end customers we all like.

    Would you make such a customer as umcomfortable with your comment as you just did to Mar?

    Now, I was at Wallyworld on Saturday and I always like to listen in on conversations of shoppers. There was a couple shopping for something, looked at items and then said "I really don't want to buy that made in China carp". I did see that WM is selling some made in USA stuff, also some items that were 'designed in the USA'....but made in China.
  30. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Chacun à son goût.

    See, I would say that if yer looking to drop some Benjamins to enjoy a faux "how the other side lives" experience, well then both of Joel Robuchon's joints at the MGM would easily edge out Sage, and one of 'em for about 1/3 less coin. For me when you strip away the amour-propre, LV joints like Los Antojos offer a more 'authentic' experience... (yer high school Spanish may even come in handy). Plus, four can get outta there for less than a Ulysses S. Grant.

    IMO, the average Joe's eating experience at LV upscale eateries (cuz that's who mostly eats at places like Sage and Robuchon's) has probably a closer analogy to the peeps who spent above their means to purchase custom framing on 'good stuff' during the last two economic bubbles.
  31. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think that for about 1/2 of my customers having something framed is in line with going out to dinner at a high end restaurant. It is a stretch for them, but still something they value. So the thing is, we have to make sure that when they do want to spring for that nice frame job, that they feel really good about the experience and want to do it again.

    I know for me, I can be pretty intimidated at these places. Some do a very good job at putting your fears to rest while others tend to heighten that intimidation. For instance if all the offerings are in french without a translation. You shouldn't have to stumble and guess at the pronunciation of your dinner. That doesn't impress me, it makes me feel stupid. I just wonder what we do to our customers that helps their experience or things that hinders it.
  32. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

    I wonder how this young man was feeling after what was clearly a first visit to a framers....

    Yep he asked for guidance from a professional and was treated with contempt by many on this form.... it saying a lot for the attitude of many in the framing industry.

    I wonder will he visit a framing shop again...

  33. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Well...we were just joking around on the private section of the forum. It was not how this young man would have been treated in the store (if I might speak for John).

    Depending on who walks in; I've shown quite a few people where all the work is done (and they are always very impressed that I am doing all that work).

    I will gladly help people who come in to ask for directions.....
    I will gladly tell them what happened to the neighbors who went out of business.....
    I will gladly show them my shop and the work I do.....

    But it is good to have a place to rant and vent when all else fails.
  34. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    That's pretty judgmental. You have no idea the circumstances. On one end of the scale, someone making a living wage, living within their means, could treat themselves and friends to a luxurious meal once in a while - a nice steak, share a side and tap water - 6 people for under $300 I bet; $10 per hour would cover that. I say, that as long as they are not living off me, more power to them. At the other end, you CAN spend quite a lot of money at RC. Between cocktails, appetizers, salad, those pricy sides, some good wine and dessert (and steak, of course!) you could drop $1000 for 6 people without working too hard. I dare say that most Grumblers don't make that (net).
  35. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hi Rebecca-I think the RC analogy is really apropo if we break down some of the resistance framing customers exhibit. It's been a few years since I have been involved in the Market Research on Consumer tendencies. but, this much was indelible.

    Price was huge, don't know how huge any longer, but several other factors all dealing with perception. (Off topic alert) Now that JCP is offering comparison pricing -Others price $40.00 our price $19.95-do you think consumers see the 'comparative price as inflated or the Save 50%. I don't trust either (sadly)

    The pendulum was swinging away from the indie framers

    I really don't remember the chronology and perhaps someone might wish to scour my old posts or visit PPFa, but there once was a time where indies held the majority of Market Share and i'm suggesting it was in this century. but, every year the 5 BB's continued to capture more and more and during my tenure when i had that accesibility, the tipping point exceeded 50% for them.

    So to position away from that erosion, one could look for a 'price insulated' area a la RC. My point was how decidedly difficult it was to operate in that rarified air. Wanting it and being it-two hugely different outcomes. Dave makes a great point about having to 'translate the menu' as a huge negative. how much 'translating' do framers have to do for your clients.

    If Alpha-cellulose or lignin or UV protection enter the conversation, you might be needing to 'translate' a bit. things that exacted an "oh, Wow" comment like fantastic design or showing some split screen comparisons were more likely to make the sale. Our good friend Jim Miller always said "Sell the Sizzle"?

    I honestly don't remember who said it, but it stuck with me like glue: Customers care a lot more about conversation than conservation. I'm thing it might have been Jared Davis and apologize if not.

    When i used to visit frameshops there were a few things that which many suffered: mediocre visual appearance including virtually nothing indicating any type of Price Impression and really bad salesmanship.

    The consumers may be returning to ma & pa shops, but absent overcoming those obstacles (in my opinion) you might still be surfing on the kiddies waves.

    I just wish I had access to some Market Data. right now I just fell like a jerk with my own opinion
  36. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I like Rebaccea's analogy to clothing. Clothing is a durable goods item, as if framing. Hand crafted shoes cost an arm and a leg and I know many that swear by them. Id love to get a pair of shoes made just for my feet, but I settle for ready mades. I know people that shell out for tailor made clothes or for fine clothing then get it altered. The right clothes can last a long time, they can be worth the investment.

    I think that comparing our indy shops to chain restaurants is like saying that we are all just upscale Micheals and JoAnnes. I don't want to eat at a TGIF's a Ruby Tuesdays or a Bonanza. I don't think any restaurant that gets their servings pre-portioned is a high end restaurant. I have never eaten at a Ruby Chris, never been where there is one so I know nothing about that chain. I prefer the local restaurants. I like the chef owned restaurants where the food is made there. The pasta is fresh and the specials are based on what is available and what is in season, not what they have to get rid of out of the freezer before it goes bad. I think we are more along the lines of a local restaurant, not a chain.

    Dermot you really do have to try something other than the cheapest item or the most recognizable. If you go out to eat and you are paying a premium then you really should get something that you can't make at home. You should try a wine or a beer or a drink that you don't normally have at home. It may be risky, but why pay $40 for a steak that you could pay $12 for in the grocery... In our business we try to get the customer to choose the frame they can't make themselves, we try to get them to go for the custom frame, not the ready made ones. I will cut a mat for a customer to put into their ready made, but if I had my druthers they would be buying the complete custom order. Maybe someday they will.

    You pointed out a thread where we were joking amongst ourselves about a customer's faux pas. That was mild by most counts, we have been merciless to other customers when they stumbled into here. Artists asking for the cheapest way to frame something, or that ask where we get off charging so much tend to get ripped into. I remember a professor that came in here and was asking how much we charged because she thought her framer was ripping her off. I don't think she ever came back to the grumble after we were done with her... I bet if she asked a frame shop owner if they knew of the grumble and they said yes I bet she'd leave that shop....

    We are good to most on here and raging !@!@!%B to others.

    I htink that mom and pops can make a come back. I think they are slowly. I think that the downtown shop will see more visitors as people do get sick of the BB experience. But I don't think it'll be the boom times of yesteryear and if you count on foot traffic and framing alone then it'll be lean times for a while. We as an industry will need to diversify. Either in the shop space offering framing and related items. Or framing and disparate offerings. If you want to stay solely framing then an internet component of framing options will have to become a part of your business. If you want to rely on walk in traffic then you'll need to offer other home related options. As the local home goods stores close up we should jump in and offer wall art, offer table items, offer kitchen items that other stores are ignoring. Not knives and measuring spoons but maybe higher end table clothes and wall hangings. Something to sell "taste". If we can help to dress up a wall with well crafted framing packages we should be able to help dress up a table for a special occasion. Let Target sell the everyday table linens we can sell the wedding linen. And the wedding gifts as well. If you want the wedding frame customer then offer the whole wedding purchase package. If you sell a lot of sports framing then why not capitalize on that niche, sell upper end sports items. The framed Leroy Neiman prints. Got a customer or two that come to you for framing items for their home theatre room, then sell vintage movie posters and upscale pop corn. Something they can't get elsewhere. Sure you'll sell $5 bags of gourmet popcorn, but that person will become used to walking into your shop and will buy the $800 full length movie print frame job.

    We all have our niche customer market, we should look at what in our niche is not being met and try to meet it... Casual customers urn into framing customers. Sell yarn or needlework supplies if you like stretching and framing needleworks. Leave business cards with quilt shops if you like framing quilt squares. No quilt shop within 75 miles of you? Sell fabric, wuilters will travel over 150 miles to get to their shop.... They don't use the internet, yet....
  37. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I think it safe to say there will always be mum & pop shops around, after all us younger ones have to get older some time (but to a degree)

    When i started 10 years, i was the youngest framer/owner at the trade show. I knew back then things would change, as you more younger and savvy people would be buying these shops, and give them a new lease, a new take on life. With today's technologies, today's marketing, and strategies etc.

    So while mum & pop's fade out to a degree, i do not think the indie's will, there is always a need, and as the younger come through they will be better equipped to deal with the BB's.
    Think about the running of BB's, they don't employ mum & pop to manage their business, they employ young smart up to date managers to make their business grow in todays market.
    When they get stale, they replace them with the next young upstart who know's where the market is. Just my two cents.
  38. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Where it breaks down is that clothing is a necessity; framing isn't. Sure, custom tailored, designer, etc. clothes are not a necessity, but there is not a single aspect of framing (custom or otherwise) that is a necessity.

    I don't know that a restaurant is a good comparison either, and RC surely as a chain (as Bob pointed out) doesn't compare as an M&P. The relevance they do bring is that there are enough people out there with enough disposable income to pay for luxuries that there is a whole chain of restaurants catering to them. If THEY can get people in for their luxury, framers can too. It's a matter of figuring out what people want, telling them you have it, and then giving it to them.
  39. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Exactly. It also means keeping up with trends, knowing the different demographics and how to market and cater for and to them.
  40. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's apparent that none of these comparisons is an exact fit, but they all share some characteristics with framing. Regardless, it's great to see entrepreneurship making a comeback. Most of us here are self employed and enjoy the freedom and benefits that it offers. We also enjoy the creativity, prestige and frequently, the financial benefits of being picture framers. Sure, there are other endeavors that offer greater upside profit potential, but many of us are at the stage in our life where personal satfsfaction entails more than just money.

    The majority of people on this forum have been in the industry for a number of years. We're mostly survivors and we've generally found a formula that works for us, fits our skill sets and our personalities. This indurstry has shrunk to the point where there are fewer of us to divide a pie that I expect to grow larger as the housing market recovers, and as corporate hiring increases. IMO, it's a good time to be a framer.

    However, I've always said that if you ask 10 framers about almost anything, you'll get at least 11 different opinions. No doubt we all have different views on many things, and disagree with equal frequency. However, I think most of us can see the sun rising on the horizon and consider ourselves fortunate to be part of this great industry, and optimistic about its future.
  41. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I think we might be missing the purpose of the comparison. The product mix is not critical, it's the ability to create an experience where you (well, most consumers) willingly spend $8 for a baked spud.

    That 'magic bullet' can easily make Museum Glass the default and not at reduced margins

    Sometimes those trees keep getting in the way of the forest

    I use RC because i am (or used to be) pretty familiar with the mechanics. Remember, it was a little single Ma & Pa restaurant with incredible standards and vision that grew into a very small chain doing insanely huge numbers.
  42. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Those of you who think going to a frame shop is an "Experience" are delusional. Same for those who think we have public celebrities, or that we should be featured in a reality show. In fact, you couldn't be less in touch with reality.

    You operate a service business. You fill a need. You're not Disney World, the Super Bowl, or even a day at the beach. Your frame shop probably looks more like a warehouse than a castle. The floor is not clean enough to eat off of and the clutter probably wouldn't pass a fire inspection. You are not an experience. Your store is not an experience and buying from you is not an experience. You've never convinced any segment of the population that you are, and you never will.

    Now for the good news. There's nothing wrong with that. Embrace it and stop trying to convince yourself of something that you will never convince others of.
  43. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Thank you Paul, I have heard this for years and have never been able to wrap my head around what it actually meant. Very few thing in my life that involve making a purchase have ever ranked to the level of experience. Maybe a few meals at Epcot might make it to that level but never for a more tangible product like clothing or framing.

    Of course I am a guy and what we appreciate in shopping is very different than what a woman would be looking for. There was actually a great class on this at the WCAF "What Customers Want" by our own Jared Davis. Now while I agree that this truly isn't an "experience" anything that we can do to help get closer to this is a benefit for our businesses.
  44. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hm :nuts:

    The many times that customers have exclaimed, after the whole designing process; "my, I didn't know how much fun this was going to be" come to mind.

    Maybe not a 'true experience'...but certainly not regular retail shopping either. Seeing the look on their faces when they come and pick up the finished framed art, and the anticipation....hm....I think that would count as an experience.

    The many hugs I get from customers. The tears, the gratitude. Still not an experience????

    You can't generalize it all. We build a customer base, we have loyal customers who come back for what? Price? Service? Quality? Or the whole fun experience of actually designing something that will look great on their walls?
  45. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    I guess you have never been to any of Marc Bluestone's stores, especially his Gladstones sotres, or Jay Goltz's Artist's Frame Service, which with all due respect, IS an experience, or John and Sarah Rane's fantastic store (especially at holiday time) and I would dare throw into the mix, my retail stores when I had them - and I would venture there are MANY others (including those featured in my store design and lighting classes) who have made an effort to be the OPPOSITE experience of what you described. Look at Meg Glasgow's new shop and I would say her shop parties are EXPERIENCES.

    They are all happy, wonderful places to be with lots to look at - even if not buying. We had many people tell us they changed their walking route to see what was in our constantly changing windows - (behavioral changes ARE "experiences") - or spend time in our stores just LOOKING at the huge photoframe displays we had (called, Dwell Time) - or listening to the great music that was programmed by one of our employees (who also doubled as an on-air DJ for the local jazz station)-

    Dave, I beg to differ. Why did you put all the effort into your fabulous design counter or your effective window displays.

    Paul, why are you so bitter? Could it be that the enrollment in your schools is down because the relevance of what you are teaching no longer matters?
  46. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Come on into my shop......... I'll show you an experience.... ;)
  47. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Sorry Rob, but you're still not a celebrity.

    Having a nice looking frameshop is wonderful, but that doesn't make it an Experience.
  48. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    This just goes to prove that there's an exception to every rule.
  49. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  50. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Paul, you must be kidding.

    Are you a failed framer? Have you ever had a repeat customer? I'm not, and Yes, lots of repeats. File drawers full of them.

    I am an experience.

    My engaging personality, arrogance, design skills, cocky attitude, redneck comments, and great service keep bringing them back for more. Yup, there's a bit of everything when you walk in. Why the hello should I be humble? None of us should be: we're the best in the business. We're a reality show in the flesh. We get referrals, gifts, first-name salutations, hugs. We're the frame Nazis, the maestros, the Wizards, the professionals, the tap-dancers, the high-profile donors, the community pillars.

    Bring on the cameras!!!!!
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