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Think again...

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Elaine, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. Elaine

    Elaine SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Think again if you don't think we are in competition with the BB's. I am reprinting this from Ted Hitsman from the PPFA Hitchhikers with his permission. It is definitely eye opening.

    "Page 14 of Michael's Annual Report sees their market as:

    "The markets in which we compete are highly fragmented, containing
    stores across the nation operated primarily by small, independent
    retailers along with a few regional chains. We are the largest national
    retailer dedicated to serving the arts and crafts market, and we believe
    that there are only three other arts and crafts retailers in the United
    States with annual sales in excess of $500 million."

    "We compete across many industries, including floral, fine art, adult
    and kids crafts, scrapbooking and paper crafting, home decor, party
    supplies, candles, photo frames, and custom framing. Industry association
    and analyst research reports estimate that the size of the markets in
    which we compete exceeds $30 billion annually, and these markets have
    experienced annual growth of 3.8% since 2002."

    Here's how they see us as competitors:

    "Small, local specialty retailers. This category includes local ""Mom &
    Pop'' arts and crafts retailers. Typically, these are single store
    operations managed by the owner. These stores generally have limited
    resources for advertising, purchasing, and distribution. Many of these
    stores have established a loyal customer base within a given community
    and compete with us based on relationships and customer

    The report says they expect continued strong growth, with $450 million
    in cash to aid in this.

    These guys are human steamrollers, just like Walmart, and their Aaron
    Brothers division is also coming on strong. On the other hand, we are
    "small, fragmented, with "limited resources for advertising, purchasing,
    and distribution".

    So if can expand on our assets - relationships and customer service -
    then we'll grow too, instead of continuing to decline. Somehow we have
    to do more of what Paul Cascio has asked us to do: work together,
    consolidate, benefit from common programs, get better group purchasing
    deals, implement best practises benchmarking and other effective
    management practises. We've got an excellent communications vehicle in
    HitchHikers, but our fragmentation in other areas has to be improved.

    Is there a business model that can do this, short of a franchise?"

    Ted Hitsman
    Canal Gallery
    Sponsor Wanted
  2. McPhoto

    McPhoto MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    "Many of these stores have established a loyal customer base within a given community and compete with us based on relationships and customer service."

    And how do we combat these "human steamrollers"?
    The answer was in "their" report - - -

    Through the "relationships" that we establish with our customers and "CUSTOMER SERVICE"

    This and this alone will establish YOU as the knowledgeable leader in your particular field (Picture Framing, Art, Restoration, Photo Services, etc) in YOUR community. This is OUR weapon - - - utilize this weapon well and YOU WILL establish a "LOYAL CUSTOMER BASE"

    Not price - but service, skills & knowledge - - - NEVER get yourself in a position where you feel that you don't need to upgrade your skill level, where you don't need to attend any classes - - - Don't let yourself fall into the "trap" that the BB's have you beat just on the basis of "discount marketing" - - -

    "CUSTOMER SERVICE" is the name of this game!

  3. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I agree with Mike 100%!! I am stunned by the amount of energy that is being wasted on what the BB's are doing. Clipping out their coupons and ads is not going to bring customers into your shops. Its what YOU do and how YOU do it that matters.

    The time spent pissing and moaning about what the BB's are doing could have been more wisely spent developing a marketing plan, getting your co. more involved in the community, thinking about how you can improve your service levels, etc.

    There does need to be a mechanism in place for educating the consumer and what an indy can offer to them. BUT I refuse to line one company's pockets doing it! Yes thats a harsh statement, but one I will not apologize for!
  4. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    The reason for posting that P&L and thread is being misunderstood

    I have said it before and I am going to say it again. The intention of challenging the 50% off and other misleading promotions of BBs and others, isn't to "BRING customers to your shop" that is up to you and what you do.("Clipping out their coupons and ads is not going to bring customers into your shops. Its what YOU do and how YOU do it that matters.")

    The intention for posting that P&L was to show the actual amount of business the Michael's chain does ( esp. in Framing) and what stealing a given % of it can mean. A side light found in it'd wording was how they viewed US.

    The original reason for bringing it up was Paul C. feels he has a way to STOP them from posting what he ,I and others feel is an Unethical and probably Illegal practice .While it may not be affecting your personal business it is misleading a large portion of the Consuming public and since there are laws against it we shouldn't ignore it nor fall into the trap of playing by their rules.

    In a single phrase ,"it is making COMPETEING fair and equitable" whether you beat them or not comes after and is entirely dependant on HOW YOU CONDUCT YOUR BUSINESS . But they shouldn't be given an illegal edge nor allowed to mislead the public, especially when it is perpetuating the myth that they are cheaper and we are only doing C/P work at a higher cost for less unnecessarily ; when we can do anything they do and more and probaly at a fairer price.

  5. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    It's quite possible in a dynamic marketplace...

    Buddy ...you said it and said it well.

    I will pose a question though ...

    Does all this marketing conducted by the BB's ...albeit misleading and quite probably illegal according to fair trade laws ...have quite another effect on the marketplace?

    Though it most likely does take some of the pie off our plate, does it actually increase the size of the pie by keeping framing in front of the consumer.

    Could it possibly make the amount of pie on our plates bigger than if they weren't constantly pushing framing services to the public?


    Dave Makielski
  6. Elaine

    Elaine SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    My main point...

    My main point for posting this, is that it is eye opening to actually read in PRINT how they see us as competition. If they view us as competition, why wouldn't we view them as competition??

    I agree that right now we beat them on customer service and relationships. How long will that last if they get better at it and our customers are not as loyal as we think they are??

    I think that it is just more food for thought. I will continue to run my business to make it better, make it more profitable, etc. I just don't see how we can put on blinders and not at least keep these people and what they are doing within our radar of understanding. It comes down to some basic economics - knowing your market, and knowing the competition. Nobody is saying that YOU have to do anything, but I think it is in all of our BEST interests to stay informed and educated as to how we as independants are VIEWED.

    Again, not trying to stir up more diatribe, just thought that Ted's posting was eyeopening.

    my 2 cents

  7. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    I didn't say as well as it needs to be.

    Dave ;
    As contradictory as what I am going to say may seem , the negative side of what they ( fraudulent advertisers) are doing IMHO vastly out ways the good.

    I agree that everything that keeps FRAMING in the public eye and desire is a plus to all in the industry. However the negative side of what these businesses are doing is IMHO truly causing a much larger % of the framing interested public to see framers like us as causing them to use totaly unnecessary extras and worse even when the same work is done at a supposed inflated price.

    This is far from being true ( in fact 180degs. different) but to the doted public who may never go anywhere else for framing it is GOSPEL.

    I recently mentioned that even as informed as I am I was shocked to discover how uneven the pricing was and for what was much less quality on the part of the BB. Worse I was fooled into thinking a Higher end shop would start with Upper end Designs and materials and I'd need to talk them down. This was very far from the truth. Point being IF I have these misconceptions what in God's name do uneducated consummers think when they see adds that say they can do what we do for 50% OFF ( of what they THINK is everyone's normal prices) and sometimes more?

    This doesn't even mention the fact that like I consummers are being told "they don't need those extras" ( never mind that no one else is requiring them) and they are saving even more since the consumer isn't being made to use them. Worse yet some INDIES?? are telling them the same things which probaly cause this BS to be even more credible, never going anywhere else or being shown the difference.

    In the HH thread it was said that by stealing as little as 2% of the Michaels trade someone could BEAT them at their own game. I think if you read my HH post you may think differently but I based it on what PPFA says the average shop does and what Michael's posted for framing coupled with what they mark up and most of us do.

    If 98% of their customers are spreading the misconceptions and myths( Lies) in their adds and what their counter people tell those 98% who trade there, it won't be long before any good derived form increased interest is positive for those posting the adds and NEGATIVE for any of us who only reach 2% compared to their 98%.

    But those are my opinions . I am sure there are much better said OPINIONS and Statistics available.
    Still I am reminded of a parphrased quote I heard long ago but belive,"If you are not part of the Solution you must be part of the problem." OR in other words if you a lie exsist and you do nothing to stop it you are indirectly incourageing it to grow, even if it doesn't directly affect you. Also if you are safe now , when the rest of us are gone who will pay th price for allowing this myth later?

    Make no mistake , as Elaine and this Link points out Michael's and others are targeting us as the competition they want to over come and they don't seem to care how they do it.
  8. hangupsgallery

    hangupsgallery MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Notice that they consider US the competition. That's great, we must be doing something right...keep up the good work!!!

  9. BUDDY

    BUDDY PFG, Picture Framing God

    Any opponent is

    Steve if the NCAA national champions would schedule the likes of Slippery Rock or some other lessor opponent they still would be considered COMPETITION. And a good advisary doesn't underestimate ANY opponent.

    However some would feel that we should all but ignore the TACTICS of the Fraudulent advisaries .And to keep the analogy going I doubt that in a game like that the opinions of the referees would be ignored nor would the rules be suspended if you catch the comparison?

    We have been doing a lot right and will do even more. However that is no reason to allow our COMPETITION ( which they know THEY are) to break the Laws and rules of our bussiness or worse spread misconceptions about our pricing and practices.Then when we do get customers in our shops it is our obligation to educate them as to how we and our COMPETITION play our game.
  10. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    One of the big hurdles in any business is to bear up to competition. The fact that Michaels recognizes that they are short on customer service and realtaionships says to me that they are doing something about it. They may not be as successful with it as indies, but when you consider their persistence to penetrate the market I wouldn't be very content to say "hey, they see us as competition, we must be doing something right" and then just keep on keepin' on. A ststic business is a dead business.
  11. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Their annual reports are really fairly benign and they do acknowledge we indies as competition

    Here's a few facts to ponder (and I know some sharpies will want to tell me why these are wrong)

    In 2005, for the first time ever, the Big Four BB's had a larger Market Share than all of the independent framers combined

    In 2004, when asked to rate the level of satisfaction of services provided (rated by consumers), the BB's favored very well, coming in right behind we indies by a very few percentage points (coming in highest were the home based framers)

    If you were an independent reviewer, from those two facts (not to mention sales figures) whom would you say was winning the war for the "hearts and minds" (and dollars) of these consumers?
    Take a look at your own strategies in the last 5 yrs, 3 yrs, 12 months. For many, they have not changed one bit, I'll bet

    Now, compare your sales, and the overall strength of the indie side of the trade. Do no more than make a list of the number of Grumblers from 5 yr ago that no longer operate businesses

    I see no hope for change if we only look to these category giants for what they do "wrong" when we should be looking for what we might co-op, heck, steal, that they do well and make it our own
  12. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    No wonder Steph's not worried

    Steph in Saratoga Springs, NY doesn't have much reason to worry according to my research.

    I think it's fair to say that Saratoga Springs is a rather upscale place, especially when the summer vacation home owners show up.

    According to the 2000 Census, The racial makeup of the city was 93.53% White, 3.11% African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.03% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.64% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.85% of the population.

    There were 10,784 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.5% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.88.

    Now here's the good part:

    The closest Michaels, according to the Michaels Store Locator, is 16 miles away in Clifton Park.

    Want to visit Jo-Ann? Sorry, you'll have to drive more than 25 miles to the Northway Mall in Albany.

    I guess we can see why Steph is not spending much time pissing and moaning. But with marketplace gaps like that Steph, I think you can count on a Micheals opening in a nice area like the Springs in the not too distant future.
  13. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Bob, you've hit the nail on the head. Some of us think that "Customer Service" is our savior. The truth is, all BBs in every industry do a pretty good job in that area. The difference in customer approval levels is minimal.

    Besides, the most important thing about customer relationships is how many you have.
  14. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    OK Bob, I understand this. Personally, I'm too busy with my own business marketing efforts to worry too much about the BBs in my area, but I do have plenty. Michaels is close, Aaron Bros is very close. When they moved in a few blocks away, they used a font similar to our logo font and inside the shop, in an area where they sell ready made mats, put up a huge sign across the back of the shop which read The Frame Workshop. I was furious, but hey, the name is not identical to mine,it was inside thier shop, and I figured there is not much I could do.

    What I see Aaron Brothers doing well is advertising and ready made frames. They have the space and the price advantage and can offer a store full of decent looking frames ready for fitting. They sell pre cut mats, often rag, and hanging kits. We consider them much more competition than a craft shop like Michaels.

    Where we shine is not only in customer service, and there really IS a difference, but in moulding selection and workmanship.

    I have tried to make peace with the situation, with BBs all around us and Ikea, Bath and Body Works, Target, and even Walgreens selling desk frames. (No Walmarts in Bezerkeley)

    Some of those frames end up in my shop. As I left my shop last night, a couple was walking in with two black Aaron Brothers frames. They were probably there for matting. They probably changed the glass to UV, along with the backing to ACFC, and they were charged a hardware charge. Add all that up, and they spent more than the cost of the original frame. Now here's the rub: I carry black ready made frames in all sizes as well. I sell some to students and artists, and they are handy to have in stock. But these BB frames keep walking in the door. It must be advertisng and thier incredible selection. So then they come to us for the service.

    All I can do is see this as a slight win-win or I'd spend all my time worrying about all of them, and not enough time promoting and improving my own business.

    But we can't put our heads in the sand. Markets have changed. Now we compete for the retail dollar with BBs and chain stores of all sorts. We have to work harder to maintain and improve our own niche. That's what I'd like to see discussed here. What are you all doing to bring the business back to your independent frame shop?
  15. Dermot.

    Dermot. In Corner

    I love that Paul......your so right....

    Two of the measurements I use for my business are how many new customers am I adding…….and how many repeat customers….
  16. J Phipps TN

    J Phipps TN SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I know everybody hates the BB's...

    And to be honest, I was scared when Hobby Lobby opened about 3 miles down the road. But to be honest, My business has grown since they came into town.

    I think that when they advertise we all benefit.

    When you look at statistics that say that only 20% of the population purchase custom framing.... you realize it is mainly from the "population" not understanding what we do.

    I think the BB's have helped the industry as a whole which in turn has helped us. There is alot of business out there to be tapped into, and the BB's are just educating the consumer for us. When they are not satisfied with the customer service for the money they spend, they will end up giving us a try.

    When Micheals had up the Monopoly game framed in their store... I got a customer in who saw it and wanted hers done like it. But because it meant alot to her, she brought it to me!

    Business breed business....

    We need to just hang in there and do what we do best!
  17. josephforthill

    josephforthill MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    There is a lot of anecdotal information about the differences between independents/franchises, independents/BBs, etc. But have there been any good surveys about why customers shop one versus the other, do they shop both (for different things), etc.? It can't just be the coupons, can it?

  18. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Jennifer ...this goes back to the question I posed earlier. Have the BB's with all their advertising served to keep framing in the forefront of consumers minds and therefore ...as you pointed out ...lifted the whole boat?

    I totally agree that we serve a different customer base although there is an overlap. I think that just as there are customers who would probably seldom, if ever, cross our thresholds and are more comfortable shopping at a BB, there are also customers that are more likely to shop at an independent ...for a multitude of reasons.

    Please bear in mind that this topic is a totally different issue than the propriety of their advertising methods and I am not giving them accolades for doing what they do. I'm just observing what may be a beneficial side effect for independents of the BB's promotional activities.

    Dave Makielski
  19. brian..k

    brian..k MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    If I see enough adds on TV letting me know about all the different new exciting cars there are I might decide I want to buy a car. I see a dealer who is offering what seems to be such a great deal I can't pass it up. I go there..see it's not realy as nice a car as I want. Do I just stop shopping for a car? No! All this advertising has got me in the mood to buy a car darn it. So I shop the market place and find a car that meets both my price range and quality of car that I want. That's how advertising works. Yes the initial advertiser is going to get more business than the non-advertiser but in the end all companies selling that type of product will benefit from that advertising.
  20. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Well Paul, thanks for the chuckle. Apparently I struck a self promoter's nerve. Might I suggest that of you are going to analyse a business' demographics that you get it right. I certainly hope that the research for whatever you are unveiling is more thorough.

    Not that I need to do this, but I thought you could use some assistance:

    My shop is located on the line where three towns meet. Saratoga and Wilton being the main 2. Wilton is as what was predicted 15 years ago the next Clifton Park. It is what Saratoga is not, and couples well with it. There is a very strong retail base,a mall and several strip malls. This is located about 4-5 miles from downtown Saratoga.

    Saratoga is a historic town with a gorgeous downtown, rich in history, and for 6 weeks a year the racetrack's meet runs bringing a lot of money to our area, especially for the bars, resturants and the handfull of chain stores that have manage to squeak in; Eddie Bauer, Anne Taylor Loft, Gap , Banana Republic, etc.

    So 2.75 miles away in Wilton's retail center there are BB's out the wazoo. In the mall, there is the mall framing shop I managed for 15 years, independantly owned and one of 4 locations. At a neighboring strip mall, there is another independant framer, they primarily carry LJ. In yet another strip mall there is an AC Moore.....yes Paul a BB!

    Downtown Saratoga a mear 2 miles from has 3 independant frame shops. So yes Paul, I have competition from a plethora of sources, and not just frameshops.

    My point is, and believe me I will not waste my time on the menagerie of threads you have created beyond this, our industry does need to educate and draw the consumer to the indy's. I would love to see a program that is dedicated strictly for this purpose. A not for profit. If that were to come to fruition, I would be all over it. In the meantime I fight my battle, my way.

    Now tell me this...is this about helping our industry or is this about helping your business? We are all fighting the same battle, I'm not convinced of your battle plan. So please spell it out. Watching you perform on these threads has been like watching a maniacal used car salesman. Where do I send my donation to the crystal palace?

    I say for the last time......IF an organization is formed for the sake of making our industry stronger, to promote our industry, to educate the consumer, AND it is not to benefit a aprticular company..then sign me up. If it is ultimately to benefit another company, count me out.

    Oh and Paul...is your advise free?
  21. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Nicely done Steph.

    That maniacal used car salesman thing, that really hurt me. Of course, I do look like a used car salesman so what the heck. It was a funny line and a well crafted response.

    I can't respond fully to your questions, but let me simply say that I see people in our industry in trouble and I see unfair tactics that I believe contribute to that.

    I believe I am able to do something about it, have unique skills and knowledge and hold a special position in this industry. Because of this, I also feel a special responsibility to the industry.

    Call it self-promoting if you want. I realize it looks that way, but I am on a mission and I need to do certain things, including making myself visible, to see that it is successful. Hopefully, this will become clear at some point.

    As for your statement that, "IF an organization is formed for the sake of making our industry stronger, to promote our industry, to educate the consumer, AND it is not to benefit a aprticular company..then sign me up. If it is ultimately to benefit another company, count me out."

    Sorry, but no charity or federal fund is going to help us out. You're not the only one whose business deserves to make money. However, I am willing to donate lots of my time and my company is donating its resources. Can I count on you to do the same in even a small way?
  22. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    As long as you accept all major credit cards it will become crystal clear!
  23. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Wishful Thinking

    I agree that the BB's advertising has made the public somewhat more aware of framing.

    I don't agree with the inference some are making that the independents are deriving any significant benefit from it. If they were, why have so many seen business decline or closed up since the BB's started coming on strong 6 years ago? The BB's are the single biggest cause of this decline.
  24. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    Paul, I hope you don't mind if I retain a healthy skepticism of your efforts. You have indeed made yourself visible, but are being terribly mysterious about the actual reason for this. I would love to think that your motives are altruistic, but because of the lack of transparency in your presentation I have to reserve judgement on that issue until more of your plan is known.
    I also think that you may have misjudged the resistance that we have to your particular brand of marketing. I believe we are a little less naive than you think we are, and as indicated in some of the posts from other grumblers, take some offense at your approach.
    So without revealing what "it" is I really can't appreciate your current frequent and fevered promotions for "it". Perhaps "it" will be worthy of our interest and participation. I just hope we don't get tired of hearing about "it" before we know what "it" is.
  25. AndyPan CPF

    AndyPan CPF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Too late.
  26. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    No Business DESERVES to make money. I have had to work hard for what I have. It is not a right to make money.
  27. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Doug ...If the BB's do more business than all the independents combined as stated somewhere before (although I'm not so sure I believe this statement since this data of how much the total independent market is would be extremely hard to ascertain) then doesn't it make sense that the market has grown? If it hasn't then all of the independents would be gone and the market still would have increased.

    Could it be that the competition from the BB's has weeded out independents that couldn't compete for whatever reason? Maybe because they failed to differentiate themselves from the BB's by evolving and developing more skill sets to perform services not offered by the BB's or they were just plain bad retailers and/or possibly underfunded to begin with.

    I'm not saying that in all cases this is what happened. Businesses crash because of many many different reasons.

    The total market has had to have grown within the past six years and the BB's must think there is more growth to be had or they wouldn't continue to open more stores with custom framing departments.

    On a whole in most retail segments independents are dying and unfortunately, in my opinion, the nation is becoming more homogenized. This homogenization may possibly buoy independents that learn to adapt and appeal to the consumer in the market who does not want the bland shopping experience that this trend presents.

    Change always produces opportunity.

    Dave Makielski
  28. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    So what?

    If Paul, or anyone has a good idea that will make him some money and benefit others, why should he be derided for it?

    Isn't that what capitalism is all about?

    If you have an idea for a particular venture, you want to generate some interest and test the waters. Looks like that's what he's doing.....you certainly can't blame him for having his head in the sand! He's not pretending the BB's don't exist or will not adversly effect our (independents) business even further if left unchallenged in every way possible.

    What's the problem???
  29. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    SoSo What??

    Dave, my "So What" rant wasn't in response to your latest post. I was interupted and couldn't complete the rant before you posted so the "So What" followed your latest and had nothing to do with it.

    You make some valid points.
  30. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I realize that you were referring to past posts, Doug. Thanks...

    I certainly stated what many may consider heresy to say that the market is actually growing ...and it will continue to grow primarily from forces outside our immediate industry.

    Affluence, housing boom, population growth, etc.

    Please let anyone who might have had their feather's ruffled by my statement about reasons for independent's closures also accept my acknowledgment that businesses "fail" for as many reasons as there are business closings. Divorce, lack of succession plans, the new generation not having the same values as the last, illness, lack of any formal training within the trade, etc, etc, etc. ad infinitum.

    I'm also not trying to state these ideas as facts, but just for consideration and for discussion.

    Did I cover myself???


    Dave Makielski
  31. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Just the nose.

    Is there anyone who thinks that making a living from framing is easier than it was 10 years ago?

    Is there anyone who thinks that the BB's are not the major reason for the difficulty?

    I'm certainly not saying they don't have a right to agressively and fairly promote their business.

    I am saying that we need to do everything we can to slow their taking over all the framing in this country. They will get better at customer service, specialty framing, turnaround time, quality, and yes, even advertising! There are very few things that we consider "our edge" or "our specialty" that they will not get into. They will continue to open stores and their reach into all of our markets. Their prices will continue to drop as they gain more market share and are able to buy better. Bob's "buy well to sell well" applies exponentially to the BB's. As they become a larger percentage of our suppliers' business, they will dictate more of what the supplier can sell to whom. We have already seen some of this with certain mouldings and glass.

    We are barely seeing the camel's nose come under the tent. In other words, you ain't seen nothing yet!
  32. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    I don't think this is rocket science. They shop them primarily for price. That's why I go to Costco, or buy a new shop stool at Ikea. I feel guilty, but I do it. I have actually had an acquaintance tell me, "I'm an Aaron Brother kind of gal." And friends in Los Angeles tell me they do all their framing there because it is cheap. She choses a frame and mat, and assembles the project at home. Her husband takes a lot of photographs and they want to get them up on the wall cheaply. They would never go to a custom framer in Los Angeles, and they only reason they have any work custom framed in thier home is when they have had me do their work when they have visited the Bay Area. They do this because we are friends. But that's it. They don't really care about UV glass or acid-free--nice but not necessary for the Aaron Bros. projects. This is simple decorative framing to fill wall space.

    These people live in a million dollar home.
  33. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Doug, nobody has suggested that the BB's are not muscling in on our business, some of us are taking exception to the way Paul is presenting this. He comes in and insults us by pretending to be somebody else and is just giving little bits of info. I find it very off-putting. From what I have seen so far he is just creating a buzz or frenzy to display a need for whatever service he is offering. But, he is cloaking it in altruism for saving our industry and us little indies.(swoon) Speaking for myself, I find it insincere and condescending. Some people don't. It shows a complete lack of respect for us here on the G. He is not pulling this stuff on HH, I am pretty certain it would not be tolerated.

    There is nothing wrong with coming up with an idea and capatalizing on it, but just spill it and let us decide without all the mystery.

    The one positive these discussions have caused is we are talking about what to do to combat the BB's and to get our spin out there. Hopefully we can move beyond the cloak and dagger "these people are crooks and thieves, off with their heads" and get to a more positive discussion about what we can do to put us in a positive light. They simply have a bigger marketing budget than we do and it will be very hard to combat that. I suppose that is why some are happy to think we can clip a few coupons and wave them at an ATTY General and they will force them to submission and like a Phoenix rising from the ashes we will prevail. Not gonna happen.

    For the record, I have nothing against Paul, I even told him I was glad he was here being a little contrary a couple weeks ago. He's the man who gave me a killer deal on my mitre sander a couple years ago. This just is not playing well............
  34. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    Putting the envelope to my forehead, I predict this:

    Mr. Cascio takes on the BB stores in court on behalf of framers and consumers all over the country. All in the name of helping the little guy and punishing the evil corporations.

    They settle or the jury rules in favor of the plaintiff. A year later consumers all over the country receive their settlement they deserve after years of being ripped off by deceptive sales tactics: a $1.98 gift certificate good at your local BB.

    Meanwhile the lawyers collect their share of the 30-40% of the settlement and Paul basks in the glory of a job well done.

    Fast forward five years: Is the independent any better off?
  35. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    If the deceptive advertising is stopped then both the independent custom framer and, most importantly, the consumer will be better off.

    Dave Makielski
  36. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The issue is not their bottom-line pricing. Most of us could deal with that successfully.

    The issue is their deceptive advertising, which purposely leads uninformed consumers to believe their heavily-discounted prices are lower than a competitor's prices. Their "reference" retail prices are rarely if ever paid by a customer. Their so-called discounted prices are their regular prices in reality, and that is a practice of deception.

    If Paul's crusade is successful, then the answer to your question is a resounding YES. We would be better off than we are today, because their deceptive advertising practice would no longer be fooling consumers. Instead of comparing our un-discounted retail prices to their similar "50% off" prices, customers would be comparing net prices to net prices.

    I can see it now: "Come to us for a 20% discount on shadowbox framing, this week only, plus we will double your court-awarded competitor's $2.00 coupon".

    I would be very pleased with that.
  37. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Kathy-I think Paul is well meaning and sincere. And, his methods remind me a little of another guy that really doesn't think he is being condenscending, but provoking. I think both of them get a bad rap for that. It might be a "shoot the messenger" reaction

    But, the sincerity is there as is the message

    I don't agree with The Method, but I do understand The Message

    If this does no more than to get framers to focus on their business and they adapt and adjust, then, we all benefit

    If we entrench and defend, then the status quo prevails and we are no better for it

    A lot of people take this, and so much more, so personally

    Paul is no villain here and he'd be the first to say he is no saviour, either

    His concerns are valid and sincere, in my opinion

    He might be like that other guy that tilts at a few windmills, too
  38. josephforthill

    josephforthill MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    ...They shop them primarily for price. ...

    Oh, I do believe that a big part of it is price (or perception of low price). However, I don't believe that most people actually shop around before using a BB (I wonder how many people shop around for the framing project at all). So, back to my original question (which should probably be in a new thread, since it is veering off-course here), is there actual available data on what drives people into the BBs vs. independent? Comfort level? Location? Advertising? Existing customer relationship? Coupons? Size of store?

  39. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Bob, I only hope he is being sincere, but you have to agree that the way he is presenting this leaves a lot to be desired. come on, you just have to! The way the message is being delivered surely some of us have to take a shot at him. Come on, his delivery has not been a good one!

    I am in total agreement that we need to fight back but, I do disagree on the method because as I said a week ago, I think chasing after BB"s in hopes of damaging their credibility is a hopeless task. Good on people who see it as a good move, I just don't and I can't kwite seem to kwit sharing that with you all!

    I'll try really hard to reserve my judgement until the whole thing plays out. I just hope he hasn't annoyed enough people that he will lose credibility.
  40. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Visibility is one factor. These BB's are large, with excellent signage, meant to be visible from hundreds of yards in all directions.

    Perception of low-price is another factor. No, people don't shop around much, and if they do, they may only go to one or two places. Even if they shop me and then shop Michaels, they will not have a valid point of comparison on the moulding, since Michaels doesn't carry any of the same mouldings I do (except maybe some metals).

    Advertising is a third factor. The BBs, whether we are talking about Michaels, JoAnns, or Aaron Brothers, can afford to spend more on advertising than most of us, and therefore can get the frequency and reach that is necessary to break through the clutter to make an impression on consumers.

    Coupons are a fourth factor. Whether the deal being offered is "real" or not, the consumer perceives it as real. The consumer thinks she is getting value. It gives the consumer a reason to walk through the door. A fair amount of people here say they never run sales, and that's fine as long as their businesses are thriving, with constant growth and good profit margins. But if someone here never runs a sale, and is also griping about a shrinking customer base and increased competition from the BBs, maybe it's time to rethink your policy on sales. Get a clue, folks.
  41. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Do the sales figures for Michaels include ready made frames or just custom made frames?

    I'll bet the sales of ready mades are a big part of the framing department.

    Go Paul!

  42. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Intimidation, or lack thereof, is another factor. Everyone knows what it feels like to walk into a Michaels or Hobby Lobby. A consumer who has never crossed your doorstep may have a feeling of intimidation until they come in and are hopefully made to feel right at home.

    It's kind of like going into a small town on a two lane highway and stopping at the local rodeo bar for a sandwich in the Deep South ...you never know if Bubba's had too much to drink and doesn't like the cut of your jib ...or whether he's named Turner Brown thinks your cute and wants to buy you a Shirley Temple ...or whether ...never mind ... you get the analogy ...??? ...:nuts::faintthud::shrug:

    Until you're inside and made to feel welcome it can be very intimidating to step into the unknown. Once that threshold is crossed it usually works for an independent, but before this happens it can be a big deterrent.

    The same attitude works when you pull off the freeway for a bite ...do you go to the Wendy's or TGIF's or look for that little diner with the home cooked meals and the cute townie waitress?

    I'd wager 90%+ folks go the known entity.

    Dave Makielski
  43. D_Derbonne

    D_Derbonne PFG, Picture Framing God

    Sadly, you're right. That explains why most of the restaurants in my area are franchises and fast food places.

    I find it much more interesting to shop the small businesses and hate the big mega stores.
    Guess I'm a minority!
  44. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    That is a BIG REASON for carrying Gift Items or other things to make the experience of coming into a Custom Frame Shop less intimidating. It allows and beckons customers to come in and look around, just make sure you greet them with a smile and talk-em up! Almost every browser I get, recieves a demonstration of my Intergrated Framer and are WOWED!
  45. brian..k

    brian..k MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Hmmmm.....I hadn't bothered to show it off to the casual observer. What do you do? "Hey you wanna check out my new toy?" I use IF for almost all my designs just to give em that high touch experience but it seems a bit akward(is that how that's spelled?) to try to show it to a browser. I do leave out the last design with the monitor on so any browser can see it.
  46. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    It is pretty obvious we are a Custom Frame Shop so I bring the conversation around too framing. Then I mention to them that if they ever are in the need for framing we have this really cool system installed (only one in area) that allows them too see their project before they make a commitment. I've got their attention, they are looking at me, the screen is over my shoulder, I click the mouse a couple of times and they are amazed. EASY AS PIE!
  47. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hey, don't knock us franchisees!
  48. brian..k

    brian..k MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I wonder how long before every frame shop in America finds out what a great sales tool this program is? I mean wow this program realy sucks and no one should ever even think of investing in it.
  49. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    YES, FramerDave, because such an outcome would mean the end of those advertising tactics. Also, the gift certificate would typically be good at any similar business.
  50. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Shed some light...

    Also it would let people know that they haven't been getting such a great deal after all.

    Or we could all light one little candle and chant "I am immune to the deceptive advertising of others". Until we find ourselves reaching for that can of cat food.....
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