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Question What is Working For You?

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by greg@larsonjuhl.com, May 13, 2010.

  1. greg@larsonjuhl.com

    greg@larsonjuhl.com CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    We all know the economy has been a big challenge the past few years. We are also faced with a dwindling market for custom framing, stiffer competition from pre-framed art, etc. Even so, some frame shops are holding their own and some are even doing quite well. So, my question to you is, what have you done or what are you doing that has kept your shop in business while others have gone away?
    Maybe you can all help each other out with some tips for marketing, displays, promotions, something you have done to improve your customer service, etc. If you are willing to share your great idea(s), maybe you will also learn a few new tips you can use.
  2. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    With LJ in your name I want to be a smartasp and say that offering multiple vendors lines and cheap knockoff mouldings have helped :) But I don't offer knockoffs.

    But diversifying, offering more than just framing has helped a lot. And being positive about the future of the business has helped a lot. And working with artists has helped, but not as much.

    I would like to see better discounts from suppliers, maybe willing to accept a tiered shipping scale. ie 1/2 price shipping for a mid range $ figure and no shipping a little higher. A COD charge that is closer to the COD fee sharged by UPS would be good, and vendors accepting credit cards as "cash" and giving the "cash discount" for CCs would be even better. In today's age I write maybe 5 checks a month, all to vendors that don't accept CC as cash.
  3. Beveled

    Beveled SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  4. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    He now works for LJ, was in "retail" prior. I think he is asking where we are headed so he can help us get there ;) No one selling moulding, whether it be us selling to the public, or him selling to us, wants to here "tighten your belt" :) It is my opinion that he (and I) wants to know what's selling, how do you sell it and how can I get you the support to sell more of it!

    Self serving, but in a good way ;) because the better our suppliers are doing, the more likely they will sell only to us, and we will be able to buy more from them. Win-Win.

    On an aside, most other companies don't like their reps posting and responding on the Grumble. If you are posting with LJ's permission and blessing then my respect for LJ has just greatly been enhanced. I don't like that the other companies don't like their reps posting here. It takes away from us framers a valuable point of view, let's rumors about the companies grow instead of being thwarted, and since "social networking" is a "new buzzword", the Grumble has been the framers' FaceBook equivalent for years, since before FaceBook. Keep posting and thank LJ for me for letting you and other reps post here. Hopefully the other companies will see what a valuable resource we are, and that their input will enhance our effect, and that the instant feedback from us grumblers about their products and service will aid them in making their comapnies a stronger, better force in the industry.
  5. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    If you are seriously looking to help us as framers, then your input here, and your response to our input will help us both. "Straight from the horse's mouth", no gossip or rumors when we as framers and suppliers talk directly.
  6. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Showing and selling high end to compensate for the downward drift in number of customers. I'm open - a lot of my neighboring shops are not.
  7. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Same here. Show higher end moulding. Customers can buy junk frames and "good enough" frames at discount stores. They come here for better than "good enough". If they shopped solely on price they'd settle for Marden's, Remy's Ocean State Job Lots and other discounters. They come here for the selection and the "quality" of the materials and service. And because they like me. :)
  8. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Focus on a few (20-30) good value mouldings and buy them by the box.

    Focus on a few (10-20) mat colors and negotiate a good deal on buying full packs of them.

    Focus on a few (3-4) fabric colors and buy them by the bolt to get the best pricing. Then focus on a few sizes of liners (2-3) and buy them by the box.

    Offer exceptional deals on framing packages composed of the above elements for those value conscience customers. Promote this plan to artists and students and offer wholesale pricing to galleries.

    Continue to offer all the other elements of complete custom framing for those customers who care less about price and more about unique designs.
  9. cjones1344

    cjones1344 CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    We've shifted our framing more toward the mid-high to high end. This didn't really happen on purpose, just sort of worked out that way, but I believe it's helping business so oh well. I also believe that increasing my prices over the competition in town helped; our shop does a considerably better job than the competition, and charging for it seems to make customers believe I do a good job better than just telling them that I do things different from the other shop.

    On another note, whenever a rep tells me something and I say I already heard that, they always respond "Where? On The Grumble?". Most of them take an almost accusing tone, as if they have something against the site. My LJ rep mentioned the other day that LJ had I think two or three people on the site now, so I think this guy is legit. I guess they figured we're gonna talk about them whether they get in on the conversation or not.
  10. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    That's Funny!

    Greg Perkins and Larson Juhl go hand in hand. Yes, I would say that Greg is very much legit. Haven't you guys ever seen his picture before in a trade journal or met him in person at a show or LJ open house. :p
  11. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer people coming in the door each day, so I feel like I have to extract every penny from them. The only problem is, that's a terrible recipe for success, especially when the customers that are coming in don't want to spend $400 or $500 or $1000 a piece.

    Merchandise isn't selling, whether it's photo frames or preframed art or posters. I don't have that kind of location where people go to buy "things."

    In terms of moulding, we need more affordable options that are in tune with people's tastes. Since it's Greg Perkins that started this thread, let me talk about two of LJ's recent launches, Cezanne and Providence. Providence is selling OK for me, because the finishes are muted and the price point is about right. Cezanne, on the other hand, is not moving at all. It's 3 times more expensive for me, and more than twice as expensive for the customer. It doesn't look substantially different from the Providence, and it's also a chop moulding. If a customer is into the watergilded, I can probably upsell them to a closed corner frame with real gold leaf, rather than metal leaf.

    The other aspect of this is quality, in terms of how easy that stick is to work with. We are all operating on tight budgets right now, and don't need the hassle and expense of getting a stick of moulding that is warped, twisted, dinged up, or whatever. At any price point, we need our suppliers to weed out the garbage for us, and send us the good stuff. I don't care whether it's a $2/foot moulding or a $20/foot moulding.
  12. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Paul, the gold vs. metal has worked well for me with Abe Munn frames. for example, a customer brought in a locally painted 27x20 "impressionist" landscape that called for a substantial gold frame - might typically be a $500 sale. I showed a Munn 3 1/2" American Impressionist frame would have been $2000 with the sampled Special Gold leaf - too much for the customer, but perfect for the art. Working with Munn, I've gotten them to simulate Spanish Hassam in metal leaf. (I have a sample of another frame with that finish.) The metal leaf Munn is 1/2 the price of gold - an aggressive price - so the sale was easy for $1000. I just received the finished frame and the result is stunning. I sold the same frame in Special Gold last week to a different customer for a much more valuable painting. I wish that the other closed corner companies offered the same level of competition in the metal leaf option.
  13. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    That's great, Pat. I wish I could pull that off with my customers these days, but unfortunately, if they spend that much on framing, it would cut into their ability to eat out 4 nights a week, and go to their Tahoe home on weekends, and they might have to work 5 days a week instead of 3 or 4.
  14. greg@larsonjuhl.com

    greg@larsonjuhl.com CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    It seems like I touched a hot button with some of you. First, let me assure you I am legit and I have the full support of Larson-Juhl. My one and only goal here is to try to be helpful. This morning I was reading the thread "Is anybody really, really busy". I recognized in other thread topics that many of you are very open in sharing with each other how to fix something, where you can purchase something, etc. I will admit I have not dug into the archives but I have not seen any exchange where you are all sharing ideas on how to become busier. If the people who are busy are willing to share ideas with those who are not, maybe it can help our industry. By the way, your suppliers will only be successful if you guys are successful first because it is when your customers buy something from you that you order from us. We are in in this together.

    So, if I can restate the question, what are you as a retail framer doing these days that is working for you? There are all different types of frame shops so it will be different things for each of you. Some have responded with a focus on tightening the belt and offering value lines. Others of you may have seen an opportunity at the high end since so many businesses are currently focused the other direction.
    Are you finding one form of advertising that works better than others?

    From this point forward, please understand I have no hidden agenda being here. I have a 38 year history in this industry. I love it and want it grow, for your sake and mine. I was a retailer for 17 years so I understand what you go through. Even though I have been out of retail longer than I was in it, I keep in touch by talking with hundreds of retail framers each year and by attending a lot of seminars on retailing trends. I think and hope my input here can be helpful. There are many of the topics I don't have a clue about, but others are right up my alley. I look forward to some great interaction.

    My Best to all of You!

    Greg Perkins
  15. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well, the only marketing that has been successful for me in the past two years has been my Yelp page. I now have more than 20 five-star reviews showing, which is 4 times more than any competitor within 15-20 miles. But even that hasn't been generating enough customers. I had 300 hits on my Yelp page during March and April, and those were my worst months since the second month I was open, 4 years ago.
  16. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Greg... you get it, don't you? That's one thing I have always liked about a few suppliers I deal with... they understand that ultimately my customer is also your customer. It is one long chain.

    LJ is one of a handful of suppliers that embrace that view and I appreciate it.
  17. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I second that. I have always enjoyed and benefitted from your efforts to promote design, merchandising, service , and other aspects of our industry, and am happy that you are a part of the "Grumble family".
    :thumbsup: Rick
  18. JRB

    JRB PFG, Picture Framing God

    As a side note: Greg is now a member of our Grumbler community, he is one of us. He deserves the same courtesy we ourselves expect from each other.

    His questions and input are as legitimate as anyone else's.

  19. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    John, you may want to reword that ;) We don't always show each other a whole lot of respect :) and rarely hold back our opinions. Which is why i think that all vendors should have a presence here.

    Glad LJ is here, maybe they can nip these LJ-M threads in the bud on occasion.

    One question, if a vendor gets banned does that mean that all Grumblers have to stop buying from them?

    Just kidding :)
  20. framerbob

    framerbob CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I wont lie, this economy has been brutal on our shop also. s

    The few things that are keeping us alive....

    #1 working with interior designers and photographers. we don’t work with a ton, maybe a dozen or two, but most of them are higher end and stay busy which brings business to me. And I try and work hard to treat them well (send them stuff on their birthdays, send nice goodie baskets on Christmas, offer them amazing deals when they frame their own stuff). Doing those extra little things for them helps them feel good about doing business with me (even though I might not be the cheapest shop in town)

    #2 Google Adwords: I spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to get people to find me on the internet and most SEO companies want hundreds a month. For about $50-100 google adwords (along with putting yourself on google maps-which is free) gets me more new customers than anything else. I just got a letter from google congratulating me for being a “favorite place” on google maps (meaning over 500 people found our store through google in a single quarter)

    #3 Education: I’ve attended one of Gregg’s design seminars, I subscribe to several design magazines, I research what local designers are doing, I am constantly reading a new book either about the picture framing industry in particular or just about general business practices. This doesn’t bring in new customers like my first two points but it keeps the customers I have more satisfied and feeling like they are getting a great product. Most of us got into this business because we like “picture framing” and I consider myself to be a very good framer, but the other aspects of business ie: how to treat customers, design trends, money management, rules of retail, ect. don’t inherently come with the technical skills required to build a frame. Those “educational” aspects have to be sought out and not just assumed. (at least for me)
  21. framerbob

    framerbob CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Oh, and welcome to the Grumble Gregg, its good to have you on here!
  22. Framehouse Boutique

    Framehouse Boutique CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I am with you framer bob. Google adwords. google maps. web optimization. They have really added to our success.

    The poster specials have been successful too. 5 different mouldings that cost us less than $1.00/foot. Regular glass.

    We have also started marketing towards designer and photographers. We are starting to see results.

    LJ canada has recently introduced their arcadia choice/contract mouldings. Good mouldings. Great Value.

    Re-negotiating discounts with suppliers. Finding new, cheaper suppliers. I found a new glass supplier. $50.00 less for TVCC.

    Just bought a used Epson9600. We will be offering Custom Imaging/Digital printing soon.
  23. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    What does "working" mean? As an industry I think the retail picture framer is on life support. Anybody would have a hard time making an argument that anything is working at all, collectivly speaking.

    I don't think that 1/2 of gross sales over 2 - 5 years ago is uncommon for many seasoned shops. As an individual what does "working" mean? Flat is the new up. I'd say if your not at least flat or possibly up over the last few years then I'd reevaluate the use of the word "working" and maybe choose "hang on".

    As far as my framing business is concerned I do not fit that category. My sales are down. As I start a new chapter in my life, I see framing as a bit of an albatross. In about 3 years with little or no marketing effort digital graphics, printing, and photography makes up about 1/3 of my business. Any effort at all would certainly boost that to near ½. I guess I could say that is “working” but I'm still in the red even with such a strong addition to my business. I think I'm in good company but I believe that minor shifts in how I do business falls well short of “working”. It's damage control. The only thing that I believe will help my business, and others like me, is a radical shift in strategy – so much so that I'm not sure we would even be called a “frame shop” any more.

    So I guess a strong argument can be made that by limiting the emphasis on framing is working for me. For many of us the same effort we spend on this side of business would pay off a few times in almost any other effort. Many that are much smarter than me have already taken that path. That trend will likely continue I think.

    So what did ya mean by “working”?

    Hey and welcome to the G!
  24. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    To emphasize what Jay said, look at the breakfast panel at WCAF:

    Rob Markoff -- closed his retail stores and focusing on commercial side of the business
    John Ranes -- a very substantial part of his revenue is from selling tchotchkes and other merchandise, and most of his floor space is devoted to those products. I won't ask John to reveal his numbers, but it seems the tail might be wagging the dog.
    Jarod -- advises the audience to diversify into custom printing

    And all the panelists unanimously advised one member of the audience against expanding to a second store.

  25. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Nearly every day I hear "Oh, you're still here! I don't know what I'd do...." which feels really warm and fuzzy but the general conditions that make them expect that we might not be sure are frightening.

    Today I had one customer telling me a story about the first thing I framed for her in 1990 while the second one proudly told of going to a previous store and told me about my own companies history.

    Frankly I'm so grateful I have these "heirloom" customers, whose children have turned into customers as well. My life wouldn't be painting such a pretty picture without them.

    Getting new ones is the issue. And I confess that I've probably fallen behind the times on this. The best way is to get a fresh, unbiased perspective and sound, professional ideas including how to implement them and that's one of the reasons we brought in an agency this week. If my sales are not up in the 3rd and 4th quarters I don't think there will be a whole more more effort I can put into it, but we're blitzing everything from web to print media to emails to direct mail both vendor postcards and self-published collateral, incentives, gifts, referral rewards, cross-business promotions with new neighbors. As it rebuilds I may reintroduce TV. If I'm successful I'll come back and share ideas but now they are still being assembled.
  26. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    So, the last two years were my best years.
    I am up this year although it's been volatile!

    I don't do anything but framing. I do have a good selection of photo frames and readymades. Some art on the walls, but my revenue is framing.

    What's working?

    Super targeted advertising. No "brand recognition carp.

    Getting out and about! and about! and about! I am President of three groups not counting the PPFA Chapter. I attended 3 evening events - two awards nights and one business group dinner last week alone! I go to art openings. I go to anything I get an invite to. I say hello to everyone I can! I wear my name tag.

    Three orders from casual hellos at the events last week.

    Framing isn't something people remember. They have to be reminded. There is work out there, but they aren't just going to waltz in. Ya gotta go get it.
  27. framerbob

    framerbob CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    "I found a new glass supplier. $50.00 less for TVCC." -Eric

    where are you getting glass frome that saves you $50 per box, did you find a supplier that gives you a smoking deal, or were you paying way too much to begin with?
  28. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Paul, add to that list Bluestone got out completely, Parker's out, and Carter reluctanly and against his better judgement allowed his kids to take the helm.

    There are others that put on one public face but behind the scenes things are not so certain.
  29. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Same here. We were not good at doing this before, and have learned how to sell the nicer stuff and designs now. This helped us have up years the last 2 years even when the number of customers was falling. However this year the downward trend in the number of customers is just too large to be offset this way, and sales are declining in a substantial maner.

    I also consolidated my purchasing. I only order multiple boxes of moulding at a time. I increased the number of mouldings that I stock, to try to give more choice, and greater profitability for me. I stock a large selection of inexpensive paintings now, and have practically a monopoly on these in the area. I continue to network, to become more involved in community organizations, and each time I am rewarded with sales from new customers.

    I have played hardball with my vendors as well. The ones that come see me have learned what I want to see, and get sales from me. The ones that ignore me don't. They all need sales too, and have been very aggressive in their discounting programs with me (I have multiple vendors available for many of the items I buy, including the same indentical mouldings, mats and glass). When one finds out I ordered the last batch from his competitor, he often comes up with an offer good enough to make sure I order from him next time.

    The odd man out is actually LJ. They neither come visit me, nor offer me anything special other than the occasional mat promotion, yet my purchases with them have remained relatively constant. This is due to the fact that their mouldings are some of the "best" around and there just aren't really good substitutes for them.
  30. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Hi, Greg and welcome to the Grumble. :)

    From the way that you relate to others, I have a sense
    of you as a likable person. One who likely has integrity and
    the sincere desire to help us succeed in business. But I'm
    not sure how to respond to your question.

    I could answer it just like anybody else's, but my head
    keeps saying, 'This is Larson Juhl asking.' I feel more
    ambivalence about Larson Juhl than any other company,
    and I'm not sure what to do about it. They're one of my
    very favorite suppliers, but because of things like selling to
    big box stores and doing the online thing, I've lost trust in them.
    I still order some frames from them, and the quality, shipping
    and customer service are just as good as ever. But I've started
    to feel like I'm helping someone pull the rug out from under my
    feet by so doing. Like Larson Juhl has also become one of the
    threats facing custom framers, and how are we to take that?

    I really appreciate the clear, friendly spirit with which you've
    created this thread. And the gracious way in which you conduct
    yourself. I don't want to take it in a negative direction. But I
    want to be honest, and that's what's in my mind like an elephant
    in the room.

    It's fine if nobody responds to this post, and if you choose not
    to as well. It's even fine with me if a moderator decides to zap
    it. I just needed to say it. I'm not sure what to make of LJ having
    a strong voice here on the G, considering this erosion of trust. As
    if any attempt to make nice would be just that but not affect the
    direction the company is taking. But I'm willing to wait and see.
    I like Larson Juhl, which is why the ambivalence.

    I really appreciate having the chance to say this, and I hope
    it's taken in a good spirit. I'm not a bigwig in this industry,
    just a lady who works at a small frame shop. But there
    are probably quite a few people on here thinking the same

    As to the question of this thread. We do most of our business
    by longtime customer loyalty, and word of mouth referrals.
    As a small shop in a small town, that works pretty well.
    I know that in a big city, with a lot of other frame shops,
    we'd probably have to work a lot harder at advertising.
  31. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    P.S. I keep almost deleting that post, but I'll leave it.
    This thread is a good conversation, and I hope it stays
    on course. But I can't talk to you on here without having
    said that, so there we are.

    Something else we do right at our shop is be too small
    to fail. :) LOL....I know that's not really the case, but
    sometimes people get so huge that they can't keep it
  32. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I have been 100% in stock since opening this store. I built the business around the recession when I opened 2 1/2 years ago. I cater to the budget minded and artist groups. I offer standard paper mats and clear glass and have package pricing which is the same for every moulding I carry. I stock a thousand ready made frames and make them all myself. All purchasing is done with my retail price target in mind.

    I began in this business in the 70's so I know that I can buy high end moulding as it is dropped from vendors lines at great prices. Stock around 100,000 feet of moulding. I carry many of the usual suspects in moulding but carry a large percentage of mouldings from Italy and Spain, many of which are hand finished. My high end mouldings are the same price as basic blacks so I find I sell more of the good stuff. There is very little difference in my cost in the two so when somebody sees my framing I don't want it to be Wally World black.

    Artists and photographers are a large percentage of my business and I offer great professional discounts. They get 25% off of my custom package pricing and 50% off my ready mades. I honestly sell what would be a thousand dollar frame for $60 with the artists discount for a ready made frame. I make ready mades out of the hand finished Italian and Spanish mouldings. My only goal is that the artists can sell their work because they will need another frame if they do. I churn tons of moulding and make several dollars per foot doing so.

    I offer printing at extremely low prices for the purpose of generating framing jobs. I have added Fredrix prestretched blank canvas and sell it at 50% off everyday. I also cut all of my scrap mat into ready made mats at dirt cheap prices. I have given my customers numerous reasons to stop in constantly. On a dead day I see a half dozen customers. An average day is 15-20 customers. I act as a retailer and not a typical custom frame shop. I want the register ringing all day every day.
  33. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Jeff, do you carry only paper mats and regular glass,
    or did you mean that you offer them along with other
    quality levels?
  34. greg@larsonjuhl.com

    greg@larsonjuhl.com CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I think this is really turning into a good exchange of information. Yes, these are scary times but the answers here certainly show that there are different approaches and solutions for everyone. That is what I hoped to achieve.

    Shayla, I am happy you did not delete your message. I wish I could say something to instantly change your ambivalent feeling, but I think that is something that takes time, not words. I do work for Larson-Juhl so of course I am here on behalf of them. That does not diminish my sincerity. If you want to share any other thoughts, please send me and email at gperkins@larsonjuhl.com.
  35. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I stock every type of glass but special order Select, Alpha and Rag boards. 95% of the framing is standard paper mat and generic glass. Half of my customers are artists that sell at galleries on consignment so 50% goes to the galleries in commission. Very few of my customers frame anything of real value so they want the least expensive framing possible.

    That is the reason I went to package pricing since I was sick of hearing "Just put a cheap black frame on it with no mat". Double paper mat is included in my packages so if they don't want it they still pay the same price. I only charge a small fee to upgrade to full conservation, $30 on average and there is very little interest in the upgrades.
  36. John Golden

    John Golden CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I have been blessed with steady upward sales growth. Word of mouth has been my biggest friend. I participate in networking lunches through the local chamber of commerce. My web-site gets 200 - 300 hits per week with 800 - 1000 page views. I recently started working with a local college that has an interior design program. I put together a pricing matrix for multi-opening display boards for the students. This has been very well received and has generated a lot of business. I have sent the same matrix to all colleges in the area offering interior design programs. Yes, I am also utilizing Google adwords. I participate in as many local art shows as possible. I take my photographs, framed and matted to these events. This generates custom framing sales. The photography allows me to introduce my framing business. I have also recently unveiled a standard framing and matting pricing matrix. I believe that a lot of people have been conditioned to believe that custom matting and framing is too expensive for their budget. The matrix removes the fear. I have advertised in the local paper (little or no results) and spent a lot of money on Yellow Page ads that also generate little or no results. This year I cut my Yellow Page ad to the least costly presence possible. Another area I take a lot of pride in is smart procurement practices and efficient use of materials. This keeps my material costs down and my profit margins up.
  37. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    John, are you home-based?
  38. John Golden

    John Golden CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Yes, I operate from home. I built a gallery in my basement with an exterior entrance. This has worked out really well for me. I also work by appointment only. Since I am a one man operation, this allows me to give my customer 100% of my attention. This has also worked out well. My location is good. We live in a very busy area with a middle school and an elementary school on our street (1/2 mile away). Since few people allow their children to ride the bus anymore, I have thousands of people pass my driveway where they can see my sign. There is also a bustling shopping center, and four large housing sub-divisions on our street. I operate with all required permits. Oh, and because I operate from home, I cannot buy from LJ.
  39. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Cliff... you have it right. This is a people business and you build a business one client at a time.
  40. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Oh, I wasn't questioning your legitimacy, the reason I asked was that I'm familiar w/ Winston and remembered your street as being quite 'ruralistic' : ).
  41. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Jeff... My new position is gallery director of a nice upscale gallery. I'm floored that any gallery would sell original art without conservation framing. If it has no real value then why is any gallery exhibiting the art?

    Quality framing is what sells art because it shows the art to its best advantage. It is one of the main selling advantages a gallery has. Presentation is everything.
  42. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    There are at least 50 so called galleries in the area selling to 55,000 year round residents plus 1,000,000 tourists per week during the season. People want to decorate and aren't worried about collecting artwork. The typical frame job I do for an artist runs around $100. The other framers charge $500 to $600 for the same thing. Those other framers then hang it on consignment and take 50%. Break even point to the artist on my framing is $200 retail. Break even for framing from the other guys is $1,000 to $1,200. An artist can sell a piece I framed for $400 if they want $100 for their artwork. Another framers job would have to sell for $1,200 to $1,400 to keep the same $100.

    Myrtle Beach is a very different world than where you are located Dave. Just because a gallery puts a price of several thousand dollars on a piece of artwork does not make the artwork worth several thousand dollars. That lesson should have been learned by the collapse of the limited edition market. Once EBay popped up all the L/Es that were worth thousands were selling for $50 because the general public finally had access to the market.
  43. evartpat

    evartpat PFG, Picture Framing God

    I agree with you 100 percent Dave but...it is where you are coming from. Artists who have reached the level in their careers to be represented by a gallery of the type you are employed by are more likely to understand, and more importantly, be willing to invest significant money in the framing of their work.

    Like Jeff, I deal mostly with artists and photographers and I try, I really do, to convince them that "presentation is everything"...I am only successful about a third of the time. These are people who are artists on a small scale, or just really have a hard time with the thought of investing much money in high quality framing.

    Since I have instituted my package frame deals it has been a great success. I don't stock the quantities Jeff does of course, but I do pick up discontinued moulding at good prices from my suppliers and my reps know to keep me apprised of these deals. I find many of my customers like the scenario, for example..."16 x 20 with a double mat and this frame..will cost you X amount of dollars"...bada-bing! It has done wonders to facilitate my sales...:)

    Unlike Jeff, I don't stock paper mats, conservation only, and I often manage to upgrade to Conservation clear glass. Keeping the moulding costs down helps to encourage my artist clientele to at least do that. Also, stocking alot of mats and moulding allows me to turn around very quickly an order...because as we all know...so many artists are unable to plan ahead and inevitably need something framed in a hurry for a show that weekend, or even the next day...:icon11:

    Making my own readymades out of this same moulding, and out of the scraps of my regular custom orders, works well for me. My customers often check back to see what is new.

    My market isn't upscale, so I gear it the best I can to my niche. I do get the occasional higher end job, but they are fewer and farther between these last couple of years.
  44. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    So far we have "I sell better framing" and "I sell lessor framing" and now we have "I shoot for the middle". I'm not sure that is all that insightful. 100% of shops, including those doing well and poorly alike, fall into one of those three categories so clearly the type of framing you sell isn't what is "working".
  45. John Golden

    John Golden CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Honestly, I did not take it as a question of legitimacy. We moved to Meadowlark in 1986. It was extremely rural. The first night we moved into the home I stepped out on the back deck and was startled by the sound of a cow moooing... Once I though a crop dusting plane was going to crash into our house... Those days are gone. When the county built two schools on our road, the farms sold like hotcakes. The growth in the area is unbelievable. Pulling out of our driveway is now a white-knuckle experience. If you ever find yourself back in Winston Salem. Please stop by. I will show the shop and we can go to Old Salem and have lunch at the Salem Tavern....
  46. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Actually, it could be. The trick is to find a niche. Depending on the local market adjusting and refining your product mix and external "message" (which includes the look of your shop as well as the promotion/advertising you do.) is probably what is "working."

    For some it is "moving" to "fancy pants framing," for some it's moving to "affordable/quick and dirty framing."

    What will "work" for everyone is finding what the local market is buying and make sure they know you have it. If you do that in a consistent, visible and targeted way, it works.
  47. Ray Bragg

    Ray Bragg CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Jeff, my concern is that when the average customer goes into a Gallery to buy art he has a expectation of quality, both in the art and the framing. I know that you are selling what your customer, the artist, wants to pay for. What happens in five or six years when the paper mats have started to fad the edges have turned yellow, they have started to burn the art and the customer turns the picture over and sees your name on the back. What does this say about your quality of work because the artist is long forgotten all the customer sees is the damage you have done to his art!!!!!
  48. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    My background in this industry stems from conservation and restoration. The whole acid problem is one of the biggest lies told to customers by framers. I have examined hundreds of pieces that have been matted using standard boards since the addition of calcium carbonate and the further refining of the pulp. This mythical agressive acid burn does not occur the way most framers are led to believe or mislead their customers to believe. The pieces I have examined go back 20 years without signs of damage.

    Now when a customer purchases a local artists painting in a gallery for $400 and it is in a hand finished Italian moulding that retails for $1,000 do you think they believe they are purchasing a Picasso. If they believe anything along those lines that is the liability of the gallery that sold it. When a gallery sells a piece for $2,000 and the next week the consumer sees the same artist selling their work matted and shrink wrapped at the local arts festival for $25-$50 how does the gallery deal with that.
  49. Ray Bragg

    Ray Bragg CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I too have opened my share of preframed photos, prints and the like .If the dark brown too biege line that starts from the edge of the mat and continuing back under the mat is not an acid burn what is it. It is not a fade line and is only located where the mat touches the print, so it has to be being caused by the mat.
    No customers are not expecting a Picaso at $1000 but they are expecting to get thir monies worth not the cheapest framing package available.
    I guess this is why I don't do much business with artist. I prefer quality with a reasonable profit ,to working myself to death for less money!
  50. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not to argue but don't you think that framers have been doing that for a long time?

    I remember dads frame-it-yourself business. It was a hit because it was advertised as a cheaper option. Later he moved to a heavy retail strip and eliminated the lower priced options and focused on the healthy LE market. That's just one mans experiment in finding a place for his business inside the market. We all go through that at some point.

    I think we may disagree that focusing on this type of framing over that type of framing is a new idea or is even "working". Collectively framers have been doing that for years and its obviously not working.

    If it is a new idea and framers are just starting to find their niche, they should stop now. It's working much less than what ever they were doing before.

    I think the whole notion that by selling a green widget over a blue widget is created by widget makers more than a widget shop finding his niche. I actually had a rep tell a friend, in an unrelated business, that I was selling myself short because I didn't carry their “high end” product. The rep was convinced that I would have a healthier business if I carried their more expensive mouldings.

    I asked my friend if they know the difference between an expensive frame or a cheap one. He said not other than the price. BINGO! If I wanted a “high end” shop and wished to sell $500 framing, I could just simply charge more. Sell any color widget you wish. Serve it on a paper plate or silver platter as your business aspirations and sales ability allows. But by choosing one over another is hardly a new idea but a natural progression every business goes through. If widget sales die, changing colors won't help. That is what is suggested and I don't think it is “working”.

    Again I'm speaking collectively as an industry and not individually. I have had 3 stores and tried to sell 3 different types of framing, high/med/low. I picked one and think it was a good business decision but didn't really alter demand for my product.

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