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Who do you support?

MnSue

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Food for thought

As I was talking to my local printer, the thread about where to get business cards came to mind. It seems to me that "we (framers)" are just as guilty sometimes of how we price shop for the best deal, and then are disgruntle when someone goes to a BB to get framing, or WalMart for Ready mades, or purchases on line art, etc.

When possible, I try to use my local, independent business. Lately I have used the independent sign/graphics company, local printer, hair stylist (I changed when I started here to get the local traffic exposure), a local independent custom furniture designer (to assist with a new counter we need), the local State Farm rep (who is giving us a bid) the independent bakery (which we are doing a crossmarketing piece).....

My goal is getting "the trusted business referral" from the local businesses traffic which comes by this gallery/frame shop and their business as well. We all work to help promote each other...

Isn't our "shopping for services" the same as the "art/framing" customer who shops on line for their - art/frame it now - service? Aren't we also looking for best "price" when our local business trades needs OUR support to survive against some of the same "evils" as well? Don't we tend to look for bottomline price over quality/service/repor/design assistance/skills...

When does "support the local frame shop" also apply to "support the local ........"? Yes, it may be a buck or two higher. However, aren't we decreeing the same thing from our side of the counter when we say "support me vs. the BB or frame it on line?

If we are taking OUR business dollars on-line, then are we applying the same thoughts to those of our customers whose buying patterns look for the best deal on line? Those who "shop" for our custom framing services best "deal"???

Are we (I) guilty of the same buying practices we want to change in others?
Are we walking in the same shoes?
 
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Dave

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Very astute observation. Often the "best value" isn't the cheapest price. Keeping the dollars in circulation in your hometown has a value too. When you shop locally tell those independents that you appreciate them being there.

It's also a heckuva a lot easier to have a problem resolved when you deal with someone face to face.

I only buy online if I can't get something locally.

If we don't shop locally why should we expect our potential customers to do so?
 

Val

PFG, Picture Framing God
I go to the local independantly-owned photo and camera service shop.

...and the local independantly-owned engraver.

...and sign shop.

...and bakery.

...and auto mechanic.

...and printer.

...and flower shop.

...and grocery store.

...and computer service shop.

...and glass shop.

...and fabric shop.

...and nursery (rather than the Home Depot one)

I sometimes pay a bit more, but sometimes pay less! In the long run, I save and make money because of their referrals.

I buy from them and refer customers to them, and they return the favor. An added bonus is that I know the folks in my business community, and they know me, and it isn't that small of a community. We scratch each others' backs!

As it should be.
 

Doug Gemmell

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Local Cards

On one of my "shop local" forays, I went to a printer for business cards. I was just thinking same old look but they came up with a type of paper that looks and feels like varnished canvas. Not that different than regular card stock but enough that people often comment that the card "looks like a painting". Our cards have always had a representation of our building on them but we've gotten more compliments on them since the paper switch. The artwork was done by a local artist (of course) and is a very nice image but the "canvas" gives them a better look.

They cost more, but besides the satisfaction I got from supporting a local business, the unique look and samples this printer provided would not have been possible shopping on line or through a catalog.
 

EllenAtHowards

PFG, Picture Framing God
We actually have a half-sheet of paper printed (on our own copier) that says, "MAYBE THESE FOLKS CAN HELP" It lists the local scrapbook store, engraver, paint store, copy shop, sign shop, shipper and photo shop with all their addresses and phone numbers. On the back is a map with their locations.

I made up duplicatable copies and took them around but no one else was excited, although they certainly refer people to us.

And I will buy local every chance I get, even if it ends up being a chain. At least the money will stay local kind of. So, independents first, then local chains, then the internet.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
Ellen, this is a good idea. I have a several tier cardholder for local independent businesses but we are always running out of cards. A sheet of info sounds mor simple, with your name on it too, taken round to businesses. Of course they would have to bother to duplicate it when they ran out. When I went round to local shops for thier cards,(fabric store, art suply, art shipper, another framer whoo cuts odd angle frames and does restoration, a paper restorer, etc.) I was a bit disappointed when they were not all that enthusiastic about giving me a stack of cards. I mean they gav e me some, but it wask ind of ho hum. Maybe I got employees. I gave them some, and thought, oh well. Sigh. Probably the local store that recommends us the most is Aaron Brothers. Sorry, but true. People come with their frames for mats and then also get UV glass upgrades.
 

EllenAtHowards

PFG, Picture Framing God
I forgot to mention that at the bottom it says "Thanks for supporting local merchants"
 

Framerguy

PFG, Picture Framing God
We have discussed this and similar issues before on the Grumble (as if there isn't anything that we haven't discussed!!), and a few salient points that come to mind are
  • It keeps your consumer dollars at the local level and that is very important with the very widespread use of credit cards and the internet allowing people to spend freely almost anywhere in the world.
  • You get the valuable service after the sale that is lacking in most long distance purchases.
  • Many times the quality of the merchandise is far better than anything you buy sight unseen.
  • The local businesses are most generally thankful that you chose them over some unknown internet site if you make that point known to them.
  • You can customize your product to suit your business, in the case of business cards, letterheads, etc., rather than settle for a boiler plate template setup that many other thousands of people use.
  • There is much to say about the convenience of taking the product back to your local merchant should anything go wrong with it.
  • It offers the opportunity to network between local businesses and to tell them what you have to offer. Many times they are in the market for your services/products also.
  • There is a benefit to having the product that you need in your hand when the sale is completed, no waiting for shipping to occur, damage to goods enroute, lost merchandise, etc.
  • You probably end up paying less than the combined lower price + S&H fees of most distant businesses and you get no shipping damage or loss of work time waiting for the product to arrive.
There are some types of products that can be bought in bulk from long distance suppliers more easily than locally. For example, I haven't found any source for quantities of a thousand or more screws, hangers, D-rings of various sizes, Z-bars, and other miscellaneous supplies that we use specifically in the framing industry. There will be exceptions to every instance but, in general, I think that each of us will come out the winner by supporting our local business friends and competitors as a business community and let the word go out that the frameshop down the street refers customers to them and does business with them or has what they need, you get the reciprocal picture I am sure. Those little business gestures have a tendency to come full circle in time and you would be surprised at who is eventually doing the referring to whom! 4 or our biggest competitors in the interior furnishings and art area also refer much of their more complicated custom framing projects to us because they know that I can do the work in a timely and professional manner. How did they find that out???

I told them so when I first visited their business and introduced myself to them and let them know that we also offer an advanced level of custom framing (always give plenty of examples) and would appreciate their business. The framers in 3 of those stores know their limitations and they refer such things as shadowboxes, needleart, memorabilia mounting, stacked mouldings, and such to my shop now. The 4th doesn't have a framer and depends soley on readymades that they stock so they send anyone with other than standard dimension art down to us.

Your local area is your source for most everything that you really need to stay in business on a day to day basis and to grow your business larger, you simply have to make an effort to get out there and utilize what is already at your disposal. I'm not talking about the nuts and bolts of your business in the literal sense, I am focussing on growing your database and your business and that HAS to be done on the local level.

I have so often counselled others to take one hour on your day off and go out with a hand full of business cards and meet 5 other business people. That is all you need to do, walk in, introduce yourself, hand them a business card, and spend a few minutes looking around and discussing your and their businesses. I can't tell you how many benefits there are to approaching your local business community in such a manner. When was the last time anyone did this in your business??? No sales pitch, no advertising fliers to hand out, just a friendly visit between 2 businesses to get to know each other and trade ideas and business information. I don't know why everyone isn't bragging already on the added business this practice is bringing in for them!!

How's that idea working for you, Kathy?? I would bet that even Carter would agree with me that the cost is minimal, the time is well spent, and the rewards can be awesome if you make this a weekly habit.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
well said!
 

Creative Chicks

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Great oration Framerguy. I operate my business much the way you do and those are very valid points you made. Our local business aquaintences are also good advertisers for us once we establish a relationship with them. I've had several new referals from them over the years.

If you don't have the opportunity to leave your store and hit the streets, you may consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce. It's the way I meet new businesses and we are fortunate to have an extremely supportive chamber.

Lori
 

Dave

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I'll put a plug in for service clubs like Rotary, Lions, or Kiwanis. All great organizations. I was a Rotarian for 18 years but had to leave my club when I moved and there isn't one locally now.
 
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