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You think we have it bad?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Kirstie, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Over the last two days I visited two independent camera shops in this area. I was looking at certain kinds of cameras for our upcoming Italy trip, debating whether to take the Nikon D70s, or something smaller. I do like to buy local, so I came in with a list of CNet reviews and asked to see various cameras, hoping to make up my mind and buy one. Both stores were vaguely busy with photo development and printing tasks, but their camera shelves were half empty. They had none of the very latest models, and had a cabinet of used cameras. This particular shop with two branches, used to be thriving. What cameras she did have to show me were priced at least $150. more than on the internet. And she only had one of each, and would need to order a lens for this one, and didn't know when this one would come in, and so on.

    Then I went up the street to Wolf/Ritz, a chain. Not much better, worse in fact, because the service was missing. So where to now, Best Buy? Or will I just order from the internet and hope I like what I get? This is as frustrating to the customer as it must be for the camera shops.

    We have this problem with posters--everything is stocked on the internet so we hardly have anything in stock. But we can get them for customers at the same price as on the internet, and our moulding is still current and plentiful. Our ready made shelves are full to bursting. I see the demise of the independent camera shops as much more rapid that what I am seeing in the picture framing industry.
    Not a pretty picture.

    Those camera shop folks must have had a lot to talk about at PMA.
    Sponsor Wanted
  2. Steven6095

    Steven6095 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Then we have a camera shop around here that is THRIVING!

    The lastest stuff, awesome customer service, fully stocked, etc.
    Prices are just a tiny bit high, but the service is worth it.
    Further more if you can find it cheaper on the internet from one of the real / good sellers they will match it no problem.

    I think you could find this desparity in about any business across the US.
    Someone could make nothing selling widgets in a community of widget obsessed rich folks.
    Someone else could make a fortune selling widgets to widget makers with no money!
  3. AWG

    AWG SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Kirstie - I AM SORRY you had such a poor experience at the Wolf store (I manage one of the biggest over on this side of the world)
    Unfortunately I hear things like this but fortunately haven't seen it myself. I take pride in running MY shop the same way I'd run it if I owned it.

    Yes, there is a lot of grief in that world - prices falling, internet sales, lack of qualified help, low margins - that have to be made up for elsewhere (services and finishing)

    Best Buy ? Only if you kow exactly what you want, b/c they don't know too much (the things I hear....)

    Internet? Same deal, but RUN AWAY from anyone other than maybe B&H or Adorama - we hear absolute HORROR stories about customers falling for $300 extra battery, no chargers or accessories, etc.

    What are you looking for? If I can help with advice to make it easier just give me a call or email...
  4. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    About the only camera shop still in business in Virginia Beach is Ritz Camera, which is a national chain. Almost all the rest have gone out of business.

    I bought this up on another thread. We still have many independent picture framing shops in town, but hardly any camera shops. I know PMA has a much larger membership that the PPFA, but I wonder how many of those members actually have a store front, and how many are just working out of their car or home?

    I guess my point is be careful about taking advice from a larger organization that is losing store fronts, and market share at a much faster rate than picture framers.
  5. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    As much as I hate to admidt it, when it came time to buy a camera I went to Amazon, after much of the same hassle, I went to the local shops, Sam Club and other BB's. Amazon offered the best price, suggested other items needed with the camera and it had dozens of reviews on every camera, overall very helpful and a positive experience.
  6. acrompton

    acrompton MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    We have a local camera shop, Murphy's, and we got my Nikon 80 there....wonderful service and followup...there is nothing like being able to avoid the BB's of electronics...
  7. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    The camera store up the street from my business faces a lot of competition from the internets. People come in and browse, ask questions, pick the minds of the store staff, then go home and order the same item online.

    If you're looking for a really good camera store, run and staffed by knowledgeable people, go to Adolph Gasser, in downtown San Francisco at 2nd St. and Howard. They have a small lot across the street, but you can BART in and get off at Montgomery, just a 2 block walk from there.
  8. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Kirstie-Back recently I would do a lot of Market Research for PPFA (and nobody would read the reports; those few that did always wanted to question the Strategic Implications). Prior to affiliation with PMA, there simply wasn't any empirical data on our industry (so much for the good old days of PPFA pre-affiliation)

    But, we had tons of data on the photo retailers

    Some really smart guy doing the research was able to create a timeline of that industry that amazingly allowed a "chartable progression" for our trade. The market domination of the big players and internet was irefutable; and coupled with the warp speed changes in technologies in photography, the results were predictable

    20-25 years ago we all went down the street to the local camera shop, talked to Joe and he advised us and we bought his goods. We had some photos that were not so good and he could advise about and improper fstop and such

    Today that is gone

    Then there was a vibrant wholesale distribution network of area wholesalers

    Today Canon sells 100,000 units to Circuit City

    Not much different than our future in my quaint research-laden opinion

    The difference is that most of the survivors in the photo-retailer trade are pretty smart, adaptable operators

    The folks out of biz simply were convinced that they were above the fray, that their customers were fiercely loyal and would pay extra to get that personal service. That, they alone, were simply better than the hack down the road. I mean, who would ever buy something as personal as a $400 camera from some pimply faced kid down at one of those vanilla sterile cavernous buildings

    Yeah, thank goodness that cannot happen here
  9. JRB

    JRB PFG, Picture Framing God

  10. TGFU

    TGFU CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Bob & others, If we can't count on loyal customer, better service, vast selection, and since the majority of customers are buying disposable decorative art (that really don't care to pay more for quality, as long as it looks good until they redecorate in a few years), then what else can we do to adapt and compete with the Internet sales?
  11. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    John-We have exactly the same problem, just much, much larger

    To combat that problem and because we buy pretty well, we have signs plastered around stating that we beat art.com's prices by 20% (and no shipping charges). We have gone so far as to have a computer kiosk with art.com as a Tab

    Guess what?

    Many simply refuse to believe that we can save them money, even with a direct comparison in front of them; that the internet just has to be cheaper (as does Micheal's, I'm sure). On occassion, we get a convert or two. But, we are the little boy putting our finger in the dike.

    The rest of them?

    Just like you, they want to see it before they order off the web

    Not sure how some faceless monitor is more believeable than "Honest Bob", but it i s that way, indeed

    Yes, i do think we have it bad
  12. Lance E

    Lance E Member

    The answer to this is perhaps "sales training", being aware of the changes in the market also means we need to be aware of new and different techneeks for selling.

    A lot of the old adages (such as "getting hands on a product does 50% of the selling") are perhaps outdated. Do we as retailers need to be approaching the store more as an all around entertainment zone, similar to the feeling of overload that can be achieved online?
  13. AWG

    AWG SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    OK - what about the legit B&M dealers with reasonable prices (I think Wolf Camera happens to be one) that end up acting as "showrooms" for the greasy ripoff schemes that run rampant on the 'net. Today's "savvy" consumer is more and more frequently coming in to the shop, learning everything they like, then leaving to buy online. More often than not, adding in shipping and such, they pay with 5% OF MY PRICE.
  14. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hi Lance-I think you guys "down under" have a little different environment than we. While very correct for you, not so sure "up here"
  15. Jared Davis CPF GCF

    Jared Davis CPF GCF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Here comes "Bob's Down Under bashing" again... :)

    Maybe you should come visit "Down Under" one day Bob , so you can remain credible in your off hand remarks?

    Unlike yourself Bob, I've actively researched both markets Down Under & US... and while I am by no means an authority, I believe Lance has got a point...

    Maybe that's also why "Big Boxes" do so well, because they work hard to create that "entertainment zone - overload" feeling, that today's modern consumer desires?

    I would say only with regards to selling prints online ... but not with regards to selling custom framing? I've asked many "online shopping junkies" I know if they would ever buy custom framing, or framed items online, and unless it was a photo frame, or a very basic framed print - they all say no.

    Fortunately, custom framing is still something most people what to touch, feel and experience when they buy, not like a Canon ISUX970 camera.

    However the internet may still have an affect on pricing and margins for custom framing?
  16. TGFU

    TGFU CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I wonder if there is any research data regarding framed art internet sales growth???
  17. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Jared-I'm saying this as friend

    How many times must I say before you get it that I am not bashing all the Aussies and Kiwis

    Bottom line: Our environments are different.

    10 years ago, those entertainment zones were all the rage up here (remember Nike Town and so many places that did that?) I am a little bit knowledgeable of marketing in the US as my stores are in the epicenters of retailing: Huge, regional, super malls. Every clothing store had the full wall video productions, loud music-all the things designed to create "entertainment zones" then-been there, done that

    If it works for your market or any market here-Great

    All I am basing my comments on what I hear from several of your countrymen that you do not have a super-presence like Michael's or Aaron Bros and that you rarely, if ever, see poster orders from Art.com or the like. Your countrymen, when asked why, say that the shipping is simply prohibitve for a timely delivery.

    Perhaps they were incorrect

    But, "up here" those are real factors, indeed

    Now, for about the 100th time, i do not think Aussies are backwards or behind us but that almost every framer in this country would love to be operating in an environment where Big Boxes were virtually non-existant and poster sales from .coms like art.com were insignificant

    "Up here" we call those days "the 80's"

    As to "internet framing", Jared, please tell us how many framers art.com or fulcrumgallery.com employ. I do know the answers, but would love to see if you do. It's staggering. Ask most framers in this country if they are not impacted by these two factors. They will ship more framed product in a week than most framers do in a year. The Big Boxes do 3-4 more volume of the "see, feel, touch" framing than we typical framers up here. And, that is not all "new business"

    If there is a point I am trying to make it might be that many of us are wistful of what I hear from your framers. Please understand that if those factors that work well in your environment do, wonderful. And, anyone that feels that those conditions will help them here, wonderful, as well

    Furl the colors, mate, this is hardly a Nationalistic issue
  18. Jared Davis CPF GCF

    Jared Davis CPF GCF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Point taken Bob.... but if you've had to say it 100 times, then maybe the way you are saying it is wrong?

    I can see from your comments on this thread, and the other thread that your concerns are mainly with selling prints, and framing prints.... not specifically custom framing... which is also an issue, but not this topic for now...

    Firstly, in our market.... not every framing business focuses on selling prints & framed prints anymore.... 5-10 years ago, yes... but not much now.

    Art.com & Allposters.com HAVE made an impact here Down Under, and many consumers and framers and in Australia are using them as a primary supply source for images now. This has dramatically impacted our print industry, with yet another Australian print supplier (Artworks) closing down last week... and the few remaining are definitely struggling....

    but.... custom framing is UP!?? (.... for our market)

    Most Aussie framers I see here now have accepted the fact that the print market is dead for typical custom framing retailer.... and framed prints are in rapid decline as well. We see that the impact of digital photography is certainly pushing more framed "memories" through our doors than ever before. Framers here are focusing on selling "custom framing", which, in the absence of Big Boxes, is no doubt a better direction for our market to head... for now...

    I have never seen your shops Bob, and would really like to ... I get the feeling your shops are big retail spaces in shopping centres full of walls of framed prints ... which are no longer selling? Some of my thoughts are this - How much focus does your retail space help promote "custom framing".... ie: Inspiration Wall Display, Framed Ideas.... down the line of "Less framed prints, more framed ideas?"

    Also, just a small note, as a typical GenX consumer, to qualify for a percentage of my luxury disposable income, your business would need to be convenient (tick), relevant (maybe not?), and at the very least, have a website? Do you have a website (I can't find it)...

    Getting back to the topic - do you think we have it bad?

    From what Kirstie first described about those camera retailers - it seems to me that they do have it bad, because they only sell a commodity, with no point of difference on the product, thus the focus can become the price..... But as a "custom framers" who can truly offer an infinitely variable product based on a "want" motivation, and easily influenced by "desire", I don't believe we really have it as bad as them (in either market US or Australia)? At least we can change the product we sell to at least offer some points of difference.... but a Canon ISUX camera from Ebay or Best Buy is the same camera from one of those retailers!


  19. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Lest anyone think otherwise, I have met jared, thought we hit it off well and have exchanged several emails. Bottom line: I like him

    He also told me that the numbers of framers are disappering in Oz are at an uncomfortable rate like us

    If he chooses to make the discussion all about the custom framing side of the biz only, no problem. We see a little larger vision and that 5 yrs ago a noticeable part of most of our business came from unframed prints, preframed prints and those posters that we framed. We simply could not stay in biz if we relied solely on those wonderful Jim Milleresque shadowboxes and the like

    Because I do a fair amount of consulting and visiting with major players and Sales Managers and GM-types, may I make a sweeping statement and suggest that not one that doesn't have a serious .com presence, I'll repeat, not one has any success stories. They all are concerned; maybe worried, even. Speak to any sales reps for a fair barometer. I think I remember Jared saying his earnings (as a s ales rep in Oz) were not as good as expected

    But, none of that changes what Lance has said

    On a personal note, Jared, one of the things we returned from Vegas committed to was to convert our site (opretty boring like most) to an actual selling site. As a complete dummy I am letting people do that work. If I said I am a little impatient, that would be mild. So, work we do, but it will not be anything close to what we had

    I do not think they are playing Chicken Little, either

    As to the hundred times issue, help me my friend, and write down my exact sentiments that will no longer be wrong. I am often accussed of saying things more "straight forward" than I thought
  20. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think it's important to distinguish between the business of selling posters, and the business of custom framing. Perhaps those who have been in business 10 years or more can speak to the percent of total revenue represented by selling posters. Regardless of the advent of Art.com, I never expected poster sales to be a big part of my business, and so the inventory of posters that I stock is pretty small (maybe 20?). It's meant mainly to show people that yes, they can buy posters from me. I've sold some of my inventory, and in other cases the fact that I have the inventory has led to special orders.

    Maybe poster sales are the canary in the coal mine, however. If 26 million posters were sold, what is being done with them by the purchasers? Someone asked that question, and I suspect that half of them are never framed. The customer tacks them up to the wall (and these aren't just college students!), or leaves it rolled up in the closet, once he finds out that it costs more than $25 to frame that $25 poster.
  21. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Really great discussion folks and excellent insight Jared about the cameras being a commodity and the necessity of differentiating ourselves to take what we do out of that realm.

    I have several thousand prints in stock from the days when it was the norm to have them on site. Most of them are unsigned reproductions, bookplates, Currier & Ives, Cries of London and the sort from the 50's and forward. Quite different than what you find in the market now.

    I also have quite a few (maybe 50 or so) signed LE, high quality stone lithos, woodcuts, serigraphs, etchings, etc. that would retail in a $100.00 to over $ 1000.00 price range. In addition I have maybe two dozen original oils, acrylics and watercolors I've collected over the years ranging from a couple hundred to about 10K most of which I'm ready to sell.

    Unfortunately my space is such that I can't effectively show much of my unusual inventory but have found when I take someone and personally show them images I'll often sell them and the resulting custom framing.

    I think there is a market for the unusual but they have to obviously be shown, both framed and unframed in order to sell them. I've explored the eBay market but found items being sold there usually go at fire sale prices.

    When I spoke recently to a brick & mortar eBay store owner about the artwork they suggested Craig's List as a viable outlet since these are items that are not really a commodity and need to be seen and touched to sell.

    What do you think? Has anyone had success with Craig's List selling mid range art?

    I've been told by several gallery owners that the mid-range art market is extremely soft right now.

    Any other thoughts or suggestions?

  22. Jared Davis CPF GCF

    Jared Davis CPF GCF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Sure thing Bob... maybe just allow some contributors a little bit more latitude with their thoughts and comments, even if they are a little less relevant than you'd like or expect... If readers and contributors fear that their comments or thoughts may be "stomped on", then maybe they won't feel inclined to comment at all in future, which is not a good thing, because we may all be missing out on a few "gems".

    I gotta say - I like Bob a lot..... He makes me think... and not many writers on this forum can manage to make me do that often :) ... What I also like about Bob is that he "fights the fight"... and I respect that.

    Bob, I like the fact you are not backing down to your competition from the online discounters, and you are trying the things that need to be tried. You acknowledge the issue, and face it head-on with seemingly worthy strategies.... it is unfortunate however, as you say, that there have been no success stories as yet.

    With 26 million prints sold last year, it really does make me wonder what happens to that significant volume of images that requires framing?... and how much impact (and potential) does this represent to the traditional framing retailer?... Is it worth fighting for a piece of this pie still, or is it just easier to turn our back on it and focusing on the "Jim Milleresque shadowbox custom framing". In my opinion, if it really is that sort of volume, then I believe it is worth fighting for a piece of it?

    Next question - How?
  23. Dermot.

    Dermot. In Corner

    Is that 26 million prints sold or printed !!!!!………..the answer could have some very significant relevance …..

    My Dad (RIP) spent a good part of his working life in printing, the company he worked for were one of the leading poster/print producers in Ireland……….they printed millions of posters/prints over the years for various publishers ……….a very small volume of the print runs ended up actually being sold in any manner………most ended up in landfill
  24. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I think we have a tremendous preception problem here

    To we framers as consumers, we see cameras as a "commodity"

    To the photo-retailers, they probably feel a "tad" differently. And, they probably feel getting a print or poster framed is a little bit of a "commodity" purchase, too. How many times have we heard "it's just 4 sticks of wood?"

    Bottom line: It's less important of what we "perceive" than the consumer.

    I make a tragic mistake of talking from an "industry" point. I do work for a few art publishers and distributors and I see things from that prism. Many here wish to view this problem in a more constrained parameter of higher end custom framer. While nothing wrong from that point of view.

    Perhaps an interesting poll might be for those in the biz 10 yrs or more, What percentage of your biz then was of the following segments

    Pure custom framing
    unframed art (LE's, posters, prints, cards)
    Easel back ready made frames up to 11x14
    Preframed or completely framed art

    And what percentage are those today

    I realize that most people do not track that or have records, so guessing will work

    My supposition for most i sthat we have seen those categories erode markedly in both dollars and percentages. We hear of framer after framer sitting on stacks of paper, so at one time, it obviously must have been a factor

    It might be interesting readings

    To my friend, Dermot: You are the master of internet research. Pull that info up, please. My numbers come from APA sources and indicate prints sold to someone, be it a publisher/distributor, etc then to consumers. If they got framed or not only represents a challenge to get them framed and then by us

    Supposse that "only" 13 million got framed. Are weframers getting our share and what can we do to extend that
  25. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    This news item is from PMA daily newsline:

    Retail Markets

    In tough times, hagglers descending on retailers
    In today's tough economy, retailers desperate for sales are willing to negotiate on prices, according to an article in The New York Times. According to Matt Richtel's article: "Shoppers are discovering an upside to the down economy. They are getting price breaks by reviving an age-old retail strategy: haggling.
    "A bargaining culture once confined largely to car showrooms and jewelry stores is taking root in major stores like Best Buy, Circuit City, and Home Depot, as well as mom-and-pop operations.
    "Savvy consumers, empowered by the Internet and encouraged by a slowing economy, are finding that they can dicker on prices, not just on clearance items or big-ticket products like televisions but also on lower-cost goods like cameras, audio speakers, couches, rugs and even clothing."
    Specifically, the article cited a case where a customer price-shopped a camera on the Internet, negotiated a price at Ritz Camera, and then eventually purchased the camera at yet a third retailer who offered a preferred warranty.
  26. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    How do you like the D80? I was thinking of selling my 4 year old D70s and buying either this or the slightly smaller D60.
  27. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Tony--I have a D70s which we keep at work because we use it so much. I photograph a lot of framed art and set it up on a tripod. It's a hassle taking it back and forth from home so for the last year it's lived in the safe at work. That leaves me no camera at home or for travel. So for ravel I would like something smaller. I looked at the super zooms but they just felt weird. I have some sort of Sony cybershot, but it takes very mediocre pictures. I want to get good shots in Italy--wide to zoom, but I'm not crazy about the bulk of a dslr. Still, thinking about the D40, 60,80. Olympus 410 has no stabilization. Olympus 510 gets up there in size with some problems I read in the reviews. If I put this off long enough I will take the D70s and be done with it. They'll have to exist without a camera at work.

    Carron on....sorry to steal the thread I started!
  28. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    You have to carry what they want. Cheaper products. Ready made frames. Poster specials. You have to adapt and offer a wider variety of price choices while maintaining your higher-end customer base. You also need to diversity. I haven't figured that one out yet but I think I know where we should be going. No easy trick. It's a dance, unfortunately.

    I had a university client in yesterday who frankly told me that the certificates I had been framing for her dept. for years were too expensive. Well, yes, she chose double mats and an LJ Academy black and gold frame. Price, $120. It was a steal. Now her boss says she has to lower the deal. So she wants ready mades. I realize what those will really cost me, grab a few value mouldigns and almost have the sale with the two mats and a black frame at $70. Then I "upgrade it" to $85. with a somewhat less expensive LJ black with gold stripe that looks like every diploma frame on the market. So I went from $120 to rock bottom $85. but saved the account. They do a few of these a month. Making less profit, but saved the account. I think this is the way its going to be and we'd better get used to making it work. As Bob points out, it's all about buying. I'll be talking to my rep about this moulding next week.
  29. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Bet they won't skimp on that new stadium.
  30. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    LOL! The tree sitters have delayed that one. I'm with them but for different reasons. No one should be building a new training facility directly on a fault line attached to a questionably stable stadium. They need to tear the whole old mess down and start over with modern earthquake standards and new picture framing. Today I'm going to visit someone at the law school to talk about expanding a current project we have been working on. Now they know what they want and how to pay for it. And hey, their building is at least 50 yards from the Hayward fault and mine must be at least 60. And the business school, in a new building, is across from the stadium, at least 10 yards away.

    Meanwhile--keep framing,

    Carry on....this thread is all over the place. Time for me to get moving.
  31. Rhonda in MT

    Rhonda in MT MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    While we are not a camera store we are a retail photo lab. The real problem for all of us in the photo business is that 4x6 has become a commodity. Most consumers now shop for the lowest price(5cents). With digital images and the lowered expectations most people can see no difference in a 48 cent print and a 5cent print. For years we lived or died on our 4x6 volume. Now a lot of us are dying or trying to diversify. Customer service has to be the best at all times. 20 years ago we sold film and photofinishing period. Now we sell some of that but also frames, camera bags, tripods, doo-dads, scanning prints and slides, large format prints, restorations and custom framing. I have had to learn things I never envisioned.
    Camera suggestion. Panasonic TZ-5 28-280 Leica lens. Super quality unbeatable price.
  32. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    This appears not to have an optical viewfinder? I went to look at one today and of course, could not find one locally. Forgot to say Im looking for an optical viewfinder as well.
  33. AWG

    AWG SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    LOTS of cameras are losing the eyelevel VF - not a good development IMHO. Camera design and what people are asking for seem to be going in opposite directions.
    The TZ5 is brand-new and may not yet be readily available in many areas.
    If you want something like this with a VW look to the Fuji 8000 or Panasonic FZ8.
    For nice equipment reviews check dpreview.com.
    Hope that helps.
  34. DLB

    DLB MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    While it doesn't have an optical view finder, I will swear (until the cows come home) on my Canon Digital Elph SD750. You just can't beat it for all the features. I went to the Best Buy with a different camera in mind, and played with this one and was sold in a heartbeat. HUGE screen, AWESOME pictures, EXCELLENT quality.

    Can we say frankenthre-----OOOOHHHH SHINY!!!!!!!!!!

  35. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I have a Nikon D40 and D80 and love both. There is not much difference in the two cameras, except the D80 has 10 mp.

    I would recommend getting two different size zoom lens. Also, spend a little more and get the lens with vibration control.
  36. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I think the Frankenthread on cameras is great

    Now, where would each of you but the camera suggested

    And, that answer might be the answer we may to more closely examine
  37. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    In my case, the only camera store still open for business in a city of 450,000 people, is Ritz Camera, right around the corner from me. They have managed to combine good prices, a couple of employees that are camera experts, and a good selection of products. Plus, they will actually show you how to use the camera when you buy it.

    The other option locally would be Best Buy, or WalMart.

    Or, I could do what I think a lot of customers do these days. Which is go to Ritz Camera (or someone like them in your area) have someone show you a nice camera, get all the info on that camera, and then either go to a big box, or the internet to actually buy it.

    Hey, that sounds like what a lot of my poster and print customers do to me. Pick out the print in my store, and order it from the internet. ;)
  38. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

  39. DLB

    DLB MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I bought mine at Best Buy for the reason that I used my Best Buy card for special incentives. That was the only reason. I was going on a trip to Europe and I needed it right away, and pay day wasn't for a few weeks. Otherwise, I have a good relationship with an independently owned Ritz Camera that I would have gone through. Good point Bob!

  40. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    That's it Bill, camera shops have dropped like flies. A few transformed themselves into printing centers offering an array of services, but most are gone. I think our situation is a bit better because we may have lost the poster market to the internet, a commodity like a camera in some ways, but we still have the creative design advantage for those who care in our custom framing product.

    DIY and value priced custom are another matter. We go head to head with the local bbs on that one because we can match price and have much better service and selection, but without the buying advantage. Working on that!

    But if the customer wants the internet cheapo frame, we need to find other ways to fight back.
  41. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Kirstie-Next PMA show, walk to the other side of the bldg and visit with some photo-retailers. They will tell you song and verse of all the shuttered (is that a poor analogy?) camera stores of whom the operators felt they all had an advantage, too

    Make no mistake, sometimes we do have a perceptible advantage and we need to exploit that advantage. But, more consumers are responding differently and market share continues to erode

    Listen, I am not trying to be all "doom and gloom". We must figure a way to recapture these many segments that we have simply abdicated

    Thinking we have a "quality" or "design" advantage is, in my pea-brain thinking, simply too narrow a market.
  42. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Absolutely. But I am not sold on posters being that recaptured product. I think we need to move forward with online sales to compete on today's playing field. I can compete well locally, but on the internet, I really don't have a clue.

    Time to get to work. I go in late these days to preserve what knee cartilage I have left!
  43. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Kirstie-My entire point was to not focus on "posters"

    It's the segment migration, stupid (in my best James Carville impression)

    Please, don't anyone miss my point. I am not calling Kirstie stupid. She is one of the brighter folks here
  44. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    :icon19: LOL! Yes, segment migration. Agreed. So what do we as an industry do?
  45. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Bob, I'm not sure what "segment migration" is. Could you explain?

    I'm not sure I'm on the right train of thought, but I thought it interesting how the local BB's in my area have their picture framing department set up.

    I went out today to buy a crafty thing called a "Cricut" for my girlfriend, going to both Michael's and Joanne's.

    While I was there I checked out the framing departments at both places, and found both of them very similar. Both of the Joanne's and M's I went to had a very limited amount of frame samples on the wall, maybe a couple hundred. They both sold some prints, but not many.

    They both had 50% off framing signs set up. Both had a huge display of readymades in all sizes with and without mats in them.

    My point? I would think this set up is the opposite of how most independent frame shops are run. Most of us have hundreds of frame samples, even one or two thousand on the wall.
    No signage about sales or discounts, and a small selection of readymades to choose from.

    Are the BB's doing something the indies should be doing? Or are we smarter than them?
    I'm thinking if the BB's don't need a thousand frame samples on the wall, why do I?
    Also, I'm thinking of greatly increasing my readymade selection, like Kirstie has done.
  46. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm sure the sales analysts at the BBs have looked at each moulding on the wall, and any moulding that has not reached a certain sales level within a designated period of time gets yanked. They don't care that at some point sometime, someone might come in and want the 5-inch wide elaborate gilded frame. If it hasn't sold X units within Y weeks, it gets discontinued.

    Also, every one of those moulding samples on the wall reflects moulding that is stocked at the facility where the BB does its frame assembly. I doubt there is a single moulding which those BB's order just 10 feet of. Or a single box of, for that matter.

    Regarding online framing, I think we have more than just a design/quality advantage. There are a ton of things we frame that I think customers just won't feel comfortable mailing off to FacelessFramer.com to get framed. Sure, the poster sellers can offer framing as an adjunct to their poster sales, but do you really think a customer will mail that fragile 85-year old photo of her great-grandmother off to YouCantFindUsFraming.com? Or the canvas brought back from that trip to Italy last year? Can you mail a poster to Art.com and have them frame it for you? Is that a service they offer? I think that internet framers will only be successful with respect to artwork they already are selling.
  47. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    From a quick review of their website, it looks like you can't send Art.com something to frame. I didn't call to confirm, because I didn't want to give them any ideas.
  48. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Paul-We are guilty of abidicating entire segments becuase they just aren't worth the money or effort. Perhaps art.com has come to that conclusion on customer provided work. Sometimes that is called skimming the cream
  49. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    This is all true, Paul. But the VOLUME of framed posters that are being sold online is really what's telling. In the 70s and 80s WE had that volume, we sold the framed posters, we got the inexpensive framing. Now much of it goes online and we are talking about millions of dollars that used to be spent in frame shops. We need to pay attention to this and take heed because any more encroachment into our businesses and we won't be here--unless we figure out how to make changes. I don't have the answers.
  50. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    But how much of that volume is being sold to individual consumers, and how much is being sold for mass-produced wall decor (meaning, the kind of preframed art you buy at Bed Bath & Beyond, or that is put in the corridors and rooms of massive hospitals)? And how much of the consumer-purchased volume is actually framed? I've said it before, and I'll repeat it -- I think a lot of consumers buy a poster for $20, never considering how much it will cost to frame it. And when they do take it for framing, whether to Michaels or an independent, they freak when the cost of framing is made clear to them. So the poster either goes back into the closet, or they tack it to the wall without a frame.

    I keep hearing a 26 million number, but does anyone have a breakdown?
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