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""Your Trusted Custom Framer" Guess who?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Paul Cascio, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

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  2. Tom Reigle

    Tom Reigle Guest

    Aren't you just a bit tired of knocking Michaels yet?? 'Cause I sure am tired of reading about it.

    Same ole' same ole' to me. :icon11::bdh::icon11:
  3. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    No Tom, I'm not, but you are welcome to not read my posts, or post an opposing view. I'm sure there are others who feel as you do and I respect their right to do the same.
  4. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Did they? It says "60% off" at the link you gave. It is usually "50% off" every week here.

    Marketing with such a slogan, directly challenging ones own shortcoming, is pretty clever, IMO. Their sales and marketing are more of a psychological game than anything else, and seem to work well. They're selling perception, not value, IMO. I bet we could learn from this, and become better retailers too.
  5. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I guess 50%-off ain't what it used to be. Interesting that they felt a need to increase the offer. I wonder why?
  6. Tom Reigle

    Tom Reigle Guest

    No, Paul, I don't have an opposing view mostly because you didn't post a view to oppose! If the point of your thread was to inform everyone that Michaels has dropped their 50% off line, you missed the mark slightly according to Mike. I see no other point to your thread if that wasn't your goal.

    Frankly the Michaels gossip is so repetitive and boring that I would think that an astute businessman like yourself could come up with something just a little bit more creative.

    The concept that Michaels uses is well known amongst most framers who can read and is a fairly basic business tactic in more than one line of retail.

    I will take your advice and skip over your very well thought out thread and go see what's in Warped. :shrug:
  7. gemini

    gemini CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I have to agree with Tom.
    We all see the weekly Michaels or JoAnn ads, we're all aware of their salacious deals that pull away business from us, and that they are inherently evil. Nothing can be done about it Paul.
    They have just as much right to be in business as you and I do. Do I agree with their strategies? Heck yes, and if I had the werewithall I'ld be dumping tons of money to send the same message. Realistically I can't do it nor do I have the desire to do it.
    I do my part by buying locally, from small businesses I support. I refuse to frequent big box stores whenever possible. That is the means at my disposal and hopefully everyone else is doing the same.
    What is your intent for posting this?
    Earlier thread you were asked how your lawsuit was going. It was blown off glibly. Follow up on that would truly by of interest to everyone, not Michaels latest ad.
  8. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think it's pretty humorous reading all the posts from previous threads in the last couple of years, from grumblers wringing their hands about what to do about the BB's.

    I've got an M's 200 yards from me, and I've learned to adapt and grow my business because and/or in spite of them.

    They are doing our market research for us. We just have to pay attention to what they are doing and saying.

    If the 50% off sale is not working, then they try 60% off. It should be obvious by now that the average framing customer does not care, or does not think about the question grumblers keep asking "50% off what?".

    Here are some other things the BB's are doing that I'm thinking about copying.

    The M beside me is carrying a huge amount of readymade frames with and without mats.

    They don't have a thousand corner samples. Maybe a few hundred.

    In house large signs announcing the sale of the week.
    I'm thinking about posting typical framing prices in my store window.

    If you can't beat them, then I think you have to learn from them.

    Paul, I don't agree with all your posts, but I don't think it's up to other people to decide if you have the right to start threads or not.
  9. JRB

    JRB PFG, Picture Framing God

    Myself, I think we would be in bad shape if all the big boxes close their doors today, for good. We would lose those millions of dollars in advertising that keep our industry in the publics mind. Our material costs would go through the roof. Some of our suppliers would just flat go out of business. It does us no good whatsoever to badmouth them, we need them, a lot more than most of us think.

    If that market dried up for our suppliers, it would be like going backward in time. We would be finishing a lot of our own mouldings, our numbers would be greatly reduced, as would our selections of frames to offer the public.

    Paul, I would suggest you think it through a little more before you advocate the disappearance of the big box operations. I am convinced we need them a whole lot more than they need us.

    Granted, their advertising draws a lot of business their way, however, it also reminds our customers about framing. Without it, how much do you think your business would improve? I think you would actually see a huge drop in business within a few months. No one would be reminding the public about custom framing. If you think our little advertising budgets could replace the impact they have had on our industry, you are wrong. As our sales drop, so would our advertising dollars.

    Besides, everyone knows it's wrong to badmouth the competition.

  10. dougj

    dougj SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    OK we are on an island so we have not really had to deal with BB's.
    They don't advertise in our local papers.
    Sure some people buy from them when they go off island and some bring them to us for remat and some fitting.
    Well now we just had a framer open out here who has several locations off island.
    He is advertising low prices and turn around in days.
    We are usually 5 to 7 days or less mostly due to shipping.
    So now we need info such as Paul's to help us learn how to adjust to our changing environment if we need to.
    Not that we are too concerned, we have build up a good reputation, but we still need to be on our toes.
    So thanks Paul and any others with info that might be of value to US.
  11. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Tom, I obviously knew of the move to 60%-off when I posted that they weren't at 50%-off. You don't find anything significant about the change?

    John, I respectfully disagree.
  12. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We need them?

    What independent framer wouldn't mind going back to the days of BPBB (Before the Proliferation of Big Boxes)?

    And how did our suppliers ever manage without them? By selling more to independents at prices that aren't as discounted as they have to give the BB's. I would bet that like us, the suppliers would like to get back to the "good ol days" as well.

    I agree that it does no good to complain about them. What is helpful I think, is knowing what they are up to, having frank discussions about it and planning our business strategies to be relevant in today's marketplace. And they are certainly now a big part.

    Thanks for riling us up Paul. Complacency is deadly!
  13. JRB

    JRB PFG, Picture Framing God

    Excellent response Doug, I don't agree with everything you said, but for the most part, you make sense. I know we would all love to go back to the little operations that at one time was our industry, heck I owned one of them for a while. I do miss those days. Or it could be I was much younger and it's my youth I'm missing.

    What we have now is what we get, and you are right, we gotta deal with it.

  14. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Psssssst Paul, This isn't anything new. They have gone as high as 70% off before. I do think it is because their customers have slowed down responding to their ads. Who knows why. Cliff had a good point in another thread that maybe the slow down in response is due to the slow down in the economy.

    I won't jump on you here as I have before but you know I don't buy into the whole illegal ad theory you have. If they were doing something illegal I think they would have already been charged with something. But, I do admire your passion for your cause.
  15. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    I see your point Doug. So many shops have disappeared over the past 10 years. But, a couple of suppliers have probably reached a new level of success because of the BB's. Nielsen Bainbridge is the exclusive supplier of matboard and metel frames in 3 out of 4 of the BB's and LJ is exclusive to one of them for eveything and a major player in 2 others. I imagine that is a good thing for both companies. I don't see them wanting to go back to the good ol days.

    Oh yeah, I forgot about TV. The BB's have given them the ability to saturate the market with their product and virtually be the only glass source available.
  16. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The suppliers in our industry are dependent on indies. With the exception of Tru Vue and Crescent, few of our suppliers are making sales to Michaels. Even Larson-Juhl, to the best of my knowledge, isn't selling much to Michaels, except as a backup source.

    This is why I've always been amazed that the suppliers in our industry don't do more to help indies market their businesses. Every additional sale we make is an additional sale for some supplier too.

    And if the materials suppliers are losing business, the equipment manufacturers are taking an even bigger hit. Let's use Fletcher-Terry as an example.

    Almost every frameshop has a FT3000. Fletcher has more than 90% of the maulti-material cutter market because the 3000 is a great product. Unfortunately, for Fletcher, it's too good. We can buy one, use it forever and pass it down to our children.

    Now let's look at how Michaels effects Fletcher's sales. I estimate that an average Michaels does as much volume as 6-10 independent shops (maybe more), yet each store would not have a need for more than one FT3000, 1-2 FT2200s, and since their frames are cut and joined in one of just a handful of framing factories, no v-nailers.

    The manufacturers of framing equipment are taking a beating too. Our industry's collective failure to respond is sad and shameful.
  17. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Paul, Crescent hasn't sold to Michael's since 1994. Bainbridge is exclusive to all but Hobby Lobby.
  18. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thanks Kathy. That means Crescent is a potential allie of indies.
  19. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Paul, Crescent has a campaign saying they only deal with independents. I kind of thought it was funny because it isn't like they made that choice, Bainbridge just happened to win out. But, I don't blame Crescent for turning it into a positive for them.

    I mainly sell Crescent and Artique.
  20. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    LOL. How nice of them.
  21. Turnip

    Turnip CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Michael's is a very small threat in my town.
    We've had customer's come in saying that at Michael's 50% off price, OUR regular price is still less.

    So Michael's is just over inflating their regular price, and advertising sales in order to reel in customers who only see the word "SALE" and assume they're getting a deal.

    The only deal you get from them is on their ready-made frames. And from I can tell, what you save in dollars, you sacrifice in quality.

    No biggie.
  22. JackBingham CPF

    JackBingham CPF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

  23. couture's gallery

    couture's gallery PFG, Picture Framing God

    today's ad did away with the 50% Off...it is now 60% Off...maybe 75% in a couple of weeks if the economy keeps going like it is One of my customers went to M's and asked for 100% Off and the guy (kid) at the counter actually went to ask the manager if he could do it??????
  24. Maryann

    Maryann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Same here. Our price is usually less. But you are fooling yourself if you think that they are not a threat or cutting into your business. The average Michael's does $750,000 a year in framing. I don't know about your shop, but I'm not anywhere near their average (yet!).

    I want a bigger piece of the pie!
  25. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Interesting perspective, Mr Baker. There is more than some truth to that perspective.

    However ...I'm waiting for their 100% off sale so I can take all the stuff I haven't had time to frame to them.

  26. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  27. pollyann

    pollyann CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    M's actually ran 60% off twice last year, I guess everyone here missed it. As past years have proven, they will continue to change and offer different discounts/sales to try and attract more customers. I am sure they have a large advertising department with one goal in mind, coming up with the newest and latest ads to attract more customers. I find it interesting that ACMoore and Joann's have now started the exact ads that M's started over a year ago. I guess they both feel if it's works for M's it will work for them.

    As for there advertising practices being illegal, I would think they would be in no more trouble than your local Kohl's department store. I can't remember a single week that I haven't seen an ad for them since the beginning of the year. They run entire catagories of clothing on sale from the day it hits the sales floor until the day it hits the clearance rack. They may change it from 25% off, to 50% or buy one get one free, but still it will remain on sale constantly. I am not saying this is right, I am just saying this type of advertising runs rampant among the BB's.

    I would assume that M's stays within the legal boundaries by not offering ads 52 weeks in a row. They actually only run 2 or 3 weeks and then a week with no ad. There "regular price" on framing is the same every single week, the POS systems do not change, the only thing that changes in the % that is taken off, or the $ amount, depending on the type of sale running. If someone were to come in during a non ad week they would be quoted the "regular price". They do not increase there "regular price" from one week to the next according to the sales they run.

    Oh, and Cresent did get some of the pie, they now supply M's with there Team sports colors.
  28. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Paul, I am guesssing that you want some feedback since you posted your link so I will start.

    It needs audio editing, your mouth is not saying what we are hearing

    Quite frankly, I was not impressed. If you think that consumers are confused by the ASOF's they will not comprehend what your commercial is saying. There really is no compelling call to action. If I was involved in your co-op advertising program I would be very disappointed in this commercial.
  29. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thanks Tim. I certainly respect your expertise. Afterall, who would know more about how NOT to advertise than Deck the Walls? I'm sure we'd all love to hear how you would do it.

    BTW, this was clearly labeled as a prototype.
  30. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    My aren't you one to take critique well. If I gave it praise would your comment be the same? I Doubt it.

    As a prototype I would guess that you would want to have some critique so the final version is the best that it can be.

    How would I do it....I wouldn't. I would, and I do, focus on my business instead of trying to bring the big boys down. Getting into a pi$$ing match with a big box is not going to do anything for your business, it will hurt it more than anything since you could use that money elsewhere selling yourself instead of trying to bring the competition down.

    As for your other comment, I refuse to stoop to your level.
  31. hangupsgallery

    hangupsgallery MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    If it's competition your worried about, you're in the wrong business. And the BB retailers are only a small piece of that pie.

    In most locales, there are frame shops on every corner, all looking for a piece of the action.

    Some would say that home based operators are taking a significant portion of the business at what would appear to be an uneven advantage. Heck, no rent, no employees, zero advertising, no regular store hours....seems pretty sweet when I look at my overhead costs.

    The problem with this industry is that just about any one can get in for a song & a dance. "Picture framing can be a fun and profitable business that offers low startup costs, flexible modes of operation (home-based, retail, mobile, full-time, part-time etc.), reasonable hours, and of course, high markups." (don't forget the HIGH MARKUPS)

    You can take a 2-day, $495 course from your local picture framing academy and .....walla....you're now a picture framer...as advertised.... You now have everything you need to know to be a success. "Once you've completed the class, you'll be able to do your own custom framing at savings of as much as 70%. We'll even tell you how and where to buy wholesale materials and supplies." Whoops, there went another customer.

    Or....you can take the "4-Day Professional Class which covers BOTH the technical and business aspects of custom picture framing. Whoops, there's another frame shop across the street.

    ....Yep, some of us have even figured out how to make a business out of traveling from border to border, creating more competition for the competition's competition.

    I love this country!
  32. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I would say that if you ignore your competition, you're in the wrong business. However, that will be self-correcting.
  33. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Paul as M's is always advertising a 50% off they need to do something to shake it up. As Kathy said they run 60-75% off during the year as well!

    If in your other thread you want us to be discounters by taking their prices and selling for less, how do we compete with this pricing?

    How is the lawsuit against them going? You flippantly answered with the dig about Sylvia Browne, but then never followed with a real answer.

    BTW are these stir the pot threads a way to ire the new blood in the grumble, so you can reintroduce the 25 days thread now that you have a new audience?
  34. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Regardless how discounted the AOSFs may portray their prices, the actual prices themself are easily beatable; and profitably so unless you are buying chops. It's not enough to beat their prices however, one would have to use it in your marketing. In CT, I've only seen 60-75% offers with respect to mutliple purchases.

    There is no pending litigation against any of the AOSFs by anyone that I am aware of. But you are always welcome to PM me if you ever have further questions along that line.
  35. deaconsbench

    deaconsbench SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Paul, you have an eerie ability to come across as a spoiled child, pouting his way through life. Sarcasm is an art form. Stick to teaching and leave that for the pros. Your position in the framing world demands you be much more mature in your computer screen presence. Please take this as constructive criticism...or not.
  36. hangupsgallery

    hangupsgallery MGF, Master Grumble Framer


    I don't think anyone here is suggesting that you totally ignore your competition, but one can become so obsessed and focused on chasing the other guy that it becomes a distraction to your own business.
  37. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    There is potential here...


    I'll have to agree with Steve and Deconsbench, here that obsession and poor forum manners have sometimes hurt your worthy effort and passion. You have always had some key and important things to share.

    To your topic....

    I am honestly impressed with your prototype ad and would like to see the audio improved, the closing improved and some allowance for independent's to insert their own tag at the end. When will members be able to use this? Copyrighted? Is it legal? I ask this as I've seen a number of PC Vs Mac spoof ads on the Internet.

    I currently run TV Spots, and so I have an interest in seeing this refined for personal use: Although taking a negative stance, I think it has value in it's "getting your attention" capability.

    Our immediate market area had two big boxes 15 years ago: Wisconsin Craft Market and Ben Franklin. One pulled out of framing about the time Hobby Lobby moved to town. In the past 24 months, Ben Franklin went out of business and a Michael's is moving in this year. The timing might be right in running this ad. Although our market has been playing "musical chairs"...the two long time survivors appear to be making the Fox Cities, "home".

    Keep me posted please.

  38. CAframer

    CAframer SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Some thoughts:
    • Being a stylistic knockoff of the Mac/PC ads, perhaps Apple would deem this a plaigiaristic infringement???????
    • I would think any end consumer reading this would be totally confused. Who the heck is an AOSF?
    • The ad really does not get across your primary contention that so-called AOSFs have artificially inflated prices and that their sales are disingenuous.
    • Actually from an end-consumer standpoint an AOSF sounds like a pretty good place to visit! Their products are always on sale! All I have to do as a consumer is to pick between the most favorable deal that seems to circulate every few weeks. Kool! Just like going to Circuit City, or Best Buy! Hey one of those AOSFs is the place for me!!!!!
    • By contrast (from the ad, and thru the eyes of an end-consumer) it sounds as though independents don't ever have sales! So why the heck go to them? They must be more expensive!!!!!
    • BTW, again from an end-consumer perspective, don't most/many independents run some kind of a discount program most of the time anyway? There sure are plenty of threads on this forum which would indicate that's the case! Sure I understand your premise because it has been discussed here ad nauseum, but would the end-consumer differntiate between a so-called AOSF discount program and an independent frequently offered discount program? Probably not from this ad.
    • From a presentation standpoint the cards should be handled so that they are more directly aimed toward the camera, and probably held longer before shuffing to the next. The one at the end should definitely be held in view longer before cutting to the close ... not enough time to read. The gal's closeup has her looking one way, but in the next wide shot she's looking the other. I would change that for continuity.
  39. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Deac, Steve, John, your comments are noted and taken in the genuine and constructive spirit intended. I try to respond to people in the same manner they respond to me. Thanks.

    John, I have another version but the file is about 5 times as large. Again, these spots were done as a parody for an audience of picture framers at a presentation. I think a comparison ad is a powerful too, but if we were to use this exact ad for broadcast, Apple may want to challenge it as infringing on its copyrights.

    My goal was to show indies that we don't need to bury our heads in the sand and that we can compete directly with the AOFS. I still feel that way. There is no reason to concede so much of the market. I have another concept that I would produce if a number of framers wanted to use ads with their own tag, but I was hoping the benefits of pooled advertising would catch on. Feel welcome to call me if you would like any help.
  40. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  41. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Interesting, Very Interesting.
  42. Rick Bergeron - CPF

    Rick Bergeron - CPF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Today is the first time that I have heard Michaels with radio spots and then was almost verbatim from the Sunday ad and finished with "Your Trusted Custom Framer"
  43. hangupsgallery

    hangupsgallery MGF, Master Grumble Framer

  44. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    "AOSF" = "Alway On Sale Framer" aka: Michaels and other Big Box framers
  45. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Always on Sale Framers

    Cute dig at M's J's ad any other coupon framer.
  46. hangupsgallery

    hangupsgallery MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    And here I thought it meant

    "Always Offering Superior Framing"


    "An Outstanding Supercool Frameshop" :)
  47. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    As long as they agree with you.
  48. Cretin75

    Cretin75 CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    We always have a 60% off sale in August at J's. :popc:
  49. Luddite

    Luddite PFG, Picture Framing God

  50. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It doesn't bother me that HL, or anyone, is selling at a certain price. That's a competitive decision.

    HOwever, I can't figure out why they would do it - it's not as if people come in only because they're saving a buck or two on matboard and then decide to buy a cart load of other stuff. If it were bread and milk sure, but how often would this same customer buy matboard. And wouldn't they probably buy it there anyway?
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