Zen and the Art of The Framing Business.

Rick Colunga

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
A few days back, I noticed a new frame shop opened in my area. It was late and the lights were dim but were bright enough for me to see it looked nice in there. While checking my mail today, I find an advertisement from the new frame shop for it's Grand Opening and a web-site address with discount coupons availible online.
I remembered I have a few things that I need framed so I go on-line and check it out. This site is done proffessionally, easy to navigate and gave me alot of information about who owns it and thier credentials. I decide to go check them out tomorrow morning. I knew that they are open on Saturdays because the hours were on the web-site.
I get there around ten thirty, I open the door and the smell of gourmet coffee wakes me up. The place is very clean and designed in a way that gives me confidence in doing business with this place. The Gallery walls are filled with mordern-contemporary art, Classical-guilded gold frames, watercolors, canvases, as well as shadowed boxed artifacts ranging from 1900 century bible to Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs signed jeresy. These guy can do it all. I was really happy at the choice of music playing in the background. I hate Muzak, so it was nice to hear Miles Davis and not some elevator version of pop hits or Country blaring from some radio off in the back.
A worker comes from the back to greet me. The employee/owner is dressed nice and seems very friendly. The employee/owner offers me some coffee and or tea. Coffee sounded good so I said sure with cream and two sugars. The employee/owner hands me the cup of coffee and offers to place the prints in my hands on the design counter while a look around.
I think it's cool that the employee/owner walks away and leaves me alone to feel the place out rather than follow me around and pointing at all the expensive things in the place. They must hate salesmen as much as I do. I couldn't help but notice that not everything one the walls went for thousands of dollars. There was this cool print of John Lennon matted and framed that was going for $125.00. My credit card was already getting warm while I was already deciding on where I was going to put it in my house.
I walk up to the design counter. The employee/owner sees me walk up and comes to greet me again. I find it really cool that the employee/owner begins by asking questions on how I attained them and where I planned on displaying them. The last place I went to started pulling matt boards samples out without saying a word to me about what I wanted. The one thing I really wanted framed was the Mardi-Gras print, the other could wait. The employee/owner suggested we design for both and they could save the design quote on the other one for later. Good idea.
As we had already discussed, it was a surprise for my wife since that was the first place we went on vacation together. I liked the fact that the employ/owner suggested archival glass and mounting should be the first thing considered in pricing since the piece had sentimental value and something we wanted to keep for a while. Granted it did put a strain on my budget but it made sense to protect it first. We decided on a gold frame, mat and a filet as well as the archival mounting and glass. I was excited and couldn't wait to see it finished and on the wall.
I paid my deposit and went ahead on pickup the John Lennon print. I was happy with my experience and confident they would do a solid job.
It was nice to find a business that understood that I work hard for my money and don't like spending it without knowing why I need to.

You just read my business plan in reverse, as me as the customer.

This is an excellent exercise that every who owns or plans to own a frameshop or gallery should do. Pretend you know nothing about framing. What advertisement would you react to? What store front would make you want to enter? What displays and art would you want to see? Do it as a story rather than a bunch of bullets running down a Word Document. If your story and your shop don't match one-hundred percent, you have so work ahead of you.

Grasshopper, you can't sell to others until you learn to sell to yourself.
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PFG, Picture Framing God
Ooohhh, I'm gonna have another sleepless night thinking about that one. that was great, Rick! No kidding, with my "new" shop in transition, new paint on the walls waiting for framed art to go up, my shop is like a blank canvas and I have ideas galore...just not enough time to do it all right now, as I have framing orders coming out of my ears! I had several nice pieces showing and they sold (yay!), but now I have blank spots and not enough time to fill them! Already putting in 12+ hours a day...who needs sleep!
Thanks for the visual, Rick.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Rick...excellent...it was like an out-of-body experience. We all need to drift outside ourselves and try to visualize what we can aspire to. Unfortunately we drift back down to reality and it's what we do with that dream that makes a difference.

Life's problems and challenges are like a garden. We can agressively weed around the plantings, but after the end of day's rest we'll awake to find new weeds breaking through the earthen soil. Each day we need to apply ourselves with diligence and persistence. When seen with the right attitude, these challenges are really a gift we receive from our maker.

Dave Makielski

[ 02-17-2006, 11:19 AM: Message edited by: Dave ]


PFG, Picture Framing God
Dave, I've been taught by a very important person in my life, that when a "challenge" (problem, crisis, worry, etc) comes up, to ask "Where's the gift here?" With some thought, sometimes a lot, sometimes it comes right to me, sometimes I won't realize it until much later, there is always a gift in it. Thanks for the reminder.