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Whats in the future

Discussion in 'The Voting Booth' started by Classic Art Bob, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. Classic Art Bob

    Classic Art Bob SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    So many of us have seen a decline in business the last few years. I am no exception. Have we seen the bottom yet and are better things on the horizon?

    Question

    1. Do you think your business will improve this year?
    2. No change
    3. Worse than last year
     
  2. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think it will be another tough year. I don't think it will get worse though. For many unfortunately 2009 was all it took to close there shops. In 2010 even though I see it being the same, for many that will mean that they too will be forced to hang it up.
     
  3. couture's gallery

    couture's gallery PFG, Picture Framing God

    definetly #3...it's getting worse...just announced Florida is at 11.9% unemployment...our rural area is more like 20%.....and the other shoe hasn't dropped yet ( the commercial property foreclosures etc. )
     
  4. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    There's still a lot of bad economic news to come this year. The latest survey has 1/3 of small businesses wondering if they will close. The majority are projecting cutbacks in many areas. Forclosures are set to hit 3 million new notices in 2010 and the banks are sitting on 7 million reposessed homes which have not been listed for sale. Bank failures will top 300 this year and most likely top 400. Stock market is dropping and will continue to do so for some time. The gov't can't keep spending which is the only thing propping up the economy.

    As far as my outlook for my business I expect it to grow even more this year than last. People are really seeking out bargains right now and I'm seeing more new customers than ever. South Carolina has just passed it's record unemployment rate. My regional area has now reached 23.6%. Competitors are closing up monthly and I know of several with plans to close soon. I am adding inventory and competing heavily with the BB's. I checked out their value package yesterday and the only thing that was in the same neighborhood as my prices was a 1" black with a single mat. On average their value packages were nearly 3 times my framing costs.

    2009 sales were more than double 2008 and I expect to at least double my sales again this year. My number one goal this year is to double sales without adding employees. Renting a Wizard CMC has freed up a ton of time for me and I also now have all of my equipment and inventory in one building. I'm really pushing printing and have been printing multiple pieces everyday now for customers. I'm adding stretched blank canvas to compliment the ready made sales. The key is going to be adding enough ready to go items as possible.
     
  5. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    hard to tell.

    My January so far has been worse than last year. Do I think coming December will be worse than last? Certainly hope not.
     
  6. danny boy

    danny boy PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm looking for a great year inTwenty Ten. I have been taking the necessary steps to make it happen and I know it can happen.
     
  7. Julie Walsh

    Julie Walsh MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I'm expecting better results than last year; at least match 2008. I've actively pursued marketing initiatives different from what I have done before.
    Fingers crossed everything goes to plan!
     
  8. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I looking forward to a better year. But we had moved in Nov of 2008 and then the slump hit. But it has been up 15-20% over last years numbers, and it's felt slow! So just getting better....

    I'm liking the ideas Baer is giving in the other thread! Gonna follow up on some of them.
     
  9. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Passion will carry you a long way....

    #1

    We're honestly planning for a 5-7% increase overall for twenty-ten! The fourth quarter of 2009 did very well for us (Up 10% over 4Q/2008), while January is about the same (1%) - Cold weather to blame.

    Glass half full counts for a great deal - Agreesive and creative marketing and advertising and a focus on changing the way we do things should all help in this stretch run to the fourth quarter of 2010.

    John
     
  10. TwinOaksGallery

    TwinOaksGallery Grumbler

    Listen to your fellow framers

    I realized very quickly in this business that many of you have been framing for several years (Many longer than i have been alive even) and despite the economy tanking the way it did I think there is a bigger picture to look at.

    Framing has been evolving since the start. In my opinion the big box stores are a larger threat to our well being than any economic demise. Things will get better, the strong (and passionate) will survive, and we will find our niche.

    For anyone who didn't make it to the breakfast panel, John Ranes is one of the most forward thinking entrepreneurs in the industry. His experiences have a lot to teach and I am excited to hear how 2010 does for him at next years wcaf show.

    With all that said, these bull and bear markets are cyclical and no matter how bad it gets, things will eventually get better and at some point this will be nothing but a blip on our time line or at worst an important history lesson.

    -Meg
     
  11. Cassetta

    Cassetta CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Bring it on YEEEE HAWWWW
     
  12. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    What I found interesting about the breakfast panel is that John Ranes was the only person represented who still has a retail store. And if I recall correctly, a large percentage of that store's revenue comes from merchandise not related to framing.
     
  13. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well Jay still has retail. I guess your not considering him on the panel since he MCed the forum.

    I do think that it is unusual that many if not most of the people that we framers look up to for leadership in our industry are either not framing, or are not in retail framing.

    Marc Bluestone, Rob & Barb Markoff, William Parker, Bob Carter etc...... Vivian was in this catagory as well for many years. Others such as Baer and Jared I feel have a great advantage as they see many shops and can pick up the best ideas from their territories, but they still don't have burden of being self employed.
     
  14. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Right, I excluded Jay because he was the moderator. But I think it's telling that Rob and Barbara have decided to get out of the retail framing business, and John is focusing a significant part of his energies to selling things other than framing. None of them said so in so many words, but it was almost like they were saying "get out while you can."
     
  15. Classic Art Bob

    Classic Art Bob SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Funny, I have recently ( just last week) added new gift items to sell in my store. I believe it is a required necessity to staying in buisness.
     
  16. JRB

    JRB PFG, Picture Framing God


    Even funnier, we are getting rid of all of our gift items because the return does not warrant the space allocated to them.

    John
     
  17. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The bigger picture...

    Indeed Paul,

    Our growth over the past 10 years has been in our gift/home decor/web sales area which accounts for 50% of our gross sales. Custom framing still holds 50% and although it has not grown as dramatically, it has grown and/or held it's own in different years.

    What is significant to recognize is that Creative Custom Picture Framing is simply a very specialized area of the Home Decor market, and so we've simply exanded on what we already do... The stability of our custom framing has had lots to do with the diversification that we have successfully embraced.

    In all fairness to the diversity of the panel of speakers, Paul Thomas represents one of the leading POS Software suppliers, hence the significance of his presence. Jared represents a foreign country (Australia) and as a sales rep and educator, he has the opportunity to visit and share multiple experiences, while Barb and Rob shared with us the perspective of downsizing and grabbing onto marketing and corporate accounts (recently closing their storefronts.)

    While on this subject, please take note that the moderator (who also participated heavily in the discussion) was Jay Goltz who not only owns a huge single framing store operation but also operates Jayson Home & Garden. My guess is that he is very cognizant of the need to diversify his business!

    John
     
  18. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Meg, I see this as much more than a blip. I have never seen such a drop in sales in my working life. Most of us who are older will be working long past the age we intended to retire. And we are not alone. This recession has affected all income levels and it has hit the Baby Boomers, who are still our mainstay customers, hard. Many in this area who thought there were fairly well off have lost jobs or pensions or have had to get out of businesses and sell assets at a loss leaving them without the funds they thought they would have for retirement. It is not a pretty picture.

    Last year was indeed rough, and we don't have indications that this year will be better. January was disappointing. The Bay Area has been hit hard. That said, in our case gift items will not be the way to go. We made forays into that area years ago and always lost money and had to close out the merchandise. All of our available space is dedicated to framing.

    We see ourselves as a destination one-store frame shop. We've been kicking around for 33 years and we are still innovating, still working very hard. Our retail framing business is very much alive, albeit not at the pace we are used to, and we intend to see this through and emerge as strong as we were before the recession. 2007 was our best year and we see no reason why we can't get back to that level of sales in time. We all just have to have time to hang on. So do our suppliers.
     
  19. TwinOaksGallery

    TwinOaksGallery Grumbler

    The economic peak of 2007 was nothing more than a sham formulated by the government and wall street. Pseudo inflation to make everyone think they had more money than they really did. I blame a lot of it on the real estate market and the banks "creative financing." The growth was too fast to sustain and that bubble was bound to burst eventually. A lot of jobs (mortgage loans, construction, financing, appraisals, etc) were dependent upon one industry - similar to the DotCom bust in the 90's. Real Estate just had a lot more riding on it.

    The down turn was inevitable but it is only as bad as it is because of all of these factors and more.

    I feel like our best bet is to adapt. Things are never going to be as good as they were 3 years ago but they will get better than what they are now.

    Whether adapting means adding gifts, custom imaging, corporate art sales or new methods of customer contact to an already existing store, the panel was basically focused on one sole concept: Evolution.

    Picture Framing is always going need something supplemental to make it thrive. The industry does not sustain itself without complimentary additions. Whether we choose technology or retail to make that happen, the move is inevitable.
     
  20. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm in the same boat as Kirstie. I simply can't sell giftware and home decor items in this location. Very rarely now does a framed piece sell off the wall. Almost as rare is the sale of a photo frame, something that is so closely related to framing that it should be a no-brainer. But for whatever reason, people do not come to this street to buy "things." They come to this street to get something done, whether its dry-cleaning, dogwashing, nails, hair, or framing.

    So if diversifying is essential to our survival, I guess you could say I'm scr*wed.
     
  21. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Very interesting...

    I totally recognize that what our shop has done is not for everyone - and that the ability to evolve into gifts/home decor has much to do with space, $ for inventory, owners attitude towards the subject, passion, location and other small intangibles.

    On the other hand your comment below made me think about this....

    Are these two different things? Broad based shopping at a destination of choice Vs. Service oriented shopping? Isn't one simply an expansion of the other?

    I guess in the hay days of custom framing growth (1972-1990), we would all have dramatic ads in the Yellow Pages under Picture Frames - Dealers as we were "Service" oriented - as in your example, Paul, get the dry-cleaning, go to the beauty salon, get the TV fixed, go get something custom framed. People would seek us out for a VERY specific reason. (Hardware stores often filled this need prior to the 1970's)

    Today customers might be thinking more like "I need something for my walls"; "I need to do some decorating"; "I need to shop for a lamp and a picture to go over here". We as retailers, need to adapt to those changes in some measure to survive, IMO.

    Kirstie's business model has perhaps evolved the most in her 30+ years in broadening her image while still remaining "Framing Focused" - just an observation.

    John
     
  22. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    I agree, John. We always need to adapt to survive. Basic evolution. Knowing how to adapt is what is somewhat stymieing. I think we are doing a good job on site, in the shop. We have adopted a new signage program, new price points, and so on. We are serving walk by traffic and the existing customer base quite well. We also see new customers on a daily basis, but not in the numbers we are used to. We need to get better at attracting new business in cost effective ways. And that's a challenge, as is for most of us, a budget for diversification.

    Now here's a question for you. Many framers are seeing a much lower average ticket, and this is one contributor to lack of sales growth. If we adapt with lower priced programs for the budged-minded customer, the one who has no other choice, how will we build our sales numbers in the future? Framing volume? Is the budget customer here to stay (I think so) and if so how will we as an industry adapt to what may well be a trend that is permanent?
     
  23. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Kirstie, pricing flexability is a two way street. It took a decade of price run ups to get as high as prices had become. The run up occured during a decade of inflationary economic periods and the economy is experiencing a deflationary period. After this deflationary period we will once again experience an infltionary period where prices will once again trend upward just not to the point of insanity again. We can expect stagnant if not further falling prices for years to come and those that are able to adapt will become the most profitable when it ends.

    Prior to the chop shop model many framers were stocking dealers or length buyers and those shops enjoyed much higher margins than chop shops during this past decade. Entering this industry became as simple as finding a store front and contacting a handful of vendors for corner samples. That is why the industry has lost at least 75% of its storefronts.

    The next run up in the industry will be much more difficult for entries into the business because those that survived this bloodbath will be a much hardier bunch willing to claw onto every existing customer and the stocking businesses will be able to maintain much higher margins than the new entrants. The surviving group will remember this lesson for much longer than the last housing recession and new entrants will be much less inclined to make the full investment that will be required to compete.
     
  24. Myrna

    Myrna CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    After reading all of the posts in this thread it made me think of the latest issue of PFM specifically the last article submitted by Vivian Kistler.
    The part of her article under the caption "Diversity." She talks about how her frame shop has had to change and develop throughout the years. Noticing when the trends and times change and adapting to them. It truly speaks to this thread and the last paragraph says it all.

    "Expect your business to grow and change, and do not be afraid to take a fresh look at the different services and products your shop could offer. Stay true to the identity you have established for your business, but remember that change is a part of any business that stays successful for many years", Vivian Kistler.
     
  25. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    This is an important and interesting thread. Any chance of moving it to Business or Grumble so that more people might see it and participate?
     
  26. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God


    Thanks Myrna. Vivian had her finger on the pulse of this business.
     
  27. Myrna

    Myrna CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    We moved to a new location in April of 2009. Soon after all of our tenant improvements and move in were complete, we were informed that our landlord was loosing the building.......bummer. There is a new owner but we do not seem to have the same vision for the building. Long story short, we are moving to a new (better) location at the end of this April. I am strongly considering incorporating additional product into the mix with the emphasis on our custom framing. We have seen a strong influx of individuals willing to spend to have their pieces professionally framed but in our new location we will have additional traffic and I believe that fine craft items might to well. This has always been something lurking in the back of my mind and it seems like a good time to give it a go.
     
  28. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    John, if I had to list one thing I've learned over the past 4 years, it's that you cannot change consumer behavior. Or at least, one small shop like mine cannot change consumer behavior. And consumer behavior varies from location to location. They view different areas as places to go for different purposes. If over 20 or 30 or 40 years, consumers view 25th Avenue as a place to eat and to get something done, and 3rd Street or Hillsdale Mall as a place to buy things, I'm not going to be able to change that. :bdh: Every day, I see someone stop in front of the photo frame display in my front window, and they will look at the frames, and maybe even point to a couple of them. And then continue on their way. These aren't ugly frames, either. Brushed silver from GWI, hand-painted from Roma, etc. Or someone will bluster into my shop, pass the table near the front door that has 2 dozen photo frames on it, and stand next to another table with another dozen photo frames on it, and say, "you don't have photo frames, do you?" And I'll point out all the frames on display, and they will take a few glances at them, never once picking one up and looking at the price tag on the back (so price is NOT an issue), say "thank you" and walk out.

    As for giftware, I've had the colorful Ritzenhoff glassware and such on display. I know use it at home, because it didn't sell.

    As for home decor, I started out with a lot of ready-to-hang artwork. The influx of really cheap sh!t from China being sold at Bed Bath, Homegoods, Target, and the local car wash has destroyed that market over the past 4 years. I've been breaking down whatever is left and throwing it out, because it won't sell at any price.

    You know what I could probably sell the heck out of, day in and day out? Window blinds. Because I'm next to a window blinds store, and every day someone will stumble in to my store, look around, puzzled, confused, and ask about window blinds. So maybe I should just carry a selection of window blinds.

    Yesterday, some older guy came in to browse, naturally he had no artwork to frame. He asked the obligatory questions "are you new? How long have you been here?" Then he mentioned that there seemed to be a lot of empty storefronts on the street (8 at last count), and confessed that he hadn't really come to 25th Avenue to shop for 10 or 20 years. I gave him one of those looks, and said "multiply that by 100 or a 1000, and you can understand why all the empty storefronts." He looked at me like I had started speaking in some obscure Central Asian language, backwards.

    Last month I fell several thousand dollars short of breakeven. If anyone has any other ideas for making a go of this given my environment, I'm all ears.
     

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