'Cause the Big Guys


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Mar 26, 2003
Alberta CANADA
The Framing Nook
Just wondering how the big volume retail shops (like Michaels) affect the existing 2 person shops. We just get our first Big-Box framer in town & I would like to be a bit prepared as to the numbers especially. How did your sales get effected first year? second year? third?

My assumption (based on info from out of town galleries) is 1/2 of my existing customers will try them out at least once (in two years), & when they get their next framing job done after that (about 3-4 years), about 1/2 of those will come back to the little guy for better service/selection & expertise. That means first year or two I'll loose about 25% of previous sales, and then 3 - 4 years later will loose about 12% per yr of previous sales. I know its a lot more complex then that, but I believe their marketing power & high volume/low cost approach will effect us and take away our bottom end customers.

Please comment!

Thanks in advance!
There is a Michael’s within 10 miles of us and a Ben Franklin within 4.

It is difficult to assess, but our sales have not dropped; although, we cannot determine if our sales would have increased had they not moved in.

Our biggest spike in sales came after a very local independent framer went under. We picked up a lot of their customers.
Maybe their ads will make people more aware of framing and with some images ads you can pick up new customers to offset those you lose for the short term. Competition is good, the more choices the more shoppers will come to your area. Just my old fashioned thinking.
There are a half dozen or more of these within a short driving distance.

We opened after they did, so I can't really compare how it changed sales. Howevever, customers frequently tell us that their prices (after the 50% off gimmick) are within a couple dollars of ours - before any promotion.

I'm not sure if they base their (50% off) price on local market value, or if it's a flat rate all over the country. Does anyone know?

Unfortunately, a lot of potential customers go for the "perceived value" of their excellent marketing tactics. This is their strength, it's certainly not the framing or design

In spite of all that, business is steadily growing and we're doing what we can to grow a faithful customer base. When customers see the difference in selection, turnaround, and personalized design advice, they tell their friends.

We co-exist just fine, and aim for slightly different pieces of the pie...
Does anybody here have any experience with being VERY close to a BB framer? Like, across the street or on the same block?

The reason I ask is because of the shop two doors down from mine. They are not a BB, but they have learned some lessons from them. They buy only box mouldings, decorative mats and regular glass.* The sometimes advertise outrageous specials and they are very conspicuous.

People can come to this block and have two very distinct choices - depending on their needs and budget. In case the choice isn't obvious from our walls and windows, the other shop sends any shadowbox, needlework or collage framing customers straight to me - something I wouldn't actually expect a BB to do.

It's been a healthy "alliance" and one I imagine you're sick of hearing about.

* I am aware that many/most BBs are not stocking moulding and they are using UV glass and maybe good mats. Otherwise, it's a good comparison.
I know someone who has a shop in the same shoppng center with a Michael's store. She made a point to go down and meet the framers and give them some of her business cards in case they needed to refer more complicated jobs to someone else. It's been a good friendly working relationship for them.
JoAnne's is about a mile away; opened that 'ETC' store about two years ago. Michael's & Hobby Lobby are both about three miles away; michaels has been there for about 9 years, HL for about three. Ben Franklin closed about 7 years ago.

Our business is completely different than it was in 1990. We build fewer frames now, but they're more expensive and our prifit rate is better.

I'd guess the total number of frames bought within five miles of my store has grown by at least 30% in the past five years. Nearly all of that growth has gone to the BigBoxes. In other words, we produce about as many frames as we did in 1999.
Gee, I always feel guilty when I read these posts. I confess, I work for a big box. I'm sorry,I'm sorry! But I gotta make a living too. But, we are killing the other big boxes because we DO know what we are doing and aren't afraid of showing the good stuff. And we are a lot nicer too. that's what I hear anyway. Friendly helpful counter people. That's what will keep them coming to you instead of the big boxes. And a good quality selection. Hang in there guys! I think it will get better for you. And I guess I will keep doing stuff for the cheapskates and save you the trouble. ("Can I get a mat cut for this $120 print and fit it into a readymade.")
Very Very good post sumik
Growth comes in two forms, generally. New clients move into a market and you get your share or you take existing clients from an existing competitor.

It doesn't make a lot of difference who was first, but who better fills the needs of the clientele.

If you do better on design, quality, service and selection, then you will be fine. If not, you might get beat. You may feel it is price, and price, alone. But, I think it might be a combination of other things.

Personally, I love to see a major player move into my neighborhood. It ratifies my location decision in spades.

Competiting with them? How good are you?
In our industry, a third, and significant, source of growth comes from adults who have never, ever had anything framed anywhere. Depending on who you believe, they might be 90% of the U.S adult population.

They present an interesting opportunity for framers, but must be handled carefully so they don't faint dead away when you give them the quote.

They are probably less intimidated going to Hobby Lobby than into a specialty framer. Unless they know you personally, I'd think they'd be scared to death to visit a home-based framer.
Originally posted by Ron Eggers:
I'd think they'd be scared to death to visit a home-based framer.
Depends on how well you market yourself. I have people coming from all over the southeast (well actually I have one guy who stops by on his way from Illinois to Florida.) They seem quite excited to find us. In fact, I'm working on a campaign that says, "Betcha can't find us! But we'll give you directions." ;)

Betty, L-J might consider you home-based. I don't.

But, since you brought it up, how many of your new customers would you guess are first-time framers?

They're usually easy to spot. They drive around with the art in the car, but they don't bring it in on the inital scouting trip.

I'm not making fun of them. Apparently, we're a very scary bunch.
A lot of my customers are first time framing customers, but I don't have any walk-in traffic. They have seen an ad, or gotten a referral, or met me at some sort of function (my E-I-E-I-O marketing method at work). Then they either call and get directions or go by the directions in my brochure.

My shop is upstairs, so seldom do people leave anything in the car for later! In fact, one of us always goes out to meet them and to carry in anything they have.

We're not near to any other framer, but then, we're not "on the way" to anywhere, either.

What I'm getting at is this. Your customers go to some effort to get to you, so even the first-timers are - in a sense - prequalified. They have to be pretty serious about getting some work done, and they're probably not talking to five different shops before giving one of them an order. Maybe there aren't five shops within a gas tank's drive.

I wonder how this would contrast with a mall location like Tim's Deck the Walls. Lots of foot traffic, and - I would think - lots of browsers. Great for print sales, but I would think less optimal for framing.

I'm sorry. I'm getting way off track here. These are just things that interest me. I've always been downtown in similar locations, despite five moves, and I think about how other types of locations would affect the nature of my business.
You're right Ron. In a sense they are prequalified. If someone takes the time to drive out to the farm, there's a high probability that they will leave the piece to be framed. I have had a few want to "take the estimate" but very few.

I sometimes complain that there's not much chance to sell things to "casual" walk-in customers, but on the other hand, I don't have "just looking" folks that just take up time, either. When someone comes, it's a sale.

I probably spend more (percentage wise) on marketing than most people, but I have less property costs, too. So, it all comes out in the wash (as they say.)

When your location is less than ideal, (and there's really nothing you can do about it) you optimize in other ways, that's all.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, our pluses and minuses. The key is to market the hound out of our pluses and downplay our minuses.

Of course, we all know that. It's just that many people have a bad case of the "yeah, but" syndrome, and want to blame all their troubles on the big box, or the little box, or the distributor, or the supplier, or the economy, or, or, or...

All I can answer for is me.

Hi Ron-Your third group of potential clients (where growth comes from)is actually my first group-those new to the market.But, I do have to attribute my comment of growth only coming from to two sources to one of the really bright educators that has recently come into our arena,Bill McCurry. I spent some time with him when we were on a panel at the National Convention.He teaches extensively to the Photographic trade and to the Hallmark Group.

I should have paid him attribution when I posted it as it certainly is not an original thought of my own, but one I absolutely agree with. I thought it important to give him credit for his words.

But, I do take exception to your comment that Tim's Mall location is "less optimal to framing".

According to the most recent survey, the average annual volume for the typical customer framer was $157k (and that included Mall stores) yet when extracted, Mall operators reported an average of $424K. Take the $424k out of the equation and the non-mall operator average would obviously be lower.

Now, we don't need to get into a discussion of mall vs strip center vs home based vs Mars-based. Each operator bases their decision on many factors. But, let's at least speak on terms of which we have facts.

I have people all the time (that I susect are probably close to the average in sales) tell me why consumers won't go to malls; won't carry things from their car the distance to the store; can't get the personal service from the typical pimply-faced teenager found working in mall stores. In essence, the truly smart consumer wouldn't be caught dead going to Tim or me.

Yet, somehow we beat all those negatives and take money from these uninformed, great unwashed to the sum of three times more than the average shop.

I know you meant no disrespect, but add this to the list of things that we too-oft repeat, that are just flat out wrong.

I have always said that the biggest hurdle in our industry's operators is some good old fashioned Intellectual Honesty
Bob, we took some of your advice this rainy afternoon and shopped the competition from one end of the county to the other. (What else would a framer do on a day off?). Our last stop was at the local mall where we couldn't find the help. Actually stuck our head in the back room to see if they were there and didn't hear us come in. Finally found her hunched over a book behind the counter. Disturbed her reading for a quote on artwork. She initially gave us a lot of "It depends." I insisted on designing and getting a quote. I literally had to insist. When we picked our frame (same as the other places) she looked at us and told us she didn't know how much it cost. I asked her how we could find out. Her response..."I'll have to call my boss." My response, "Please do." She called her boss and gave us a quote. Since I was playing dumb, (not too hard) I didn't bother to tell her that she had computed the footage incorrectly (in our favor). This is the closet frame shop to us. We smiled all the way home.
Hi Maryann-Being in a mall doesn't eliminate bad employees anymore than being a single person shop.
It just happens everywhere.

Bad service and all, these operators still average a ton more volume than the average shop. What in the world would it be if they ever got the service thing down?

Whenever I give a class, I can pretty much expect someone will bring up a similar experience about Michael's (or other member of the Evil Empire)and my response is that when these guys get the (whatever the deficiency was and the range is wide and deep)corrected we can all expect to get our brains kicked in. Yet, they continue to have clients flock to them in staggering numbers in spite of their problems (location, service, quality).

When we do all these things so well, why is it that we always seem to get the short end of the cash register receipt?

But, seriously, what did you learn from our shopping excursion. I haven't ever been to a shop that i didn't see something that I thought useful. One of things we caution our people is to keep an open-minded approach; to look for the opportunities to learn. It's not enough to see what they do poorly; Stevie Wonder can do that. Look for the gems, the nuggets. Everybody has something they do well(you may have to look deep).

Did you find any nuggets? If not, next time Bob and you wander out to the netherlands, try it. It really is the value of the exercise.

By the way, when I run into a similar experience, I do often call the owner later to share our observation. I would only hope that someone would return the courtesy if they found the same experience in one of our stores. It is not only correct, but appreciated. In my opinion, that type of employee is just as guilty of stealing as if they stuck their hand in the till.
I do work for other frame shops, including Aaron Brothers. I have never had my banker refuse to take the money Aaron Brothers has paid me. They are as good as anyone else to have in San Diego. I also like their advertising budget. They run ads, my customers see the ads, reminds them to come in and see me.

I didn't realize I was repeating an urban legend, and didn't mean to imply that mall operators have made a bad decision.

I was just thinking in terms of my own operation, which is one-person. I was startled when I ran across some old payroll records recently and discovered I've been working alone for half of my 27 years in business. It hasn't seemed that long.

If I get six people in my shop in a day, and four of them place orders, it's a good day.

If I get 20 people in, and 8 of them place orders, it's a day when I don't do much framing. It might be a profitable day, but I can't keep it up for long, since I am determined to remain a one-person shop for the rest of my days.

If I get 60 people in, as I have on rare occasions, it doesn't matter if every one of them is handing me fists full of money. It's not an optimal day.

Mine is not a business model I'd advocate for anyone else, which is why I try to avoid business discussions on TG.
In my opinion, that type of employee is just as guilty of stealing as if they stuck their hand in the till.
In this situation, I blame the owner. I think she was terrified we would ask for help. I didn't mean to imply that the employee was inept because she was in a mall. She was inept because she obviously had NO training. She tried to be helpful and was very pleasant. I tried to be pleasant because I had no intention of causing her a bad day. She kept leafing through a notebook to find answers to my 'dumb' questions. Most of the mouldings did not have prices on so she was not able to give us a quote without calling the owner(obviously, no POS). When I picked out a moulding that did have a price (we had a 24 X 36 poster) she explained that it would only take 10 foot (I guess there were no miters) but we would be charged for 16 feet because moulding comes in 8 foot lengths. Sure, we have that figured in our prices if we order length, but does anyone tell the customer that they're going to be charged for something they will not use. I can't imagine leaving someone with no training in charge of my business. Maybe Sunday is traditionally a browser day only and he normally doesn't take any art in. Who knows?
Having said that, you're right, Bob - their cash registers keep ringing. We had plenty of time to poke around since she was in hiding when we got there. There was one order waiting to be picked up - four pieces - for $1,500. Another jersey for $381, etc. etc. Yes, I'd like to get a piece of that -
What did we learn? Need to look at our prices. Michael's 50 % off was about 23% higher than our everyday no gimic price.
As far as nuggets, no didn't pick any up yesterday although I have when I've just gone in to look. I had this guilt complex about shopping them, I got my price and beat feet. ;)
Here are some of the things that I observed on our shopping trip.

At Ben Franklin the custom framing counter is in the rear left corner of the store. Most people enter the store and head to the right so you end up walking through and looking at a fair amount of merchandise in the store to get to the framing area. I did not see any prints for sale here. The framing is done on site but I believe that they buy joined frames. They have a CMC in the workroom. You had to ring a bell for service. This brought a lady to the counter who gave a fairly quick price quote. When we told her the price was more than we wanted to spend she offered a printed copy of the quote. She also steered us toward ready mades and poster frames starting at $18.95 for a 24" X 36" (the size that we were pricing). They had between 1500 and 2000 frame corners on the wall. This store is in a strip mall.

At Michael's There was a banner on the front of the store proclaiming "50% OFF ALL FRAMING". When you entered the store between the two sets of doors there was a fairly large framed print on an easel. The print was a floral about 18 X 24. It had three mats 1/2", 1/4", 4". It had a somewhat ornate frame, 2" wide, that I did not recognize. On the top corners were signs that said 50% OFF FRAMING. On the bottom corners were two price quotes, one at regular price and one at 50% off. The regular price was about $750. The 50% of price was highlighted $375. So before I got into the store I had been told twice that their framing price was 50% off. The framing counter is in the back of the store. A pleasant young woman handle our questions and gave us a price quote. She then said that with the 50% off the price would be $. When we said that it was more than we wanted to spend she pointed us toward there ready made poster frames. When asked she gave us a printed copy of the quote. Their price was a 4% higher than Ben Franklin. This place did have a small selection of open edition art and posters. I didn't get a look at their workroom. As we were leaving we heard the lead cashier instructing others to answer the phone with the phrase "Michael's, all framing is 50% off". This store is semi stand alone. It is next to a Linens and Things.

The mall store is in a shop that had been occupied by a clothing store. It has not been remodeled. They have a lot of framed art. Everything from black and white prints in OEM black metal for $29 to pieces in the $500 range. They have stacks of unframed stretched commodity canvas art marked at $350 then marked down to $175. Probably 150 to 200 corner samples on the wall. No framing is done on site. They do apply the hanging wire in the store. My guess is that there are several of these mall shops that use a central framing facility. You already read about the help.
Hi Bob-Your mall venture sounds like a "temp" tenant. In Mall parlance, they are viewed like Home-based framers. They take over a vacant space at substantially reduced rental terms and no leasehold improvements. They tend to be the real bottom feeders.

But, go back to Michael's. Their Marketing people clearly have identified what resonates Big Time with their clientele. And, if I could identify with the same certainty they have, I would shout in everything also. So, if you asked what they do well, it is that the get their message out loud and strong. You know from your HI days, that is a difficult, yet powerful vehicle.

Should it surprise anyone that the prices at these two leading retailers is vey similar? Not me.

Does it surprise me that there are many consumers that react to the same pricing models you see eveywhere in retailing?

I mean, who pays Rack Rate at a hotel? Or, full coach airfare, or who has purchased a car without some type of rebate or financing incentive? Would it be easier to just mark the car $4000 less? But, then we as consumers couldn't brag about what sharp buyers we were.

We simply have to understand that these are forces at play in the marketplace.

I think it infinitly easier to adapt to a market force than to create one.

P.S. Re:The issue we spoke of in Alexandria; it doesn't appear that we will see any movement on collective pricing
Originally posted by Bob Carter:
...According to the most recent survey, the average annual volume for the typical customer framer was $157k (and that included Mall stores) yet when extracted, Mall operators reported an average of $424K....
I have a theory about that, Bob: Mall operators who do well do VERY well, because they have had to find ways to beat the odds.

The mediocre players, who might survive in lower-cost digs, can't make it in the premium spaces. In other words, I think there's no middle ground in the mall. Either you're great, or you're gone.

Waddya think of my theory?
Hey Shirks, I think I remember reading that you got your quotes in writing. I'm just courious. What info was on the actual paper they gave you?
frame choice, footage, price
glass choice
labor fee
hardware cost (one place charged 4.50 for hardware, they were running a discount for free labor)
Ben Franklin and Michael use the same software (same layout) but I don't know what it is.
I was surprised when the first place (BF) offered it in writing when I was walking. I asked at Michael's and they printed one off with no problem.
I will give a written guote at our shop, but it won't have frame number or any breakdown on it. I keep that on file with all the info I need.
On Monday of last week I took a 12x36 poster in to Jo Ann's to see how there prices looked.

They showed me three mat samples (none which went with the art IMHO) and said that the computer suggested a 4 1/2" mat. I told her that I felt the mat was to wide so we came down to 3 3/4". I pointed to moulding 373IB but I was told this was to thin for a piece of this size. She then pulled out Antica # 616362.

The total size of the job was now 43x19 with a double Alphamat, Drymount and Conservation Clear glass. The total came to $532.47, but with a competitors coupon or one from the Sunday paper, the total would only be $266.24.

I priced the job with our POS software and an apples to apples job came to $513.27. I then priced the job with LJ's suggested pricing and came up with $563.16.

To compete with them on price, I would have to set my cost of goods sold at over 50% with my Hi-volume partner discount, and at 65% based on list prices.

Some have stated that their prices are 23% lower than their half off price. How can you stay in business at those prices? Only thing I can think of is that Jo Ann's regular pricing is not as out of line as the other big boxes or you are not comparing apples to apples.

How can Larson Juhl expect the independent framer to support them, when they entered into this agreement with Jo Ann's knowing their marketing strategies to have continuous or near continuous half off sales. I am sure that Jo Ann's is still making a profit on this job, which means that LJ has given them very deep discounts. I understand that the size of their company would qualify them for extreme volume discounting, but in doing so I feel that LJ has stabbed the independent framer in the back.
I have been a loyal LJ supporter for many years.I am now considering dropping LJ from my stores. Larson-Juhl's affiliation with Jo Ann's has hurt the independent framer and in my opinion will end up hurting LJ.
I have seen how the BB outfits have affected many other business that were traditionally small shops. While LJ may gain a lot with this partnership, do you think other molding manufacturers may try to pick up a larger share of the independent shop business (whether by pricing, service, selection)?
I am still working my way into framing, and for myself, feel that a niche market or specialty will be the only way to avoid being hammered by the big guys.
Some have stated that their prices are 23% lower than their half off price. How can you stay in business at those prices?
We do okay.
We were checking out what it would cost to frame a poster at all these places= thinking of running a poster special since we're trying to capture more of the college business in our town. I know some have poster specials for $59 or $69 and I wanted to get a feel for what others were charging in our area. Yeah, we'll run a special but I think it will be at more than I had originally planned.

Here I did the work..
check and see how you compare
24 X 36
OEM metal $106
Preservation glass $45.86
drymounting $29.40
half off price $90.63
There is money to be made on both ends of the deal. You have to sell well and buy right. We buy several "bread and butter" mouldings in box lots at a sharp price point. Buy them at a show and gain additional discounts. Pay the invoice on time and gain several more points. This is a good reason to go to shows. Moulding vendors offer show specials that add dollars to your bottom line. You have to make money on the back side of the deal.

We started out with just two mouldings that we were buying in box lots. A basic black modern looking moulding and a walnut that looks good in any office wrapped around a certificate. We have made a lot of money on these mouldings. We now have several more that we buy in box lots.

Bob Carter talks about this in his "Bob on Bidness" program. If you get the opportunity to go hear Bob on Bidness don't miss it. You will come away with ideas that will make your shop more profitable.
Well, I have been gone for a couple days dealing with remodeling issues and thought I would join in this one since I have been mentioned a couple of times.

Yes being in a mall does bring in many browsers, but it seems like that is a bad thing here. What is wrong with having people coming into your store and looking? They are in your store aren't they? Isn't that the goal, get the potential customer in your store instead of someone else's? Even if the customer does not buy from you at that time they are in your store you still have a chance to make an impression so they come back when they need your product and/or service.

Being in a mall is good for print sales but maybe not as good for framing. (Sorry paraphrasing Ron here) Not true at all in our case (since I can not speak for all mall based stores). Custome framing is constantly 80% or better of our business. As I have always said here your business depends on how you present yourself in the market. Advertising tells your potential customer who you are and what you can do for them. We are in the custom framing business, the art business, and the home decor, giftware business...in that order and that is how we advertise our business.

As for the mall employee issue. Yes many mall employees are not very good and that is being nice in some cases. But look who that typical employee is, a high school student, a college student working part time. I will not hire a high school student and have not found a college student that would work out with our business model. I hire only people who are looking for a career, someone who is a sales pro, someone who I would trust my business with. Remember your employees are who the customer relates with and if your employees are not good then your business will not be looked upon in a favoable manor.

One thing that everyone needs to remember here is that it is good to know what your competition is doing and what they are charging but your main priority should be focusing on your core business and finding out how to get people into your shop because framing is your core business. JoAnn's core business is fabrics yet many here look at them as one of their main competors and try to compete with them on price. What you need to do is find out why people are going to a fabric store for custom framing and how you can get those people into your store.

As for the original question here, we have a Hobby Lobby across the parking lot from us for around 8 years, we have been here for 13. Did our sales go down when they opened..No. Do they hurt our sales..Of course they do because every framing customer they get is one that I could have had but then again they have helped our sales as well because of unhappy customers.


Our price on a 24 x 36 poster special is 59.95, done in an hour with your choice of 16 colors. If you want a color that we do not have in stock then it will be no more than a week and 64.95.

Well, back to our remodeling project. The main disadvantage of being in a mall is when you remodel you have to move your entire 2800 sqft store to a temporary location for 2-3 weeks and then move it back...not fun!
Originally posted by Jim Miller:
I have a theory about that, Bob: Mall operators who do well do VERY well, because they have had to find ways to beat the odds.

The mediocre players, who might survive in lower-cost digs, can't make it in the premium spaces. In other words, I think there's no middle ground in the mall. Either you're great, or you're gone.

Waddya think of my theory? [/QB][/QUOTE]

Jim I will reply to your theory.

I agree with you to a point. Not all mall operators who do well do very well. Many do and many as you put it do VERY well. Depending on the mall, 400K may not be doing well, it may actually be bad. I would be closing my shop if that was all that I was doing due to no profits.

You say that the successful ones have had to beat the odds, isn't that true of any successful shop in our industry, mall based, strip center, stand alone, basement?

You are completely true in that in a mall either you are great or you are gone. We have all seen frame shops, art stores, and preframers come and go in our local mall. many of them will be on a temp lease or month to month. Once times get rough they will move out and close up shop. Companies like that are a pain in all of our butts but what can you do except keep doing the best and they will eventually go away. Costs are too much in a mall for a mediocre player to survive.
Tim says "What you need to do is find out why people are going to a fabric store for custom framing and how you can get those people into your store."

I think in our area short store hours hurt a lot of small bussinesses. Many small frame shops in our area have daylight hours only. The mall shops and Big Boxes are open evenings and weekends. In many households both adults are employed so they shop in the evenings and on weekends.

Hours of operation that are convenient to your customers are important.
Sorry, my posting of prices was confusing. The above price was the price that I received from M's with the 50 % off sale - not ours.

We're planning on doing a poster special like Tim (DTW) and others do and wanted to see where everyone in our area was with prices. If we do a $59 or $69 poster special, regular glass, drymounting included we would be way ahead of our competition. We would also be using Clark Metal, not OEM. I think it's a little more substantial than OEM - I don't know if anyone would notice or not.

Tim, you reminded me that we used to have a "Browsers welcome" sign in our window that is not there anymore. This time of year, we have lots of walkers in the evening. You're right, they come in look around, don't buy anything but when they have something to frame, they come back- especially if they were heartily welcomed the first time. Have to get the sign back in the window
Jim-Another part of your theory is that the Mall opoerators have a little more sophiticated vetting process. The committments are higher and they do a fairly stringent check on someone that is not a national or franchisee tenant.

That doesn't mean to imply that mall tenants are better or smarter; it just means that a lot of weaker candidates simply don't get the opportunity to fail. I'm not so sure that a lot of smaller strip center owners are as concerned about that process.

A few other differences are the extreme amount needed for Leasehold Improvements culls quite a few, I'm sure.

The obvious exceptions are the temporary tenants you see periodically in malls. I suspect that is what MaryAnn ran into from the description. They typically don't last long for a multitude of reasons.

But, bet the farm that when someone like Tim makes the investment in both franchise fees and leasehold improvements, he doesn't do it lightly. His "due diligence" would probably make most dizzy. And you just know that kind of committment oftens pays dividends.

It is no guarantee of success, but when you hit it, the rewards can be significant (but so is the effort)
Originally posted by FrameMakers:
To compete with them on price, I would have to set my cost of goods sold at over 50% with my Hi-volume partner discount, and at 65% based on list prices.

And everybody keeps telling me I should be selling this stuff.

No Thanks
For those of you who have some of the old trade magazines kicking around take a look at the September 2003 issue of PFM page 122, Bluestone's Retail Stategies.
Have any of you LJ sellers considered buying your frames from Joann's? Maybe you could negotiate a deal with your local store manager and buy your custom made frames already assembled. Then you just add glass, mat, and back.

I am not trying to be an a** here, I am trying to look at a way you and I can stay in business. I have had this thought before, always around Christmas time. The one thing that stops me from trying this tactic is I have no control over the quality of the frame join.
and....at Christmas time JoAnne's and Michael's usually cut off orders before Thanksgiving! This may change now that JoAnne's has 12 distribution centers doing the chop and joins for them.
Now that we are talking about percentages, prices and specials I would like to add something to the thought processes.

I run a similar business to Warren Tuckers. I buy many items in bulk to get a cheaper price. My average custom work
is running in the $110 range. That is why it is hard for me to understand the $550 but we will do it half price for $275
way of doing business. Now having said that, my COGS is around 35% across the board. With some simple math you
can see that $275 with COGS at 50% is more money in your pocket than $110 at 35% COGS.

Maybe I have been looking at this wrong. Maybe I should pursue LJ product with the intention of selling it at 50% off
the listed price.

Enough of a lead in, now the real question. Once you start down the % off road, is there any turning back? Do you
not "train" your customers to expect or ask for the 40, 50 or whatever percent off? Now that the big boxes have started this,
do we have to fall in line?
Once you start down the % off road, is there any turning back?

It's really tough and not nessesarly worth turning back. I've tryed.

There is a shop in town that has been running a 25% off sale since the day he opened 4 years ago.

Our society has become ruled buy sales and discounts. But as we all know these sales are only off of inflated prices.