Clever Store Signs


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Mar 24, 2002
Clearfield, PA
We are in the process of changing our store hours and I am looking for a way to say:

"Open by Appointment - Open by Chance"

I have seen similar signs at other stores & frame shops that have "irregular" hours with clever little ditties that wouldn't offend customers.

Any suggestions?

I prefer the "gone fishing" sign.

or if you don't want people to question it. "Closed today do to death in family"

Mike, you'll probably get lots of "cutsie" replies to this, (that you can't really use) so be prepared... (EDIT: Framer posted while I was writing my reply. I am not saying that his response isn't usable. Don't want to upset the administrator, doncha know! ;) )

"Open by Appointment" and "Open by Chance" are two different things. A lot depends on whether you're going to be open at your convenience or the customer's convenience.

If at the customer's convenience, then I'd say something like, "We're here when you need us! Call to set your time."

If it must be at odd ball times for your needs, then I'd just be honest and say, "Due to family illness (or whatever) our hours are varied. Please call to be sure we're here."

Or, "Due to our need for irregular hours, please call for an appointment."

Before I had any employees, and still had to be gone alot I put "Call ahead for an appointment, and Come visit the farm!" in all our ads. We did that for several years.

Hours of Business:
Monday to Saturday list the times you are actually open…..or whatever you are doing with your shop hours…..

Then say>>>>>>
For an appointment outside our normal opening hours please Telephone 12345678…….Thank you
"Other Hours by Chance or Appointment"

I have this right below our posted hours at a trial store in an outlet mall. We are normally only open on weekends.
Due to business developments:

We're OPEN when we're here.
We're Closed when we're not.
Call for Appointment,
We'll meet on the dot.
Betty - I ALMOST used the word "cutsie" in my original post :rolleyes: but, I didn't think I would get any serious answers.

The boss & I are scaling back our hours (after thirty years) by eliminating the "photo" end of our business, but keeping the framing side going for income
and would like to have more weekends available for traveling, etc.

Baer - I really liked your answer - I think I'll save it for when I really do retire

Dave's response:
"Other Hours by Chance or Appointment"
was the wording I was looking for, but I'm always open to suggestions from other Grumblers!


We are open M-F 10-5 Sat 10-2. Or by appointment.

When a customer finds me there on a Sunday or Monday or at 7am, they don't think anything about it.

Post your hours. and by appointment. and just leave it at that. Don't allude to "extra times that we may be here", customers don't care.
When I was in high school I saw a street artist in a resort town with a sign that read: "portraits if in the mood or hungry." I fell in love with that. That's how I've always wanted to work. (and I do...)

My hours say 10 - 5 But I am usually in 9-5:30

People come in when I am here, don't ask if it is early or late, but when I come in after 10 or leave before 5 they ask if I am "doing ok" (I am thanks for asking!)

case in point yesterday my kids were sick, so I stayed home till 12:00. Noone came in all afternoon. Today 5 people came in before noon, they had all come here yesterday! They were glad I was "still open".

Moral: if you post hours be there during those hours. Me I post my minimum hours. I like opening at 10 because if I have to deal with a snowy 600' driveway, I've got the time too!
Another framer south of me has 9:30 to 5-ish. If I wanted to be cutesier I might add 5-ish or sooner!

One shop in Portsmouth had the Open/Closed standard sign, but Emilio modified it to say Sorry, We're Open and Yes, we're closed.

When his was teh only shop doing that it was clever, now since so many shops in that town are doing it its not so clever anymore!
I would be very careful with irregular hours.

If you need specific times away from the shop, post them on the door, your answering machine, and web site and stick by them.

If I were a customer I would be annoyed at showing up at your shop during “normal” business hours to find you closed and probably wouldn’t break a smile even at a very “clever/cutsie” sign.

If I saw a sign that said, "portraits if in the mood or hungry", I would figure that the artist wasn't serious about his business and was probably unreliable.
I saw a great sign in a womens clothing boutique. It said "Your husband called. He said to buy whatever you wanted.

I'm sure a sign like that in a frame shop would be appreciated -by the wife.
Greg, I had that same sign hanging in my shop for about 3 years. It caught alot of attention from men and women and they ALL got a chuckle out of it.
We also make ceramic photo-mugs -

"Your husband called. He said to buy whatever you wanted."

is one of our better sellers

Thanks everybody for their input!
I also feel strongly about set normal hours. I feel that if you must shorten your posted hours that a phrase is fine, But you must make sure that your posted hours are covered without fail.
If ever we are not able to be in the store during the regularly posted hours we offer the customer who mentions it a $10.00 gift certificate for the trouble. This way they will possibly see it as a bonus that they were inconvenienced rather than hold a grudge.

But as far as “cute” I have always stayed away from it only because I can never be sure who will think it is “cute” and who will just think it is “STUPID”.
I was confused by the "open by chance"-I've never seen it, so I wasn't sure what was meant by it.

When I want to buy something, I want to buy it when it is convenient for me, not the shopowner. The Monday after Christmas, I wanted to look at tile for my kitchen. The place I normally buy from was closed, so I went elsewhere. Same thing happened when I wanted to start painting my kitchen on January 1. My usual paint store was closed, so I found one that was open. The framer I work for let my framing project sit for over two weeks (I was paying for it), so I took it to a former employee to do and paid her.

So, if I walked to your door and saw the appointment/chance sign, no doubt about it, I would have gone elsewhere.

Maybe you should decide whether you want a business or a hobby.
Before I got into framing, a shop in a nearby town was open by appointment only. From an owner's standpoint, I think that's reasonable.

However, my experience was that when I drove by it would remind me that I needed to call when I got home. By the time I got home, I'd either forget to call or if I remembered, more often than not no one answered the phone. It didn't take long before I quit trying.

If we make it the Least bit difficult for customers to reach us, the sad fact is . . . they won't bother. I think it's related to that instant gratification thing.

Having said all this, I support having appointments. It just has to be handled carefully.

Is it possible to have a box attached to the door that contains: 1. your business cards so people don't have to look up your phone no. to call back, and / or 2. a preprinted card that allows the customer to leave their phone no. so you can call them to set up the appt. ?
Open by Appointment
(also when we're here)

Phone number large enough to read from the curb.

Some people may be clever enough to call from their cell phones.

On your answering machine, include that you check your messages often, and will call back as soon as you can. Be sure to do just that.
I have set hours. 10 - 6 Tues - Fri and 10 - 2 on Saturday. But, I often (most of the time) open between 9 and 9:30, and stay late most nights and most Mondays for some period of time.

So, I am open my hours and "by chance."

However, I find the only time anyone looks at the hours is when the door is locked. If I'm there and the door is open, they come in. They don't (nor should they) worry about the posted hours. So, the "by chance" line may be cute, but it isn't particularly useful, and might be annoying, since the only time they'll see it is when they are there looking for you.

I'd post the regular hours and an "or by appointment" notice, but I'd loose the "by chance" even though I think it's cute and I kind of like it.
I have a sign that fits my situation very well;

I have a meeting today at lunch. I usually have help but not today.
I plan to leave a sign with what time I will be returning and my cell phone number so they can fuss at me if they want.

I don't know of any other way to handle this, and so far I don'tthink it has hurt me yet.

As a matter of fact, the week after Christmas I was closed and had three customers come in the next week and let me know they missed me and then we did thier framing.

So the loyal ones will be back. But for the most part I'm here when my my hours say I am.

This is an important point of business.

Since I am here alone most of the time but have to run out to pick up lunch (not go to lunch which would be an absolute dream), or do banking and sometimes a personal appointment that can't be scheduled outside my normal POSTED hours - I do a couple of things:

First my sign on my door has the hours we are open but found that people read that and even if we are here before or beyond those hours - they almost walk away without trying the door - even though all the OPEN signs, flags, a-frame abound!! So, what I did was have the hours show only when we are NOT open and when we are open the side that shows says: "Welcome, OPEN"

But wouldn't you know yesterday we had to be gone for a few minutes, returned but forgot to unlock the door and a customer didn't look inside to see me right in front but I did catch him before he got off the steps!!

The other thing I do is if I do have to leave for a while during business hours, I leave all the signage on, Open, etc but put a note on the door saying: "I have just stepped out for a few minutes, will return at 0:00" so they know exactly what time this is occuring.

I bless the customers that come during this time period or any other time I am closed and then are patient enough to come back at a later date. A reward for this action sounds like a good idea - but I haven't taken that step. I know I have gotten customers from other stores because they were not open and I was.... but I beleive they are the ones that will go somewhere else when I am not open. I prefer my loyal customers - who behave more like friends than customers - they understand!
We have always had posted hours. Mondays & Fridays were 8:30 AM til 9:00 PM. Tuesday - Wednesday & Thursday were 8:30 til 6:00 - Saturdays were 8:30 til 4:00. Closed Sundays.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we made the decision to cut back some on our hours. Probably 10 to 5 Mon - Fri - with Evenings & Saturdays by appointment.

We all "live" at our frameshops (or seem too) and some of you home-based Grumblers really do! But, after 30 years, we've earned a little rest. (Sorry Pamela, it's not a "hobby" yet

It was somewhat easier?? when we had employees that could fill in the odd hours, but now it's just the "Boss" and me. (and you know who has to empty the garbage).

Pat's sign was one of the "clever" ones that I had seen in the past - - - and I still got a chuckle out of those type signs - even when they were closed. (I don't get too excited if I can't buy paint on New Year's Day - really hate painting

Thanks again everyone for your input -
Pat, I love it. Just what I have been looking for for our shop.