Decor Tips Jan 1919 * Developing New Business*

Marc Lizer

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 28, 1999
North Hollywood, CA
*Developing New Business

Returning Fighting Men Will Buy Pictures.

Boom! Boom! Boom, boom, boom!

The crowd lining the streets on both sides comes to attention and all eyes are eagerly turned towards the bend, around which the line of mounted police are riding.

Here they come, from the multitude!

". : . . we'll all sing gay - When Johnny comes marching home." .

And line after line of Johnnies and Charlies and Toms and all the other masculine names are sweeping around the bend, their worn and soiled khaki uni forms lending an air of dignity to the proud and confident stride, and their eyes showing the joy they feel at the thoughts of home.

Home! Back from the roar of shot and shell; back from the misery and filth of the trenches; back from the least fear of a sudden end-and loaded with stories to sit around the fire at night and tell, to the detriment of the movies with their machine-made plots. The stories these boys tell will be epics, sagas, and--home to them will mean more than ever before.

How about the young folks whose marriage took place either just before the embarkation or is due to take place as soon as the formalities of mustering out are completed?

Can you doubt that the young lady left behind to wait has not often in her mind's eye conjured up the vision of a home--their home? And hasn't he, soaking in the mud and slime of a front line trench, often turned his thoughts across the seas to a little home where he can live his interrupted romance in peace and enjoyment?

Are there many of these young folks? Listen: I was absolutely ignorant as to the numbers of young men, either married or to be married on discharge. I made a trip to a nearby encampment town and found the following: (Jut of 14,000 troops up to then demobilized, over $QO-$63 to be exact----were married before the boys left the town, and I was fold at a and a roar of welcome comes hotel there that the hotel was accommodating three or four girls in a room, waiting for the boys to be mustered out and the ceremony performed. And this is only one out of the many camps in all sections.

Again, a statistician in Chicago who is in a position to know, tells me that over 12,500 young people were married before "he" left for camp, an average of 100 per week were married after "he" had gotten into uniform, and the number of couples he estimated as being ready to marry on discharge is so extravagant I refuse to print it.

Can you see the connection between these facts and your business? Never before in the history of the art trade were the prospects for a new and profitable clientele so great.

Every one of these young couples that goes to housekeeping will be in the market for at least one or more pictures. Let's estimate their number at 2,500 per state, which, I am assured, is very small, and say each couple will buy $5.00 worth of pictures, a mean average of $12,500 per state of new business. Are you going to get your share of it?

How? Not, I hope, like a dealer I spoke to last year about advertising. He informed me that as he was the only dealer in town who carried good things, advertising was not necessary for him. A little later I took advantage of an invitation to spend an evening in a residence in the same town and in the course of admiring some prints, turned one over and saw that it was framed by a dealer in a rearby town. At once I asked why, and was told that --'s art store didn't do this very good framing, and this was a particular picture.

"But," I inquired, "how did you know So and So did this work?"

And I was shown an ad, printed in -~---'s home town paper, by So and So that had gotten the order. No, Sir,- or Madam, if you want your share of this new business, you've got to go after it and advertise. Now, the word "advertise" is a much abused and deceptive thing, More money can be spent toollshly m advertising than in. any other way.

Were I in a town of, say, 40,000 to 70,000, I'd advertise twice each week in the local dally the vear around, advertising some special article each time. Periodically I would send a neatly printed form letter to my customer list, especially immediately preceding the wedding and holiday seasons, calling the receivers' attention to the goods I had and asking for a visit of inspection.

But to return to our homecoming soldiers. Undoubtedly, the local paper will print their names as they arrive, and if you are alive to local conditions and follow the wedding and engagement notices as you should, you will know of those who are about to be wed. And a little friendliness with your local real estate brokers and interior decorators will keep you informed as to those about to set up housekeeping. And when you get this news, use it!

Either send a letter, or better still, call in person, and present an invitation to the young people to visit your store. Offer to advise them in the selection of their pictures, and bric-a-brac, and keep in mind every minute that you've got something to sell, and talk your line.

There seems to be a ,deep seated prejudice among dealers to go out and solicit work directly. And why? Surely you have things to sell as well as the local grocer. And people know where your store is, as well as where the grocer is. Yet he goes out and asks for business and-gets it. Now why in thunder 'is it any the less ethical for an art dealer to do the same?

In cases where the wedding has taken place before the soldier left for camp, it is more than likely no wedding gifts have been given, but a properly organized advertising campaign should cause many belated but acceptable gifts to be purchased.

There's another reason the returning soldier, especially if he has been on pass in either Paris or London, or both, will be interested in art goods of the better class. Undoubtedly he has visited Tate's, the Louvre, and the lesser galleries, and has carried away an impression of some particular painting, and he's_. going to buy a copy of it -for his home. Let me suggest this--when an overseas soldier comes into your store, let him know that you have these pictures m stock, and invite him to come in any time he wants to, to see them.

Also, another hint. The church, Sunday school, or club to which this returned soldier belongs is very likely going to ask him to give a talk on "Over There." You can give him invaluable assistance in this talk by loaning him pictures illustrative of his subject, and incidentally get considerable advertising of the kind that counts. .

The matter sums up then to this: If you are awake to, your opportunities, the return of the fighting men will open up the most fallow field the art trade has ever seen.

And a combination of intelligent advertising, aggressive selling and a willingness to help, all these things will turn 1919 into the year of promise it now looks to be. And the writer, who knows most of his readers personally, joins with THE PICTURE AND ART TRADE arid GIFT SHOP JOURNAL in wishing you a most happy and prosperous season in 1919.