How big is your....

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Dec 8, 2003
How big is your shop and what do you sell?

I am looking at a 1500 sq/ft unit. Right now I have exactly 784. 1500 seems a little big for a frameshop but I don’t want to move far from framing related items(I don’t want figurines, tons of art, or candles…..). Does anybody think this space would be a little large for custom framing, photo frames, some ready mades, a few canvases and a comfy couch in the back for me to shout out orders to my staff?

I opened here with lean and mean in mind. That space screams big and bold.
1500 is not that big. My real question is what is the frontage. If its 10' x 150' you got your self a bowling alley. If its 30'x50' thats a great size. A space thats too small is easily overlooked.

While I was in Atlanta I stopped at Thompson's Gallery. It must have been 15000 to 20000 square feet. All art, ready-mades and custom framing.
I'm out of room with 1500 sq/ft and could use at least another 800 to 1000 and I'm a solo shop. My front area also has small easel backed RM frames on shelves and stone carvings and the finished work rack as well as my sales area. I would like about 300 more sqft there and the work area in the back is stuffed with no more room to work on big stuff and to put work in progress.
If you can afford it, get it. Trust me, you'll fill the space in no time.
Originally posted by Jay H:
...Does anybody think this space would be a little large for custom framing, photo frames, some ready mades, a few canvases and a comfy couch in the back for me to shout out orders to my staff?...

You can still stay "Lean & Mean", <u>with inventory</u> if you have 1,500 sq/ft.

1500 sq ft is good.

That gives you enough room to lose stuff. I have five 4'x8' work tables and there's a sixth one somewhere in my shop. I'm honestly not sure where it is.

I sell nothing but framing and some days not so much of that.

Oh, never mind. The sixth table is under my matboard storage. I feel better, as I'm sure you do.

My second location was about 900 sq ft and I kept setting up more workshop space at home until my wife gave me an ultimatum.

If I had a lot more space, I'd have 10,000 moulding samples on the wall. That wouldn't be good for anyone.

I have been measuring and making a plan to cut down on the prints and gifts in my shop to concentrate on framing only. I presently have 1040 Sq. Ft., 520 sf. dedicated to a workshop and 520 sf. for my retail area, customer counter, samples, framed art, etc.

I have all custom built benches that are odd shapes and I can fit them into many configurations so I have given some thought about dropping one of my storefronts and moving into the other for framing only operation.

Here is what I found out about MY situation. I can't get by with 520 sf. of floor space, period. It would take a minimum of 740 sf of floorspace with at least 3 full walls to build a framing only shop for me based on the size of my customer counter and work benches. I could squeeze my benches together more (I have all kinds of walk space around my benches now) but I still need another 200 sf of space to allow for the customer counter, desk, and moulding display carousels.

My reason is strictly financial, I am paying a grand a month for 2 rentals and I am having a tough time getting ahead of the game with the overhead that I have now. (It's running about $1700 with utilities because the rentals are treated as 2 separate businesses by the city and the utility companies, hence, double the service charges, delivery fees, taxes, etc.)

I don't have a passion for retail sales anymore in the gift and print areas. Print sales have bottomed out and the spirit and interest for prints down here is much different than in my former location.

I can tell you that, no matter how large you feel 1500 sf seems now, it will be to your benefit to take the larger area if you can afford it and the location is to your benefit.

I have never had enough space in my gallery, even when I had the 3 story home that I converted a few years ago. You will find that space is always a lacking commodity and the more you can afford to keep the better in the long haul.

I'd be happy with 1,500 square feet. I only have 875 now. Pretty cramped. Unlike Ron, I only have one big work table and a smaller less functional one.

Are you moving because you need the room? Have you outgrown your location already? After what I have been through my biggest concern would be location not size though.
I have 1645 divided exactly in half workroom and retail space. I have photo frames/some readymades and a large design counter.

I don't think it's too big at all!!!
Would you believe I do all my work on ONE 4'X4' table. It takes me way way longer to frame a picture when you can't keep a frame and a print on the same table at the same time. My workshop is about 200 square right now. I would love to have a bout 500. I would feel like a new man (or at least framer).

The space is $2000/month, which is a lot here. The rent there is $16/sq and $12 here. So my cost will go way way up but the area is flat BOOMING. Its a strip that isn't built yet. But there currently several chains going in right now. They are going to put me in touch with a "Home furnishing" store that I will be next to if they can but right now have a confidentiality agreement.

This is an astronomical step for me but one I think is necessary to make.

Thanks for the input friends.

Carry on
BTW, when I was laying out my space and doing the buildout, I planned on a larger reatil area and smaller workroom.

I built a dividing wall that has a jog in it so you can go into the back room without going through any doors, but you can't see in back without looking around the wall. There is a "two-way" mirror in the middle of the wall, so I can see people when they come in if I am in the back.

The fire department (building inspector) dictated the possition of the wall because of sprinklers in the ceiling.

If you are getting in on "the ground floor" you might check that out. I have seen a number of shops with no physical separation between retail and work spaces and it looks nice, but I prefer some things behind a wall.
I'm with Kathy on the location versus size. My newest location is 1200 sq ft. It is 20 x 60 ft and works ok. I don't cut frames in this store. I have a building elsewhere to store moulding and do cut work. My saw alone would take up half the back room.

I wish I could find some rent like Framerguy has. Old location is 900 sq ft @ $1K a month, location 2 is 1200 sq ft @ $2K a month. I even have a little showcase at a BlackLion store that is 3 ft deep by 12 ft wide and it is just under $500 a month. I'm starting to feel rent poor.

I looked at a 1700 sq ft space that was $32 per sq ft. I really didn't think I could justify the cost.
I'm working as a one man show in about 2200 s.f. and pay 1650.00 a month all inclusive of utilities, taxes and insurance. Space is about right, but I'm taking over more of the showroom space for workbench space. You can never have enough flat workspace.

I'm in a new center at the end of a strip with windows on three sides which gives me a lots of natural light. There is a Taco Bell drive-thru on my side which gives me a ton of exposure.

I'm glad I have as much space as I do and think my rent is quite reasonable. I'm in a small town (I often refer to it as Mayberry) but very near to the booming and growing housing areas on a main drag and in the center of three metroplitan areas. I can leave my 12 yr old son (Oppy?) and go the post office or bank without concern.

Best part, I have a 7 minute commute.

Dave Makielski
I’ve got 1200 sq. ft. (20 x 60) and I wish it were 1500. I don’t have any ancillary sales except for photo restoration. The store isn’t cramped, but there is not a whole lot of space left for anything else I might consider including.

I don’t have a “back room” per se, the whole area is open except for a half wall about 2/3 of the way to the back behind which I have the saw, chopper, length moulding storage and glass. That leave the whole space with a feeling of openness so I can see what’s going on at the front of the store.

One thing I failed to consider when I opened is the ever expanding need for storage – why does that silly fire marshall keep nagging me about stuff being too close to the heating system?

To answer your question: no, 1500 square feet isn’t too big – you’ll use every square inch of it!
I would love to have 1500 sf - I'd even settle for 1200 sf!!

Currently in 800 sf - with 350 retail, 320 workshop and (out of my control) bathroom, kitchen/furnace, hallway - 130 sf.

What I dearly long for is WALL SPACE! I have 3 doorways in the retail space, 1 huge front window - which leaves me with less wall space than I really could utilize.

I sell gift and jewelry items - only about 10-20% of the business. Space-wise - it gives it a welcoming feeling. If I didn't sell "stuff" I would have more dimensional artwork - but that is not where I am at for the moment.

Would not move from where I am to gain space as I love my location. Unless it was into my own building/property.

I have 1104 square feet........ haven't even opened yet and already wish I had more workspace. I have it about half workspace half showroom. My focus is on framing, but I'll also be selling framed art, sculpture, and a few other frame and art related items. My ceilings are at 12' and my moulding samples go from floor to almost ceiling..... yes, I have a ladder. Parking is important, if customers can't park close to your entrance, forget it. So, if you're feeling cramped, go for more space especially if it's a better location with good parking.
Man I am really spoiled. We have over 4000 feet of space, two thousand up and two thousand in the basement. We use the basement for all of the "dirty work, saw , moulding storage ect.
Up stairs is fitting, mats and art storage, Wizard, office, sales area.
We have a gallery /gift/ home accent sales area. A design area with a 16 foot long design table and a 45 degree mirrored design table. A gazillion corner samples as well as many samples of our work.

We would STILL love to have more room.....

By the way I am a firm believer in having other "stuff" to sell besides framing.

When our store was half this size we saw a "pattern". We called it the "twirl".

We had a very small sales area. People would come in the door and I could overhear them saying: "oh this is just a frame shop" and they just "twirled" around and headed out of the door.

NOW it is totally different. We have lots of things to hold their attention. Once they come in they stay a long time .. ask questions, look around tell us how nice our store is, ect. AND place orders for framing. Customers even bring their friends and visitng relatives to see our store.
Oh, we're counting basements, too?

I have 3,000 sq feet, then.

I have lost an IMMENSE amount of stuff in my basement. Working alone, I find the very best way to generate traffic in the shop is to go downstairs to look for something.
We have a 30x40 2-story building, but only the upstairs is the studio. (We'll soon be remodling the downstairs for our home with an add on - does that make me an "attic framer?")

Anyway, we have the shop divided in half for a "dirty" side and a "clean" side. Only framing done on the "clean" side, but assembling and/or customizing of frames is done on the "dirty" side.

I could use twice the space as well...

I didn't plan it this way, it came as a package when we bought the place....7853 sq feet on a 23,567 sq ft lot, stand alone building with 24 parking stalls. We have a mounting room, mat cutting room, storage galore, offices, two saws, one for metal and one for wood, two underpinners, fitting area, pallets of glass, showroom with ready mades that we make, art supplies, 7 design tables that are 40" by 60", 156 slots for full sheets of matboard that we keep out front for the customer, foam core bins that hold full cases for 32 x 40 and 40 x 60 and hardware that no one else in Seattle seems to carry. The company had a long established name and we have chosen to do business like the previous owner and we are doing just fine!
I have a little over 5000 square feet. I rent out a 900 ft loft to a photographer, that pays a third of my rent. I have a great deal here with a twenty year lease. I am renewing my lease for an additional twenty years in the next few weeks. This is not for me, but for Mary when I retire.

My shop is 500 square feet. The front room is 14 wide by 20 long and the back room is 14 x 16. I have 2 4x8 tables which double (triple) as work benches, design areas, junk repositories.
If I had more room I would have more junk.

I have a nice front window which is about 10 feet wide and 6 feet high and a 3 foot deep "window seat" display area. There are two side windows, 2 x 6 - one by the door and one by the new Nail Parlor's door. I haven't even looked at that Nail Parlor door until the guy moved in last week. What a mess! The paint is peeled back like a shrimp!

I am planning (in my copius free time) to refurbish this off-side window so perhaps I can catch the eye of some Nail customers. I have a macrame hanging covering the top part of the window (no kidding!) and some plants in the bottom of the window. Now I have to plan my window display (not my strongest talent) to face in FOUR directions!)

So now our building is fully occupied with a veritable United Nations of stores and people. On the far end is Louie the Italian phone guy, next is the African-American skin care place, next the new Asian Nail place and then there's me! (Scottish-Irish-American/Canadian)
Our place is 1800ft. About 800 for display, design, corners, art - 1000 for work space. We keep a saw, chopper, Wiz, massive work tables, etc in the store. I can't imagine 784 sq ft.

Go for the bigger place. In a few years you'll wonder how you're getting by with only 1500 sqft.

Sounds like a great opportunity -- keep us informed!

The most important thing I have learned with a small space is that you have to keep your shop operating room clean. One little pile can take over the whole space in just a few hours.

It’s probably a good habit to have, as I will likely go with a semi-open design with the new space.

I like separate spaces but the problem I have is when people come in to just "look around". I find something to do out front but it feels like I'm bird-dogging when really I just want to be handy to answer any questions.
I'm working in 750 sq. ft. if you count the window ledges. My numbers wouldn't support an expansion, but the larger question for me are the hidden costs. Do you have to pay for buildout? What are the CAM charges? What is the developers history? Can you talk to people in other centers they have developed? I moved once and it was just like starting over. The only reason I would move now would be for location.
We are in two side-by-side old fashioned storefronts that add up to about 1100 square feet. Half of that is the workshop and about 2/3 of the other half is the showroom (or "living room' as we call it.) The last one third is finished art storage and a tiny kitchen and bathroom. (luxuries!) We also are lucky enough to have about 800 square feet in the basement for moulding storage, saw and chopper, for building and messy stuff.

My first space- for 11 years!- was 900 square feet, 2/3 below street level in a lovely, tony artsy neighborhood downtown. I loved that space and the 'hood. Our workshop started at about 200 square feet and eventually expanded to 450 square feet. We were fortunate to have very high 'warehouse style' ceilings- 20 feet. My dad built storage above every worktable and that was how we made it work. It was especially handy to have storage above the dry mount press, for some reason. We had to walk down the hall to use the common area bathroom. We cranked out alot of work in that tiny space, oversize pieces and multipiece jobs as well.

We were eventually forced to move out by the presence of the restaurant who moved in above us. They, against our assertive requests, located their dishwashing area directly above our design counter and it rained on us constantly. And there is no restaurant ANYWHERE that does not have cockroaches and this was no exception. It was a misery everyday and we abandoned $16K worth of leaseheld improvements to move to our current space 5 miles away.

It was well worth the hassle- this is a much bigger, better space and it brought us closer to 85% of our customers. Business increased. The old neighborhood downtown very quickly changed into a bar and restaurant area and is now littered with trash and bottles and whoknowswhatelse Monday every morning.

The point to make here is this: the actual physical space- layout and size- is secondary. I would look harder at the neighborhood and surrounding businesses and traffic, etc. You can fashion a good workshop in any size and space if you think creatively.

And we're all used to that, aren't we?

edie the wheresmycreativethinkingcapanyway? goddess
OK, based on this thread, I'll go for as much room as I can get. I'm planning to either purchase a building and remodel or buy land and build from scratch. (I hate to pay rent...a mortgage is OK.)

Is there a source of designs for the layout of the retail area as well as the workroom area?

I've been to the Las Vegas show and come back with workflow ideas (and I was Operations Analysis major in B School, so that helps). But how about ideas on angled walls, where to place the design counters, etc?

thank you.
Donna Hinshaw
Pelican Art
There is a book called "Floorplans for Galleries and Frame Shops" that may help. I have found that the best way to get ideas is to visit other frame shops and see what they're doing.
Donna, as land gets harder and harder to come by, especially in the North Bay area, consider building with a second or even third store available for someone else to pay your mortgage. I'd even consider a second floor with dental suites. Nothing like creating a foot traffic. People with poor dental habits don't frame and the inverse is also true.
would this be an appropriate time/place to ask the brethern & sistern to give us some sketches of how their shops are setup/laidout???? (this also calls for another quick class in how to post photos...I couldnt follow the thread on the other one--broken after the 1st installment
This would be another of our invaluable know, what works, what REALLY works, what doesnt work so well, and the general layout of what we live with evry day...stuff like that???

bill ward
As you contemplate shop layouts, you may want to consider "Lean" concepts. It's not something you can learn overnight, but if you're into efficiency (which, to me, means making money) it could be worth while. Lean is usually implemented by large manufacturing companies, but the principles can be applied to everything from offices to service work.
Located in a converted house. Main building is about 1470sf. Originally 3BR/2bath I converted the #2 & #3 BR into a single room (2 assembly tables, wall mounted cutter, glass storage, Casesse and chopper), and a second bath into storage. The great room (14 x 32) has vaulted ceiling with clerestory windows on the east with breakfast nook and attached kitchen. The kitchen is more storage, and the nook became my office area. The great room is being split into design area and assembly area with current remodel. Old master BR houses the Wizard and the dry mount press along with mat and mount storage. Detached garage about 480 sf houses Brevetti, table saw, surface plane, router table, Phaedra, carving bench (holds Hoffmann, miter sander and various other portable power tools), and several thousand feet of moulding in both vertical and horizontal storage racks.
Structure is concrete block with a 1" skin of Tennessee Pink marble. A new roof thanks to the past hurricane season (no insurance money) on beautiful A1A in uptown Jax Beach.
Not terribly efficient flow, and the philosophy that states that you'll occupy the space available is never more true than here. "Location, location, ..." ain't the best, but it's all mine.