How long for corner samples?

Meghan MacMillan

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Forum Donor
Nov 22, 1999
Baltimore, MD
How long do you leave a sample on the wall that you've not only never sold, you haven't pulled it down to show a customer?

I'm currently updating the front soom of my shop and have had lots of time while I sort out corner samples to think about this. I have one collection from one vendor that covers a full 6' of a sample row. I understand the importance of some showy ones to keep the wall looking interesting, but 6'??? I think I've had this group for about 6 months now.

When would you all say it's time to swap 'em for something that WILL make me some money?
I pulled one off that had a spider's nest behind it!

If I am holding the stock as well as the chevron, what I sometimes do is put them in a 'Frames of the week' display. Pick from that and get a discount, if that fails it's photoframe time!
Depends on the style.

Some last a few months and some last years.

I try to keep a variety of styles/colors/sizes so we can get "just the right frame." However, if a sample set is close to another or slightly different, and doesn't displace the older style, it gets pulled when I have something newer to fill "it's space." Essentially, I have a rough area dedicated to golds, silvers, blacks, "high end," modern, distressed, colored. And, if a newer profile comes in in one of those categories, it might push a dog off the wall. But, a black isn't at all likely to push a gold off if you see what i mean.

Are these ones you have stocked up on or just a sample to be ordered. If I had some in stock, definently time to run them on sale. If it is just some that hang on the wall, it depends.

I have one wall that is just "High impact". In other words, I very rarley sale from them but they are impressive to customers who walk in.

I only replace these with "High impact" samples also, and I switch them around to look fresh every so often.

But I don't put these on my bread and butter wall. They are in a place with alot of visiabilty but not so easy to get to.

I also have a back room with a wall of "haven't sold any but not ready to give up on" samples.

I'm a sample junkie. I have about 3 boxes I need to go through in the back right now.( Alot I didn't ask for)

One thing I hate is when a company sends stuff I didn't ask for. It seems like a waste on their part also. I don't get that one.

I like the way Larson does it. They ask if you want them and they keep up with what you have in their computer. That seems responsible, and not wasteful.

wasn't it Jay Goltz who said in PFM recently that if you haven't sold it in I think it was a year or so to dumpsterize them.

Boy my employees hate to see me do this. I traditionally--here and at home--throw things away if I haven't used them for a year and sometimes less.

Esp corner samples. Esp. corner samples I haven't asked for.

The exceptions are Romas and some Larsons that will sell for $75 plus per foot; always feature them somewhere in the store. Ya never know who wants to drop major bucks on a good project
It's not a particularly good feeling to discard samples, but it has to be done. We'll go longer than 6 months on some of the high end samples, but if it doesn't sell, it's gone. Some of them are so beautiful, almost too beautiful.
I go thru the corners about every 3 months and trash the slow movers. Stock items that are slow become sale items first and then readymades or photo frames.

I thought
1. That a good custom framer would take up only those samples that he trusts and loves and
2. That framing is much more than a grocery in which one sells everything, including pork and junk food, but eats kosher and healthy only.

Is it possible that a framer would receive (evidently for free) so and so or even plain ugly corner samples and yet hang them up on the wall in hope that one good day (within 6 or 12 months time) a tasteless client may click with those, or worse, in blind hope that some corner samples would prove to be in fact true winners? If so, where’s the backing for all that bragging about fine frame design science, refined taste, and creativity, framing expertise and client education? When same frame, same fitting may be obtained from any framer out there, there is truly nothing special left of custom framing except for the costumer who thinks the opposite. Far from just adding needless inventory, keeping senselessly numerous and redundant corner samples on the wall tells of much insecurity and very accommodating aesthetic values.
I just had an absolute blast throwing out samples the other day. In fact I had to call a garbage service. There are some I do keep up for impact. I dont' expect to sell them much or at all. But they are the ones the customers get the most excited to see. It shows what is out there anfd possible. I just made a large sample wall in my workroom of bread and butters/colored. I also don't show my metals but have them hanging in the bathroom/lounge. Everything is within reach, but my impact ouldings are front and center.
Also, I stock little and order length as needed. If it was inventory mouldings my thinking would be different
Whynot, who said anything about ugly, or even redundant? We can't show only what people have bought before. We need to prepare for what they might want next. So, when a moulding company shows us the result of their marketing reserach "Tuscan is the new French Provincial!" sometimes we have to take them at their word. I don't want to NOT take the distressed golds only to have them visible on every page of Better Homes and Gardens and have people coming in, looking for what I don't have. And since national companies track national trends it might take a new style longer than the average to catch on in my specific market.
A moulding sample by itself may be "ugly", but somewhere there is a piece of artwork that is perfect for it. I have many samples that I've only sold once in the past few years and quite a few that I've never sold...but someday...

Why limit yourself from having at your hands any creative element?

If I run out of room on the walls, I have flat files where I put more unusual mouldings.

The same goes for matting, liners and fillets. As long as you are familiar with your offerings and know where to put your hands on them, why eliminate anything that hasn't been discontinued or, just plain looks cheap.

If someone wants bamboo, I have about 50 different offerings. If someone wants white, I have nearly 100 different white moulding to offer. Raw wood, 40 or so, bright colors...about 200 not including metals,...fillets...about 200...etc.

The greatest argument for hand wrapped mats and liners is that you are not limiting yourself to the offerings of manufacturers.

Dave Makielski
You guys talked me into it. Have eight hours of Sinatra on the Ipod playing in the store and am having so much fun throwing away samples. My employees wait on customers and I'm having fun cleaning. Making room for more Roma
There are more than a fist full of framers who are corner samples addicted and who wouldn't repress from having collected most every sample available out there; they might have an excuse if corner samples were for free but, believe you me, some framers pay big money to have them all, yet same old time winners will sell on over and over.
Are those molding manufacturers showing you the result of their marketing research or those new moldings are in fact the result of their creation department (with little connection to the market if any)? If all those new designs were the result of marketing studies, how come a small group of "winners" do sell hand over the fist and the rest of your corner samples don't?
As exciting as they were, free corner sample encouraged abundance and diversity to the point where it became so easy to misfire and then wonder when many are too many and when to dumpster those 6-12 months old "proven" useless corner samples.
If I were a custom framer I'd rather be unique (different) than sort of yet another Frame Depot.
But I guess that those big molding manufacturers would dismiss my views in horror. They became big and stay so based on a different market philosophy.

[ 03-04-2006, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: Whynot ]
After giving this some thought...

I have customers that I have done their framing for 14 years. Some I may only see at Christmas time or when a Grandkid graduates from school.

If I receive a new sample in Feb and rotated it out in 6 months of no sales, those once a year customers would have never got a chance to see it.

Maybe 6 months is too fast. I make my decisions more on the fact that I have shown it to X number of people and no one took a bite.
We just had this discussion a few weeks ago, so I bumped it back to the top. In my shop I have room for as many samples as I want, and having that many makes life easier. Just see my comments in the other thread.
Originally posted by RoboFramer:
I pulled one off that had a spider's nest behind it!
Oh, yeah? I found this behind one of my samples when I was moving my shop.


I wrote about 30,000 orders in my years of business and, at my peak, probably had about that many samples. Since there were some mouldings I used over and over, it follows that there were probably a whole bunch I NEVER used.

The only time I tossed them was when I decided they were hopelessly ugly, dated, redundant or discontinued.

Or if the vendor annoyed me - maybe by asking why I had so many samples on my wall.

[ 03-04-2006, 10:00 PM: Message edited by: Ron Eggers ]
Gosh, Ron, that thing looks genuinely prehistoric!!

Just how long did you save those samples?? :eek:

Why so many samples? There are nearly 7 billion people in the world, with nearly 7 billion different design tastes.

Maybe that's why.
We recently went on a rampage... :D

We only left on the walls[of the ones that almost never sell] the ones that I could elucitate about the origin of their design...

all the rest of the crap hit the can.

It felt like a dose of Cod liver oil for spring fever. :D
My partner for the last three years continuously added samples because he thought it looked impressive--never mind overwhelming the customers.

As of January 1, I am the one-person show, except for an exceptional high school student who helps after school. The first thing I did was record all mouldings we had sold during those three years no matter how little (somebody liked it). These are the ones I kept on display; the others are stored just in case.

I will add to the current ones and probably do the same thing in another three years. I am not organized enough to do an annual much less a biannual study.
Speaking of inventorying samples - So how does everyone pull discontinued samples? Do you count on your reps to do that for you? What about mats?

If there were a handheld scanner that could read the bar codes on your mat samples and possibly frame corners as well would you be interested? Would you purchase a scanner or consider renting one?

My husband wrote the software and I've been scanning my mats (Artique, Bainbridge and Crescent) for the last three years. The mat sample program tells you whether or not the sample is current or discontinued and what the current price is.

Frame corners get a little tougher since not all manufacturers bar code their products.

Anyway, I was just wondering if this is something that would be a useful tool to the industry as a whole? Maybe this already exists somewhere out there.

I think the barcode readers for framing POS software have been around for a few years. I'm almost certain there are Grumblers using them.

My own experience with reps pulling samples (and there are exceptions) has been that they tend to pull the samples from other companies.

When I get a discontinued list from a vendor I buy chop from, I hunt down the samples and get rid of them. I tend to buy from companies that warn you when a moulding is being phased out, rather than telling you when you order it and every last inch of it is gone forever. It's also good to keep track of where each sample is, so you don't spend all day looking for the discontinueds (or for a moulding that a customer wants to match from an older order.)

Those are two of the keys to managing a large number of display samples.