Is LaMarche as bad as I hear?


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Apr 8, 2004
Hello all,

I am opening my frame shop in a couple weeks and wanted to use LaMarche for some of my higher end frames.
While looking on this site I found quite a few "grumbles" about them.
Would anybody care to let me know good or bad situations you might have had with them?
Any of your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advanced fellow grumblers, Bob.
Welcome to The Grumble Bob. La Marche has a great looking line, it sells well, prices reasonable for the product they sell.

That was the good stuff about them.

Everything you have read on The Grumble is absolutely true. La Marche is well aware of these posts and they give the impression that they are trying to deal with them.

Number one complaint is their reluctance to answer their telephones in a timely manner. There has been a change in that department. They are now playing a tape in the background that sounds like hundreds of operators are processing orders, or thats what it seems like, wouldn't surprise me.

It takes anywhere from four to twenty minutes to place an order by telephone with them. Since all this has come out on The Grumble recently, the longest I've waited is six minutes. When you have a bunch of companies to call on ordering day, six minutes seems like forever, but for them, one heck of an improvement.

The second biggest complaint is they can not seem to keep their magnificent line of product in stock, or have a clue as to when it will be available again. An out of stock item can take months to be back in stock again. This kind of leaves you looking like an idiot to your customers. Most people do not mind having to come back to your shop to select a different moulding, but it is a pain, and should not be happening.

Someone stated on The Grumble that the reason for the unknown arrival dates was due to 9/11 homeland security. Containers being tied up at customs forever, etc. If that is the case, La Marche should still be able to tell us that is the problem, they have not.

The owners seem to avoid talking to customers at all costs, if you ask to talk to an owner, the farthest you will get is someone in management. You will be left with the impression that their managers have little authority to actually solve the real problems.

Overall, it is an erratically managed company. People complain, things improve for awhile, then it goes to heck again.

I would proceed very cautiously with your involvement with them. They do have some wonderful mouldings, that alone may make it worth it for you to go to the extra hassles involved in dealing with them. If you have a really long fuse, should be no big deal for you.

Ask them how they will be handling out of stock items. How long will an item be out of stock, and will they be able to give you a positive answer of when to expect it.

We continue to have their product on our walls, however, we are replacing them with other companies as quickly as we can. We are reluctant to even show their mouldings to our customers.
I don't buy the 9/11 homeland security excuse. Significant portions of other lines I show are imports - especially Italian - and I haven't noticed any change in the out-of-stock ratio since 9/11.

Anyone notice more problems with Roma, for example? I doubt it.

Your post was spot on. Yes, there have been improvements in the answering of the phone at La Marche, but the "it is out of stock and I don't know when it is coming in or if it is discontinued" situation seems to only be getting worse.

As my prior posts have stated, I have long been a big supporter of La Marche, but now that Chris Hilger has left and they have no representation in San Diego, and the quality and out of stock situation has not improved, I am yielding wall space previously reserved for La Marche to other vendors who have demonstarated that they want my business. I am tired of telling customers after the sale that I cannot fulfill their order.

I cannot recommend that a new shop put La Marche's samples on their wall without anticipating difficulty with order fulfillment.
We have had good luck with some of the lower end LaMarche mouldings and they continue to be good sellers. We hardly ever have to wait for them.

I don't know the numbers, but I'll describe them - leaf-embossed design in about six muted colors, flat/slightly raked brighter colors, gold and silver/gold flat with an embossed cable design.

There are some bamboo-y looking ones that are nice (we had to wait for one of these, but it was the PERFECT moulding and the customer was pleased with the end result). There is a 3/4" moulding sort of in this series, that's been good. It comes in black, dark brown, and pecan.

The painted Italian mouldings are so pretty, but the prices are on these are getting out of sight.
We use a dozen or more suppliers. LJ =all others put together but LaMarche is our #2 seller for the past few years. From my perspective their customer service is average. All problems get resolved to my satisfaction. I fax my orders so there is no waiting on the phone and they always send a confirmation detailing where my chops are being shipped from and any outages. Terry
I finally got so fed up with no shows on mouldings from them that I took their line off my wall. There are ALOT of other companies who actually WANT to sell to you and do have on hand stock.
Forget LaMarche and go with Roma. Very high quality from Italy and, strangely enough, their shipments get thru customs with no problems. You should also look at Turner mouldings. They have a very good selection with a full range of prices. These two companies are my major sellers in my store.
La Marche was my first vendor when I set up the shop in this location several years agos. Chris was a fantastic rep. But after reviewing the past several years, I find that most of my "out of stock" problems and all of my "mis-cut chops" have been from them. I too have had to wait an unacceptable amount of time to get through to the order desk. As a result I have been culling their samples to make room for other vendors with better customer service.
I'm sorry to see a good company in that state.
I currently have a bag full of their samples, if you'd like them
Or you can dow what we do with Williamson. We only sell them Mon-Fri and we call to make sure they have it before we sell it. On Saturdays, we pick an alternative 'just in case"... but if they don't answer the phone, that won't work, will it? Never mind.
Thank you evryone for your input. I thimk I'll try roma and a few others to make up for LaMarche.
Is it unreasonable to haggle with the reps for free samples? It's not that I'm cheap but it's in their best interest for me to carry them and if they want me to carry them at a price then it doesn't instill alot of confidence on their part for their own product.
Has anyone had as hard a time as I am getting samples from Crescent. When I contacted them for samples I was told they didn't put much money in their samples this year and instead spent it on advertising. Why advertise when your retailers can't show the product?
Thanks for letting me GRUMBLE, Bob.
Bob, established shops rarely are charged for samples. When I started my first pathetic little shop back in 1976, absolutely no distributer would give me ANY samples. It took me years to build up a decent sample wall. I started my business with $250.00 to my name.

Distributors are your best bet for free samples, but only if they think you are a legitimate, going to succeed operation. Distributer are also going to be your best bet for mat samples, expect to pay for them as well. You may be able to pick up old obsolete sets for free, if you are willing to cull the discontinued out of them.

You may consider driving to some frame shops out of your market area, see if they have any extra sets of mats, frame samples, etc. that they would like to unload for a few bucks.

It's tough getting started, especially if you have limited funds, but well worth the effort in the long run.

Good luck,

And a good resource for finding 'fellow framers' that are not next door, is your local Professional Picture Framers' Assn chapter. New Jersey has one of the best, and with the $25 first year trial membership, how can you lose? Go to to find out more.
I am a manufacturer myself and, believe you me, I can't conceive a situation in which I wouldn't know exactly when my stock will be replenished.
Perhaps La Marche does not produce every single one molding of theirs and it is at odds or even had lost their true suplier.
Bob, JRB

I address your free samples issue on a new thread because in my opinion this issue is deserving of a special attention and understanding. The newly opened thread is called "High end corner samples for free".
Ron: I have a container coming in from South Africa that will hit Savanna GA any day. Would you mind going down to Customs Security lock up and watch it from 10 to 70 days for me while they find time to check it?
Not this time of year, John. Ask me again in January.

So how is some vendors who use a lot of imports are plagued with customs delays and some - it seems - are not?

On my list of Things I Look For In Chop Vendors, low out-of-stock rate is very close to the top. Also, consistency of finishes is right up there. This, too, seems easier for some than for others, and it's something I'm willing to pay extra for.
It is all dependent on how much (how many containers) you order and how soon they are back to back. Different ports have shorter times, airfreight on some profiles get you by if the product is manufactured and sitting in Italy, if your Italian manufacturer(s) haven't went out of business - any number of factors.
I am with Ron in this one. My European shipments come to the US with regularity, 30 days apart of each other. Usually it takes 1 day to clear the Customs and no more than 3-4 days from the moment of entry until that shipment is delivered to my door. And BTW, have a brocker do the job. He's worth every penny you pay him.
10-70 days to clear the Customs sounds like a horror story. This is not how business is done in this country.
If your European shipments are going through a CSI/CSB port the container is inspected and sealed before leaving Europe and will experience a 1-3 day US customs stay. There currently are only 20 CSI/CSB designated ports in the world however more are coming on board. Otherwise, container shipments can take up to seven weeks in lock up at a US Customs facility. We use several brokers, they are worth every penny however they are not US Customs. The CSI/CSB program was designed so we can get back to "how business is done in this country". However with 7 billion containers a year coming into the United States its been a challenge. I should point out country of origin affects this as well. Our shipments from Chile fly right through. Italy and South Africa do not. (Although South Africa is now a CSI/CSB port and it should improve greatly) They type of product also makes a difference. Finished corner frames usually come cartoned and have air. Not easy to hide anything from the machines or humans. Length molding is densely packed and difficult to inspect. You can chose to believe me or not but many distributors who do their own importing are experiencing these delays.
Thanks Kit. It's interesting that just today my sales manager from the South African company was in. They also own a large photo frame business and import moulding from Europe. They too have experienced many of the same problems that we have in the United States regarding container shipments.
I was just thinking (a dangerous thing for me to do !!) ... Roma is actually based in Canada so they probably ship their stuff into Canada and then across the border into the US. That might account for the lack of delays getting their products. Makes sense, eh?