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Latest LJ endeavor

Lori Drugan

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Sep 8, 2004
Fairlawn, OH
Not sure how I feel about the e-mail I got from my LJ rep the other day. Here it is. What's your feeling?

I wanted to announce to you LJ's getting into the Art Publishing Industry with Artaissance. I will keep it very short on this email, but I did want to tell you about it before you hear about it from someone else on the street. We have developed a website to sell artwork to customers. The big thing is these customers must pick up their purchases from an independant frame shop/gallery that they select on the website. You as a LJ framer get half of the profits for basically doing nothing and get a new customer in your store when they come to pick it up. We will also be emailing coupons to these same customers at the same time for discounts on LJ framing to encourage them to frame their artwork at your store when they come to pick it up. So we hope to increase your sales, increase your store traffic, and most importantly increase your framing sales. No other vendor is doinganything like this in the framing industry to help the independent framers business. I will go into more detail the next time I see you in your stores. WE are very excited about this program and I cannot wait to talk to you about it in person.

Thanks for the input,

Can you say FrameYourArt.com?
Sounds like a good idea... until they get to the part where they send the customer a coupon on LJ frames. Who eats that discount, the framer? Or will LJ send you the moulding at the discounted price?
Kristen, I am sure that LJ will be eating the discount on the moulding. The problem I have is that I don't run sales or discounts on my moulding. Now these new web customers will come running in asking for discounts, and I am not a Micheals.

I don't appreciate LJ trying to turn me into one either! But since I am not one of their "partners" and therefore not accessible on their website I won't have that problem. I will however have to worry about LJ "stealing" my customers from me and sending them to my competition who is in their pant's pocket.
I was told everything Kristen was told.

The discount will be on LJ moulding ONLY.

Not clear to me if they "eat the discount" completely. I'm not sure my rep knew. I think it might be say ... 25% off which means LJ will sell it to you at 25% off, but you still have to reduce your margin by 25%. I don't ahve a problem with this if it gets business in my door.

The program is NOT just for their partners. I was told it was for "any" LJ account. My rep couldn't give me details, because it is a limited market startup.

Basically, as of I think 9/1 it will be available to consumers in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and I think Chicago. (I may have the third city wrong) As of January 1, 2007 it will be available nationwide.

They will be using all of the databases they have access to fromt he commercial mag advertising they've been doing to launch the program.

I think it's GREAT!! Consumer advertising, driving customers into the local frame shop givign the framer a profit before they even start talking! How can anyone complain about that!!???!?!?!
Like Cliff, I think the program is GREAT but since different people hear/read different facts, I am going to wait until I see the printed program in a LJ document. We heard a completely different story regarding discounts and coupons than was mentioned above. I think someone might have overstepped their bounds in an email that has now been made public that was intended for a private audience.
Originally posted by Cliff Wilson:
The program is NOT just for their partners. I was told it was for "any" LJ account.
Right, and your check is in the mail...
Not that I don't believe that is what your rep told you and what he was told to tell you by his manager. I just think that they wouldn't be so foolish as to alienate a fairly good chunk of their customers, again, by announcing that the partners had an even sweeter deal coming up.

There's a frame shop 1 1/2 blocks away from me that is an LJ partner...I am not. I'm not naive enough to think they won't favor directing business to someone that brings them more money.
Someone was in the chat room telling us about this last week. What a win/win program that will benefit partners as well as non partners!

Please let us know when there's a sign up page, to start receiving referrals. The success of this endeavor will depend on search engine positioning/optimization.

To: Larson Juhl Grumble Monitor
From: Not A Partner, Just A Good Customer

Please don't give me another reason to remove your samples from my wall!
Here's a program that I can participate in and don't have to pay any advertising costs or carry any art inventory! On top of that perhaps I will get some new customers too. What more could I ask for? No complaints here. Thanks Larson Juhl! Keep those new ideas rolling!

As far as the discount coupon goes, they are also giving you half of the artwork sale and these will be print-on-demand giclees. So, say something sells for $300 and LJ gives me $150 and a framing customer, I'll gladly honor the coupon.

As far as LJ giving preference to partners, the customer selects the shop they want to do business with. You just have to sign up when it becomes available, which isn't going to be soon outside the test areas.

I don't think there is much to complain about, but I know they'll take a verbal beating on this anyway.
I forgot to mention ... I was told the "print" is completely custom. The customer decides what size and what substrate they want it on. Essentially they say 20 x 24 on canvas. Or, 12 x 30 on paper. I'm not sure how they are going to deal with aspect ratio issues, but the idea is to let the customer determine what they need for their "decorating space" and order that.

How many times has a customer asked you if you have anything to "fit the space on the wall?" As I understand it, this will help answer that question.
I wonder how the general public will know/hear about about this LJ website? And will it have an "LJ Distributor/Frame Shop Near You" listing?
I don't think there is much to complain about, but I know they'll take a verbal beating on this anyway.
Don't they always?

LJ has the biggest shoulders in the industry
Originally posted by Val:
I wonder how the general public will know/hear about about this LJ website? And will it have an "LJ Distributor/Frame Shop Near You" listing?
I was told they would use lists from the consumer mags they have been in as well as putting more ads in those same mags. You know the Goumet ... they've been in.

And, yes, the whole idea is the consumer will "pick" a Framer near them to have the art delivered to.
Program sounds good on the surface...we'll see about the execution. LJ generally pioneers some pretty good programs.

Johnny, if a print is $ 300.00 then I would think "half the profits" would be $ 75.00 based on a keystone margin...still a nice gift horse...

I also see that how they work the search engine can be key to an individual dealers success. I'm ten minutes from the areas largest market, but it is in another state. If they work by radius from the dealer, I'm in...if not, I'm not and the bulk of my competitors are.

Dave Makielski
Hey Cliff, goto LJ's website and try to find your shop in their "find a local framer" section.

If the web site doesn't refer you how will the customer know to come to your shop for pickup? Don't believe it till it happens! I wuld be tempted to place an order yourself and see who's shop you have to go to to get your poster. I'll bet you $25.00 it won't be your shop!
Oops, just reread my post, I am not saying it is a bad idea on LJs part, just that I don't think it will benefit us, or me, as much as it is going to benefit LJ!

If it works so be it, but on first blush it feels like the LJ/Joann's program. Good for the bottom line, but the custom frameshop was thought of secondarily, if at all!
Of course, it will benefit LJ more than us. Why shouldn't it.As long as they don't allow a Michael's or JoAnn's to be a "point of pick-up", I think it has done nothing to hurt us.

LJ (my rep is awesome...thanks Alan S. if you are listening)has always treated me fairly. Recently, I have received some very beneficial pricing from them. I am not a partner. Not by a longshot. LJ is one of the few companies that do advertise outside of trade mags. Whether or not it drives customers to my stores is another thing. But I don't fault them for trying.

I've heard lots of good things about them & lots of bad things about them. From my personal experience, I have known nothing but good.

Now if they could only lower those chop prices on Ponzio stuff by about 50% I would really sing their praises! ;)

The LJ site is only "partners." The new venture will be call "Artaissance" and have a different web site. I was told the new site would have a search engine based on zip codes.
I am not framing any longer and I have no axe to grind against LJ. But lets be honest about a few things. First this program isn't going to benefit anyone who doesn't do business with LJ ( because of their choice or LJ's)

Next Since LJ is the originator and one paying for the program and it's promotion shouldn't it Benefit them more than anyone else? I have seen LJ and some others do things for a purely altruistic motive but this is business isn't it.

But for all LJ customers IMHO this is an additional benefit. .LJ may be selling art, but then from what I have read most who do wish they didn't. Add to this that LJ is having the buyers go to Frame shops to pick up the art where they will be inclined to look ( at least) at framing selections. Of course they will get an additional discount if they choose LJ Mouldings but isn't that as it should be ? And they aren't required to do so if they see something they like better.

So does everyone win from this program ? I don't think so. Does LJ reap most of the benefits? I would expect them to wouldn't you? If you sell LJ moulding might it help you? I can't see how it won't.
What is that saying about looking a gifthorse in the mouth???

I'll wait and see what happens before I offer any criticism or praise!

Staying tuned...

I can hear it now. "This isn't right - TAKE IT BACK! I want my money back - RIGHT NOW!"
I must admit, I am quite shocked at the responses here.

I will hold my final opinion until I here all the details and see the agreement in writing, but on the surface it sounds like exactly what this industry needs. A direct to the consumer pertnership between the manufacturer/supplier and the retailer.

And why shouldn't LJ benefit from this? They put the program together to make money didn't they? They do run a business and should make money shouldn't they? Shouldn't you? Isn't that what you do this for? If they want to make a few bucks while making my business better and stronger, more power to them. Just take me for the ride.......do it at my expense, well, then that's different.

If I get new customers from this, they CAN have their first LJ frame at a discount. Because, now they know me, my store and I will have them for life. A small price to pay for a new customer.

I can't see how LJ could benefit from making this for Partners only. They leave out WAY TOO MANY good and ultimately/hoepfully better customers.

Sell moulding. That's what they want to do. This a just another way to do that. So long as we all have the same opportunity to benefit from this program, they/we will win. Allienate part of your customer base and the incremental sales that this program will provide for them will be lost quickly and accompanied by the sound of corner samples hitting the bottom of dumpsters accross the country.

Intersting concept and as I said, I beleive it is exactly the type of thing this industry needs more of.
I'm with you Harry. I think this idea is a slam dunk

But, it doesn't surprise me that they would limit the program to those that have made a similar committment to LJ

If I was underwriting a project like this, I would do it exactly as they. And, remember, if you are not at a qualifying status then you might see what it takes to qualify

Let's face it, setting some standards shouldn't be a surprise.
Originally posted by Bob Carter:

But, it doesn't surprise me that they would limit the program to those that have made a similar committment to LJ

Let's face it, setting some standards shouldn't be a surprise.
I agree Bob.
Seems like alot of speculation going by many, because we don't have the official information from LJ yet. But the concensus seems to be the only qualifer for being in the program is to display and sell LJ moulding, not that of being a partner. If you don't do that why should you benefit from their efforts.
I give anyone permission to send me as many customers as they would like ,
I will turn them into life long customers with the best service in the known universe.
Originally posted by Paul N:
I think people should read Jay's short reply, again.

It speaks volumes about a very critical scenario, that might happen more than you think.
Why would that risk be any different than ordering a print from a cataloge or other website for your customer?

I assume that the company would stand behind it. LJ is great about resolving issues. I would expect nothing less from there other division.
Jay H and Paul N, That is exactly what I was thinking when I posted this thread. Where are the liabilities going to lay when human error factors in? And it will. I hope the people at LJ monitor this sight and take into consideration all of the concerns that have been brought out and adress them before this program is introduced to the masses. I wouldn't mind seeing a disclaimer to the framers participating in the program.

I think Harry is right, Why would they handle this any differently then they already handle human error.

No other company has done so much to make my business look more professional and run as smoothly. The reps are top notch and the supplies are all quality!

Thank you Larson Juhl, I am totally on board!!!

I would like to have a Larson Juhl Logo sign to hang in my window!!
I have the Craig Ponzio wall but I would like to have one in the window for the passers by to see!!
I wondered this morning, while brushing my teeth, that since most of the framers in my area also carry LJ, will the "Pick Your Framer" list be selective, or all-encompassing in each area? Will it be to my advantage or disadvantage, as in "Oh, there's other frame shops here(other than mine)" and they might go there.

It does sound pretty appealing, I have to admit. LJ has really helped me this year. This sounds interesting.

Like anything else, there will be bugs to work out, but LJ is pretty darn good at bug-catching, I have faith in them.
I truly think there are those who will bitch if they hung with a new rope. If the Print were sent in error through the post office would you expect to be held at fault for the shippers mistakes or the delivery time or any other problem? Now if the FRAMING is not what it should be the buck stops there. But the real point is people can and do complain about any and everything. Some of them are in no way the fault of the Framer . This has been happening for as long as I can remeber and there are list of examples right here on TFG that have nothing what so ever to do with LJ or Art being drop shipped to your shop. So why do you expect it to be any different, But what is different is there will be more customers coming in your doors , even if it is just one and even if they are hard to please. So why do you see that as a negative ?
I meant what I said mostly in jest. I just felt compelled to have a take on this program. After some evaluation I have decided that I couldn't care less.

My prediction is that if I only carried LJ I would maybe see 1 or 2 of these prints a year.

I wish them luck but do we really need another online source for prints?

How disappointed is your customer going to be with YOU when that Roma frame is the one the really want? Are you going to honor the promised discount? Don't expect your customer to understand why they can't the discount!

Call this bitching if you want. Again I couldn't care less....wait....nope it was gas...I still don't care.
I am undecided. I think it could be good or bad. I see all the sides that have been represented. I am not sure.

I am not a fan, I think too many people are on the LJ bandwagon one way or the other. Lets just see how many framers get more business and if they are a factor in a year. I am assuming they will wash with all the other online vendors. BUt who knows, maybe they will market this in a way to make a difference. I do think it will be extremely small. Maybe a few more than what Jay said. Say half dozen a year, not enough for each framer to jump up and down over. If this pans out it will be better for LJ than the framers.

On the face of it, good idea, especially if it drives customers into our shop. Returns, wrong prints, etc could be headaches, but I might want to give it a shot.

My only other comment - can anyone hear say
C O N C E R T O ??
Originally posted by Patrick Leeland:
I do think it will be extremely small. Maybe a few more than what Jay said. Say half dozen a year, not enough for each framer to jump up and down over. If this pans out it will be better for LJ than the framers.

Small or not, if I don't have to pay or do anything to get these customers into my store (assuming they are new customers) and I get 2 or 3 or 6 and they are the type buying custom art (not $15.00 posters) and they then become an average repeat customer spending $1,000. per year on framing .... that's a nice addition for spending no money upfront on my part. And the referrals for doing them good ....
Doug Gemmell "Not a Partner just a Good Customer!"

I too am waiting for another reason to take the few LJ samples I have left on the wall down. What does LJ know about art and do any of you framers out there sell art. If you do then you know that its been rough out there with the .com sites selling prints like mad. Not only do I have the average residential customer walking in with their art.com tubes in hand but I have designers that spec art for corporate jobs that are finding their art on .com sites. It makes it extremely difficult to compete in the art print market. With LJ's new venture the average customer can buy their print and LJ is going to tell them where to have it framed with a discount!!! And do I want the designers I work with to find the art on LJ's site and have a look at the list of other framers around that will frame the LJ art. I could potentially lose corporate work with this brainchild of LJs. And I'm sure I could get on their list of framing locations but I'm positive it will come at a hefty price!!!!!!!!!!! LJ wouldn't do it for free unless I sell a ton of their moulding. Looks like LJ keeps giving me more reasons to take their samples off my wall.

If you are already competing with on line print sales, don't you think this is one way to at least get some of those back? I mean LJ is going to send them right to your door!

And as far as competing with other framers, I don't think there will be any favortism, I think they will just give a list of all their dealers in that area!

That's why I would like to have a big sign outside that says I am a LJ Dealer!!
Doug I am sorry you seem to have a large portion of your shops volume in art sales. It seemed to my memory that there was a thread on TFG that had a majority consensus that art sales where not a very profitable venture for the average frame shop. Maybe you aren't the average frame shop but more in keeping with a Fine Art Gallery ,in which case I doubt the products LJ will be offering are in the your same market.

It also seems to me that what you would like is some degree of exclusivity in your distribution of any art you do carry. In that case if this LJ venture is an attempt ( as it seems to be to me) to bring in customers to any and all shops that carry their moulding then you might do well to not deal in any of the art that they offer and maybe upgrade your line to a step above what probably LJ will be distributing.

But all in all LJ 's efforts seem to be well thought out to increase their sales and to promote the use of their products while increasing the sales of shops who buy them in what may be a evenly distributed referral system to those shops.

Of course if anyone doesn't wish to be in that grouping they should find a NICHE that sets them apart from what LJ and their clientele will be attempting and maybe booth will be equally happy with the distinction.