Let's be perfectly honest...

B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Sep 5, 2001
Kodak, Tn. USA
Let me say first that I completely agree with Bob and Framerguy and many of the others who don't want to give away the farm to the competition. I love this business and I love to share marketing ideas, but I know that even with lots of good ideas, most people won't bother to follow them through. (I call it the "yeah, but..." syndrome.)
And perhaps if the "assistance" had been asked for in a more humble way the answers would have been kinder, but anyway...

However, in looking at brand new people who want to start framing businesses, and ask what we've come to feel are, uh, less than professional questions, I'd like to know - did any of you ever ask questions like that?

In other words, how many of us really "counted the cost" before we got into this business? I know Bob and many other astute business people did the whole business plan thing and studied the market and did all the right stuff. But I have a sneaking suspicion that if the truth be told, there have been a lot of "not so smart" questions that have been asked by "not so few" of us.

Fess up now... What's the dumbest question you ever asked?

I'm not sure I asked any "dumbest questions" but I should have....that is, if we are being perfectly honest.
Betty I have to say that as an idiot, most of the questions I have asked has been dumb especially in the eyes of somebody who has "been there done that". I guess I asked my questions in the right way cause I never got "thrashed" the way that some people have. I do have to say though that I plan/scheme about business tactics all the time. Lately I have been working on my marketing strategy and have came up with a particular neat idea. An idea I think Ill just keep to my self for a while. I just don't think I will be opening my self up for that type of tongue lashing anytime soon.

”… how many of us really "counted the cost" before we got into this business?”
I would like to tell you a quick story about this guy that didn’t “count the cost” at all. Ill call him “granddad”! He was a hardware store manager in Louisville. He decided one day that he wanted to own his very own hardware store. He reminds me of the people (like me) that come here and ask some silly questions about opening some store that its obvious that they have no business opening. He told his wife (ill call her “grandma”) “Honey, I met with that Realtor in Owensboro today and I bought a building that we are going to put our new hardware store in.” In amazement she said, “Well what about our brand new house and what about our 5 kids. Shouldn’t we talk about this?” With that he replied, “Well we can talk about it all we want as long as the final outcome is that we are moving because I have already bought the building!”

He owned that hardware store for 30 years. He had almost no turnover in help what so ever. He made and saved millions. As a matter of fact “grandma” is having a hard time spending all that money right now. I wonder what advice that naive 27-year-old would have been given today in the Grumble?
There are no "dumb" questions
Sorry, Elaine, but I disagree.

To come on a forum of mostly professional framers and say something like, "I want professional quality framing but I don't want to pay your outrageous prices for it. How can I do that? (Please hurry - I don't have much time.)" is pretty dumb.

(That was a shameless paraphrase. Nobody has actually said those exact words.)

It is also naíve to expect The Grumble to provide the sum-total of anyone's framing education.
But the idea that there's nothing to professional framing is even perpetuated by our trade organization (PMA). At the National conference they offered a class to photographers on "How to start your own framing business". I kept looking for the class "How to start your own photography business" but I guess that's so much more difficult to cover in 90 minutes.
How many of us have given much thought to WHY the PMA would take the PPFA under their wing?

A lot of photographers are looking to branch out and framing is a good fit for many of them.

My own business started out as a retail photography store with hardware, photofinishing, classes, a small studio and an itty-bitty framing department.

It was about eight years before I abandoned the last vestiges of the photographic part of the business.

The photographers who took that 90-minutes class at the PMA convention have a head-start on all those who get into this business without any clue at all.
The Original BBS for picture framers, open to all with questions and interest in the picture framing industry. Retail, Homebased, Newbies, Suppliers, just interested in learning, everyone's welcome. Lets us know what you like or problems that you are having in picture framing today. You're not alone any more, come join the fun.
Bill invites everyone, even Less.

Now, I agree with what's been said, however I don't see anything that says RETAIL TRADE ONLY WITH FIVE YEARS EXPERIENCE. NO STUPID QUESTION THAT MIGHT RUFFLE OUR FEATHERS.

Enlighten, but for God's sake, be nice.
PMA is not an association for photographers. It is an association for photo processing businesses. PMA stands for Photo Marketing Association. You betcha they want framing business!
Of course you're right, Jo.

If I had the same kind of business I had 20 years ago, I would be a member of the PMA.

Oh, wait, I AM a member of the PMA.

Less, I think basic questions, even from "explorers," are generally treated kindly here. Brashness, from newbies OR veteran framers, is not.

You don't have to be a full-time, veteran professional picture framer to learn something here, but is extremely helpful to at least show a little respect for those who are.
I suspect Bob and others get pist because this is a problem that plagues our industry. And, don't forget that most of our vendors support these folks.

I did not see anything in Little's post that was intentionally disrespectfully. Just Naive.

I am grateful that Bob continues to educate
On the lighter side, "buy a camera and become a photographer".

The local professional photographer orders all of the precut mats, frames and glass and we fit them. They also spend a great deal of money buying our custom (professional)framing for themselves.

Dumb questions, probably a lot of them we should have asked. To the Banker, "do you really need our life insurance policies?". To ourselves, "is a bottle of Jack Daniels necessary?". That bottle lasted 10 years.
In regaurd to what dumb questions I have asked :I am in the group that is so dumb I don't even know what to say I don't know,and that is why I belong to Associations like PPFA,participate in Online forums like TFG,and HH,and attend Trade shows where I can pay for classes and seminars taught by the indutries best and smartest.LOL

However I do know better than to ask a auto machanic to teach me how to fix my car so that I can avoid "THE HIGH COST" of professional auto repairs.

But In answer to Less' very valid point of what the TFG prologue states I think it might be a very good idea to change that a bit.

Not too long ago Bob Carter said their was attempt by PPFA/PMA to entertain these type of questions in a seperate section of the PPFA online forum.

I therefore would like to suggest that we consider doing the same with some safe gaurds. I'd like to see a segment designed specifically for Consumers and their mundane framing questions. I suggest further that there be some sort of requirement in the regustration that would only allow access to this segment to non-frameing industry types.(Not unlike the Vendors segment)

This segment could be reponded to by any and all FRAMING INDUSTRY REGISTRANTS that were so inclined. This would prevent those who aren't interested from being bothered at the same time it would allow those who felt charitable to show their good will.

The "there are no Dumb questions" qoute I think is more in keeping with a course of study enviroment. And is more likely to being said to the serious student by their instructor and not by some one is more interested in cutting their cost while offending the ARTISAN they are asking. Some of those question aren't dumb they are just offensive and the askers are (If you will excuse me) expecting the person answering to be DUMBER then their question. I have never hesitated to explain why I do what I do to preserve someones work but I don't think I should be required to teach how, to a person who has alrady announced that their intention is to cut Artisans like myself out of the market,unless I like doing this as a HOBBY for FREE.Ther are other forums for these people and questions . I think AOL has one under Crafts and I think I and ELLEN have made replies in the Needle art section.

Charles BUDDY Drago CPF
DBA Needles and Knots
Hey you guys. I think we should find that guy. You know that "dumb" guy who made that comment that Ron referred to. Doh! Oh man, that was me. Nevermind.

(the above was just a joke and not meant to incite a riot).

And I thought my legacy was going to be contained to that one thread.

But really, I thought I would add something. When people have a service performed and shell out a good deal of money and don't know the internals of it, it may seem "expensive".

For example, I had my minivan in for service and had shocks put in and struts, etc. 800 bucks. Then brought my car in for a warning light and had to get charged 77 dollars just for the computer diagnostic to tell me whats wrong with the car. Just an example of how some people, even "dumb" people like me might think some things are expensive.

Now I have to go check all the other threads to see if people are paraphrasing me. Just kidding.
Originally posted by Pat Regan:
Now I have to go check all the other threads to see if people are paraphrasing me. Just kidding.
I can save you a little time. There is an indirect reference in the fourth post on this thread: http://www.thegrumble.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=006288

I'm sure there will be others.

Some people start out on The Grumble as a real PIA and then turn out okay. I remember a guy who, in his very first post, made an insensitive comment about our beloved PPFA president, William Parker, and was nearly tarred-and-feathered. He stuck around (no pun intended, though it would have been a good one) and has been an interesting contributor since then.

You might be one of those people, Pat. We'll see.
Myself, I look at The Grumble as a great big bull session for picture framers. I think everyone who is involved in our craft should be allowed to ask any dumb question they want to. Since it is a bull session, we can choose to answer, ridicule, laugh at it, whatever.

I like that most of us take the bulk of these questions seriously, but we can still have fun with them if we want. Most people who are thinking about going into their own business never do it anyway.

No matter how you start, with a lot of money and knowledge or very little of both, the one thing we can not give them is intestinal fortitude. I think it is just fine to answer any question about opening, running, etc. Very few of the questioners are going to follow through with it anyway.

The only questions I do not like are ones regarding our pricing structures and margins. I think if you can not figure out your own budget vs. cost of goods, you should not be in your own business.

John I think you are probably right about a person may never go through with actually getting into the business...afterall it's more than a drop in the bucket to buy all the necessary equipment, etc.. AND a pain learning! ha
I think some folks (and probably me when we started out) don't have a clue what framing is all about. It's easy to see the finished product and think that MUST be easy. I've had that said to me as a photographer after 5 hours at a wedding and holding that darn camera throughout the reception...."oh that looks fun...how much does it cost for that camera"!! (PLEASE!)
The person that started asking the questions and insulting framers about their prices, I don't really think knew they were going to totally upset the applecart, although you might think one would choose their words more carefully and not insult the people you are expecting information from.
I was going to stay away from this type thread but now feel inclined to just say that when I came on here, I was and have been treated with respect and have asked , I'm quiet sure, lots of dumb questions in the eyes of some of you guys that know more than I can ever hope to know about this business.
While I am a photographer/framer, I can say that each of these trades are very hard to learn and I'm also sure I'll never never begin to know nearly enough about either to say I'm even comfortable with doing it, I do enjoy both and work hard at both. We started framing as a way to accomodate our customers that wanted custom framing done for their portraits and there is not anyone in our small area that does custom framing and have grown to custom framing needlework, prints, etc and enjoying very much. We have studied alot, listened to other framers, researched this and other forums and have struggled along the way.!
I enjoy this forum and thank you guys so much for helping me become a bit better at the skill.
Maybe I'll actually learn what I'm doing one day!
Thanks a bunch!
Debbie, you are wrong. This business CAN be started with a " drop in the bucket. " To start a frame shop with the bare minimum here is what you need.

* A good steel straight edge.
* A utility knife
* A sharpening stone
* A miter box
* A back saw
* A tape measure
* A hand held Gold Ball glass cutter
* An old one car garage on a main drag.
* The knowledge on how to work the above.
* $250.00 to $500.00 minimum before you acquire any of the above.
* Intestinal fortitude

I know these things, because I have done them. When I opened the door to my first frame shop, I had less than twenty dollars to my name. I was REAL nice to ANY customer who came in.

Well John, let me rephrase then, I didnt' have lots in equipment when I started I guess...not in the way I do now that my business is growing....and my investment now isn't a drop in the bucket!
I've added a few things myself.

Debbe -
You are correct in your views - the framing & photography businesses parallel each other so close it's not funny (actually, on some days it's a real riot!
). Like you, our framing evolved from being a service to our photo studio / photo lab customers to a full service frame shop.

Also, even after thirty years in the business we are constantly learning and getting new ideas and we find that TG is a great asset!
Like JRB, I started out on a shoestring. It was a little longer than his shoestring, but my L-J invoices are frequently bigger than my original total budget for framing equipment.

But that was 28 years ago. To try and be competitive now, even (especially) for a new shop, without very good equipment and some hands-on experience in using it, would not be something I'd recommend to anyone.
Starting out on a shoestring used to be a much easier thing to do.

When we talk about starting out on a shoestring, lets not forget that many
shop owners have another source of income, be it pension, golden parachute
funds, spouse, etc.

It would be unfair to let a Grumbler think there is anything easy about
starting out with almost nothing in today's economic environment.
There are many true ARTISANS who can turn out really beautiful frame jobs with the simpleist of tools and equipment. It is also (IMHO) the best way to learn. However in todays market with the host of very advanced technilogicaly advanced equipment available, these same ARTISANS will be in a serious bind to keep up the pace of their competition who is ustilizing these modern marvels.
So can it be done on a shoe string? YES! But as Ron ,pointed out he string has gotten a little longer . And if you intend to keep pace with the technologically advanced competition ,you'd better allow for some capital to buy things like CMCs, V-nailers ,ETC or you'll be turnning out much less work then your worst competitor and they'll be braging on how fast and EFFICIENT they are compared to you. Been There Done that ,and it ain't no fun( working your tale off only to be called inferior while maybe turning out what the machines aren't able to do.)Consumers don't always KNOW the difference and some times don't really care.
I wish I had the opportunity to ask dumb questions when I went into business. Back then, there was no Grumble and no PPFA in my area. Framers did not network the way they do now, there was no internet. So, I just went ahead and made my stupid mistakes and learned the hard way.

Now I just make dumb comments from time to time.