Looking for inexpensive shadowboxes or moulding


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Jan 5, 2002
annapolis, md., usa
I have a client interested in producing a "gag" product that would be displayed in a shadowbox. I haven't received the contents yet, but I suspect the size will be about 16 x 20. Probably need at least 2 inch depth. He would like to market these for about $49.99. Anyone know of a source for premade boxes. I'm doing a prototype, but we are looking for a source for our test market, which will probably involve 500 to 1,000 pieces.
I do not see it being done for a $20.00 bill.

You did not give the price of the "art"

frame $10.00 (??)
glass $1.20
mat'ls $1.50 mounting, backing, hardware
packaging $1.00
labor & profit ??

even @ a loss of $5.00 per unit, 500-1,000 pieces will add up.
www.frameusa.com has wholesale pricing on a 16 X 20 shadowbox of $36.95. Quantity pricing could be less. $49.99 sounds very unreasonable for a shadowbox unless you're set up for assembly type manufacturing..... But that's a whole 'nother ballgame.
Take a cheap wide moulding and then find a 16 x 20 corragated box that is about 2 inches deep. Tape the two together with masking tape and you have it.
Thanks all. I agree this client's desired price point may be unrealistic. He's paying quite a bit more for me to make a prototype. However, he has located a 16 x 20 box (wood, not cardboard) that he claims is available in lots of 500 (individually boxed) for less than $15 each. I know...how can anyone do that? They are made in China. So much for fair trade and dumping!
Even at $15, there does not appear to be any up side to this one. Using JFeig figures of 1.20 for glass, 1.50 for fitting materials, $1.00 for packaging (low) and assuming your shop rate is $60 and you can crank one out every 20 minutes (not likely)- without figuring in any profit, YOUR cost is $38.70. And that's assuming that every frame in this box from China is usable. Sometimes the most profitable thing is just to say sorry, we can't do it at your price point.
Lets see.

frame $15.00 (client pays bill directly)
glass $1.20
materials $1.50
packaging $1.00
rejects ????

total $3.70 from $5.00 (remember client paid for the frame.)

Yep.........Free service.........Free service

Time to pass on this project
Here's another thought.....
I wouldn't want to do 500-1000 of ANYTHING. If I wanted to work in a factory doing repetitious work, there's lots of jobs that pay well and have great benefits.
Will you do the shadowbox work yourself or hire someone? Will your other customer work sit on the shelf until you finish the shadowboxes?
Just playing devil's advocate here.....
Ask him for a sample of the $15 box from China……he may be in for a surprise when he looks at the landed cost of this product…..that’s if it is really available….lots of products are offered from China……try and get a delivery then it becomes a different story……..don’t fall for the “it’s cheaper from China” syndrome……for lots of products this is a myth……..fine if you want to book six months production you will get great pricing from factories in China……try doing a one off then you will be in for a real surprise…….I know of one major USA world producer of computers whose factory in a high cost country in Europe can knock the socks of the factories pricing in China and the Philippines……as I have said on a number of occasions have a look at how custom built computers are produced and how custom picture frames are produced……you will be very surprised by the similarities of the methods of production…….

If it were me I would respectfully decline this order…….leaving the door open by saying that if his alternative source for the “box” fails you will have another look at the project.

Now why do I know so much about China and production……..its not a good subject to ask me about at present :rolleyes: ………lets say I have found out the hard way
….and I’m hurting bad on this one
……that’s all I’m saying for now…………how do I know about the computer bit……a very good relationships with some of the key people at this company

No offense taken here Maryann. It's great to have input from you and Jerome. You touched on one big issue for me. That is, so far all I have agreed to do is a "prototype" that will be priced as I would normally price. I'll make money on it. I've also agreed to develop a "production" quote for 500 or so units. Do I really want to produce 500 pieces of anything, even if the job is profitable? Probably not directly.

As Jerome's numbers show, this can't profitably be done at my client's preferred price point unless you are "manufacturing" in a developing country where wages amount to dollars per month, not per hour. Still, there are shops in this country that do production work. Look at the stamp sets in the post office. I look at them and wonder how anyone can make them here and make money. They do.

I don't think I want to be a full time production operation, but I would like to give my client a realistic option for getting his work done in the USA. If I could figure out how I could make some money from the project, that would be acceptable to me.

This client is very successful in his various ventures. He is convinced this product will sell, but not at any price. I'm sure he will take the info I provide and the prototype and decide whether it can be manufactured here or overseas.

He would be tickled if he goes forward with the project and can put a made in the usa sticker on the box.