Moulding Samples

Creative Crafter Paul

True Grumbler
Dec 20, 2005
Corvallis, OR
Ok....I'm sure this subject has been brought up before, but I'm a rookie grumble. So humor me.

What are peoples thoughts on how many differant corner samples a frame shop sould display?

I have read somewhere 700-800 and another place 1000-1200.

When does it get to be to much and the customers get over whelmed?
Thanks in advance for you thoughts.

Paul W.
Hi Paul,
That's not a stupid question. You'll get answers all over the place

I have a small shop and started out with the 1000 to 1200 range. I've since reduced that to the 900 range. During the process I upgraded many of the samples to higher quality. I continue to update the samples but am more comfortable with a smaller set. BTW someone on this forum mentioned that they keep a date & checkmark on when new samples are added and when they sell. I do the same and find that quite helpful.
For some customers more than 2 samples are too many to choose from and other customers 2000 is not enough. Does that help? Not to be a smart aleck; I just don’t think your going to get a straight answer, there are different regions, business models, targeted markets etc to consider. I think you are going to have to make that decision on your own.
Btw I have around 1500 not including the ones in the back still in their boxes.
To be honest, I've never counted my samples, but I think I'm a sample junkie too. The overwhelming of the customer only really happens when you don't direct a sale/design properly.

I would say that as long as you know your samples well enough to identify a good design in your minds eye and can locate them quickly you don't have too many.

I'm guessing I have around 2000 samples from about 10 vendors including metals. I order regulary from about five vendors. The other five are more "specialty mouldings"...moulding unique enough from other vendors that I want them available. If I have to pay shipping charges from Timbuktu I factor that into the price.

Many of these specialty mouldings are not on display, but in flatfiles where I know I can get to them if I want them. For me space is a consideration and I don't want every square inch of my walls filled to the gills...can be very unattractive.

I try to have feature areas where I display prominently the mouldings I want to sell. These are in the following categories:

1.) In stock (sell what ya got...where appropriate).

2.) High margin.

3.) Families of mouldings that I personally like and enjoy working with.

4.) Mouldings that won't look good on too many pieces of artwork, but are so unique that your customer is amazed you have such unusual stuff.

5.) Other special mouldings...Shadow box, floaters, ultra thin, ultra wide, etc.

6.) New arrivals.

I think the issue is more how you display them than how many you have. I'm of the school of thought that I want to be able to have just THE right mldg for an artwork and charge more than the framers who buy in bulk and push primarily what they have...not to say that some common standard mldgs. shouldn't be bought like that...

Dave Makielski
Originally posted by Rogatory:
I just don’t think your going to get a straight answer, there are different regions, business models, targeted markets etc to consider. I think you are going to have to make that decision on your own.
I'm not expecting a simple straight forward answer to this question, And I am fully aware that the final decision is mine alone.

But getting ideas from those who have been in the business longer than I have is great to hear. Thanks to all so far. :D
Personally, I have as many up as I can get up! But I organize it in such a way that usually only one or two sections will apply to an order. For instance, white/ivory together; rustics in one area; bright colored/children's together; "officey" style at one end; and golds, silvers and blacks in their own area........that may be what you already do.

Someone will bring in their art and it is only two sections that we'll work from to design the frame package.

My husband would put me in the "corner sample junky" category as well, but I assure him that I know how to work it!! And today I'll add, "Happy Valentine's Day Sweetheart"!! ;)
Dave's answer right on the money.

I believe it is better to have too many than not enough.

But the secret is to know your samples. Whether you have 100 or 2000, if you cannot find the right one in a few seconds, then you'll have a problem.

It takes a few weeks to know them, but then you'll just grab the one you want with eyes closed.

I had a customer on Saturday who brought in a framed picture and wanted the same frame that he got (from the previous owner) to frame a new picture. And although he stood there for 15 minutes looking at the samples while I was taking care of 2 other customers, he couldn't find the same frame.

When it was his turn, I found the frame (a CC as well as a chop of the same frame) in 2 seconds - He was happy!
We did a poll 12 months ago about this and the results were: FULL RESULTS HERE

51-100 3%
101-250 6%
251-499 5%
500-999 16%
1000-1499 14%
1500-1999 11%
2000-2499 20%
2500-2999 3%
3000-3499 11%
3500-3999 3%
4000-4499 2%
4500-5000 2%
> 5001 3%
Other/DNA 2%
I have a certain amount of space. When new samples come in, we have a meeting where we "Get Brutal" and pull off the tired-of-looking-at-thems/outdated/thought-they'd-sell-but-thought-wrongs to make room for the New Kids. I like the "Just In" concept... Think I'll make a column for them!
I had a customer once say, "You've got too many to choose from!" To which I replied, "What if I only had 2 and you didn't like either one of them!" :eek:

Like Sherry, we have ours catagorized so really, only a row or two will apply. Except... I get to looking around... and there is this really "off the wall" moulding... and I think "what if..." then think, "naaaa... but what if..." and try it and WOW! it looks great! And the customer thinks I'm a genius...

So, bottom line - we have about 1000 (and that's for an "other than storefront" based framer.)
I've never really counted, but at least 1200. I had a Rep come in a few years ago and hang my sample wall. He did a great job, for free, and then I just rearranged a little after he left. He of course, focused on his moulding company,and I added the others later but it was a great way to start.

I like to have Name Brand signs over my Roma or Larson Juhl. Omega will also give you signs. I think it really makes the customer feel like they are buying quality. I also have Aquati in there.

I also have a board up in front of the counter with a sign that says "New Collection" that I put new sets of mouldings on display. That really gets alot of attention.

I try to change that out pretty often, it makes the shop look fresh when customers come in. It makes them feel like we are on top of the lastest trends. And we are.

It's amazing how many mouldings I have and still there will be one person who just can't find the frame they had in mind. That kills me!

You are going to always have your "A" & "B" sellers, and those can be 20 or 50 samples.
This core is usually your blacks, stems, straight lines, <u>hardwoods</u>, rustics, classics, Art Neuveau, and Decos. 1/2" to about 2".

Then you have your "C" sellers, and they may work about once or twice in a 5 yr period.

Then you have the "Wall Candy", these may be the "OMG, I wish I had that kind of house and income" or they may be the wild and wooly new fantacy stuff that Jim Orr comes up with. [I never miss his booth in Vegas].

Then you need the "Once in a career" Rococo and Baraque standbys. If you have some more upscale clientel, then you throw in some more conservative Mannerist pieces just for giggles.

This list will take you to about 700-1,000. From there you throw in the stuff that is out of the box of the salesman that comes attached to a demo wall art.....

Then there are the 2,894 samples of metal.....
and that was before WCAF :D
The letter to the editor and Jay's response mentioned by jPaul are worth a read. I agree with Mark Dressler's approach, and so found Jay's response to be rather humorous. Jay hedged, dodged and danced around the issue. It seemed to me that he really wanted to dis-agree, but couldn't. His final comment.."If you have a corner same....and it never gets used, is it really a sample?" was quite cute.
I have probably at least 3000 samples, and plenty of room for them. It makes life really easy when a customer says "Oh, there are too many here for me to decide, I'll just leave the art (or whatever) with you to make a choice." I have never had a customer ask me to change it, and I always offer. I've talked to some framers who say they are 'afraid' to make a choice for a customer.
Out to dinner with my husband one evening, ran into a customer with several of her friends. She said she liked my shop because...." just take something into Sarah and leave it, she has an eye for picking the right frame."
Out of my 3000+ samples I use less than 100 but nobody needs to know that. A friend in another sample heavy retail business claims he only uses 10% of his samples, and he has thousands. But he says that if he cut 90% he'd still use only 10%, and so on until he'd only have two left and he'd be out of business.
But, my theories parallel Mark Dressler's and I'm sure you all won't agree.
I do have room to show every metal sample Designer and Nielsen make, and it makes it sooooo easy to upgrade from basic black. I haven't sold a basic black metal frame in over 6 months. I ALWAYS am able to double or triple the sale by showing a metal sample that the customer likes better.
I have about 2,000 samples out on display, and another hundred or so in drawers because they are rarely appropriate (especially wide and ornate ones). I keep my in-stock moulding samples nearest to the sales table, and metals on a revolving rack. Most samples are easily accessibe to customers, and they are encouraged to take down any that catch their interest. They are NOT allowed to put them away, as they never put them where I want them. I cull the wall of poor sellers every few months (usually when new samples come in. I also put up representative group of new designs that show every pattern once, and one group in every color; then, I keep the extras in drawers for when I might need to show a specific color/style that isn't out.