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Museum Glass


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Mar 26, 2003
Alberta CANADA
The Framing Nook
Just curious what others charge for museum glass. Anyone care to give what they think is a good markup. We can't do 3x - far too expensive! I usually calculate what it costs me - labour & stock charges and a little room for profit, but the high end stuff is harder to figure out. The mfg tell us to mark it up just enough so you make a bit more than conserv RC but that's only good for them. We have to remember that even tho the customer likes the glass, thinks its worth the price increase, we make a "bit" more - but now they have changed in their head what custom framing costs & probably will not get as much work down having this perception. Its difficult pricing the high end products - for me anyway.
For smaller boxes I take box price and divide by lites (per lite cost) and double the cost.
For larger, especially oversize, one lite should cover the box. If a client decides to get museum glass, I throw in a bottle of the cleaner we use. It's worked out well.

We have a specifier on the wall showing the difference between CC and museum. If the total frame job is going to be a bit spendier anyway, they almost always get museum.

Since we got the specifier, I've doubled our museum glass sales from last year in just the last 3 months!
There has been a discussion in the past regarding markups on high end moulding. Some don't markup high end as much as lower to mid range. One framer responded in the thread that he/she does not lower the markup for higher end because he/she feels they deserve the same profit margin. I can certainly understand and agree with that philosophy. Same for high end glazing products......why would you want to 'discount' (which is what you are doing by not making your required margins) ANY products, unless you felt you needed to for a reason such as to "unload" inventory, etc., etc.
I used to have a problem with the concept of reducing mark-up on premium materials.

But since Tru-Vue reduced the price of Museum Glass, I've reconsidered the benefits of doing that. There are reasons other than profit percentage that support the sales of Museum Glass:

1. Nobody else in my neighborhood bothers to sell Museum Glass because they think it's too expensive. I want to capitalize on that opportunity for an almost-exclusive, premium framing product.

2. Selling "the best" helps our company image. Customers who buy Museum Glass once will usually buy it again and again. A few have actually called after hanging their Museum Glass-equipped frames to express their surprise at how well "it really works!"

3. As a major user of Museum Glass in my market, one supplier gives me a really good deal on boxes of it. I'm spending more, and they like that.

4. Profit dollars are better with Museum Glass than with Conservation Clear, even with reduced mark-up, and there is no change in other cost factors associated with using the better product.

5. COGS is always an issue, but my COGS is contained in other ways, so a slightly lower markup on Museum Glass is OK for me.
Keep in mind that profit = wholesale minus retail while markup = retail / wholesale.

You can earn the same profit on a 500% markup on a one dollar item as you can with a 300% markup on a two dollar item i.e. 5 x 1 = 5; 5 – 1 = 4 and 3 x 2 = 6; 6 – 2 = 4.

Like Jim, I have no problem with reducing my mark up on higher priced items. My mark up for Denglass is considerably less than clear light, but my profit is greater for Denglas.

Unlike many framers who sell it by the sheet, I sell glass by the square inch (converted from United Inches - sort of).

Rect Denglas
UI markup markup

18 6.005 2.389
20 5.928 2.360
22 5.852 2.331
24 5.776 2.303
26 5.700 2.274
28 5.624 2.245
30 5.548 2.216
32 5.472 2.188
34 5.396 2.159
36 5.320 2.130
38 5.244 2.101
40 5.168 2.072
42 5.092 2.044
44 5.016 2.015
46 4.940 1.986
48 4.864 1.957
50 4.788 1.929
52 4.712 1.900
54 4.636 1.871
56 4.560 1.842
58 4.484 1.814
60 4.408 1.785
62 4.332 1.756
64 4.256 1.727
66 4.180 1.699
68 4.103 1.670
70 4.027 1.641
72 3.951 1.612
74 3.875 1.584
76 3.799 1.555
78 3.723 1.526
80 3.647 1.497
82 3.571 1.468
84 2.567 1.201
86 2.549 1.198
88 2.532 1.195
90 2.515 1.192
92 2.497 1.189
94 2.480 1.186
96 2.462 1.183
98 2.445 1.180
100 2.427 1.177

(sorry, I can't get this table to line up well.)
My philosophy is similar to Jim's, especially items 2, 3 and 4. I'd rather take a lower percentage on the good stuff and use more of it than keep the percentage the same across products and use mostly the cheap stuff. It makes more sense to me. I don't see any utility in rigidly following some idea that I have to mark everything up by the same percentage.

Sometimes you have to think outside the box. You don't get to spend percentages, you get to spend dollars. If marking up a premium product a smaller percentage gets you ahead in dollars, that's a win.
Originally posted by TheDoctah:
...you get to spend dollars. If marking up a premium product a smaller percentage gets you ahead in dollars, that's a win.
That's true without qualification if you're talking about net profit. But so far in this thread we've been talking about gross profit, and that may be different.

We agree about glass, but the reasoning applicable here does not necessarily apply to other products equally.

What if hidden cost dollars go up with profit dollars? True, that doesn't normally happen in the case of glass -- acquisition, handling, storage, and labor costs typically remain constant.

But if, for example, cutting/joining a certain expensive moulding required more labor, or if the framer lost his volume discount and free delivery because he had to buy a certain premium product from a secondary supplier, then those hidden costs might make reducing the profit percentage a bad idea.

Running a profitable business is hard. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it.
We have to remember that even tho the customer likes the glass, thinks its worth the price increase (with museum maybe we just added 20% to the overall cost), we make a "bit" more - but now they have changed in their head what custom framing costs & probably will not get as much work done having this perception.
Devil's advocate time. You are afraid to charge a "higher markup" because you are afraid it will be too expensive?

Doesn't that cover almost everything we sell?

So, let's examine the suggestion that we only charge double our cost. And we cut it wrong, or it's scratched. What's the gross profit on that sale?

I understand the hesitancy to get your mark, but if generating gross profit dollars were really the better idea, then we should lower prices and go for more turns.

And, I doubt that anybody will buy that reasoning except maybe Sam Walton

Before I accepted a lower margin on any item, I sure would explore what the going price in my market was. If the going price was $200 and a 2x mark resulted in $130, would that really translate into that many additional sales?

Luxury items are always the ones we should sell for what the market will bear.

Lowering the price for the above reasons sounds like a nifty idea if you are the wholesaler, but not so sound for the retailer

This is a top of the line product. The rarified market that will buy this is indeed small. I'm not sure that it fits the typical model. Maybe if I saw Rolexes discounted I might feel differently
Maybe if I saw Rolexes discounted I might feel differently
Bob, been to E-bay lately..?

Lets go back to moulding for a moment.

You have two mouldings "A" & "B"

COG: mark retail profit/ft
A - $5 5x = $25/ft -- $20/ft
B - $25 3x = $75/ft -- $50/ft

about a 16x20 takes 12' of moulding

COG gross profit
A $60 $340
B $300 $1,575

But lets take a less exotic moulding and still only mark it up 3x chop

COG: mark retail profit/ft
C - $15 3X = $45/ft -- $30/ft

C $180 $360

It still takes about the same time to sell the frame.. but even with the reduced factor, the gross profit in the frame goes up.

Now with glass, unlike chop... there is sometimes the residual piece.... which can be 100% profit.

I chop them into 8x10s or 5x7s which ever is largest that I can get, marry them with AF on both sides and store wrapped up. You would be amazed how often I have "up-graded" a stock 8x10 to a nice fabric mat and museum glass for a special old photo.... $35 photo frame can soon become a $100 treasure for a lifetime.
Baer-Whatever works is what each ought to do

If you feel better charging a lower margin, then do it
Let's look at the labor aspects of Museum glass. I sell a lot of it. To a lot of different people (Thanks, Tru-Vue for that FABULOUS tassle display!) Howsumever. It is tricky to work with. If you get so much as a spit mark on it, you can spend a half-hour getting the whole thing pristine again. More time spent = more money going out. (That is, if you spend an hour cleaning glass, then you aren't spending that hour making money another way.) So it costs plenty in our store. Full 3x markup (and howcum all the leftover lites are 11" wide, hmmm?) We give a CD cleaner size microfiber cloth to everyone who gets Museum glass. And once they are hooked...! What I am taking a really long time in saying is that all we have to make money with is our time. We must make sure someone is paying for every minute of it!
Originally posted by Bob Carter:
...This is a top of the line product. The rarified market that will buy this is indeed small. I'm not sure that it fits the typical model...
Gosh, Bob. This is cutting-edge stuff and I figured you would be selling it like crazy. "Typical model"? Do you remember when air conditioning in cars was a "top of the line product" that appealed only to a "rarified market"? I do. And once upon a time, Conservation Clear was a tough sell.

The "rarified market" to which anti-reflection glazing appeals is growing because some of us are selling it. And profitably, thankyouverymuch. I predict that as usage continues to grow, Museum Glass will become more common, and might even become the "standard" glazing for some of us.

We agree that anything worth selling deserves a reasonable markup. A fundamental tenet of commerce is that whatever is offered must be profitable for the seller and valuable for the buyer. I like to call it "equilibrium pricing". If it can't be sold profitably, it won't be sold -- at least not for very long.
Originally posted by EllenAtHowards:
...If you get so much as a spit mark on it, you can spend a half-hour getting the whole thing pristine again. More time spent = more money going out. (That is, if you spend an hour cleaning glass, then you aren't spending that hour making money another way.)
OK, cleaning anti-reflection glazing takes a bit longer. But half an hour? No way. I'm sure you're exaggerating, but someone out there might think you're serious.

We handle it with those neat gloves Tru Vue gives away at all the trade shows, so most of the time we don't have to clean it at all. But when we do, it doesn't take much longer than cleaning ordinary glass.

Spritz a bit of proper cleaner on a microfiber cloth and buff away the marks. We use Premium Clean, but most liquid cleaners will do as well. The key to removing the streaks is to use very little moisture and buff the surface until it is dry.

Like everything else in framing, proficiency in cleaning anti-reflection glazing takes a bit of practice.
I aim for not less than a 2x markup on a box of Museum Glass - After leftovers going to smalls I usually get about 2.5x average. Because of this aggressive pricing, I'm selling a LOT more, resulting in much larger gross profit than I would get with CC. BTW on difficulty of handling and cleaning, I don't understand the problem. As I said on another thread, I rarely have to clean when handling with Gloves. And, when there is a small fingerprint or blemish, Sprayway sprayed on Kaydry lint free paper towels cleans quickly and effortlessly. I spend less time working with Museum Glass.

My increase in sales of Museum Glass is directly related to the recent price reduction. My overall increase in gross profit on jobs since I passed on that decrease appears to justify the aggressive pricing - at least for me.

Pat :D
Here's a sales tip for anti-reflection glazing:

Before pointing out the tassle display to a customer I usually ask rhetorically, "What's the number one reason we hang something on the wall? So we can look at it, right?" (They always nod affirmatively to that.) "Well, it makes sense to give it the best view (she's still nodding yes), and here is the way we do it..." and out comes the tassle display.

Gasps & sighs all around and then "How much more does THAT cost? At this point I tell the customer the total price with our standard Conservation Clear and then, after a few keystrokes, tell her the total price with Museum Glass.

When the total price of the framing is compared with & without the better glass, such as $339 compared to $305, the price difference of $34 is in true perspective. I do NOT tell her "It would cost $34 more than ordinary glass" because she isn't only buying glass, she's buying a whole frame with the best possible view.

Or, as Bob would say of Ruth's Chris, she's not only buying the steak, she's also buying the sizzle.
I gave a talk in Austin in the spring and was asking how people used the rebate program in their marketing and pricing.

It seems that everyone in the room sold "lots" of Museum glass. "Lots" tends to be a very relative word, so I asked what the amounts of rebates were. Most people that offered numbers were quite proud of the check's size. When mentally breaking down th enumbers most people had sold 5-6 boxes (at 2-3 lites a box).

If you do offer a lower price, it might be wise to show some type of "special pricing" so that the consumer perceives that this is something "special". Otherwise it may simply appear that instead of being 5 times more expensive, it is now only 4 times more expensive.

But, if it "should" sell for $200 a lite (at normal markup) and you now "sell" it for $150, couldn't you correctly suggest that it represents a $50 savings?

Which do you feel the consumer would have a quicker positive response?

If you cannot achieve a higher margin, perhaps you can achieve a higher "perceived" value
I just don't think I am going to give my wholesale prices on a public forum like this.

But I will tell that taking less of a mark-up on more expensive items is something that largely benefits our suppliers and hobbles us.

I don't do it. COGS is COGS. If my COGS goes over 30%, my paycheck suffers. So, I keep a very close eye on that and don't give it away based on some off-the-top-of-the-head numbers flinging. My prices are based on REAL numbers. Sorry, but those examples DO NOT APPLY in real life and business.

Usually the more expensive materials require more expertise to work with. And that means it is MY job and not that of an employee with 3 years experience. And I am the most expensive employee here, so I HAVE to charge for it.

My glass is priced based on a BARE MINIMUM of 27% COGS. That includes museum glass.

Museum glass DOES take longer to work with. We are prissier about it since it is more expensive and that takes more time. It does take longer to clean in my shop. And you can bet that I charge for whatever size lite I use- the whole lite, thankyouverymuch. Since it is a considerably more expensive item, it ties up more of my hard-workin' dollars in inventory that does not waltz out my front door as quickly. Gotta factor that in, too.

Go ahead, slice and dice your mark-up. But why not work with your supplier first to get a better price on this spendy stuff? It worked for Joann ETC.

edie the aintnocharity goddess
I could read Edie's posts all day. First, for their insightfulness (is that a word?) and I love her phraseology.

This is the same person that coined "fancy pants framing" and now, items that "don't waltz out the front door"

I love it