new michael's just opened in town


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Jun 17, 2005
Manitoba, Canada
and I'm wondering - about these 50% off sales - this is 50% off the entire frame package - how often do they run this "sale"??

Is it sort of an all the time thing or is it once a month or how do they usually work it?

* One week it will be 50% off of the moulding only.

* Usually "dark" (no sale) the next week, although you never know.

* 50% off entire custom framing order.
* $50 off of each order of $100-$199
$100 off each order of $200-299
$150 off each order $300-over
* They used to have one that went 50% off one order, 60% off each of two orders, 70% off three or more. Held once per quarter. Rumor has it that they might eliminate that one, but never know.

Lately, they've been alternating weeks, sale one week, none the next, etc. Always subject to change, especially now with new ownership.

I have not seen any difference in my rate of orders parallel to their sales. In fact, it seems I get more of the more complicated jobs, because they can't do some, and refer them to my shop. They have my business cards there.

Sandra, it might help to go over and introduce yourself. They let me dry mount big stuff that I can't, my materials, and don't charge me for the use of the vaccum table. Little things like that, they don't have to be The Enemy.
Pretty much every month is a promotion!~ Some day after you close your shop go over and pick out a moulding you carry ask what the price would be with a double mat glass. That will give you an idea of their prices. As you know 50% off $10.00 is $5.00 & 50% off 20.00 is $10.00. Now if they are selling the moulding you are carring @$20.00 & you are selling it for $10.00 you are already at %0% off every day!~ Either raise your price to $20.00 & accept their coupons or advertise that you are 50% off everyday. The first creates an urgency for customers the latter does not. It is all about marketing. Now that you have done that introduce yourself to the manager of the frame dept. tell them if you can with a piece of mat board or glass let you Know give them your card. Also tell them if the run in to anything they don't want to or can't do send them over shadow boxes,needlework, etc. Don't forget to contact them before holidays so when they stop accepting framing 2 weeks prior you will be glad to handle any over load they may have.
Remember keep your friends close and your enemy closer!~ Not that they are the enemy * just well oiled competitors!~
When I was living in Calgary, the local Michaels would often (almost every week) have a 50% off coupon which only applied to the moulding portion of a custom frame order (of course the "50% off" was in big print and the "only applies to moulding" was in a lot smaller print). Once every couple of months or so they would have a 50% off the entire framing order.

A Michaels just opened up in the Halifax area a few months ago. They've had a couple 50% off the entire order coupons, but more often than not, they've had coupons for $50 off any order between $100-$199; $100 off any order between $200-$299 and $150 off any $300+ orders. I'm not sure if this is a new promotion for Michaels in general, or just specific to our area.

Probably Val and I think, Emibbuba, would have some insight for you as they have had first hand experiences with Michaels.

I guess I was slow typing as I see that Val has already responded :D
I think, by law, they cannot advertise 50% (or 70%, or whatever) for all 52 weeks a year, although it will seem like they are. They must take a break now and then, so they are not cited for deceptive advertising. The Attorney General of NH has, I believe, looked into their advertising and not found any violations.

Unfortunately, Sandra, it is a fact of life that you’ll see “sales” more often than not.

But, if it's any consolation, Michael's has not impacted me too much that I am aware of.
I think it might be fun if someone would run over to Michael's and get an actual quote of a moulding that is a dead on identifiable profile

Then they could post the actual invoice, item by item, and we can all compare our actual prices to their actual quotation

My guess is that many grumblers might easily have regular prices equal to their regular prices

Maybe if Kathy or Val has a connection, we might get an actual breakdown. It might be fun
well, I'm confused.....

On thursday - opening day- we had a lady who came in and complained about their "sale price" being the same as our regular price. (not to mention that they didn't seem to know what they were doing...) We were greatly encouraged that someone noticed this on the 1st day. We ended up framing her picture for her and she also bought one we had already framed in the store.

Today, a customer came in, who we've done work for before and she had 4 prints that were just posters and she wanted them done the same way we did the other ones.

Neilsen frame, laminating and mounting. Pretty basic. Well, our price was way higher - and she was sure it was the same frame.

Now, with just the frame, mounting and laminating I don't know where such a price difference could come from. Does anyone know what type of lamination they use? I'd imagine it's pretty much the same as ours (drytac, heat vacuume)

I discounted as much as I dared, but we were still more, So, although the lady was apologetic, she went back to Michael's with her framing.

Now, someone will probably say that maybe we are too expensive then - but there are 4 frame shops in town (independant ones) and we've always considered ourselves to be pretty much in the same ball park, so I don't know about that.

Does Michael's start off soft with prices and gradually go up just to get the intial customers?

so then why was the first lady's job so much more than ours, and the second lady's so much less? I'm confused by this. And today I'm feeling a little bit in "panic mode" and so out of sorts.

I know it's probably just panic depression and by tomorrow I'll feel better about it all - but we are a small town and were always told that they would never come here because there weren't enough people.

My gut reaction today was to just keep discounting to keep the sale, but then do we really want to get caught up in lowering so much that there's no profit anymore at all? I think that can be a very dangerous game to play. But then again, letting a customer walk is dangerous too..........
Just got back from a trip to M. Took one of my wife's small prints to get a quote. Here's what I got:

Frame: 816-3515 16.25 x 14.25 7.3 feet 31 UI
Mat 1: B8254 Cowhide 4.5" margin
Mat 2: B8837 Tuscan 4.875" margin
Glass: CPV
Fitting: 3/16 Acid Free

Notes: The frame was a dead-ringer for Pacific 8-063-515. But I know there are many look-alikes
I'm assuming the fitting is not rag foamboard. If it is then their terminology is off.

Their retail: $260.90
With $100 discount: $160.90

Their retail is higher than mine, but their sale price is below my regular price.

Michael's sales right now seem to be a rotating 3 week cycle. First the dollar discount as Val and others mentioned, then a blind week with no ad and 3rd running 50% off there entire order. They seem to have done away with 50% off the moulding and the 50, 60 70% off sale.

They use Print Guard to laminate with, offering linen, matte, luster or canvas texture. They sell ONLY Tru-vue conservation glass in clear, non-glare and perfect vue. Regular glass is not even stocked in the frame shop, it can be purchased in 16x20, 11x14, 8x10 and 5x7 on the floor for ready made frames.

They use only acid free foam board as well, again there frame shop no longer stocks regular foam board.

for comparison a 30" x 38 1/2" poster
Dry mounted
uv non-glare glass
and a Nurre Caxton frame- Celestial blue # 90110-brushtones (if it's a copy of one they use the same numbers)

with 50% off there total order it came to appx. 125$

I would not worry about sales, the Michael's in our town doesn't seem to hurt the independant framers, and being new they will most likely be very inexperienced.
It also takes them about 3 weeks to turn something around, so that is a good competitive advantage if you can do it in less time. Their frames are cut in a warehouse and shipped to the store, so if there is an error this makes the wait longer. I have had a lot of customers switch to my shop because of their long completion times.
Over the past few years we’ve had three people who have come from Michael’s with a written quote in hand (from their POS?), so we were able to accurately compare our prices with theirs.

In each instance, our prices were a few dollars higher than theirs after their 50% discount.

In each instance, we got the sale (probably because of my good looks and sparkling personality – that, and they were too lazy to drive back into Manchester to have it done).

But, all of these people were relieved that we did all the work on premises; they were uneasy with the fact that Michael’s ships their art to another location.

And, they were not crazy about the three week turnaround time.

And, our customers said that we appeared to be more confident in our knowledge than did the clerks there. Our customers recognized that their clerks were just that – clerks and not framers.
Michael's doesn't ship their art to another location, at least none of the stores I ever heard of did when I worked there 9 months ago. (Please set me straight if I'm wrong) The art stays, well catalogued and identified, I might add, and fitting is done on premises, but the frames are chopped and most joined offsite, and most mats cut offsite and sent in also.

Bill, their POS is FrameMagic. (Wish I could find that program, BTW!)

There are exceptions about the clerks being less knowledgable. I know of some who are quite knowledgable and compassionate about framing, who, in fact, are Grumblers and can't talk about their experience here. If all Michael's framers were as good as the couple I'm thinking of, we would be in trouble!

That isn't the case around here though, and my customers have also said they'd rather spend a bit more and have the confidence they feel at our shop. Our hands aren't tied by corporate rules, thank goodness!
Val - that POS is a rewritten form of FrameCalc (WinCalc). They bought the source code and the programer.

I doubt that is available for purchase or lease to others.
Jerome, we have FullCalc. Had it before, tried to switch... don't ask . . still have it. I'm pretty sure it's still available.

Who knows what will happen with the new owners.
Fullcalc is still available. I was referring to the Michaels version that Steve Britz (programmer) modified for them.

I was and original Beta site for them from 1991 on. I switched to FrameReady in 2003 or 2004 after a lot of fustration.
My price for the NC 30x38 project came out to $292 (vs $125); I was over $100 without the frame

The 16 x 14 project has a frame that I can't match, but components exclusive to frame was about $90

Even on the 30x38 project using my low end wood I still come out to over $180; the uvng was almost $70

My suggestion, using those two examples, is that if you are lower than M, why?
Originally posted by Bob Carter:
My suggestion, using those two examples, is that if you are lower than M, why?
My theory (and I know there are others with much more knowledge on the subject) is that to make a profit on the constant 50% off something coupon, the retail markup must be extraordinarily high.
When we get the feeling that everyone's price is lower than ours, it helps to remember that we have something to sell other than price.

Sure, sometimes price is all a customer cares about, but not usually. When a customer talks price, I like to talk value. If she understands the differences in framing, and what represents value in framing, then the buyer/seller relationship often takes a turn for the better, and price is no longer the only consideration.

It is especially gratifying when a customer comes back with an order a few days after stopping in for a quote, and says something like, "Your price was higher, but I know you'll do a better job."

It is always important to sell competitive framing, but it is not always important to have the lowest price.
Hey Richard-We have beat this dead horse fairly well, but we keep forgetting some real basic rules of economy

The M bashers are of the "they mark it up extraordinarily high so they can mark it down" as if it were simply a shell game duping the stupid consumer

But, what they do is to buy extraorinarily well, establish retail prices that are market driven (in essence, what most other charge that don't buy so well)and then promote down to an acceptable Gross Profit

The two examples where people had specific examples might be perfect examples

Take the Nurre project at 30x 38 that M retails for $125 according to Polly's post. If you took the prices from Larson and Lifesaver for th emldg, glass and a/f foam alone the costs are $102.84. So let's assume that that M's "regular" price is $250 (yielding a sale price of $125).

Does $250 seem like an inflated price; my price was $292. At their reg price and list costs my margin would be only about 59%.

Does hardly look like they have inflated anywhere near as much as most of us do/will. Using most established margins of 30% (or less), they could actually claim a "market" regular price of around $375 with a 50% off price closer to $185-still much lower than my prices

The point I was making is that if any retailer is pricing below M's sale prices, they are artificially lowering what they might sell that product for. Imagine all the clientele that do not check prices or logically expect you to be higher than M's that would expect to pay more.

The exception would be to embrace Warren's philosophy and buy extraordinarily well and scream "Everyday Low Prices". But, you better hire some more framers

Take Jim Miller's sage advice to heart

I just don't understand anyone that brags about consistently being lower than the perceived low price King

I have a favorite expresion that says "Without data, we are just a bunch of jerks with opinions"

Hey, we are all entitled to our opinions. But, if the data shows otherwise....
Good points Bob. I hope you weren't saying that I was one who was bragging about being lower. I was simply stating a fact of what I found after my pricing hunt. Their retail was higher than my retail, but their "sale" was lower than my retail. This could mean that either 1) my retail is too low, or 2) that my theory is at least partially true.

I haven't been in the framing industry for nearly as long as you, so I accept that you know more about M's pricing than I do. I have read many of your posts on pricing, buying, etc, and I think it has affected the way I am doing some things. Being essentially a one-man shop though (and with an art gallery to manage at the same time), I'm usually swimming just to keep up with framing orders and walk-in customers.

And Jim is right, I do have advantages to offer my customers that M's doesn't. In fact, I had a customer bring in a rather large order today because M's couldn't customize the framing the way she wanted.
Heck, no, Richard. I wasn't pointing anyone specifically; it's just we hear it so often with M-Bashing threads

I may be one of very few that actually thinks they do a phenomenal job with what little we all seem to think they have

I think we ought to have somethings that we can capitalize upon. Haing better skills will attract some clientele and having identifiable, competitivewill attract some, too

But, we will never beat them at the game they play best. That is why on those items where we can exhibit true advantage, as Jim suggests, we ought to be priced accordingly

Unfortunately, we often undersell those key advantages while over-pricing those easily identifiable items

I always think the one-man operation may never get close to the buying advantages and therefore must pick those battles where they have an opportunity to win. But you still have to be competitive, even when you may not win

I think it really does help to have a winner or two and you have to trumpet that advantage.

That item you got today should be priced to reflect your advantage (but fairly)
For those of us who automatically assume that we are better framers than anyone at Michaels or Hobby Lobby or any of the big boxes, here's something to chew on.

All those independent shops that have closed up in the past ten years: Do you think all of the owners and experienced framers went to work for health insurance companies?

Some of them - maybe a LOT of them - went to work for the big boxes.

I'm not suggesting anyone panic. Just don't become complacent.
Don't hurt me...I worked for Michael's at one time and also Aaron Brothers, I now own my own framing business. I left the Michael's corporation because I was tired of going to frame shows and hiding my name tag. I am a very good framer and very passionate about preserving artwork as well as designing. The quailty at these stores is inconsistent at best. The people working can either be very good (in a few cases) or very many cases. Michael's sale price was slightly lower then Aaron Brother's regular price...which I think is only slightly lower then prices at indpedant frame shops in my area (LasVegas). My advice, continue to educate your customers about framing and continue to do a great job. There are going to be customers who never have a bad exprince with Michael's or Aaron Brothers, but mos people will at some point. Some thngs abot these shops...they are limited in the type of designs they can do because they are reliant on a chop shop cutting their mats and frames. They are limited on the turnaround time as they are mass producing. They do not offer any incentives or price breaks (other then their usual sale prices)to artists who are doing gallery shows. Maybe these are things us independant framers can offer.
luv4art...nice post. I see you are relatively new here and I welcome you. Please continue to contribute...your insight is appreciated.

Dave Makielski
I just got a customer in last week who used to go to M's. Lots of framing. She needed a shadow box project completed before M's deadline, so they referred her to my shop. I finished it earlier than she needed, plus two more, and yesterday she brought in 4 more! Said she didn't care about their sales, she didn't know we were there and will continue to come into my shop, said she's "delighted we're there!". Aah, that feels good.

Luv4art, welcome to the Grumble, and to the FormerM's Club, there are several of us here, and we're happy to be on our own now, for reasons only FormerM's (and CurrentM's) folks could undertand. And most of the CurrentM's are looking for a way out! Grumbling helps.