Oprah opens a frameshop!


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Apr 8, 2004
Ok the subject line was a complete lie to get you to read this but it worked. It is also the idea behind this posting. I am a new frameshop only open a few months and am trying everything I can think of to get customers in, newspapers, mailings, begging, pleading, and something different.
I contacted a fairly big newpaper and simply asked them to write an article about my new shop (which is in a new strip mall)They did and it helped get the word out.
Now however a continuing education program called and asked if I would teach a class on framing in my shop. I said yes considering it will help educate people about what we do and get the shop some exposure.
Now my question I pose to my new found source of inspiration and daily online comedy troop is this...
Any suggestions that I may not of thought of for the class or the shop? I've done something similar at a shop that I once worked at but this is the first time it is all me.
Again I am thinking to get them in for one thing and sell them on our industry and my shop.
All your responses are eagerly awaited and appreciated.
Thank you, Bob.
Bob, break it down in to design and backroom.
Show off all your expensive equipment. make them aware that this is not just a do-it yourself hobby. Any thing you can do to focus on what they can't do at home.
Also a great opportunity to talk about preservation and conservation. Explain about the different glazing and acid-free/rag boards. Talk about the dual function of a mat...design element and spacer from glass.

Dave Makielski
Dave's point is a good one. Informing the public
about preservation serves to establish your bono
fides, helps them understand why they should not
try it, themselves, and encourages them to spring
for the good materials.

I've been hearing this ad on the radio lately.
"Do you have a stock portfolio worth $500,000 or more? Then cal xxx Financial Consultants..."
I wonder how this approach would work for framing? I guess you wouldn't have to bring in a lot of customers, just the right ones.
Hi Bob,
Sounds like you've got an exciting time ahead of you. Another great advantage for you is that you become the expert to them. It provides you with an opportunity to show your knowledge base. Many people take a class to do it themselves, then realize how much work, skill, and materials are involved in creating a great framed piece and are only too happy to let you do it for them.

Other questions to consider:
Size of class? - how many people can you teach effectively and can move safely in the space you have.
How many evenings? You will want to divide the training up between the start and finish of the project they will be working on, into easy-to-complete and understand portions.
Insurance? Does your insurance cover this? There are lots of things in a frameshop that may cause injury.

All the best,
Sounds like fun with opportunity. My only question: would any of them think they'd been slightly duped if you too heavily emphasize that what you're teaching them really isn't something they should be "trying at home"? Or that what you're teaching them isn't good enough except for the undiscerning?

Could be wrong, tho'.
First thing - don't deceive anyone. (Sorry, I just hate topics that start like this.)

Actually, I think I would show them the things that they could do at home. But make sure to show the things that they can't as well. Let's face it, everyone is going it buy a cheap photo frame at some time so we need to show them why it is important to have a mat or spacers.

Teach them how dangerous it is to put valuable antique photos in frames right up against the wood, and the glass, and the cardboard backing. If they understand why it is important to use rag mats and backing, they'll better understand what it is you do and why.

Might not hurt to work in the occasional "...that picture of your grandma when you were sitting on her lap"

I don't think that'd be deceptive, just one form of appealing to a potential customer's sentimentality. 'Sides that, they may have forgotten they even HAD such a picture! Plant the idea, subtly. First thing you know, your customers will be having 'Dr. Phil Light-Bulb Moments'!
I hade the same opportunity and the same eperience by attending a seminar taught by another local framer at a local University.

I too was enthused by the opportunity and the compliment of being asked. Then I contacted the Other Framer who had taught me and asked what I should do.His advise was "it's not worth it".

His reasoning was he had to lug all the equipment to and from the Universiy (he ended up with a slipped disc) and had to act as a broker for the mat purchases,while pre-cutting (chopping) all the students frame moulding.(this proceedure couldn't be accomodated at the University nor did his/their insurance cover any possible accidents)

As you can see this increased his work load and not at RETAIL prices.This may provide good PR but no income.

Of course if you conducted the classes in your shop it releved the hauling problem but probably cut down on your class size( unless you have a big shop).However it will have SERIOUS repercuations with your Insurance company ( liability).

This doesn't even mention the fact that you probaly have a limited amount of EQIPMENT ( mat cutters. saws,etc/) which can make time utilization a nightmare.
While we are speaking about equipment ,have you considered what Betty has said? Just How many Consumers are going to run out and buy a Fletcher mat cutter or other tools,and do you really want them to?

But on a positive note have you considered giveing a class on "Why Framers do what they do " and how?(No hands on stuff) This would be more benefical ,especially if you do what Hugh and others have suggested and Explain the need for the UNSEEN techniques ( conservation materials and methods)?

After all just how many pieces do you really believe the average student will frame for themselves? Will they SAVE anything after the purchase of needed eqipment? And most of all how many of them will think they are now Certified/bonifide framers and start doing the friends and families work even if they are not? All of which may spread your name far and wide but will take a good while to bring in any business.( After the friends and family realize they didn't do all they should have and bring it back to you or some other shop to correct).

My advise think more along a lecture line and less along a how to ,hands on class.I really think that will benefit youand them more.

IMHO, I don't think most people are looking to be lectured to about everything they should know about picture framing - but Don't try this at Home! Too boring.

A better scenario would be for the educational organization to hold the classes on their premises, invest (the school, not you) in a basic mat cutter and hand mitre saws w/ clamps (plus a few other minor things) for students to learn on and indicate that the students will be responsible for obtaining all materials. Many times someone may volunteer to be the point person to combine orders and do the purchasing.

At the first class, you provide them with a list of vendors where they can go to purchase, whether it be local or through catalogs, online, etc. Sometimes a discount can be negotiated with a local vendor (yourself?) that is available to current students.

I'm sure one of the mat board and moulding vendors would be willing to donate some corner samples (doesn't have to be a complete line).

Have an organized syllabus of what topics will be covered each week. Combine lecture with hands on. It won't take long for the students to realize that there is much more to framing than meets the eye.

They will gain valuable knowledge, a healthy respect for the profession, and I seriously doubt their projects will make any real dent in the local framing economy.

Hosting the class in your shop is a much less desireable situation. The only "schlepping" to class would be any sample pieces you want to use in a demonstration.

Good luck.

Amy McCray
I've been asked to do this and have declined. I'm curious about what potential benefits you might see for your business by teaching framing classes on or off premises.

It would seem to be analogous to the mechanic teaching people to do their own oil changes. Would he expect his students to come in and buy the oil and filters? Would he even want that? Or might he hope that his students would gain a new appreciation for the professional mechanic? ("Why would I do this myself when, for $120/hour, I can have Mr Goodwrench do it for me?")

I enjoy speaking to groups about framing and I like to teach, but have never really considered teaching a framing class.
I HAVE taught framing classes. At the store. Here is how it worked. I sell Logan mat cutters, so we opened 6 of those. Students were paired. I gave them the Conservation speech. I showed them how to cut a double mat to fit in a standard frame. They cut a double mat each. I helped at least a third of them (read: I cut the mat for them) because they couldn't get the concept. I offered the mat cutters at a discounted price, that day only. Over the years that I did it I probably processed 60 customers. I sold about 4 mat cutters. I sold boards to maybe 4 or 5 people. I don't think I ever framed anything for any of them. But I did get one good emplyee out of it... Was it worth it? No. That is why I don't do it anymore. It simply didn't earn the store enough money to justify the time and materials...
Having reviewed the other comments, I change my vote - can I do that? I agree w/ those who say it's probably just not worth the time and effort. They've been there.

Amy McCray
I hope this won't be taken as beating a dead horse,but I just thought of still another fear.

In my limited experience many consumers ( of which I numbered my self once ) are certain that all Framers are soaking them with Profits ( been there ,done that ,when I first had something framed ).
When the average Consumer attends this class and sees the wholesale prices of materials( Yes, Ellen even a Logan ) ,they will be conviced that everything over that is just GREED.They will not even consider there are many other cost involved( Over head and mistakes that we greciously eat) in being in business.
So don't be surprised if they start questioning your Shop prices more and either attempt it on their own or search high and low for a CHEAPER source.
Is this what you really want consumers to do?
Don't misunderstand me or my intentions.I am just like Ron (in this regaurd ) if nothing else .

I too " enjoy speaking to groups about framing and I like to teach, only I have really considered teaching a framing class".But I 'd love to have the ability to teach PROFESSIONALS and would like nothing better than to make CONSUMERS understand WHY and WHAT is used INSIDE the frame and not just what makes it LOOK good,and then maybe they could appreciate why we charge what we do.( and yes my prices are lower than most of yours ,so guess how "FRUGAL?" my consumers are.LOL
This may frankenthread a bit, but when I hired a part time high school gal to help out a bit last spring, (pre-pos) what I needed her to do was update some pricing on frame samples.

I knew, to the uninitiated, the prices could seem like we were making money "hand over fist." So I wrote an addition to my employee handbook on "pricing" explaining about overhead, employee costs, cog, etc. I think it helped her (and other employees) to see beyond the "price" all the way to the "cost" of doing business.

I used to buy my suits and shirts from a company in North Hollywood, named Dorman Winthrop.

They summed it up beautifully as to their lower prices but their alteration fees.

At the bottom of the stairs leading to the suit area, hung a help wanted poster nicely framed and cutely done.

"WANTED. 24 tailors willing to work for free."

The small print went on to explain how the big houses roll 80% of usual alterations into the real price of the suit, then give away "Free" alterations.
If you needed a lot of alterations, you could get somewhat of a "good deal", but if all you needed was cuffs & sleeves you paid WAY to much. Which is about 60% of the population.