To Carry or not to Carry: Large Size Readymades?

Bonhomme

Grumbler in Training
Joined
May 12, 2004
Posts
1
From
Massachusetts
Hi all!

First time poster to the board, but have been reading for some time. Really a great resource! I am still a relatively new owner of a custom framing business (we also do photo work)...

As for my question... It is whether to carry larger-size readymade frames. More specifically- we have been carrying fairly inexpensive aluminum frames with acrylic glazing in the standard poster sizes above 11x14 and up to 24x36.

Are we cutting our own throat by doing so? We are in a college area, so there is a market for frames into which to slip posters, but I sometimes feel that carrying them makes it too easy for the customer to "cheap out" and have us cut a mat (if necessary) and slip it into a poster frame if it is something that would otherwise be custom done (and it is a fairly affluent area). Unfortunately, I also sometimes feel it makes it too easy for some of my employees to give in to customer price complaints and do the same...

Obviously, you don't like to lose any sale, but I wonder if it actually cuts more against us in the long run.

Thoughts? Experiences? Sorry if this wasn't worded too clearly or if it has been addressed elsewhere...
 

Cliff Wilson

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May 14, 2002
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Worcester, MA
Where in Mass. are you? I am in Worcester and I have a fair number of college students in as well. But, I have convinced myself (maybe erroneously) that the real "low-end" people are goign to go to the new A.C. Moore and the people that come in to see me will spring for at least my "poster special." So, I only carry up to 8 x 10 photo frames. But, this is a debate I have regularly. There are a couple of framers that I talk to regularly in the area that are convinced having the larger ready mades is crucial to their business. If your employees are underselling, then you have a different problem, because they are probably underselling everything!
 

Bob Carter

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This is a classic example of understanding your market. Since, we don't have the statistical data to tell you if it will be a mistake or not, you might try and monitor the following:

Do you have many walkouts? If it is higher than you want, you would wise to adapt to your clients needs.

If you do offer this type of line, can you effectively track the sales of the impacted lines? If you can, the decision will be self-evident. If you can't, you need to develo somewy to do it.

I think it comes down to the possibilty/probability of losing a slae in a markt where just such price impression is a major factor. I don't want to get into debate on your site selection.

But, if a lot of people are looking for just such a product, then you would wise to offer what they want.

It is infinitely easier to adapt to your market than to expect your market to adapt to you. One of the great myths we see repeated is that we can upsell our way to success. If that were true, then we ought to all be selling securities or life insurance.

There are many great, high margin opportunities to offer exactly what you think might be needed. It starts with buying effectively, marketing effectively and accepting what will sell is what you should carry.

It should be a tailored product targeted to fill the specific deficiency, not a blanket approach.
 

Bill Henry-

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Are we cutting our own throat by doing so?
Not necessarily. Like Cliff said, you don’t want to undersell your services to those who can afford it, but college kids usually don’t have a whole lot of loose change to buy high end framing. Emptying their wallets of some money is better that letting them keep it all.

I’d suggest that you do stock the larger ready-mades but don’t try to compete with Wally World as far as prices are concerned. In that case you would be cutting your own throat.
 

DTWDSM

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Feb 19, 2002
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USA
As Bob said it all depends on your market and most if not all of us know anything about your market.

Here is something that you may want to look at... What % of your sales are these "poster frames" and how much do you keep in inventory (in dollars) In other words how long is your money sitting on the floor in these poster frames? Are you turning the inventory??

Cash is king in any business and if you are not getting a good return on your investment or you know that your money could be spent on something else that will turn faster you may want to look into something else.

Are you stocking posters for the college kids that are buying these frames or are you just hoping that they will come in after they buy the poster somewhere else? Are you stocking Scarface posters, Kramer, Dumb and Dumber, reprints of movie posters? That's what they are buying at our shop and that's what is bringing them in for framing..readymade and custom but a lot more custom (15 series metal) than ready mades
 

McPhoto

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
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Mar 24, 2002
Posts
817
From
Clearfield, PA
Many times we have "sold down" to a large ready-made frame just because the client couldn't justify spending what was quoted for custom. Also, since most of our custom is chop orders, the ready-made type of customer is the one that needs it NOW! You don't have to stock deep (cash flow) we have several ready-mades that we just carry two of (one to show - one to go) As for styles (woods, metals, ornates, etc) you know best what the majority of your customers prefer and stock those styles.
 

JRB

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San Diego, CA
You can't be all things to all people, but you can sure try. Question is, will you make money?
That fellow that started Wall mart thought so, seems to be working so far.

Myself I think you should try to satisfy as many of your customers as you can, with in reason.

There are people out there that think $39.95 is way too much money to spend on a poster, do you want to try and get them with a $19.95 ready made frame? After shipping, pricing and displaying, you should net about $4.00 profit on that $19.95 sale.

Is the floor space you are renting to display that item worth that to you? Can you make more money using it for something else? Either way, you are still going to have to pay rent on the space.

Then there is the time spent on the sale itself, " could you hold my poster up in front of the frame and let me think about how it looks?" Do you really want to spend the time to make an extra four dollars, or would you be better off sending them to Hobby Lobby or some such place?

What if one of your employees gives that customer a 10% discount, your four dollars just got turned into two dollars. You have to sell an awful lot of merchandise to warrant this type of product in your store, do you have the foot traffic?

There is nothing wrong with handling this type of merchandise, as long as you feel it would be profitable. Lots to think about.

John
 

Puppyraiser

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We carry a pretty good selection of readymades. Now, I am lucky and we have plenty of space. We get most of them from Furst Bros, who are out of Baltimore, so I don't pay freight on them. They look really good, because they are pretty much custom mouldings that have been made into RMs. They run from about $6 for an 8x10, to as much as $85 for a 22x28. They have saved many a sale for us. Not everyone is willing or able to spend for custom framing (to tell you the truth, I am continually amazed that so many of them are. I wouldn't) The look is 'darn near custom.' We buy them 2 or 3 of a style and size at a time. We also have sectionals from Larson. We have them sent from Chicago to the Maryland warehouse, from where they are trucked to us on our regular delivery. They too, save sales, as well as supply d-i-y customers. Heck, we sell matboard by the sheet, too. Anything to make a buck, that's our motto!
 

Janet L

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Apr 9, 2001
Posts
2,458
From
Clayton, NC, USA
As Ellen replied above, I never like to disappoint a customer that can't afford custom framing. I carry MTS r/m's from 8 x 10 up to 20 x 24. Another thing, some of the people that have purchased the r/m's, have been back in for custom work when a project was important. All framing doesn't need custom attention.

There was an interesting article in Art Business News back in April regarding how young people were treated when looking at or attempting to purchase art. I never want ANY of my customers to feel intimidated by the pricing. Therefore, if I can offer an alternative within their budget, I'm happy to make the sell and allow them to feel good about finding a frame that will work for them.

Let's face it, when most of us were just beginning to decorate our apts, houses, etc., we couldn't afford custom framing either. Ready mades fit right in with my cinder block and wood plank bookshelves back in the early 70's. LOL Let's not ever forget where we started and the people that helped us get to where we are today. These new young (or older) customers that need readymades will one day be our custom framing customers.
 

Cliff Wilson

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From
Worcester, MA
Janet says, "These new young (or older) customers that need readymades will one day be our custom framing customers"

There is no doubt this is true.

But, you can make them very happy by explaining where and how to get what they need from vendors that are setup to offer the right product. You don't have to hurt your margin, time, or retail space offering products that won't give you the ROI you need. Don't misunderstand me, I have seen a number of frame shops that are setup perfectly well to handle RM type sales. It can and does work for them.

As Bob says, the key is "understanding your market." I'll add; and understanding you business model and ROI calculations.

I have had a number of people return after I have sent them to a BB for a readymade because my price was too high. They seem to want to show me that they can actually spend a lot of money for a piece they think is "worth it." And, more than a few have said they will "spread the word" about how helpful I am and how I "want what's best for them" even if I don't get the immediate sale.

"My way" may not be "your way." Again, I'll repeat Bob's words; try to "UNDERSTAND YOUR MARKET" and business structure.
 
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