Treating other framers with care...

bumpon

Grumbler
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
Posts
33
From
Louisiana
Hi Everyone. I have a dilemma. I have a small home-based business. I frame mostly my own art for sale and to order, plus I do some custom framing jobs. I used to work in a large professional art gallery, where we had the capability to do anything, no matter what the size, difficulty, whatever.

Here's my dilemma:
I purchased a Walter Anderson print for myself. The final dimensions will be 24 x 54 inches. Okay, I am not set up to do anything larger than 32 x 40. I want a nice big expensive frame, which I CAN do myself ($80 at cost, hundreds with markup.) What is the nicest way I should go about approaching another framer for the mats & glass (or UV acrylic, since it's so big)? Should I suck it up and build the frame first, then take the whole thing in to him/her and have him/her do the mats, glass, and fitting ($$$)? Do you think most framers would shoot needles from their eyes if I just asked him to cut mats, foam core, and glass (acrylic), and let me take it home to do it myself? Money really is an issue for me, as I really am a starving artist. And it isn't like I'm an untrained yokel.. I actually am a framing professional.

What is the most delicate way to go about this? What do you suggest? I don't want to be deceptive about it at all. I guess a side question would be, what is your maximum size for using glass in a job?
 

B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Joined
Sep 5, 2001
Posts
4,859
From
Kodak, Tn. USA
Do you have a local supplier? Where do you buy your matboard and glass (or acrylic) normally? Why not just have your suppliers cut the mat and and acrylic for you.

Then purchase a sheet of oversize foamcore and cut it yourself (lay it down in the floor if necessary.)If you've got room to do the fitting, you've got room to cut the backing. I always have oversize stuff cut by my supplier.

As for acrylic size vs glass - I usually recommend acrylic for anything over 30".

Betty
 

JbNormandog

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Joined
Apr 8, 2004
Posts
3,751
From
NJ
If I were you I would go into a Mom and Pop framer tell them exactly what you wrote.
If you just need mats and glass from them that is all I would purchase.
If someone came into my shop to buy an oversized double mat and plexi, I might be a little thankful that I don't have another oversize piece cloggin up the works.
Framers are by and large friendly, talk to an owner if you can and I'm sure they will do what you would like and maybe with a professional break.
At least I would.
 

FramerRandy

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Posts
320
From
Montana
I'm too far away to help
shrug.gif
but I do "odds n ends" for other shops frequently, I join frames for one gallery, cut mats & fillets for another, mount for several & cut glass for one. What ever they want I'm glad to do it. I do make sure that I'm paid for my time & that I make a profit on the work I do. Sure I make more on "regular" jobs but I've had some of them send customers to me as a result
I wouldn't worry about approaching another framer.
 

bumpon

Grumbler
Thread starter
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
Posts
33
From
Louisiana
Thanks for the quick replies! Okay, B. Newman's answer was great, but I guess you'd need to know my situation. I live in New Orleans. I have a home business. NO suppliers within a hundred-twenty miles will sell to a home business. I have tried them all, it's not just Larson-Juhl. I have all the proper licenses, zoning, etc, but they all require a snapshot of your storefront in order to set up an account. I guess there is one supplier who belongs to a chain supplier that would sell to me, but he has the New Orleans area in his account, but he doesn't deliver here, and yet won't give up the route to someone else. So, I drive to Mobile, AL to get my supplies. Does anyone else face this challenge?

I think I will do just that, what NormanDog suggests. Be upfront and honest. I guess maybe I am just paranoid about other framers in this town because of the supplier shut-out.

You won't do glass over 30"? Is that because of liability, weight, all of the above, etc?
 

B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Joined
Sep 5, 2001
Posts
4,859
From
Kodak, Tn. USA
Originally posted by bumpon:

You won't do glass over 30"? Is that because of liability, weight, all of the above, etc?
I didn't say I won't, I just recommend acrylic over that size because of the weight, and because I don't like to handle it.

My shop is located at my home as well. ("At" not "in", but not in an "official" storefront, nonetheless.)

My closest supplier is about 25 miles away. They will deliver, but I usually pick up materials.

I've been in business for 15 years and have never had anyone ask for a photo of my business. I buy from about 6-8 moulding suppliers plus the local business where I get all my glass and matboard.

That's the reason I asked if you had a local supplier. "Local" is somewhat relative, I guess.

Betty
 

bumpon

Grumbler
Thread starter
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
Posts
33
From
Louisiana
Yeah, that's the way New Orleans is. I don't want to sound paranoid, and I love this city, but things just work differently here. Things, especially anything to do with business, politics, etc., work on a whole different set of rules than anywhere else I've ever been. So, the frameshops get huge orders delivered to their doors, and I have to drive two and a half hours to pick up a box or two of 32 x 40 lites. I order everything but glass by UPS... that's the best I can do as a home framer in this city.
 

johnatwork

Grumbler
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Posts
25
From
British Columbia Canada
Hey there Bumpon,
I just read your post and it's probably way too late for this reply, but .....

I have a custome frame shop and gallery here in the small town of Westbank, B.C. I frame some very fine pieces on a regular basis, in fact my average frame job works out to $250.00. That is my shop average over a 12 month period.

I have clients who come in many times and have made a frame or are going to make their own frame and just need the glass/acrylic or matts cut. I have never treated them any different than a person spending $500.00 for a custom package. Maybe it's just me but "I Love Art" and any thing I can do to help present it makes me feel good.

Just go to your local framer and tell what you need, don't be sheepish. I bet he'll be glad to help you out with the parts you can't handle. Check with your supplyer and see if they have a chop/join program (most do) then just order the frame and mats cut to your needs.

Sometimes having a fram shipped by UPS or Fedex to your address is not that much $$. Because you are so far from Mobile, try and make a deal with one of the frame shops there who would order what you want and add a modest % for their trouble. Doen't sound like you are a big threat to them business wise.

All the best from Canada,
Johnatwork
 

Ron Eggers

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Joined
Jul 6, 2001
Posts
16,932
From
Wisconsin
Why would any framer thumb their nose at a partial order, regardless of who it comes from?

If pricing is set up properly, we're making money on each component. I'd be perfectly happy just cutting mats all day (at least until the Mat Maestro went up in smoke.)
 

DTWDSM

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Joined
Feb 19, 2002
Posts
2,824
From
USA
Bumpon,

You mentioned that you used to work in a gallery where you could work on something like this. Can you go back to them to get help on this project?? Seems like a no brainer unless bridges were burned when you left.
 

bumpon

Grumbler
Thread starter
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
Posts
33
From
Louisiana
hey... well, bridges weren't burned, but since I used to work in Alaska, and I now live in New Orleans, the road trip would be economically unfeasible! Good suggestion, though!
 

Magnolia Framing

True Grumbler
Joined
Mar 22, 2003
Posts
59
From
Gautier, MS
Bumpon,

Like others who have posted here, I am not adverse to doing partial jobs. After all, income is income. If you happen to be in the Gautier area, stop and say hi.
 

sheritex

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Joined
Jul 23, 2003
Posts
138
From
tyler, texas
Hey Bumpon,
Try Louisiana Moulding in Shreveport, La. and see what you can do with them. I am a home based framer and fortuanaetly (spell checker needed) they deliver right to our front door. Talk to Larry, tell him Sherry (Picture This) told you to call him..They have moulding and framing supplies. Let me know if you need the 800 number..I've got it somewhere.
But I agree with what everyone has said here..I sure wouldn't turn down a partial job...you never can tell where it might lead.
Sherry
 

bumpon

Grumbler
Thread starter
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
Posts
33
From
Louisiana
Hi Sherry! Thanks! I am pretty sure that Louisiana Moulding is the company that I was told has New Orleans in its route, but won't deliver here, yet won't give up the route to another supplier in the chain. I'm hoping not, though... could you give me the number?

I contacted the New Orleans Arts Council when setting up my business, and they're the ones who initially told me about the supplier shut-out on home businesses in the city. I don't want to sound paranoid, but I've heard from various other would-be home framers that they gave up because there's some kind of deal between the frame shops and the local suppliers to not sell to home businesses. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that's what I've been told.

Thanks so much for your replies! I love the Grumble!
 
E

El Framo

Guest
We have no problem doing "bits and pieces" jobs for anyone. Another path to take would be developing a relationship with a local framer that does get delivery from suppliers. He/she may be willing to sell to you at a discount.
 

sheritex

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Joined
Jul 23, 2003
Posts
138
From
tyler, texas
Yes, the Grumble is great...amazing at the stuff I have learned just by reading....1-800-444-8287 Is the Number for LMS...they carry a good supply of all the other stuff besides moulding..hardware, matboard,tools, etc. Another great supplier for moulding is Wall Moulding...don't have the number in my cell phone...but go to www.wallmoulding.com. They are great people also. LMS might be higher than United and of course they don't have the variety of stuff that United has....but are nice people Hope this helps....I find it strange that the frame shops and local suppliers have this deal going on...you and I both know that we as homebased are not a huge threat to frame shops.....I guess if they can't beat the BB stores...they go after the little guys....such a shame...but you will enjoy the grumble...all the people are so very nice...looks like the shops in New Orleans could take a few lessons from these folks here.
Sherry
 

A.Wise

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Joined
Jul 16, 2002
Posts
130
From
Wadsworth, Oh
Go to your local framer and talk to them. I have a in home business and it wasn't making enough money to pay other bills in the household. I went to a frame shop 11 miles from me and he hired me. I do all of his framing. And it works out great. If I need something done that I can't do at home I can take it there. Also those businesses that won't sell to me because I'm home based I order through him. We also will put our orders together for rebates. We both benefit. We also consult each other on frame jobs that are out of the ordinary. So maybe approach the idea of helping each other out. Maybe you could do some things for the other framer when he is to busy to keep up. Approach it as a joint adventure. We have a framer in another town that specializes in restoration of frames so we have her do those for us and we cut mats for her that she can't handle without the Wizard. Good Luck
 

Lauren Tanzio

Grumbler
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Posts
46
From
Metairie, LA
"I've heard from various other would-be home framers that they gave up because there's some kind of deal between the frame shops and the local suppliers to not sell to home businesses. "

I have worked in 3 different frame shops in the N.O. area and have never gotten any kind of "deal" from the suppliers. I think it may a liability issue with the glass as to why they won't deliver to home based businesses.

I agree with everyone else that a partial job is better than no job. A good portion of my day to day business is just cutting glass or mats for people who already have frames. It wouldn't reflect well on the employees or the business if they turned someone away for such a silly reason.
 

geperry

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Joined
Jul 24, 2004
Posts
140
From
Round Pond, ME
Business
self
I have an artist who regularly comes into my shop with odd pieces of matboard that I cut for her, occasionally she'll order a frame then put together the package herself. I even order matboard for her and don't even make any profit off it. I do however charge her a couple of bucks for labor and time, but not much. She's an artist, I figure she'll send business my way..... word of mouth is a great advertiser. (I do, however, tell her to keep her price confidential).
 

johnatwork

Grumbler
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Posts
25
From
British Columbia Canada
Sherrytx51,you said "...I find it strange that the frame shops and local suppliers have this deal going on...you and I both know that we as homebased are not a huge threat to frame shops...I guess if they can't beat the BB stores...they go after the little guys...such a shame..".

You make it sound like we framing galleries are different to homebased framers. I was a home based framer for years, but I did it as a way to relax not for the income it provided.

After retirement from owning two large building supplies, I found I still needed something to keep me busy and make me happy so because of my love of art, I opened a Gallery. It is in a small but popular plaza where there is decent traffic. I did this because, as everyone in business knows, location is key to a new business's success. The location cost $3000.00 per month plus all the decorating and set up cost, plus heat, lights, insurance, phones, fax, computers etc.

As a home based framer I had no overhead, and I didn't particularly take a lot of business away from the five frame shops that were here at that time. However if ten or twenty people had opened homebase shops in the area I am sure it would have affected the existing shops negativly. After all there is only so much business to be had in any given area, so just cutting the pie into smaller pieces isn't helping anyone. From a suppliers perspective, having only four or five stop offs on main roads is a whole lot cheaper than 15 or 20 in hard to get to residential neighborhoods.

When I was framing at home, if I marked the stock up 10%, I made 10% profit ... with the overhead of a retail location, I would be loosing my perverbial $ss. I know some will counter this by saying they use a much higher (market)markup, but people being what they are, we all know the tendency is to lower a price to make sure we get the business and if we are honest, we do it to make ourselves look good to the client too. Both of these reasons are a huge mistake in business.

I now, unfortunatly, have the only framing shop/Gallery in our town. The rest have closed their doors because they saw me as a threat, and kept having sales, gave discounts etc. thinking it would make them stronger. They were wrong! and they proved it!

I am a professional framer, I do custom work, I provide my clients with only the best quaility in materials and workmanship. I have NEVER had a sale in 12 yrs. and I do not give discounts to any one (neither does a brain surgon I know)yet my sales have grown every year even in an area that others could not make a go of it. As for competing with BB Stores ... that's a piece of cake. None of them have staff that know much about what you and I do for a living. They can't and don't give the quality of service that I give my clients and something I learned a long time ago...people will pay a couple of dollars more to get quality in design and be treated like they were important.

The fact that suppliers don't always sell to home based business is their decision not mine here in Canada, partly due to the fact that a home based business can just close up shop, move, and no one can find them. A retail establishment is a bit harder to close and move which gives the supplier a bit more security. I am not nieve, I realize some retail outlets have done the midnight move so it can happen. We just experienced a passenger jet service doing just that last week, but it doesn't happen often.

My suggestion to any one who feels slighted by suppliers who don't sell to homebased business is.... prove your sincerity, take the risk, make the investment in your own retail store... you will be treated with the same respect shown to those who have put their money where their mouth is so to speak.

Johnatwork in Canada
 

bumpon

Grumbler
Thread starter
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
Posts
33
From
Louisiana
John-

I understand where you're coming from, honestly. But I asked the big suppliers why they wouldn't sell to someone without a storefront, and they didn't have a reason. I offered to pay for all my supplies up front and pick them up myself, no delivery needed. They still wouldn't accept my business. As I said, I have all the proper business licenses, numbers, etc.

I understand that you have high overhead, and I would love to have my own shop, but even you said you started out as a homebased framer, right? And it's not like anything over and above cost is profit... I still have to buy and maintain all the proper equipment and little supplies. It's hard to just open up a shop out of the blue with no customer base, no experience, etc.

I like to think of myself as a fruit stand, and a frame shop as a supermarket. I can't sell all the products and do all the things that the supermarket can, but I should still be allowed to sell my little fruit supply, right? And if I'm willing to pay the suppliers up front and come pick up the supplies myself (bushel bags, pint containers, whatever they need for selling fruit), why shouldn't they sell to me too? I know this is a dumb analogy. But try to see it from my side.

I could understand if there were a law saying that you must have a retail location to purchase items wholesale. But there's not, and I jumped through all of the hoops to enable myself to buy wholesale, but I still have to drive two to three hours to do so. The supplier I buy from also told me that he'd have no problem delivering to my door if I were in his route at all. So I tend to believe people when they tell me there's some kind of deal in the city against home-based framers.
 

johnatwork

Grumbler
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Posts
25
From
British Columbia Canada
Bumpon-
I cannot answer for the way suppliers run their business. My previous comments are my conclusion as a business person and I stand by them. I know that the Big Box Stores receive a better discount than I personally can achieve, however that is because the supplier is seeing "Volume" in their greedy little minds.
One of my suppliers decided to sell to one of the BB Stores in our market a few years ago. When I spoke to them about getting the same discount, they came up with the same old bs stories of why they coudn't afford to do that. So being my own boss I simply put all of their frame samples into a couple of boxes and asked their rep. to kindly remove them from my shop. Although I did only 50 thousand or so with that supplier, it still hurt them in the pocket. Soon other framing shops began calling me to see how I was competing with this BB Store frame pricing because they too were purchasing from my old supplier. I simply told them what I had done, and explained that I do not sell the same frames as the BB Store so no competition with prices.
Within a month or so these other shops basically did the same thing to the supplier who more or less laughed at us for doing so... until one day last year the BB Store decided to go a different direction. The supplier had really dropped the ball and now they just about kiss our boots trying to get business back. We have all basically said "No Dice" in a polite way. (It's not good to burn bridges)
You can have your own shop too. You just have to figure out the fixed costs and then calculate how much business you need to do at your present markup to see if it is viable. You already have a customer base from your home business, add some good advertising to promote your new location, "eh,viola". If all the numbers check out go for it. On the other hand, if framing is just a hobby, then treat it as such and have fun with it, it's a hobby.
When I was doing it as a hobby, I machined all my own frame stock, guilded it,created the compo in moulds I had made, basically created a custom frame just like the old days. Each one was unique and a one of a kind. No supplier problems although I must say, purchasing ready finished stock saves a tonn of time, even though it takes some of the joy out of the job. I used to go to frame shops outside my market, and offer to buy all of their fallouts of mats. They would sell it for 20 cents on the dollar cause I would take it all. Every one in the business would love to find some Gypsy from the other side of the state/province who would be willing to peel out greenbacks/toonies to clean up the ever growing fall out mat problem.
So there are ways to compete in all types of markets, you just have to put on your thinking cap.
Johnatwork
 

bumpon

Grumbler
Thread starter
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
Posts
33
From
Louisiana
John,
Thanks for the advice. I really want to have my own shop someday, but I am using the home business as a way to slowly accumulate equipment and make extra money right now. I do have to keep my full-time job for now, since my husband has a year and a half to go with his post-grad education. After that, we're moving, and then I can think about my own shop.

That being said, my own frame shop will probably still be located in my "shop", as in outbuilding, at my home. I don't want the worry and hassle of multiple employees, paying rent in a high-traffic area, etc. I can't see making the jump from working for myself to running a shop with three or four framers. I realize that means I'll never make as much money as framers like you, but I'm completely at peace with that.

 
Top