Big Box Arts and Crafts Store and Its Misconceptions
Can a large arts and crafts store provide better prices and service than individual expert frame shops?
Believe it or not, this is a very common question I get asked from people calling or emailing me from outside the region. Their belief is that big box custom frame shops provide better prices and faster service than non chain stores.
The thinking is that bigger stores have volume buying power and pass that savings onto the consumer. Although their inventory may have sales prices, their framing operations don't.
The coupons and "sales" are totally false and lure on customer's lack of framing price knowledge. The minute people see the word "coupon", they automatically assume they will be getting a deal.
On the contrary! In a recent lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General, he stated that Michaels used false and deceptive advertising and promotions to bring customers into their frame shop.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneidermann showed where Michaels was sued for providing false coupon discounts when they were really charging FULL PRICE!
As a matter of fact, in my case, people would ask me to fix something wrong with their frame jobs if something wasn't right. When I found out what they paid and what they received, I was shocked. My prices were more competitive even comparing my 100% Museum grade procedures to their typical framing prices.
As I have learned from some of my customers, these stores don't necessarily have the cheapest prices when it comes to framing.
Going back to Michaels, they settled by paying $800,000 in civil penalties and donating $1,000,000 to fund arts and supplies to New York schools. Basically, a slap on the wrist for a company of this size.
That's like robbing a bank for $50,000 and your only punishment is donating $1 to the piggy bank of the president's child.
Before you believe these stores have economies of scale (buying power), think again. These megastores have huge overhead and plenty of waste, like store theft and loss of income due to human error in framing, etc.
To run a framing business with minimal waste/errors and at the same time with delivering the quality and expectations customers expect, the owner needs to have an active presence. Since 1989, personally, I have examined most of my client's work with rare exceptions.
My clients are very important to me. Serving them with high quality framing, very personal service and reasonable prices is what they have come to expect from me. It's for that reason that I am very grateful for their business over the years.
As a matter of fact, I have developed long lasting friendships with many clients due to similar interests from running my business.
When vacation time comes once a year, we close with advance notice to our clients. There's no temporary or part time people serving our clients. It's just me working with people. I enjoy interacting with people and use my 33 years experience for them.
And, my framers enjoy working on people's important artwork ensuring things are done properly and avoid problems as seen above.
Big box stores can't offer personal service. As an example, a regular client needed an important piece framed for her husband’s funeral wake. I ordered the framing materials she desired. When my framers finished it on time, I personally drove it to the funeral home before people arrived.
It's not about the money, but being there for someone in need. As a consumer myself, I have certain expectations.
As businesspeople, professionals or any other occupation or career you have, nothing feels better than contributing to someone's life.