60% off what?

Have you ever wondered about the 60% off framing sales you see running all the time at the big framing and craft stores? I know I have, as a small business framer I often wonder how can you afford to discount your product 60% so often and still be profitable? The answer is simple – you mark everything up by 60%! I did a little undercover work the other day and found out some interesting things.

I glued on my fake mustache and slid on my spy glasses to go and see what was up.  I took along a print that I really like and had the folks at the big stores give me some prices.  I knew what I wanted – a simple double mat with a nice contemporary black frame so I figured it would
be pretty easy for the sales person to walk me through the design process.  I explained to the gentleman that the print was valuable and I wanted it well-preserved.  He looked at the print and said to me; “blue… black… red… should be an easy kill”.  Now, I know the blue, black and red part was in reference to the colors in the composition but the “easy kill” part kind of threw me off. Was that a Steven Seagal reference?  Does he know I’m a spy?.  He proceeded to walk me to the ready-made frame section.  I asked him if these frames would keep my art well-preserved.  ”Oh so you want custom ” he said and walked me back to the counter.  He pulled out a blue top mat and red suede bottom mat and made a quick gesture to the wall where the black frames hung.  I told him I would prefer a crisp white top mat and an 1/8 of an inch or so of the red bottom mat, it didn’t need to be the red suede mat that he had pulled because it would be so small.  He grabbed another red mat from the sample bin and a random white mat for the top realizing that this might not be an “easy kill” after all.  I walked over to the black frame samples and pulled a couple that I thought would be appropriate. I set one on the top of  the samples and asked for his opinion.  ”Looks pretty good”, he says as he starts to measure the art. I told him that I measured the art at home and wanted an 11×14 opening with three inches of mat so that I could cover some of the graph paper at the top and bottom, but still show as much of the pattern as possible.  He told me that he thought an 11×13 window with 5 inches of mat was needed. I started my framing career at a similar store some 10 years ago and I know this isn’t his fault; he is just up selling me, which is what he was trained to do.  I grabbed another tape measure and proceeded to show him what I meant.  He said that was fine if that’s what I wanted and adjusted the measurements in his computer.  After a few more minutes of hammering away at the key board and clicking the mouse periodically he turns to me and says “$179.06″.  I asked if that reflected the 60% off  discount he said that it did. “$447.65 is the price before the discount”.  I told him that I needed some time to think it over and asked for a quote which he printed for me.  I thanked him for his time and walked away. I went on to a couple more places and had similar experiences, under trained staff rushing me through the design process, little explanation as to what I was getting, and in the end a huge discount off a huge price.

Now I get it.  $179.06 is a reasonable (full) price but $447.65 is HIGH, REALY HIGH!  Keep in mind that this piece (finished) was around 16×20 inches and I wasn’t asking for any bells and whistles just that I would like it to be well-preserved.  I didn’t get much more than a, “Yes it will be,” for an explanation but I will admit I didn’t force the issue.  I assume that meant archival mounting and I did ask if the glass was U.V. protecting and he said that it was. I think that if you are about to drop nearly $200 dollars on something you should know what it is you’re getting.  I do not fault the sales associate, he was probably just seasonal help, and I could tell he wasn’t trying to make this his career but, for me it is a career and I am passionate about it.  I think that it is misleading to consumers to advertise 60% off of such an inflated price.  I assume when someone gets there receipt and it says that they just saved $268.59 they feel pretty good about the purchase, and might even treat themselves to a nice lunch with all the money saved.  In reality, they didn’t save anything. I priced out a comparable design here at Anthology Fine Art and the full price was $170.30 with our Holiday Sale the price was $143.37.

Here at Anthology Fine Art we promise expert design and top shelf customer service.  We care about the framing we do for our customers because it defines us as a business. We may not always be able to beat 60% off prices but we promise not to mislead you.

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