Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's all relative

From 1973 until 1990, I worked for a major retailer, one of the "Big Three" at the time. Walmart's dominance of the retail scene was still a few years off; they were buying up Big K stores. We'd never even heard of Target. As a buyer of men's apparel, we carried a mens oxford cloth dress shirt that sold for $18 and was made in Pennsylvania. That shirt is now $15 and is listed as "imported." The first TV I ever bought was a 19" color model in 1976. It cost me $299, on sale from $369.99. Now for $300 you can buy a 32" 1080p LCD and it's High Definition! Here is my point. Except for glass, all picture framing materials come from forest products- wood. Regardless of where the materials come from the cost goes up every year. 20 years ago, few people questioned the price of framing. Now, everyone does. Everything is relative. My shirt was $18 in 1990 and my framing was $150. Today my shirt is $15 and my framing is probably $250-$300.  In the early 90's there were roughly 24,000 custom picture framing shops. Today, there are about 8,000 (according to one of my framing sales reps). It's not an easy business to be in and there are rarely new ones opening, but for those of us still doing it, it's incredibly gratifying.  It's a business where you make friends of your customers rather than making customers of your friends. What do you think will happen if the local frame shops disappear? There is no Chinese alternative.

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