What you just said too, it’s almost like when you sell a house. You live in a house and you fix it up and you make it beautiful, or what you think is beautiful, and then you sell it and then the house goes back on the market a few years later and you come to find that the previous owner totally undid everything!
It’s like really!?
You take it personally!
You do! It’s awful, it’s almost too much information.
I don’t even look anymore when somebody says “you sold this print in this frame.” I’m just like “that’s great!!”
That’s probably good, so you don’t have to cringe.
Yeah! But its only been a couple of times when I’ve cringed and usually it’s, you know that they’re going to hang it over a particular piece of furniture that has that color in it or something like that. And I just think that that’s the wrong approach to framing.
So, do you have any questions for us, while we’re online together here?
Well I guess my husband and I were talking about the last time that we got prints, when I told you about how I was jumping around the living room and how the last print looked. We were just talking about how big is your organization, how many people are working there?
Oh gosh! During the busy season we’re close to 50. Right now we’re about 45. We’re in the midst of an expansion. I don’t know if you know that were a family business?
I do now!
Oh, okay! So my father started this company in our garage when I was 13.
He started out just by cutting metal picture frames in the middle of winter on this saw in our garage. Me? I was the 13 year old brat that came home from school one day and its like “oh my gosh Dad you are so weird…” And you know 40+ some years later my sister and I are running the company and my dad is on our board of directors. We’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve experienced some really good growth over the past couple of years. We had, we used to have nearly 100 employees before the recession hit and we lost nearly half of our business. So that was really scary, we weren’t sure if we were going to make it after that.
You know, art is discretionary income. It’s the first thing to go.
It is. It’s the first thing to go and it’s the last thing to come back. But we feel grateful for that in a way, because we feel that we learned so much about how to really run a strong business and we learned about how to keep our vision going when it seemed like it wasn’t the right thing to do. We redid our website, our web sales are up probably like 18% over last year and the year prior.
Oh that’s great!
Our next step is to create a state of the art retail Showroom. We have about 3500 SF of office here, and we’re in the midst of constructing a new space. We’re going to relocate the offices around the corner and then expand and modernize the Showroom, keeping it co-located with the plant. It will be a real destination for artists and really for anybody who’s interested in art and framing art to come and work on their pieces. We’re going to have meeting rooms for art clubs to hold their monthly meetings or lectures or learning sessions.
Oh that’s great!
We’re also creating exhibit space, gallery space for local artists. So that’s our big project right now.
I think that’s great! And I think giving back like that; it always sort of repays you.
It does! This community needs this. Artists are always looking for ways to expand their reach and we want to help them. There are also small businesses and charitable organizations that need a place where they can gather together and meet, and it’s all going to be free. And we have a Michaels here in town and we have a Hobby Lobby and they’re really hurting a lot of the smaller local businesses around here. So we thought it’s time to really go after them.
Well and frankly the amount of money that they charge for framing is obscene.
It is obscene and people think that they’re getting a deal!
They fall for it because they don’t know what else is available. They think that’s just what they have to do. I mean, I went to Michaels for something that I needed recently, I cant even remember, oh, it was some, I had bent a frame hanger for my metal frames so I had gone over there to see if I could just buy one or two of those so I had some extras, and there was a lady next to me who was getting a piece framed and she was spending you know $600, to get a piece of artwork framed that was maybe 13 x 19 and it wasn’t archival or in the fancy UV glass or any of that, it was just the straight up double mat, big gold frame kind of a thing and I just, I was just stunned.
Oh, that just makes me want to cry!
I mean honestly, that’s just gouging.
Yeah it was crazy! And you know they offer these 40% off coupons all the time but it’s like you do that because your prices are 80% higher to begin with.
So, our prices are nearly up to 60 to 70% less than their 50% coupons.
Oh I know! And you’re never going to get rid of me!
Well that’s the best news I’ve heard all year!
People ask me where I get my frames and like, you know, I tell them because I want your business to grow but I also want to keep you to myself.
I understand. Over the years we’ve evolved into an artist resource. We’ve always tried to keep in mind who we’re serving and why we’re serving them and why they’re relying on us. But then there’s this whole do-it-yourself movement. So, we want to grow our business by reaching those do-it-yourself customers as well, along with individuals who want to print and frame their work like you do.
See that’s great! You’re covering both sides of the spectrum. I’m kind of at the point now where I couldn’t do it myself. I don’t have that kind of bandwidth. Not to do it well and for what I need to stock in the gallery, I just couldn’t do it myself, so I need you guys because I can rely on the quality and I know that you can do the production that I can’t. And so if you can reach out to the people who CAN do the production, and help them get their hands on good quality materials and how to use those materials, I think it’s a pretty brilliant strategy!
It’s a lot of fun! Well keep you posted on that, maybe you’ll come visit us sometime.
You know, I have family in Columbus so that was going to be my other question for you. What if I just show up one day will you give me a tour!?
Oh gosh! Absolutely! But I would love a days notice so I can clear my schedule!
Okay good, because I would love to meet everybody. I seriously feel like you know, as personal as everyone is there, I get calls about when frames are out of stock and there’s a little bit of chit-chat and you know the thing with picking the flecks out of the mats, it’s just amazing to me. So I feel sort of like, even though I don’t know everybody there, I sort of feel like you guys are part of my team.
Oh absolutely! You would be treated like Queen Cynthia! We would love it, in fact I’ll shoot you a note when our construction will be complete.
So do you have a time frame when you think you might be coming up next time?
Oh, no, we’re up maybe once a year or so. It’s not that far from Asheville and if you are ever in Asheville, which is an artsy town if ever there was one, I’ll show you a good time.
Awesome! I’d love it I’ve never been there but my husband’s been there on business and insists that I have to go. It’s just a matter of making the time.
It’s beautiful and it’s all, the entire town is built around an artists and creators community.
Well that’s a deal! Such a pleasure to get to know you.
Yeah, it was really nice! I was really nervous about this interview and you really put me at ease and made it real fun.
Likewise! We have new friends now!
Well thank you Cynthia, we’ll be in touch!
Hey, thanks a lot.
Talk to you soon. Bye-bye.