The price of a custom picture frame can seem like a crazy affair to anybody who steps into a frame shop for the first time. The shock is almost universal as the price of the frame, matting, glazing and backing is totaled and presented to the customer. Nobody, including us, like paying more than what we think is a fair price for anything , however, there is a perfectly good explanation why frames cost what they do, and it is not to make the frame shop owner a rich person. In the spirit of consumer empowerment and education, we thought we would devote a few paragraphs to explaining the economics behind the pricing of picture frames.
From the Mill to the Manufacturer
Creating a frame starts with a wooden board which is routed into a particular shape. The process produces a repeated pattern thereby shaping the wood into a desired shape. In the case of picture framing, the shape formed is one that will be suitable for framing and this could be a shape such as swan, half-round or flat. Frame molding typically has a design and finish that is more intricate, therefore, more expensive to produce than other types of molding. Of course, all of these steps results in specialized labor and material costs being added to the product cost.
From Molding Manufacturer to Wholesaler
Once produced, the molding will move from the manufacturer to a wholesaler, who will purchase large quantities of the product at a volume discount, according to the costs required to manufacture the product. That is, the thicker, more elaborate molding with specialty finishes will cost more than a simple 1″ molding that is painted black.
From the Wholesaler to the Retailer
As in most industries, wholesalers sell their inventory in smaller quantities within their geographic distribution area. The value they add is that they can store thousands of different moldings and sell small quantities to frame shops like ours, but they charge a premium for this convenience. A framing wholesaler’s mark-up will be anywhere between 10% and 50%.
From Gallows to our Customer
Rarely can a piece be custom framed for less than $100, even if it’s only an 8″ x 10″ picture. To understand this, let’s take a closer look at the economics of frame shops, specifically at our customer base.
While a molding manufacturer sells within a whole country and a wholesaler sells to a smaller region, an individual frame shop’s customer base is limited to a very small geographic area, like Pocatello. As a result, the unit sales volume for a frame shop will be relatively low.
In addition to the cost of the molding itself, there are many other aspects of a custom frame that aren’t as visible as the frame itself, but are integral to it. Matting, glass, backing and hangers all add to the cost. But wait…there’s more! The retailer also needs a specialty saw to cut the molding down further, a specialty saw for glass, a specialty saw for the matting and the services of an experience, certified custom framer. It’s worth noting that Gallows is the ONLY framing shop in Pocatello that cuts its own molding, which actually reduces the cost to our customers. Other framing shops must pay someone else to cut the molding down for them.
Now you’re in the know
From routing the plain wood into a beautiful piece of molding, to selecting the right frame and mat for your art, and all the bits and pieces that are added to protect the artwork and hang it safely in your home, there is so much more to custom framing than meets than eye.
In custom framing, the old adage “You get what you pay for” really does apply! Rest assured, we always put our 30+ years of experience to work for YOU, the core of our business. We enjoy working with our customers to create a work of art to display your art in, and we are happy to work with you on creating a custom frame within a budget. Just let us know what your budget is and let the fun begin!