What a grand journey – We covered 3,400 miles, hit some great back roads and were able to visit many friends and acquaintances within the framing, art and gift industries. Most importantly, we were able to visit them on their own turf and got to see how their personalities reflected into their own retail business.
In this summer of 2014 we got to see and learn how each of these retailers has kept their business moving forward in these difficult times. As we all know, since 2007, we have been in the longest running and deepest impacting economic recession since the Great Depression, and yet every one of the retail shops that we visited is not only still in business and surviving, but in fact many are thriving. All reported a steady increase in sales and profits over the past 5 years. Many have also expanded or diversified in this time frame. Keep in mind that a number had just opened their doors two to three years prior to the start of this current economic downturn – a most critical time for any new business venture. So how do they do it? What sets them apart from the many retail shops that have disappeared from the retail landscape? Continue reading →
The term, busman’s holiday stems back to the late 1800’s, where a man who drives a bus for a living goes on a long bus journey on their holiday. So by definition, it is a holiday in which you spend most of your time doing the same or something very similar to your normal work.
So It should come as no surprise to many picture framers that we do enjoy and have been busted venturing into another frame shop while on holiday – It sort of comes natural within an industry where people honestly love what they do!
So as we head into the last week of June, Sarah and I are heading towards a family gathering in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, but along the way we plan on visiting some old friends and a number of folks in the framing industry, gallery owners and some specialized gift shops. We’re taking a leisurely journey to New England that provides us an opportunity to connect to some great framers and business people.
The journey from Appleton, Wisconsin to New Hampshire will take us to businesses in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine!
Why? Well… most of us recognize that we are bound to learn some new tidbit of value when visiting another business that we might be able to apply and use in our own shop… but these stops represent a little more on this journey. As we now enter into the 7th year of a economic downturn, we’ve seen nothing but survivors remaining among these independent businesses that still have their lights on. And thus I would like to ask them what do they see that contributes to their success and what lessons have they learned in these more difficult times? Stay tuned… this is going to be a learning experience for us.
I have been involved in the picture framing industry since I opened The Frame Workshop in September of 1978 and started teaching to my fellow colleagues in 1981, but I am just now creating a personal blog that is purely about me sharing my thoughts and observations with my colleagues. And although personal I should state that it is somewhat B2B in nature as I am creating this to reach out to fellow professionals within the art and picture framing industry.
Although I have had a full blown online website for our retail business since 2001, this is my first attempt at an online blog… something a little more personal to compliment my writings in the trade journals.
As an educator and industry consultant, I have been very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to teach and share within the picture framing industry in many parts of the world from Perth, Australia to Istanbul, Turkey. I have presented seminars and hands-on workshops in Moscow, Russia as well as Chicago, Illinois. And it is through this diverse amount of experiences that I do know that we never stop learning.
John with Sarah run a retail frame shop, gallery and gift boutique in Appleton, Wisconsin, since 1978.