Custom Frames can be a costly affair and especially intimidating for those who are getting it done for the first time. The frame, matting, glazing, etc. all adds up to an amount which is more than what the customer has in mind. It is not uncommon for customers to feel cheated or go for a much cheaper ready-made option after knowing the cost involved. Hence, it is important to understand the frame value chain, in order to fully appreciate the cost involved in framing.
To understand the framing value chain, it is important to understand how a wooden boards are turned into a molding and quality that is desired for custom picture framing.
Wooden board needs to be cut into shape on turning bit at a high speed. This way we get the desired shape and size of the frame. The benefit of this process is customized, intricate design which is as per customer exact specification. The uniqueness of this process and workmanship, therefore make it expensive to produce. There would be a visual difference between a hand cut frame and a mass produced frame. This is the primary reason hand cut frames are costlier than other kind of frames.
Post this process, the molding is providers a high quality finish by coating it with quality paint such as lacquer, gesso etc. The extra material and labor adds up to the cost, and the end product is an sophisticated looking frame with great aesthetics.
Journey from Manufacturer to Wholesaler
Once the molding is ready to be shipped, next in value chain lays the wholesaler. The packaging required for the molding depends on the size of the mold and brings an extra cost of packaging, transport with it. A framing wholesaler’s mark-up will be anywhere between 10% and 50% and often they sell their inventory in a very small area, thus charging premium for this facility.
Journey from Wholesaler to Retailer
This is where most significant mark-up happens in the whole value chain. i.e. between shopkeeper and consumer . On an average a store can mark-up the price to as high as 400% . So the question arises is Why?
We need to understand the economics of running a shop. In case of a molding manufacturer, they have the option to sell to the whole country from one place, but for a frame shop next door, who has a target consumer base of a neighborhood it is quite difficult to generate high volumes. Generating volume is a problem for these retailers, hence to earn profit and pay of their bills the prices are marked-up. This is especially applicable on a Mom and Pop shops who sell considerably less frames when compared to a huge retail chain, hence a Mom and Pop store sells frame for more money than a popular chain store.
In today’s day and age, there are other avenues to buy frame. Buying frames online can be a cheaper option but customization offered online is minimal. There is also very less assistance and guidance available online. These online stores may provide video or tutorials, but nothing beats a face to face interaction with an experienced framer. But then as we discussed this comes with a price tag.
Eventually a decision to buy frame should be made based on your requirement and budget. If customer does not have an idea about the custom picture frame, then buying online can be a bad idea. In that case, face to face sale is best form of option. Online option is only best when you want a reasonable frame, with no customization at a cheaper budget.