The Framer’s Next Question: WHAT are you talking about? WE CAN DO IT!

I’ve blogged about some pretty crazy things: People coming into the framer, wanting no frame; my famous Black is NOT a Frame: IT is a LINE, and the ever-popular “My first show is at the coffee house.”

But I had something recently that really took me by surprise after all my years. First, I have to tell you a story …

Down the street from me is a appliance store called Max’s Service. The people who own it are third generation, and the people who work there are a delight – very much a “hometown store.” They have everything, they deliver, they answer all the questions, they offer all the solutions. They’ve been around, and know their stuff. I can’t imagine going anywhere else.

And I am a consumer, always conscious of a dollar, even though I’m not really a “shopper.” I don’t have time to wander and look around. If I want something, I just go get it, and going to Max’s is really a no-brainer for me.

With that being said, I just went through my 27th Christmas season in the framing business. I have been around so long, I get people in that I framed their child’s high school graduation picture, then the person’s engagement and wedding pictures. THEN, the baby pictures over the years. This year, I actually had the graduation pictures in of those children! I have customers that I remember in car seats, and now I’m framing pictures of their children! I’m only 50, for crying out loud!

I’m told this is because of relationships. That is what my business is most proud of; the friends I have made.

Still, the funniest thing just happened. I had a couple in, and you know what they said? “We bring all the special items to McMillen’s. Everything else we take to a box shop/craft store.”

WHAT?

And that got me thinking about Max’s. Like I said, I’m not a shopper, but two years ago, I redid my kitchen, and the situation was very painful for me: I had to go shopping.

My kitchen was 1986 pink and teal with oak cabinets. I think my appliances were from 1960s. I thought I’d go to Max’s to get my General Electric appliances. (It was the brand my grandfather sold in his store – perhaps brand recognition plays into this story?) I needed a fridge, a stove (that I don’t use) and a dishwasher. I also needed a new microwave, but I thought “Eh, I’ll just pick that up somewhere, right?”

I’d pick tile and shop for a microwave. I’d find countertops, and look for a microwave. One was $20 cheaper with no delivery, while another was $10 more for delivery, and another one had no warranty, and then I was hungry and wished I had a microwave!

So, I went down to Max’s, and there was the owner (not a clerk) and I bought my stove and dishwasher and a refrigerator that made ice, and as we talked, I noticed a microwave … and you know what? It was the same make I had driven all over town for … and it was the same price as all the other ones! And it was there!

I live on popcorn.

How do you tell a customer that the reason I have been in the framing business for so long isn’t because I didn’t have something, or that my price was higher than everyone else’s? If it was, it wouldn’t be good business. I have all the customers I have because of my business practices, and the fact that I can do anything, just as the craft store.

Even more.

I have those same price points as all the others to fit anyone’s needs, just like the appliance store down the street.

Max’s has a slogan; “It’s Service that Counts.” And though I don’t hold the same slogan, I share the same principle. It’s really the only difference between the others and me. And, it seems to have a perception, of being the best.

I can live with that.