Business Overview

Everyone that buys a painting or has a nice photograph or a portrait made of their family may also need to have that work framed. Framing requires a specialized skill set that includes having craft-person talents, the ability to do simple carpentry, to know how to safely run a table saw, and have a good eye for pleasing aesthetic designs. You will need to understand color combinations and how to make a painting or a photo nicely framed to fit in well with the intended surroundings.

Who is this business right for?

People drawn to this business have a keen aesthetic eye for the details that make a framed item attractive. They also like to interface with the public and encourage their customers’ personal style and expression in how a customer wants something framed. A custom framing shop is all about serving others to help them make their decorative ideas come true.

What happens during a typical day at a picture framing business?

You will need to maintain a clean and attractive retail environment in order to attract customers. It should be well-lit and catch the eye when someone passes by the store. There is a huge amount of customer service in this business because the choices are based on the aesthetic tastes of the customers.

Your main job will be to guide your customers in their selections, which should be fun, yet requires considerable patience. You will spend most of the day working with potential customers to help them select how they want items to be framed. There are many choices and sometimes this feels overwhelming to the customers. It is your job to assure them that they are making good decorative choices.

Part of the time you will create the physical frames themselves, which is a skill set like a handy person in that you will need to be able to cut the wooden molding to the correct lengths and at the correct angles. Then, you sand the cut edges and put the pieces together with a nail gun. You will use wax of the correct color to fill the nail holes so they are not easily seen. The next step is to use a razor cutter table device to make the matting the correct size and then put it all together under glass or plexi-glass with the item displayed in a perfect manner. To finish the piece you will add a paper backing to the frame and brackets with a hanging wire in the correct position, so that the piece will hang properly.

This may sound easy to do from this simple description, but it does take a bit of practice to get good at doing this work.

What is the target market?

The best customers are the ones who come back repeatedly and those that refer their friends to your shop. They may be collectors with a big house or they may be interior designers with a huge list of clientele that need framed artwork. It is also possible to serve local galleries and museums for the art pieces that they need framed or reframed.

How does a picture framing business make money?

Like any retail shop, the minimum markup is between 30% to 40% over the wholesale costs of the materials and the labor used to make the custom framing. For specialized work, using rare and exotic woods, it is possible to charge a lot more. Many framing shops work on a one-time double cost, which means that the price of the custom work is twice the cost of the labor and materials.

The price you can charge depends on the clientele you serve. For those collectors with expensive paintings, they are quite comfortable paying many hundreds of dollars to frame a painting that cost them thousands of dollars.

What is the growth potential for a picture framing business?

As word gets out and your customer base expands, significant growth becomes possible within a single location. Employees can be added and your shop can be expanded. Online sales can also be a great way to generate additional income. There are franchises available so this business can go national. There are already some very successful national chains.