“In all categories, our objective is to cover from the basics to the high end and present them in an environment that is more appealing than that of a mass merchant, although still not that of a furniture store.” As an example of Home Concepts, approach, Chrisinger notes that the retailer is conducting an art festival.

Frames and framed art are also an important part of the mix a HomePlace, another ambitious new retail operation. Chairman Robert Hurwitz says HomePlace plans to open 50,000-square-foot kitchen/bed and bath superstores throughout the country in quick succession.

The first HomePlace opened in mid-September in Dallas, the second was scheduled to open before Thanksgiving in a suburb of Minneapolis, and the third in Las Vegas in early January. “The goal is to have the @@th store open by Christmas 1995,” Hurwitz reports. The stores will feature “strong selection strong customer service and genuine savings in an open, airy, well-lit environment.”

The frame and framed art department is the first area customers encounter after entering. The department, between 1,500 and 1,750 square feet, merited this high-traffic location because “it’s a great browsing department,” Hurwitz explains. He describes HomePlace’s frame selection as mid to high end. Burnes is one of several vendors.

In addition, lifestyle retailing heavyweights such as Crate E, Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn are giving greater exposure to frames in their catalogs, according to Fetco’s Rich Giron, vice president dent of sales and marketing.

Many vendors acknowledge the great and growing importance of craft stores, which form the fourth leading channel for frames, with an @ percent market share. For example, Magee’s president Frank Bigger cites crafts stores as strong players and ones with which his company is growing its business.

One vendor notes a consolidation in this channel, with Michael’s having acquired three other craft chains this year and Ben Franklin Stores, a crafts/variety chain, said to be looking for acquisitions.

Michael’s, which acquired Leeward’s, Oregon Craft E, Floral and Treasure House, has now convert@ ed all the acquired stores to its own format and mix and is set for more expansion in 1995, buyer Richard Varga reports.

Michael’s has also evaluated frames and related categories such as custom framing and framed art on the basis of productivity. The space allotted to frames has stayed the same or decreased slightly but become more efficient, Varga says. Overall, Michael’s devotes between 300 and 400 linear feet to frames, depending on store size.

Although the retailer has reduced the space allotted to open-back frames, the custom framing service remains very important, Varga notes, because it provides a competitive advantage over mass merchants.

Apparel and fabric stores are also considered promising outlets for frames. “Soft goods people such as Nordstrom’s will do more in the frame area because of the high return per square foot that frames produce, without requiring a lot of space,” predicts Barry Gordon of Melannco. “We will see more such stores going after the gift side of the frame business.”


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