DEPARTMENT STORES STILL REPRESENTS THE MOST LUCRATIVE OUTLET

Picture frame manufacturers are distributing their products to a variety of retail outlets, such as bed and bath stores, apparel stores, fabric stores and craft and floral stores. Specialty retailers are now a major part of their distribution plan. Some stores develop more complete selection picture frame departments, such as HomePlace and Home Concepts. Department stores still represents the most lucrative outlet for manufacturers.

Frames have become ubiquitous at retail. Their prominence in many different kinds of stores is the most visible evidence of the growth the frame market has enjoyed, tripling in size in the last 10 years. Visit any mall and you will encounter frames in craft and floral stores, bed and bath stores, kitchen/housewares stores, apparel stores, and lately in fabric stores. Not to mention more traditional retail outlets for frames.

Mass merchants, department stored, and chain drug stores have long been frames, leading retail exponents, but the specialty retailers mentioned above have emerged as major players as well.

Michael Block, president of Loui Michel Ci, notes that the firm, “is finding a lot of new avenues” for its frames.

Acme is developing lines for specific specialty channels, Kim Kiner, director of marketing and product development, notes. With Frames for Kids, for example, Acme is targeting “category killers in the juvenile market such as Toys ‘R’ Us.” The company is also working closely with office supply chains on a full line of frames, Kiner adds.

Norm Grafstein, vice president of North American can Enclosures, sees specialty retailers, greater aggressiveness in frames and other categories as part of an effort to compete more effectively against mass merchants, several of whom continue to increase their store counts. Specialty retailers are seeking categories in which they can be category killers, Grafstein explains.

“I keep seeing retailers trying to find new niches,” comments Steven Scheyer, executive vice president of Decorel. “Craft people are getting deeply into frames. We have some craft accounts with over 500 feet of frames,” Scheyer notes. “Bed and bath stores are also giving big areas to frames. In fact, there are very few retailers that are not expanding and/or enhancing their frame space.”

Scheyer mentions two new home goods retailers with large frame departments@ Home Concepts, located in Appleton, Wis., and Solon, Ohio-based HomePlace. Home Concepts is “taking almost a category killer approach to home decor – similar to IKEA, but not as high end,” Scheyer says.

At Home Concepts, which opened in September, frames are part of a department that also includes framed art and mirrors. Frames get more space than either of their sister categories in a department that extends @ I @ running feet and ranges from eight to 14 feet in height. The store has 14,000 square feet of selling space out of a total 18,000 square feet.

The frame assortment is complete, including tabletop, wall and poster styles. It also runs the gamut from basic document frames to the sophisticated Terragrafics line. Other vendors include Terra@ sister company, Burnes of Boston@ Rare Woods Dax and parent company Decorel, Intercraft and National Picture F, Frame. “We’re targeting the entire frame market,” buyer Gary Chrisinger says.

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