The past month-plus basically lead up to today. I went to the picture frame shops and handed each an information sheet (about me, what I make, etc.), a pictorial list of the molding profiles I make so far, a comprehensive price list, and four wood samples. Well, all but one, which it turns out is closed on Mondays.
I'm feeling pretty good about it. I spent multiple shitloads of time on doing all of this, from making a photo studio-in-a-box so I could make the profile "drawings" to figuring out the cost per foot down to the penny.
I made a crazy spreadsheet that tells me my labor cost per foot for a particular run of molding. It is based partly on estimates (milling) and mostly on the actual amount of time it took me to do that first molding job a few weeks ago (routing and sanding), so I'm pretty confident that it is reasonably accurate.
The cool thing is that my molding is going to be MUCH less expensive than I thought. Even after including some padding for wood use, milling time, and a final percentage price increase, my lowest price is $2.23/foot for 1 1/4 inch wide Ash. My most expensive one on the sheet is $3.77/foot, for 1 1/2 inch Walnut. That, I think, is fantastic. I'm going to call the frame shop people at the end of the week and see if they agree.
I know that they can get cheap molding from crappy wood from overseas for less than half of my lowest price, however, when you factor in how good my stuff looks for really not that much more and I'm local, I think I can squash the Chinese on this. Or at least put a slight dent in the local market for moldings from there.
Speaking of awesome walnut frames, check this out:
Don't tell anybody that the awesome lighting for that photo is courtesy of U-Haul, for the box, Goodwill, for the white sheet, and mom 20 years ago for the desk lamp. Oh, and mom nature for the rock and Walnut tree.
That frame is going to my mom, along with a photo of one of the waterfalls out here that she and I went to together last summer.
What's really sweet is that the photo place where I have all of my stuff printed, that is going to be giving me a sweet big frame job, will probably sell my frames in the front of their store. This does two things. One, it lets me squash China some and two, it gives me a storefront for my wares. She wants an exact copy of the frame you see above and is going to pay me for it.
Turns out that they can't actually assemble wooden frames from molding there, so that is my job. Oh yes!
Yeah, nothing against the Chinese, but I am tired of the cheap labor and products from there taking over here. I do of course realize that A. people don't have to buy crap from there, they can buy good stuff from here but don't care about quality as much as price and B. we don't have to outsource everything there, so it's our fault too. But yeah, I'm still going to squash their picture frame molding presence here.