Magazine article Art Business News

A Green Light for Giftware: Looking to Grow Your Business? Give Yourself the Gift of Giftware and Get a Piece of the $36 to $50 Million Americans Spend on It Each Year

Magazine article Art Business News

A Green Light for Giftware: Looking to Grow Your Business? Give Yourself the Gift of Giftware and Get a Piece of the $36 to $50 Million Americans Spend on It Each Year

Article excerpt

When customers walk into your frame shop, they are usually there on a mission. With artwork in hand, they have come to you for the perfect custom frame job. However, your customers, like almost all other Americans, are also always on the lookout for that little extra something to pick up for themselves, their spouses, kids or friends. Why not tickle their impulses and your bottom line by carrying and displaying unique giftware and stationary items?

Americans are spending more money than ever on discretionary purchases, which are motivated by emotion and desire, wrote Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of the new book Why People Buy Things They Don't Need. Indeed, Americans spend proportionately less on their basic necessities, such as food, clothing and shelter, than they did 50 or even 25 years ago, found Danziger.

Today Americans spend $3 trillion on discretionary products or services and rationalize their purchases if they provide pleasure, relieve stress or beautify the self or home, among other justifications. And giftware, accessories, jewelry and stationary items found increasingly in custom frame shops are making strides to satisfy these consumers' cravings.

Danziger's research uncovered the top 10 discretionary products consumers bought in 2001, which include greeting cards; personal stationary; personal care products; candles; home textiles including rugs, throws, pillows, table linens, kitchenware and accessories; Christmas and seasonal decorations; and toys, dolls and games.

Among frame shops and galleries surveyed in the "Art Market Report 2001: The Market, the Competitors, the Trends" by Unity Marketing, 66 percent of revenue was generated by custom framing, 22 percent was generated by art, and 11 percent was generated by gift items. "Gift items dearly offer framers a significant opportunity for growth," said Danziger.

Framers who offer their customers unique gift and stationary items find their customers keep coming back for more, especially now, when consumers are looking to spend less but still purchase high quality, handmade, unique gift items. Fine art, however, is often a more difficult sell during these times.

Chelsea Galleries, a 27-year-old business in Cleveland, started out as a typical custom frame shop that carried poster art, said Jill Wieder, co-owner. She and her husband began to sell fine art as well while gradually adding ceramic or glass vessels as giftware. Today, the gallery is "very successful," said Wieder, and gift sales have become 60 percent of business. Her gallery carries a variety of items, such as jewelry, photo frames, perfume bottles, vases, salt and pepper shakers, serving platters, utensils, decorative bowls and even a few accessories such as purses and cosmetic bags. These aren't items you would find in a department store, said Wieder. Each of her pieces is specialized and looks like an art piece.

"Fine art isn't the mainstay anymore," said Wieder. "With the economy, people are looking to spend less money every day. When we started carrying smaller pieces, the turnover rate was very high--we realized that this is what our customers wanted." Wieder's gallery has several classifications of price ranges but finds that what sells well is giftware up to $250 in retail. She noted the average person spends about $75.

Tandem Brick Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and also enjoys excellent sales. The shop carries hand-made and unique items, such as silver jewelry, blown glass, pewter pieces, candles, unusual greeting cards, kitchen items and even gag gifts. Kathie Anderson, owner, said she has always been interested in carrying different kinds of art objects and gradually added giftware to her custom frame shop. Currently, custom framing makes up 60 percent of her retail business while giftware makes up 40 percent, although during the holidays those numbers reverse. …

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