This framing business moved to Etsy (and outperformed their store)
I talked with the local Salt Lake Etsy shop, Signed & Numbered, specializing in custom wood frames. Leia Bell who co-owns the shop with her husband, Phil Sherburne told me their shop has over 84,000 sales. They have been mentioned by the New York Times and have won an “Artys” award for ‘Best Place to Get Framed’ in Salt Lake City.
The online shop opened up in 2009, a year after they opened their physical store in Salt Lake City. What once began as a print and poster gallery, their store has expanded from there to include intricate and specialized frames after getting custom requests from friends and regular customers.
Running an online store is completely different than operating a shop in-person, Leia informed me of how they go about marketing. “Etsy has this thing where if you pay a certain amount per day they will market for you,” Bell says. “So we were just doing that until 2020 they decided to implement onsite Google ads, and from there we got more sales.”
While on the topic of online sales, I questioned Bell if she thought their brick-and-mortar business would be where it is today without their Etsy shop. To this, she told me that Etsy changed their business―when they started 20 percent of their business was online and 80 percent was in-store―but due to recent economic alterations and the rise in online shopping, those statistics have reversed themselves: 80 percent of their business is now online with 20 percent in-store sales.
For them, the biggest obstacle is the complexity that comes with explaining products to customers, such as the variety of colors, the intricate designs, and the other definitive characteristics of personalized frames. According to Leia, their shop has come to be well known for great quality products, but they also pride themselves in excellent customer service.
“The sales won’t come right away, you’ll have to spend some advertising money and have really good products,” she says. “Another bit of advice is answering people’s messages as soon as possible, on the same day if you can. Because they are probably shopping around to other shops too so the sooner you get back to them the better before they find somebody else.”
Signed & Numbered has even considered going full-time on Etsy, but they enjoy the personal interaction that comes with running a retail store and they can continue to make a profit locally. “We love being local,” Bell says.
To help their Etsy site grow, Bell says they create as many listings as they can to make their shop look more plentiful and to draw attention. They’ve found that having more items in stock draws in more customers to their site. Everything listed online is what they currently have in inventory within their Salt Lake store.
Etsy does require listing and transaction fees, along with optional marketing fees, which can be a deterrent for some businesses. On the Etsy Forums Page, some sellers have mentioned losing up to 24 percent of their revenue in fees. “Fees take a lot from our earnings so we mess with our prices often and still try to stay competitive,” Bell says. Etsy has such a reputable online presence and is so user-friendly that it gets their business name out there.
When Bell and Sherburne attempted to open their own online store, they quickly ran out of room for customization and options. By listing their items on Etsy they were able to bump the prices and earn more revenue―covering the costs of shipping and fees and earning a profit on top of them.
Signed & Numbered prides themselves on adding an involved finish to their frames. They also add finished corners, so that there’s no visible seam. They have yet to find another shop that includes those in their frames as well so they go above and beyond with their products which is definitive in their consistent five-star reviews.
Their hard work has paid off!