Before visiting a picture framer it is a good idea to have an idea of your budget. Picture frames vary in price wildly and the price difference between a thin black frame and an ornate moulding is enormous.
The cheapest frames are usually narrow, non-elaborate frames. A third of the cost of a finished frame is frame material costs.
Picture framers always have off-cuts of the cheapest range of frames in stock, so to keep the price down you could always ask the framer if they have any offcuts. This is like music to the framer’s ears. They are desperate to shift old stock and will run out the back to find a suitable off-cut, with an animated step you probably had not witnessed before! The cost of a frame can be reduced significantly by not including a surround mount card. A mount will increase the overall size of frames and consequently will determine how many lengths of moulding the framer will need to order. Some artworks demand no mount but most art on paper is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a mount.
The framer is constantly managing old stock and new stock. Storage space is a premium and the framer needs to sell old stock as quickly as new stock is ordered in.
When a customer chooses a moulding that is not in stock the framer is more likely to make a loss or just break even. Framers make their money on using leftover stock and on large bulk orders.
Mouldings come in lengths of three metres and the framer has to manage where to store leftover stock and how to make some profit out of leftovers.
Until quite recently you could only buy mouldings in packs of multiple lengths, and so framers only offered a few mouldings. Today, suppliers sell single moulding lengths which means picture framers can now offer a greater range and save a few pennies to boot!