Alternate to “Light Impressions”

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by PeterDendrinos, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. PeterDendrinos

    PeterDendrinos Member

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    Over time I have ordered materials from Light Impressions. I have been happy with their products, but not happy with their shipping delays or stock outages.

    I am wondering if there is an alternate source for precut mat and presentation materials similar to what Light Impressions sells.

    Any ideas

    Thanks Pete
     
  2. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Peter,

    I am sorry but, I can not be of any help here. Light Impressions has gone through some major changes including ownership over the last 20 or so years. As a photographer, I used to be an official wholesale distributor for their products and could purchase items at wholesale pricing (not the catalog pricing). Then through the last bit of changes right after Photo Plus East at the end of October and the beginning/middle of December there was a shake-up. Light Impressions had "fired" all their account reps but one (who would always be on the road marketing their products). They indicated that the changes that they were making were for the purpose of saving the business. They then apologized but indicated that only bricks and mortar operations making annual purchases in excess of $10,000 or more a year could purchase their products at wholesale pricing as long as it was in their packaging. Needless to say that after having an account with them for almost 20 years (10 years with an account rep and wholesale pricing) this did not sit well with me. I am sure that other photographers in the same boat were not happy. Subsequently I have had to work with other suppliers but, they do not provide the packaging options offered by Light Impressions.

    Rich
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2006
  3. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I've gotten pre-cuts from Dick Blick (www.dickblick.com) and been pleased with the quality, but I'm not selling my work either, so if you go with my suggestion, get a small quantity and make your own judgement. They ship quickly and have very similar products.

    I still get stuff from Light Impressions on occasion, but I know what you mean. I tried to get a small quantity of pre-cut mats second day shipping for a show recently and the shipping was as much as the items ($43) ! I got what I needed from Dick Blick in the same amount of time for half the shipping cost, from the same shipper. An alternative for some of their products might be Freestyle. I get Light Impressions crystal clear protective bags from Freestyle rather than Light Impressions Direct for convenience reasons and it works out great.

    - Randy
     
  4. slewis

    slewis Subscriber

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    I've had the same problems with Light Impressions and lately they've discontinued some items that I always keep in stock. I've started ordering mat board and other framing supplies from Redimat (www.redimat.com). Their service has been very good and their prices are a bit less.
     
  5. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i will second redimat. Buy in larger amounts and the saving is huge, just one mat and it isn't cost effective.

    I did business with Light Impressions for years and had the same experience as Rich .

    I wasn't so upset by the fact that i didn't fit into the 10,000 a year range as it was the fact we weren't informed of the change. I had a very large order that got caught in the change and was not informed of the new policy. That is not a way to keep customers. IMO
     
  6. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I'm not a dealer, but have done all my framing and my wife's (she's a pastel artist) for years, and I've always used Light Impressions. But I've noticed a severe slide downhill ever since they moved from Rochester to California, and I have told them that. Freight on my orders now runs around 25-30% of the cost of the merchandise, about double what it was from NY. And on a recent order of some large frames, the freight was in the 50% range!

    However... I have not yet found anyone who has their combination of quality merchandise and reasonably priced frames. But I may try some of the sources mentioned here.

    --Eddy
     
  7. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    I have to jump on the boat here as well, I am rather upset that they did this to all their accounts. I've spent a small fortune over the years as well and I let them know in no uncertain terms that I will take my business elsewhere.

    Most of what they had was from over 127 different vendors. I will buy from many of them depending on what it is I need. Many times it's chaper to use the vendor, it was just easier to use LI as a single point of contact.

    I just can't see how getting rid of all the smaller folks makes it better for them. Even one of the local photo stores here has raised their prices beyond what is on the website because even thought they run several hundred thousand in sales through their company a month, they dont have the ten grand in sales of thier product they need to get the discount.

    In the west there is a company called CMI. http://www.cmimoulding.com/

    They just launched a new website with an online catalog. Give them a try.
     
  8. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Actually Robert, I had a discussion with my account rep, the last that they had. I told him that if they wished to make the changes, that was their right, but they would probably will loosing at least hundreds of thousands to potentially millions of dollars of revenue a year from all the individual photographers and businesses that they were going to cut off.

    Rich
     
  9. PeterDendrinos

    PeterDendrinos Member

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    This is all very interesting. I appreciate all your input. I'll check out the vendors listed above. Thanks.

    And to Light Impressions, if your listening, you see what you have done to your customers?

    Pete Dendrinos
     
  10. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I've been very happy with frames and mats from American Frame.
     
  11. pharquarx

    pharquarx Member

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    I live here locally in Southern California and pick up my orders on a will call basis from Light Impressions in Brea. I have to plan ahead and anticipate my needs, have always found them to be responsive to my needs (even when I haven't planned well), love the quality of the products that they sell, and, in those years that I have qualified on a volume basis, have received the appropriate discounts. I can count on them, (unlike Ilford, who is a pain in the rear, and constantly never meets their quoted lead times, or returns calls, about meeting my paper needs (sometimes in the hundreds of sheets) for digital print work).

    Is this just a bunch of whining by a bunch of little guys about the big guys again?

    ctr
     
  12. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I have also been happy with American Frame. I needed several frames quickly once for a show and they shipped it extremely quickly. All I needed to do was request a rush and they did so with no additional charge. 12 custom cut frames shipped same day. They are also much cheaper than Light Impressions for at least the items I get.

    Paul.
     
  13. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    No it certainly is not. I had an account with them as I said for about 20 years. I had my account rep (s) and a wholesale/discount account with them for about 10 of them. For awhile, it looked like a revolving door with a new account rep every 3 months to a year. Their service was better when they were in Rochester. I placed orders that they sent to my old address (that I had left 4 to 6 months earlier). I had partial orders sent to me in PA and to the wrong address while the rest of the order was somehow running all around California for 4 weeks and then delivered to the wrong address and damaged. They were having a problem shipping packages for some time. Certainly errors like this (and there were many others) contributed to their financial difficulties- since they either had to supply boards for free and or additionally discounted.

    I never really complained about the problems with shipping and the changes in my account rep. And like Robert Hall, I sunk thousands of dollars into products from Light Impressions year after year. Also, as Robert indicated, I could certainly get many of the same products from other sources for less money.

    There is certainly something to being be said for a company having some degree of loyalty to its customers and vice versa. Also as Robert has commented and many other photographers and businesses have found having the business arrangements change so that your costs increase 10 - 35% or more increase can certainly have a drastic affect on the work relationship and your pricing.

    Rich
     
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  15. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Sounds to me like the bean counters are running LI. Typical bottom line short sightedness. Kinda remind you of something big and yellow?
     
  16. pharquarx

    pharquarx Member

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    Like I said, there are suppliers that are completely unresponsive, I stand by the example that I give above and will probably have to approach that party through one of their distributors again next week for upwards of 500 sheets to support an upcoming order. Who knows what the delivery timeframe will be, one thing that I can count on is that it won't be what they promise, much less better than promised.

    That is not in defense of LI in light of your experiences. All I'm saying is that it can be worse. Rather than a steady string of complaints in a public forum, plan ahead and/or find different suppliers for what you need. For me, this will probably be the last digital project that I do on Ilford fine art paper, the search is on for a replacement, it will probably be Lysonic which I can pretty much get on demand via inkjetart in Utah.

    Oh, an admission of digital on this site. Let me say that it has paid for some damned fine film based equipment and a freezer full of film. My daughter's complaint is that we are limited to two pot pies and a half gallon of ice cream per trip to the store because of the stockpile of film in the freezer. I'm one of you.

    ctr
     
  17. kswatapug

    kswatapug Advertiser

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    My wife and I have very happily used Documounts out of Portland, Oregon for some fifteen years (in addition to LI). You can find them at www.documounts.com
     
  18. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I too have had reliability and delivery problems with LI in the past. They seem to have improved lately, but still. It is hard to order supplies for framing a show six or nine months in advance to make sure you will have what you need in time in case they get backordered, and don't tell you it is backordered until AFTER you have placed the order and they have taken your credit card. THAT I have had happen to me. I still use them though because for certain supplies, they are basically the only game in town, or are the least expensive for that specific item (8 ply mat board comes to mind). If someone here knows a good source for 8-ply mat board full sheets that is less expensive than LI, I'd love to know.
     
  19. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    Peter: I have ordered full size boards (I enjoy cutting mats) from Light Impressions, Dick Blick, and American Frame. LI products are great but takes a long time to arrive. Dick Blick is fast, as mentioned before; I'll probably order all boards from them in the future. I usually order my frames from American Frame; they're great to work with also. Regarding precuts from Light Impressions, I think some LI stuff is sold by Calumet, but not sure exactly what.
     
  20. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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    I would suspect a lot of companies are trying to save by restructuring, some items must go because of lack of sales and others are being shipped directly from the manufacturer. Even the manufacturers are making a limited amount until there are enough request. Keeping low inventory is cost effective until you actually need a large order. This is one reason many items are on back order, shipped directly from the manufacturer etc. University Products is located in Holyoke, MA. 800-628-1912. They carry a large inventory of items. Might be faster to receive your order, cost less for shipping and back orders may be less.

    http://www.universityproducts.com


    Good luck.
     
  21. eggshell

    eggshell Member

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    I've had good luck with archivalmethods.com. Very friendly, ships fast, and never once mess up my purchase (and I live half the world away, outside of USA). They're less expensive compared to LI.
     
  22. lgpod1

    lgpod1 Member

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    Has anyone tried Archival Methods out of Rochester NY? They seem to have good pricing, and almost the same product line as LI.
     
  23. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Have you got a link you can share with us?
     
  24. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Did you try Googling?

    http://www.archivalmethods.com/

    Don't forget Warehouse Framers in Atlanta for archival matt board and framing supplies as well as custom frame chops. All at discount prices.

    Looks like Pearl Paint in Atlanta carries a lot of similar items too.
     
  25. KevinR

    KevinR Member

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  26. DKT

    DKT Member

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    I'm not going to link because I only have hard catalogs right now, but they do have websites, so you all can dig the out....alternate companies:

    University Products, Gaylord Brothers, The Metal Edge, Archival methods (as mentioned above), TALAS, Archivart, Conservation Resources Int'l, and Hollinger.

    Hollinger has been around forever--they're a long time supplier for archives goung back 50+years. their catalogs never seem to change (nor do the prices). they have an offshoot now, called geneology supply or something like that to cater to the non-institutional customers...

    Gaylord is another good one--they have a number of different catalogs, but the main catalog is about 650 pages long, covers everything from archive supply, conservation, photo storage & handling, to library materials and furnishings. University Products is also similar to Gaylord in this respect. Brodart is another one, but more library supply.

    The Metal Edge and Archival Methods are more recent entires. CRI has been around longer, and they carry a lot of technical conservation products on top of the microchamber enclosures and polyester sleeving as well. They have a presence in the UK as well as the US. Archivart, TALAS etc--more bookbinding, library supply, mounting materials etc.

    They're all about the same, it just depends on what sort of products you're looking for. The place I work for has done business with just about all of them, but for whatever reason, LI is no longer on our vendor list. I don't know if it had to do with the purchasing system or what, but they dropped out late last year. About 5 years or so ago, they quyit carrying some of the storage products we use anyways, but I always liked their apollo & renaissance papers.... oh well, there are other companies out there.


    btw--on Archival Methods site, Dennis Inch is mentioned...he's from LI at an earler time, and co-wrote the book, "The Life of a Photograph", which covered a lot of ground, including a big chunk of it on conservation matting....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2006