A view of the industry through the
eyes of a chain buyer.
The Retail Side of the State of
Comments from Scrapbook Update's
by Staff Report (November 2, 2009)
Recently CLN was asked by Scrapbook Update to
contribute, so we posed the question, "Is Scrapbooking
Fading?" A number of independent stores, manufacturers, and
magazines have shut down. On the other hand, perhaps the market is
simply consolidating and enthusiasts are using their stash during
this tough economy.
The question elicited a large number of lengthy, thoughtful
answers. Here are excerpts that directly related to our retail
stores. To read the complete discussion, click HERE.
Why one independents failed
"Our LSS original had two owners – a business woman and a
people-pleaser artist. There was continual strife between them, and
as long as the business woman kept a tight rein on the artist, they
made money. When she couldn't take it any more and left; it didn't
take the artist long to run it out of business.
"In some ways, customers helped push it down the slippery
slope. We bought our tools with coupons from the big box stores, we
chased the lowest prices across the Internet, and we looked for
every deal and bargain we could. That's understandable. But it
didn't help the LSS survive.
"We looked to our LSS for classes, crops, inspiration, and
comradery. But that meant they had to rent expensive space to fill
with tables and chairs rather than saleable product. And we brought
our 'stuff' (often bought elsewhere) with us – again not
supporting the LSS." – Linda
Coupons are key
"Unfortunately, many LSS don't offer the coupon benefits and
huge sales that you find at the larger stores. I once lived near an
LSS that allowed you to use a Jo-Ann's or Michaels' coupon in the
store. Being able to do so drew me to the store because they
sometimes had items I wanted but weren't necessarily available at
Michaels or Jo-Ann. While there, I always picked up a few other
items so I was spending my extra dollars at the LSS.
"It was a great idea, but then they placed a $20 minimum
purchase in order to use the coupon and sort of shot themselves in
the foot. They are still in business but I don't go out of my way to
shop there now. I believe they should have left accepting the coupon
without restrictions and allowed it to do what it had always done:
draw in customers! – Sandi
A business or a hobby?
"I don't have the time to run to my local store and need to
'make do.' My local store is over 30 minutes one way, but I had a
store that was 10 minutes from my home until two years ago.
"I think some indy stores also ran into the problem of being
run like a hobby rather than a hobby-related BUSINESS. The economy
has cut some of those from the landscape, much like survival of the
fittest. The remaining stores are pretty good, but I notice that
sales are fewer and farther between as they become the only game in
town." – Barb
Machines and the chains
"As a long time, small LSS owner, I see so many factors
going into the decline in scrapbooking. We see so few new scrappers
coming into our stores these days. And so many customers have mounds
of products that they admit that they are buying less and hording
A huge impact on our store has been both the saturation in the
market and the impact of technology. Wal-Mart and Micheals carry a
ton of supplies now, as do so many chains. These work hand in hand.
"The Cricut machine has taken away so many
higher-priced sales from us. People no longer buy the embellishments
or stickers like they used to. They use their Circut. And we
can not compete with Michaels or HSN on price no matter what we do.
And that includes the machine, cartridges, and related supplies.
People will buy cardstock to use with it, but you have to sell a lot
of cardstock to pay the bills.
"And now there are more choices: when Quickutz brought out
the Silhouette, we saw sales drop. We had loyal QK customers,
so they bought the Silhouette. There was little profit margin
and customers could buy designs directly from QK online and bypass
us. They did want free advice as to how to use their machines,
"Now there is the Slice and other machines. Again, we
can't compete with all the sales from Michaels and HSN and other
large sales venues. The Gypsy was released to Michaels and
HSN before the independents could get them, and that hurt also.
"Soon only large companies like Provo Craft and Making
Memories will be left and you will only be able to buy scrapbook
supplies in chains – till the next fad comes along and the big
stores drop the lines. And you can't get supplies anywhere.– Marye
"As for the stores at least in my area, I have slowed my
shopping simply because of the way the LSS's are cutting back. They
are letting the more talented, experienced people go and hiring
younger people that don’t know any thing about the products and
have only been crafting for a short time. They may be creative but
they just don’t have the knowledge the other girls did."
"I don’t want to see the LSS go out of business; places
like Michaels or Jo-Ann take forever to get new product into the
stores, and the supplies get boring and tiresome, while the local
stores get items in a better time frame." – Mary
Techniques and experience
"I’ve been traveling all over North America for the past
several years as an instructor for this industry. I am seeing the
15-years-in-business stores that have a business plan and are
innovators. They will still be around when the "stash" is
depleted because they continue to offer their customers the social
environment they want and the techniques and tools to allow them to
make something old feel new again.
"What I’ve seen is a massive downward trend in taking
classes that are 'cute project’-oriented, and a massive upward
trend in taking classes that are technique oriented. People seem to
want to know how to better use what they have. And once armed with
that knowledge, they are definitely spending their money, but on the
technique-tools that they have learned.
"So many have a massive stash of paper, chipboard, and the
like at home. Show them how to modify and embellish those supplies
with techniques and tools. Enable your consumers with technique and
they will make purchases.
"Take techniques and surfaces that have your customers
saying ‘huh?’ and turn it into ‘A-ha!’. – Sally
Change with the times
"The scrapbook store of 2009 looks eerily similar to the
scrapbook store of 1999, yet the technology and the way many scrap
has changed dramatically." – Kim
Riding the storm
"The stores have to move with the trends and understand what
their customers are going through. Listen to them, rather then cut
back in ways that may offend the buyers of the product you carry. It
will get better; we just have to ride out the storm." –
Chasing the big spenders
"I think with the huge boom came a lack of customer service.
Many stores and manufacturers got a little big for their britches,
treating thrifty spenders poorly while fawning over big spenders. I
have met many customers who faithfully took their $20 to the store
each week and were basically turned away by bad customer service.
Those stores are now begging to get customers like that back. I hear
people saying all the time that if they are going to spend their
dollar somewhere, they want to get good customer service.
"I have seen a proliferation of scrapbooking and creative
retreats. How is that people can spend $300 on a scrapbooking
retreat weekend but stores are going out of business? People are
looking for ways to use their supplies and have an
"experience" not just see who can "die with the most
supplies". Stores need to get creative and offer their
customers an experience instead of just a bunch of impersonal racks
of paper. In my classes I have seen more success when I offer prizes
and tell stories and make jokes than when I just present the
product. They want the store staff to take an interest in them, ask
about their current projects, ask what high school their kids go to
when staff see the customer buying marching band paper.
"People are also looking to learn something, not just buy.
They do not want to buy a product and then take a $25 class to learn
how to use it. They want you to show them how to use it when they
buy it. Then they will take a class to learn to take those skills to
the next level.
"I agree that the pendulum has swung on classes from being
$50 for a cute project to $25 for a technique-based class." –
(Note: Have any reactions to what you're just read? Email
your thoughts to CLN to firstname.lastname@example.org.)