A view of the industry through the
eyes of a chain buyer.
An Interview with SPC's
Explaining the new affiliate program for
Staff Report (January 7, 2013)
SPC (formerly Sierra Pacific Crafts) began
informally 40 years ago when two retail stores in Washington started
working together. SPC now serves more than 60 independent member
stores who represent nearly 1,000,000 square feet of retail
space and 150 million dollars in retail sales. A.C. Moore, a family-owned
chain of 140 craft stores, is also part of SPC's community.
SPC has recently launched an affiliate program
to bring the benefits of their community to retailers of all
categories and sizes.
CLN: For whom is the affiliate program
NIELSEN: Our affiliate program is
designed for family-owned retailers in creative industries.
Specifically, this program is designed to attract retailers in niche
markets such as scrapbooking/paper arts, yarn, and beading. We have
successfully served full-line craft stores for decades and in the
process have developed a package of benefits that will help any
independent retailer thrive.
CLN: What benefits would a retailer receive
for joining SPC?
NIELSEN: We have benefits that improve
almost every aspect of retailing from operations to merchandising to
marketing. The primary benefit -- which is nearly impossible to put
a dollar figure on -- is being connected to a community of
like-minded retailers and their great ideas. Sharing is at the heart
of everything we do and we are sharing year-round.
There are also some tangible benefits that more
than pay for dues. Immediately after signing up, we encourage new
members and affiliates to take advantage of our competitive credit
card processing and freight rates. We have weekly publications,
frequent conference calls, sharing meetings, and everyday domestic
vendor discounts. Recently, we launched a private Pinterest-style
website for sharing photography and great ideas with an iPad app
coming soon. We also have an incredible direct import program.
CLN: How does your import program work? What
types of products?
NIELSEN: Twice a year, a volunteer team
of store owners travels overseas for two weeks searching for great
merchandise. They then work with SPC staff to pull together an
offering of 2,000 - 3,000 different items. In January, we present
these items at the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market. In June, we
create an ad hoc showroom in our warehouse in Portland.
The team focuses on finding unique, high-margin
merchandise in a number of categories. We are very strong in home
decor, seasonal, project surfaces/components, frames, baskets,
candles, glass, and more. Because of the diversity of our
membership, we have an equally diverse product offering.
Behind this program are the unsung
volunteer-heroes of SPC that spend literally thousands of man-hours
putting this all together. The expertise, taste, and experience they
lend to the program is invaluable and is what really makes our
program so successful.
CLN: How does Petersen-Arne fit in the
NIELSEN: Petersen-Arne has been a close
vendor partner of SPC's and our membership for many, many years.
They now carry a selection of our exclusive import merchandise for
resell to our members and affiliates.
Two of the biggest challenges with importing
for independent retailers are lead times and minimums. When our
stores order product from us, they are looking at lead times
anywhere form 60-180 days with minimums that are sometimes
With Petersen-Arne in the mix, retailers can
take advantage of applying a replenishment model to imported
merchandise. Our stores now have Petersen-Arne backtags on SPC
imported merchandise. When they sell out, they can get that product
back in their store with their regular Petersen-Arne order rather
than wait until SPC's next round of orders. It is incredibly
This also means that there is a selection of
our product immediately available for purchase through Petersen-Arne
for new members and affiliates. Petersen-Arne will have some of this
product available in their booth (#2636-7) at the upcoming CHA show.
CLN: What are the cost and obligations?
NIELSEN: There is an application fee and
monthly dues. The application fee is normally $500 for affiliates
and $1,000 for member-owners. We are offering half-priced
application fees now through February 15th.
Monthly dues are based on the annual revenue of
the member or affiliate. Some common ranges are $100 per month for
stores with annual revenue under $250,000 and $375 per month for
stores with annual revenue between $1 million and $2 million.
CLN: What's the difference between an
affiliate and a member-owner?
NIELSEN: Member-owners purchase stock in
SPC. They receive rebates and may serve on our board. They purchase
merchandise at a lower price than affiliates.
Affiliates have a lower application fee and
they do not have to purchase stock in SPC. They pay 10% higher for
imported merchandise than member-owners and do not receive any
CLN: How often and where do SPC members get
NIELSEN: As often as possible! We have
two official owners meetings during the year that are dedicated to
sharing -- the location varies every time. This year we are going to
San Diego in March and Louisville in September.
Our import show takes place twice per year. In
January, it is in Dallas. In June, it is in Portland. The June event
also features a vendor table top show that we call "Mixed Media
We also get together at various tradeshows and
vendor showrooms throughout the year, including CHA, ASD.
When we are not getting together in person, we
are sharing through conference calls and publications.
CLN: Are there some intangible benefits?
NIELSEN: As a community, SPC consists of
some of the most successful independent retailers in the country.
Most of our members have been in business for more than twenty
years. Many are second or third generation. I alluded earlier to the
importance of sharing in our group. This would not be possible
without the immeasurable amount of creative capital that we tap into
on a daily basis.
Take owners' meetings for example. It's not
always convenient to travel across the country to share ideas for
two days. But it is always worthwhile. You never know what the next
big idea is or who is going to share it.
CLN: How do interested retailers, especially
those attending the CHA show, learn more?
NIELSEN: For the first time, we'll have
a booth at CHA: #2648, next to Petersen-Arne. We will also be at the
Dallas Gift Market from January 16-21 with a showroom (2F400) and
booth (190-220). Stop by for a visit!
Our website is
http://www.spc.us or retailers are welcome to call the SPC
office at 503-685-161 and talk to me (ext. 304) or Miranda Gould,
our Membership Coordinator (ext. 300).