irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.
Crafts Becomes Paper Crafts
That's a sign of ... what?
By Mike Hartnett (October, 2003)
I said in my Commentary for today's (10/20/03) issue that I had a
variety of thoughts that wouldn't coalesce into a unified concept or
point of view. So here are some random comments about Crafts
magazine morphing into Paper Crafts.
1. I had not seen a copy of Crafts in months, so I
went to the largest newsstand in Peoria, the local Barnes &
Noble, to look for a copy. There was a large selection of
industry-related magazines, but not one had "crafts" in
the title. (Crafts 'n Things may have been sold out.)
2. It seems ironic: HIA has spent a fortune in recent years
on the "Crafts. Discover Life's Little Pleasures" branding
campaign. Now you can hardly find a magazine that calls itself
3. When the members of the ACCI/HIA Merger Task Force
discussed the new name for the merged associations, we all
immediately included "Crafts" in all of our suggestions.
Was that unnecessary?
4. Judith Brossart, who was editor of Crafts longer
than anyone, and is now head of Judith Brossart Communications,
asked the most cogent question of all: "Is there still a core
crafter, or are creative people doing a particular thing, each
devoted to a niche activity?"
In other words, does every creative person now see herself in just
one type of ... craft? Do consumers in a large craft store walk
directly to a particular aisle for their category of interest, then
walk out, or do they wander the aisles looking at other things?
5. A veteran designer said, "Younger people today just
don't know crafts." And I thought, "Maybe they're just
redefining what crafts are."
6. Soon after I started work at PCM magazine, across
the aisle from the Crafts magazine staff at the old PJS
Publications office in Peoria, there was a big celebration. Folio
magazine, the trade magazine for magazine publishers, had just
published its annual list of the largest and fastest growing
magazines in the country. In only its second or third year of
existence, Crafts was named one of the leaders in growing
newsstand sales, subscriptions, ad revenue, etc.
Everyone was very excited and proud, but the publisher, Jerry
Constantino, seemed rather subdued. When I asked why, he pointed out
that there were publishers all over the country reading those lists
and saying, "Hmmm, crafts. Maybe we ought to get into
It didn't take long before Crafts had more competitors than
we could count.
7. Crafts got its name this way: PJS Publications
decided to start a consumer craft magazine and the staff held
numerous planning meetings. One of the perplexing issues was, what
to call it? Lots of names were kicked around -- Creative Crafts,
Crafts for the Home, etc. Finally Geoff Wheeler, then editor ofPCM
asked, "What about ... Crafts?"
People scoffed at the idea, assuming that something so basic had
already been trademarked by somebody. They checked. No one had
trademarked it. So Crafts it was.
8. Lots of companies are going off in various directions.
Craft stores are becoming "home dec centers," craft
magazines morph into specialty magazines, etc. Everyone has what
seems like a sound business reason for making such a change. But if
everyone leaves ... what are we?
9. Numerous other types of retailers are taking bits and
pieces of what, I thought, was us. Hardware stores, home centers,
stationery shops, gift stores, toy stores, etc. Meanwhile, Michaels
execs plan to sell more gifts this holiday season, and you have to
walk around the edges of a Hobby Lobby store to realize it sells,
The boundaries are certainly blurring, aren't they?
10. Various popular tv series talk about do-it-yourself home
decor, and never use the word "crafts." But that's what it
is, isn't it?
See why I'm confused? Help me out! Send your thoughts on all this to
(Note: To read previous Business-Wise columns, click on the
titles in the right-hand column.)