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Creative Leisure News
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Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com



Date: January 21, 2013
Vol. XVI, No. 2, #370

Printer Version


bulletCommentary: Thank You
bulletTake The CLN Poll: Understand Obamacare?
bulletThe CLN Poll: No Confidence in Washington
bulletRandom Notes from the CHA Show
bulletCHA Elections and Awards
bulletTNNA Show Preview
bulletWhile You Were at CHA
bulletCHA, Stationery Show To Collaborate
bulletHeard on the Trade Show Floor
bulletCHA Show Product News
bulletIndustry Challenges in 2013
bulletRandom Notes, Random Thoughts
bulletMiscellaneous News: Retail
bulletMiscellaneous News
bulletThe Creative Network: Job Openings
bulletAn Email from God


I don't write speeches and then read them word-for-word, so this is more or less what I said when I received the CHA Meritorious Service award at the Winter Conference & Trade Show:

I came into the industry in 1979 when I was hired as an assistant editor. (I didn't know what that was.) It was for a trade magazine, Profitable Craft Merchandising. (I didn't know what a trade magazine was.) It reported on the craft industry. (I didn't know what that was.)

Obviously, I was well qualified!

I didn't know the difference between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, never heard of trade associations or trade shows, and I thought "dealers," as retailers were called then, sold drugs.

But I muddled along, and a little over a year later I suddenly was made editor. We were right on deadline, and the publisher, Jerry Constantino, insisted every editor had to write a column. So I sat down at the typewriter (yes, typewriter) to write my first column.

About what? I didn't know anything! And to make matters worse, PCM at the time was promoting itself as "the Bible of the craft industry." So the thought ran through my head, "OK, Mike, write the Bible."

I don't know about you, but Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Hartnett doesn't have a good ring to it.

I muddled through my first column and slowly learned over time about the industry, thanks in large part to some wonderful people who took out the time to teach me. Grace Herr, Gail Czech, George Disch, Howard Hoffman, Wolfie Rauner, Max Makow, and so many others. If I have helped people over the years, I was just paying forward the help that was given to me.

A huge part of my education has been getting involved with trade associations. First HIA, then ACCI, and finally CHA. Trust me, you get far more out of it than the time and effort you invest.

So my advice is, take the time to teach the new kid on the block, and get involved with trade associations.

I don't craft, scrap, knit, or paint, but I've grown to love this industry. Why? Because of the people.

If you read my newsletter, you know I use lots of quotes. Some are relevant to the article's topic, but some I just like – hey, it's my newsletter! So let me finish with a quote from Charles Dickens who had Tiny Tim say, "God bless us everyone."

Thank you.

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More elements of Obamacare are scheduled to take effect in 2013. Do you feel reasonably confident that you know how it will affect your business? Or if it will affect it at all? To vote, click on Industry Polls in the right-hand column or click HERE.

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So Washington avoided the fiscal cliff, at least temporarily, but CLN readers aren't impressed. When asked if they feel more confident about the economy and their business, only 12% said they were somewhat more confident, and no one said they were much more confident. Almost half, 48%, said their feelings had not changed, and 24% are somewhat less confident. The remaining 16% said they were much less confident.

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The atmosphere was upbeat and positive.

1. The attendance seemed down, probably due to fewer scrapbook stores not renewing their leases.

2. The show was smaller, in part because CHA no longer had a policy of allowing an extra booth for $1 for exhibitors who paid for as much space as the previous year.

3. The European buyer numbers were lower than CLN expected, since the show did not conflict with the Frankfurt show this year, as it has in the past. (A sign of the struggling economies in Europe?) However, there were numerous buyers from around the world, including a 60-store chain from Australia.

4. The You Can't Win Dept.: Some retailers who attended last year told CHA staffers that they were not attending this year because the show was "too early."

5. Paper/Scrapbooking: Nancy Nally, whose Scrapbook Update covers the category like a glove, said she hadn't seen the people so positive in at least three years. See her coverage of numerous new paper-crafting lines at www.scrapbookupdate.com. Nancy now has other sites, too, for crafts and cards. Visit http://craftcritique.com and www.cardannex.com.

6. Biggest Surprise: More ribbon exhibitors. … Some sewing, too.

7. Most interesting trend: The large number of new products that would work for jewelry-making and scrapbooking.

8. Most remarkable future trend: 3-D printers. (Much more on that soon.)

9. Intangible benefits of trade shows: A Colorado bead shop owner, in business for 13 years, told CLN she felt revitalized after attending Jill MacKay's seminar on jewelry trends.

10. Takeaways from the "State of the Industry" keynote: The online consumer is no different than the brick-and-mortar customer, maybe a tad younger. ... People who take an online video class are then more likely to take a brick-and-mortar class. ... E-commerce sales are probably growing faster than overall sales, but they're growing too.

11. Giving back: For the past six years, Lion Brand has donated a portion of the sales of its Vanna's Choice line to St. Jude's. The total has now surpassed $1 million. ... CLN heard that the bead snowflake project for the people of Newtown, CT, reported by CLN, in previous issues, received national attention from CBS.

12. Bloggers are becoming an increasingly important marketing tool for vendors. At least four exhibitors (Plaid, Craft Attitude, FloraCraft, and Spellbinders) held special events (private breakfasts, dinners, etc.) for them.

13. The most remarkable sights were the tie-dyed Volkswagen bus in the iLoveToCreate booth and the huge elephant in the Avatrex/Craft Attitude booth.

14. Look for the establishment of a Bead Section in the CHA structure and new CHA-sponsored industry research.

15. The website for Cre8time, the new consumer outreach program by the CHA Foundation, is now live. Visit www.cre8time.org.

16. Mark your calendar: The Creative Conference is Apr. 11 in Calgary. … The Spring Regional Conference, in conjunction with the National Stationery Show, is May 19-20 in New York City. … The revamped summer show, now called the Create-N-Connect Conference & Trade Show, is July 22-25 in Las Vegas. … The winter Conference & Trade Show returns to Anaheim Jan. 11-15.

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Product awards. Honorable Mention awards went to June Tailor for its T-shirt Transformation Ruler Center (www.junetailor.com) and We R Memory Keepers for its Envelope Punch Board (http://www.weronthenet.com). The winning product was a Silicone Molds from Katy Sue Designs/Flower Soft (www.katysuedesigns.com). Spellbinders Paper Arts (www.spellbinderscreativearts.com) Imperial Gold won the award voted by the attendees.

CHA awards. Mari Eriksson and the staff of Fusion Beads, a retail store in Seattle, won the Special Recognition award for extensive charity work, and CLN's Mike Hartnett won the Meritorious Award of Honor.

Booth awards. New exhibitor: Little Darlings Rubber Stamps … Linear booth: stkr.it … Island/Peninsula: Fiskars.

Board officers. Maureen Ruth, Creative Marketing Solutions, Chair … Mark Peters, iLoveToCreate, Vice Chair … Dave Murray, Ellison, Secretary.

Nominating committee. The membership elected Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking!; Bob Ferguson, Ferguson Merchandising; and Alex Nielsen, Sierra Pacific Crafts. The board of directors will select three board members to complete the committee, which will choose new board members this year.

Changing board. New board members are Jessica Goursolas, The Creative Network, and Philo Papas, Michaels. … Re-elected to a second three-year term are Sara Davies, Crafter's Companion, and Chuck McGonigle, Artissimo. … The terms expired for Kim Donahue, Tall Mouse; Julie Stephani, Stephani Ink; John Laurie, Coats & Clark; and Emma Gebo, Sierra's. Larry Olliges, Dee's Crafts, is now Past Chair.

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Online registration for the Long Beach show Feb. 2-4 is now closed, but registration for the show and classes will continue onsite.

There will be more than 600 booths, including 17 new exhibitors. There will be special displays showcasing new products and yarn, and demos on fibers and spinning and weaving.

Friday evening will include a number of special events, including the Needlepoint Showcase, the Teacher Meet & Greet, Sample It! and the Yarn Group Fashion Show.  

The annual business meeting (Sat., Feb. 2, 6:00 pm) will include a Tailgate Party for the Super Bowl, which will be shown in the Member Lounge. There will also be a Touchdown Party when the show closes on Sunday during which a big screen television will be given away. 

For more info, visit www.tnna.org.

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1. Hobby Lobby was able to adjust the calendar year of its employee insurance program, thus delaying its confrontation with the government over the Obamacare mandate concerning the morning-after pill. A fine of $1.3 million per day was to begin Jan. 1.

HL President Steve Green spoke about the issue at a meeting of the North Charlotte Christian Chamber, a group of religious businessmen and businesswomen. "I just say there's going to be an extensive court discussion and battle," Steve told the audience. "In the meantime, all I know to ask for is prayers." Read a report on his remarks HERE.

2. Wal-Mart pledged to give returning military veterans jobs and to buy $50 billion more in U.S.-made products in the next ten years. The company is also looking to start a division that would sell health insurance programs to small employers, the Orlando Business Journal reported.

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CHA and the National Stationery Show (NSS) announced a joint effort to enhance each other's trade shows and the education of the attendees. CHA will debut the Creative & Lifestyle Arts event, co-located with the 67th National Stationery Show, May 19-22, at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City. NSS officials estimate the attendance will be approximately 16,000.

CHA's educational program highlights how incorporating crafting into stores can result in a significant growth potential.

In addition, NSS will bring a stationery and lifestyle products event to the 2014 CHA Conference & Trade Show, January 11-15 in Anaheim.

"CHA is constantly seeking new ways to help members and the marketplace as a whole to enhance their businesses," said Andrej Suskavcevic, CHA President/CEO. "This new partnership … is yet another venture that will provide opportunity for growth and professional development."

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"I worry that we'll be out of business in five years because of the chains going direct." -- Major industry vendor

"Michaels is not having the store managers' meeting this year." Michaels supplier

"My distributor in Holland said he had 10 stores close in the last month." -- Papercraft vendor

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American Crafts introduced Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm based on charm bracelet icons -- flowers, horses, hot air balloons, hearts and arrows. The collection included 24 patterned papers, five specialty papers, Thickers, stickers, and die-cut cards. Another new line is Amy Tangerine Yes Please which includes papers, Thickers, etc., but also wood veneer tags, an embroidery stencil kit, and a calendar stamp. www.americancrafts.com

Avatrex is expanding its award-winning Shoe Attitude and Scrapbook Attitude programs with Craft Attitude, which allows crafters of all ages to incorporate high-quality photos, titles, and journaling into their craft projects using their home computer and desktop inkjet printer. The image is printed onto a sheet of one of the Craft Attitude products, and then transported to a wide range of surfaces, including patterned and highly textured surfaces. www.craftattitude.com

Crate Paper has a new line, Maggie Holmes, which includes 12 double-sided papers, and coordinating chipboard, Thickers, stickers, and numerous embellishments, including rhinestone and resin flower clips and fabric bows. www.cratepaper.com

Coats & Clark® introduced Phoomph™, a new fabric bonding sheet for crafting with fabric. Each double-sided sheet provides a permanent bond with fabric, requires no ironing, and can be applied to surfaces, such as paper, wood, foam core, metal, and glass. Available in eight colors and two textures. Suggested retail: $2.99/9"x12" sheet.

Pebbles' new line is Party with Amy Locurto, designed by Amy Locurto, a party planner, blogger, and designer. Each theme -- Poolside, Rainbow, Mermaids, and Superhero  includes correlating paper and embellishments for children's parties, cards, and scrapbooking. www.pebblesinc.com

Sizzix introduced a new line, Picket Fence, designed by Eileen Hull.

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After talking to countless vendors, retailers, designers, and publishers, CLN sees a variety of challenges for the industry:

Competition for retailers. Hobby Lobby continues to expand around the country. Michaels and Jo-Ann are expanding, too. Meanwhile, e-commerce shows no sign of slowing down. A.C. Moore appears to be gaining strength.

Chain store questions. Will this be the year when Michaels files an IPO and begins selling stock? … Will Leonard Green do an IPO with Jo-Ann? … Will Hobby Lobby eventually have to start paying the Obamacare fines? How long could the company continue to pay $1.3 million per day? … Wal-Mart is back in the game, but it has proven in the past to drop categories with little warning for the vendors. Could that happen again? (CLN heard that one of the top, pro-craft execs at Wal-Mart has been transferred.).

Independents. The chains are tougher competition, not only with more stores, but with more classes, demos, and social media efforts.

Paper-Crafting. The category needs to a) inspire consumers to print their photographs; b) attract newcomers, probably Baby Boomers who are retiring; and c) keep the current enthusiasts excited and challenged with card-making, altered art, and other forms of paper-crafting. Specialty shops need to expand their inventory so they offer more than just scrapbooking.

Product Development.  Where and how do you test a new product? Not that long ago a vendor could give it to a bevy of independent retailers. Today retailers want products that are proven winners, but how do you prove it? It's a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum.

Vendors.  As the retail base consolidates, many vendors find themselves in the dangerous position of having to rely on a handful of retailers for the vast majority of their sales. The solution is new customers, but where? Perhaps in Europe and Asia.

International. The economies in many Euro-zone countries are hurting. That could help craft sales – consumers staying home more, making gifts instead of buying readymades, etc. – or hurt.

Sourcing. Retailers who "go direct" run the risk of driving out of the industry some of their most creative and loyal vendors. Without those vendors, retailers will have to rely on a mere handful of people in their product development department.

Importers. China is no longer the be-all, end-all solution, thanks to rising wages, labor unrest, etc. Last Thursday's edition of the Wall Street Journal included a report with the headline, "China Begins To Lose Edge as World's Factory Floor." But do other Asian countries have the infrastructure to compete? … . Li & Fung, which sources and supplies numerous products for Wal-Mart and other chains, warned that its 2012 core operating profit would fall 40%. That sent the stock, which is listed on the Hong Kong exchange, down 16% in a day.

Book Publishers. How do you produce how-to books that consumers will buy, given the thousands of projects available online for free?

Magazine Publishers. They face the same quandary as the book publishers, plus they have to fight for advertising, as more manufacturers give a slice of their marketing budget to social media.

Designers. Successful mixed-media projects and those that cross category boundaries require thinking outside the box.

Every Business. How do you determine the right balance between traditional marketing techniques and the new social media – Facebook, Pinterest, etc.? … When will you feel confident to invest in your business, given the wrangling in Washington?

The Industry. Is the next big trend on the horizon? What is it, where is it coming from, and when will it hit?

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1. The recent CHA show was more evidence of the growing power of bloggers as a key element in vendors' marketing plans. One piece of advice for bloggers, though: Often they go into a booth, see a new line they like, photograph it, and show it to their readers that night. That's fine, but please include in the report when the new line will be available in stores. Sometimes consumers become excited and visit their local store, only to be disappointed and mad at the retailer.

2. A new study by the Mayo Clinic revealed that knitting can delay the onset of dementia. Read about the research HERE. Years ago, the now-defunct Home Sewing Assn. sponsored a medical study that showed sewing reduced blood pressure, and there have been countless anecdotal stories of how crafting has been good for consumers' physical and emotional health.

I would love to see our industry fund serious medical research on the benefits of crafting. I'm convinced the results would be positive and would be a public relations bonanza.

3. Eliminating the product sections at the CHA show was a good idea, given the fact that so many products can be used for so many categories. Buyers now need to walk the entire show; otherwise they will miss products that could be critical to their future growth.

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MICHAELS. Last week Michaels reported November and December sales rose 4.6% to $1.164 billion; same-store sales increased 2.4%. The company also reported that as of Dec. 29, it had paid down its debt from $3.37 billion to $3.02 billion, including $125 million outstanding on its revolving credit facility.

HOLIDAY SALES. Total holiday retail sales increased 3.0%, below The National Retail Federation's forecast of 4.1%. Non-store holiday sales grew 11.1%, less than the 12.0% prediction by Shop.org.

STORES. Hobby Lobby is opening its third store in Sacramento and a store in Grand Forks, ND. … Jo-Ann is opening a store in Corbin, KY. …  A Hancock store in Chicago (northwest side) is closing.

TRENDS. Michaels issued a press release reporting on what the company thinks will be the top trends in 2013: Nostalgia/vintage, Eco-chic, Unexpected materials, and Personalization.

CRIME. Local police are searching for a woman who shoplifted about $600 in jewelrymaking supplies from the Hobby Lobby in Easton, PA. She was seen on video with a toddler in tow.

IMPORTS. A dock strike at Eastern and Gulf ports is still on the horizon. The strike was to begin Jan. 1, but the Int. Longshoremen's Assn. and the U.S. Maritime Alliance agreed to an extension. But the new deadline is Feb. 6. "The strike deadline came and went at the end of December, but the threat of closing down nearly half our nation's port capacity has only been postponed, not eliminated," National Retail Federation VP for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "The uncertainty of what will happen in February has retailers implementing expensive contingency plans yet again and is a burden our economy cannot afford."
DATA. Retailing Today published its Insights 2013 report and listed the top 100 chains in terms of sales. Michaels ranked 87th with $4.21 billion in sales, up from $4.03 billion in 2011. Net income rose from $103 million to $176 million. Read the full report HERE.

RESEARCH. New research by Cisco Systems reveals that digital content from the Internet is the most powerful influence in buying decisions for the majority of shoppers in all channels. Read a report of the study HERE.

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PEOPLE. Hampton Art named Katey Franceschini as Development Director. Katey had worked for ANW Crestwood and prior to that for NRN Designs and Inkadinkado.

PROVO. Announced a partnership between its Cricut® line of products and Anna Griffin. The partnership will create an exclusive collection for the Cricut Cuttlebug machine, which will debut on HSN this Wednesday, Jan. 23.

TAXES. For more details about the tax credits for small businesses signed into law during the fiscal cliff negotiations, click HERE.

CONFERENCE. Online registration for Yarn Market News' annual Small Business Conference (Mar. 10-12, Baltimore) is now available. Topics include Negotiating, Social Media Strategy, Store Design, Branding, Color Theory, and Copyrights. The keynote speaker is Nell Merlino, the creative force behind "Take Our Daughters to Work Day." For more, click HERE.

SHOWS. The original block of rooms for TNNA's Nashville Needlework Market Mar. 1-3 has sold out, so TNNA has added a nearby Marriott. For show info, visit HERE. Online registration closes Feb. 12. … Talk about collaboration: The Great American Scrapbook Convention will be joined by a Bead Fest and a Martha's Sewing Market under one roof. The shows are June 6-8 in Arlington, TX and Oct. 25-26 in Charlotte. Visit HERE. (Comment: This makes a lot of sense, given the overlap of jewelry and paper products.)

PAINTING. Art Expo Houston released its (huge) list of teachers for the Expo. See the list HERE. Online registration starts Mar. 10. … Industry icon Priscilla Hauser has expanded her online video classes. See them HERE.

TOYS. In 2012, U.S. retail toy sales fell from $16.6 billion to $16.5 billion, according to the NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service. … Same-store sales at Toys "R" Us' U.S. stores fell 1.8%. Same-store sales at the international division dropped 3.5%.

KIDS. Kidswire.com interviewed Crayola's Digital Product Development Manager, Rob Walker who claimed the way kids experience creativity has changed. Read the interview HERE. … CLN has learned that Pack-O-Fun, one of the industry's oldest consumer magazines, has stopped publishing.

SEWING. Better Homes and Gardens Craft Group launched a new site, www.HowToSew.com.

BEADS. Kalmbach, publisher of Bead Style, Bead & Button, and Art Jewelry magazines, plus numerous jewelry books, is promoting this October as "Visit Your Local Bead Shop Month." Kalmbach will supply a calendar for suggested activities for each day of the month, projects to teach, and ideas for events. The company will also work with manufacturers to supply giveaways, and create and offer promotional and merchandising  materials. Kalmbach will also support and promote the event with a national print campaign in all its magazines and newsletters, on its Facebook and Pinterest pages, and promote it at the Bead & Button show and other national beading events.

KUDOS. To ACI Distributing & Manufacturing, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Audria Currie started with a card table and $100.00. The company has grown to be a leader in the party and spirit, homecoming market. ACI continues to grow with the third generation working in this Fort Worth-based company.

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To read the latest listings click on Jobs in the left-hand column or click HERE.

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One day God was looking down at earth and saw all of the rascally behaviour that was going on. So He called His angels and sent one to earth for a time.

When the angel returned, he told God, "Yes, it is bad on earth; 95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not."

God thought for a moment and said, "Maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion." So God called another angel and sent her to earth for a time.

When the angel returned, she went to God and said, "Yes, it's true. The earth is in decline; 95% are misbehaving, but 5% are being good."

God was not pleased. So He decided to email the 5% who were good, because He wanted to encourage them, and give them a little something to help them keep going.

Do you know what the e-mail said?

Okay, I was just wondering, because I didn't get one either.

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1. If you want a hard-copy of this issue, click on "Printer Friendly version."

2. If your company is a paid subscriber, everyone in the main office is welcome to register, free. Just click on "Work for a paid subscriber? Click Here to register" (center column, near the top).

3. If you ever have trouble with your password, click on "Trouble with your password?" in the right-hand column of the main page. The computer will then email the correct information to you.

4. CLN is published the first and third Mondays of each month. Your next issue will be Monday, February 4.

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