The trends, the issues, and productive business
SCRAPBOOK RETAILERS & CRAFTER'S HOME
How joining forces can help independents
survive and prosper.
by Mike Hartnett (July, 2003)
(Note: Norm Carlson is president of Crafters Home, an
organization devoted to the success of prospective and current
independent scrapbook storeowners.)
CLN: Can you explain what Crafters Home is, who it's for, how big
CARLSON: Crafters Home is a family of independently owned
retail papercraft stores that benefits current storeowners and
people interested in opening a store. Crafters Home provides
training for prospective retailers and also licenses existing
The primary reason we started Crafters Home was to provide a way for
independent retailers to compete with the major chains like
Michaels, A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts, Hobby Lobby, and others.
With their purchasing power, the major chains can buy items at well
below wholesale and then offer those same items to the public at
below retail prices.
Crafters Home stores are able to purchase inventory at a discount
off of the wholesale price from more than 200 Vendor Partners. Also,
there are special deals with fixture, equipment, and software
Crafters Home also provides free telephone consulting to all
Crafters Home stores, protected territory, and Partner Preview days
prior to the major trade shows. (This allows some of the Crafters
Home Vendor Partners to present their new products to attending
store owners prior to the shows.) There are also special events and
a network of store owners who are willing to help and support each
There are currently over 130 stores located in the United States,
Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
CLN: Why isn't it called Scrapbookers Home?
CARLSON: When we first started in retail in 1994, the name of
our store was Rubber Stamp Heaven. When other papercrafts such as
scrapbooking started to take off, we could see that "Rubber
Stamp Heaven" was really too narrow of a focus.
We also had several conversations with veterans of the craft
industry and found out that specific crafts would be highly popular
for a time, and then a new one would become popular, and so on. We
wanted to give ourselves as much flexibility as possible, yet remain
aligned with the craft industry.
CLN: In general, is scrapbooking growing, steady, declining, and
is it different in different parts of the country?
CARLSON: Scrapbooking is still growing, although the rate of
growth varies by area of the country. It is still relatively new in
the East so the potential for growth is greater there. We are seeing
some indications of a decline in retail sales of individual stores
around the country, but they are primarily in areas where the
economy is down and competition is up.
Home parties have been a real help to the industry, and the areas
where those parties are most active are also areas in which our
retailers are doing very well.
CLN: What specific trends within scrapbooking do you see?
CARLSON: We are seeing several different trends, some of
which have either run their course, or are waning in popularity. As
I polled some of our key storeowners, I found that the trends are
different in different areas. We've seen embellishments come and go
in some areas.
We are seeing an artistic phase, stitching, metal, jewels, and who
knows what is next. Many scrapbookers are finding that simple is
good, as they can get more done in less time.
CLN: Some independents have been very successful; some have
failed. Can you generalize as to what qualities the successful ones
have that the failures don't have?
CARLSON: I think the primary factor in the success of any
retail store is the fact that the owner recognizes that this is a
business and not a hobby. In other words, they started with
sufficient capital, are able to manage a budget, are adept at
training salespeople, and are astute when it comes to ordering and
maintaining inventories. (This means they are aware of what sells in
their market, the new products on the market, and having those
products in inventory when the ads for the products hit the
In addition to good business sense, successful storeowners also
provide customer service that is over and above their competition.
They also stay one step ahead of their competitors; to be successful
in a competitive market, one must be a leader and not a follower.
CLN: Is there a danger that so many stores will sell scrapbook
supplies that the pie will be divided into pieces too small for many
to make a profit?
CARLSON: There is always that danger in any business. The
stores that survive will be the ones that give their customers the
best customer service, inventory selection, education -- and fun.
After all, we are competing for entertainment dollars. If customers
do not have fun shopping in a store, they probably won't be back
unless that store is the only game in town.
CLN: What are the major benefits of independent scrapbook stores
CARLSON: There is power in numbers: buying power, having a
voice that is heard, sharing successes and failures, and
understanding and supporting each other. For instance, our store
owners have shared good ideas that have increased sales, they've
solved employee problems with employees, shared ideas for new
classes, and many other things too numerous to mention.
CLN: Many industry trends have skyrocketed -- macrame, fabric
paint, etc. -- and then faded. Will that ultimately happen to
scrapbooking? What should the industry do now to make sure that
CARLSON: Scrapbooking is entirely different from many of the
other crafts simply because of the nature of the product. People
will always take pictures, and those pictures will find their way
into shoeboxes, photo albums, and scrapbooks. Digital imaging may
become more popular, but many people still need to do hands-on
projects. I guess one could argue the point that people will always
sew, do fabric painting, macrame, home dec, etc., because everyone
wears clothes, hangs plants, and decorates their homes. However,
each of those items can also be purchased readymade. One cannot
purchase a readymade scrapbook with their family photos and the
story behind those photos.
From the retailers' perspective, we need to keep scrapbooking on the
airwaves and in print in order to generate new customers. The person
who is just starting typically spends considerably more than the
person who has been scrapbooking for some time. Anyone who is
starting in any craft has to buy the tools and supplies to get
started. Scrapbooking is no different. We have to continue to
generate new scrapbookers!
(Note: Norm Carlson, Crafters Home, Ltd., 1725 W Williams
Dr., Ste. 10, Phoenix, AZ 85027. Call 623-780-1333 or 800-486-3534;
fax 623-780-1302; email firstname.lastname@example.org;
or visit www.craftershome.biz.)