The trends, the issues, and productive business
What's Happening to Scrapbooking?
Readers offer complicated, tough answers.
Compiled by Mike Hartnett (September 5, 2005)
(Note: CLN asked, "What's going on out there?"
– and readers responded. These comments relate specifically to
scrapbooking. To read other readers' analyses, click on
Business-Wise in the left-hand column, or click HERE.)
1. Lack of operating capital to stay in business and compete
generally due to a lack of business plan or strategy.
2. Discouraged by the number of the "big box"
stores bringing in product and more product with a specific focus on
the paper arts; therefore they don't feel they can compete so they
3. Exhaustion from the everyday business. Mainly due to
creative people getting into business and not finding any joy in the
mundane, everyday issues and challenges of the retail business;
therefore they have chosen to close.
4. Year 3 and 4 stores are in the "Help me I'm
drowning" stage; they don't know how to handle it, panic, and
5. Many stores, instead of selling, have chosen to simply
close. Not because they did not have successful stores, but that
they want to try something new.
6. Many multiple store owners are closing their additional
stores to manage the first one better. Another factor playing into
this has been that they copied the formula of their first store but
this has not worked in the second and/or third location.
7. Many stores did not change with the way the scrapbook
business is going and stuck to the "cookie cutter" store
mentality. The stores failed to establish a strong ownership of
their retail corner and supply to what their demographic called for.
Many did not keep up with the changes in the industry.
Unfortunately, these stores simply ran out of customers willing to
shop at their stores.
8. Failure to be able to maintain the high pace of demand for
the latest and greatest product driven by the idea magazines. This
often led to poor buying and merchandise decisions, then they were
too late clearing them out, thus forcing the store to take a great
loss on products. This reduced the store's profitability and often
crippled the store, ventually leading to closure.
The good news is that we are still seeing new stores opening up,
generally by business minded owners. Many solid and strong
independent stores are doing very well. The stores doing well have a
similar formula. That information, however, is why we are in
business! – Pamela Grimm, President, Ideaco. (Note: Ideaco
is an independent firm that works primarily within the craft
industry with independent retailers and manufacturers. Call
519-798-9930; email firstname.lastname@example.org;
A Craft Designer/Memory Manufacturer.
To respond to your question on the decline of independent stores,
I had an interesting conversation with an independent store owner at
the CHA Summer Show, who had decided to close her store. She told me
that she could make more money with less cost and time by using her
knowledge to consult for manufacturers and help them connect with
independents. She also said that other store owners were doing it as
I thought it was interesting that there’s this trend to educate
the independents, but independents are quitting to do it.
A Scrapbook Independent.
Lisa Kanak only references the "40% off coupon" as the
problem with the chain stores and their prices. While it is true
that this particular marketing ploy may apply more to big ticket
items and not the paper and stickers, she didn’t mention at all
the "50% off all scrapbooking" sales like Hobby Lobby is
doing this week. The sale covers everything from stamps and inks to
papers, embellishments, and tools. This DOES impact us. Although I
don’t sell much of the same stuff that Hobby Lobby carries, it
diverts $$ that scrapbookers would normally budget to spend in my
A Scrapbook Independent.
I am a scrapbook store owner. I have been opened almost 5 1/2
years. I seem to be getting deeper & deeper in debt. I think the
problem is too many stores are taking a piece of the pie. I now have
nine places in my small town that have an aisle of scrapbooking
products. Sure, none of them carry a lot (although Wal-Mart is
getting more & more!), but every sale somewhere else where hurts
Also, new products are being introduced to often. I just get a
few pieces of the newest paper sold and my customers want the new
stuff they saw in a magazine. OUCH.
I am in the process of trying to find a product to sell that will
support my scrapbook store. Possibly high quality baby furniture.
As a small distributor, we have a close relationship with our
regular customers so we usually hear why they close or if they are
thinking about closing. Needless to say, dwindling sales is the
One of our healthiest accounts constantly works on new ideas and
what they can sell. If
they like a product, we can be sure they will be out there
promoting it. But it's hard for a small independent to maintain the
high level of activity and enthusiasm that's need for continued
success. And it seems as soon as someone gets discouraged, others
Yes, there is competition for the same piece of the pie, but I
think small retailers have to recognize that they get stale after
awhile and their customers slow down. One shop has trouble filling
their classes, but the class that did fill had a teacher showing new
products and new techniques. In fact, the same teacher did not get a
good sign-up for the first class and changed the project. The new
project had a good sign-up considering it was a substitution that
did not receive the advertising the original class did. Many
teachers have had no particular training and many don't know how to
promote product. The chains might have the advantage here of knowing
what category is not performing and moving on to devote more space
and classes to whatever is "hot".
A large store can easily make a transition whereas the average
independent probably doesn't even have a POS system and tries to
hang on to what used to sell well.
I'm not sure the old adage that it's cheaper to get an existing
customer to buy more than it is to attract a new one is true
anymore. The chains may be able to keep a customer because they are
able to offer a new craft when the customer is ready to do something
different. The independent who is specializing in something like
scrapbooking doesn't have that option. They aren't going to start
selling expensive yarns when knitting is hot and they aren't going
to bring in a line of beads.
Basically, I think there are different reasons behind a slowdown
for the independent and one for the chains. The chains should be
able to answer the question, "Are there less customers or is
the average ticket sale down?
(Note: Where does scrapbooking go from here? What should
be done to improve the situation? Email your thoughts to CLN
To read more comments on the state of the industry, click on
Business-Wise. To read previous Memory, Paper & Stamp columns,
click on the titles in the right-hand column.)