The trends, the issues, and productive business
Crafters Home's Shane Cullimore Speaks
Thought provoking analysis of how scrapbooking
by Mike Hartnett (September 19, 2005)
(Note: Shane is owner and president of Crafters Home, the
outstanding organization designed to help the independent scrapbook
retailer. For more information, visit the new website at www.craftershome.com.
Shane is the former Director of Sales for Making Memories. He joined
Crafters Home in March, 2004 and purchased the operation last
CLN: Some industry people say scrapbooking seems to have
peaked. If that's the case, what should retailers do about it?
CULLIMORE: I have to respectfully disagree. Back in the late
1990ís when you mentioned the term "scrapbooking," you
would receive some very quizzical looks. The term had to be
qualified and explained and still, most had no idea what you were
talking about. "Scrapbooking" back then was all about
photos, paper, stickers, and die cuts. It was a very small industry,
but at least it was easily defined.
Oh, how times have changed. For those of us who grew up with this
industry, we recognize scrapbooking today as something completely
different. Paper crafting, card-making, altered books, home dec, and
personalization all play a major roll. Itís not just about the
photos anymore; it is more about the creative expression of your
self, your family or your history using a variety of different
The problem is in the definition of "scrapbooking." The
common usage of the term "scrapbooking" is far too narrow
for what this industry has actually become. I also think that the
term "scrapbooking," as much as it helped define and
categorize stores a few years back, has actually hurt many
independent retailers as of late. The retailers who can not change
their definition of scrapbooking as the industry changes will become
like the proverbial square peg trying to fit into the round hole.
Diversity and flexibility are the keys to a successful retail
store over the long term. Iím not saying retailers have to go out
and become a mini Wal-Mart carrying everything from groceries to
automotive supplies, but I am saying that they need to broaden their
definition of scrapbooking to encompass more than what it did even a
few years ago.
CLN: You said some successful independent scrapbook retailers
are expanding their inventory beyond scrapbooking. What kinds of
products are they adding, and why?
CULLIMORE: With the growth of the industry and the excitement
over all of the new ideas, several of our successful independent
retailers are discovering that scrapbooking today encompasses much
more than just the traditional products and ideas.
The independent retailers who are going to be successful
recognize the change as it is happening and quickly react in order
to be ahead of the trends. They continue to offer their customers
products and categories at the forefront of this expanding industry.
Home Dec, custom framing, beading, gift and custom invitations
are strong cross-over categories that some of our stores have
implemented. They provide a natural progression, either to or from
scrapbooking. They all provide another way for our customers to
explore their creativity and be inspired.
CLN: Manufacturers dumping old product at consumer shows Ė
is that becoming a serious problem?
CULLIMORE: Not as much as manufacturers dumping NEW products
at discount outlets and dollar stores. Well, relatively new
products, anyway. At the rate that manufacturers are introducing new
product, the shelf-life of an existing product is pretty much
reduced to the time between now and the next trade show.
Unfortunately the average independent store is only turning its
inventory about two times per year. So while some manufacturers are
dumping their excess inventory, that often times is not that old,
for practically nothing at a discount outlet or dollar store,
several independents that are still trying to sell it at full MSRP
and are now forced to discount that product for well below what they
paid for it. Definitely not a recipe for success.
CLN: If you could get vendors to do one thing to help
retailers, what would it be?
CULLIMORE: First of all, there needs to be a bi-lateral
commitment in this. We can ask for help and support from vendors,
but retailers also need to be prepared to support those vendors who
are willing to help them out.
Assuming this is Christmas and I can have anything I want, I
would ask for vendors to take back some of the old, obsolete
inventory that so many independent retailers have on their shelves.
So many stores have an excess of bad inventory sitting on their
shelves and they are never going to be able to get rid of it. A lot
of this is product that is not that old, it is just bad product.
Much of which was bought with an entire program or the rest of an
entire line of something.
There is a huge amount of independent retailersí money tied up
in excess inventory right now that will never sell.
I want to give huge credit and thanks to My Minds Eye and what
they have done for some of our retailers in this regard. My Minds
Eye is a huge supporter of independent retailers and they truly do
have the best interests of this entire industry in mind.
CLN: What are your Crafters Home members doing to attract
CULLIMORE: Thatís the million dollar question isnít it? I
think the only answer I have is; not enough. It is not just Crafters
Home stores though. The entire industry has forgotten where its
bread was buttered. If you donít have new customers coming through
the doors, youíre not going to survive.
Iím afraid that manufacturers and retailers alike are not doing
enough to expand the reach of the industry as a whole. If you look
at the advertising dollars spent, my guess is that most of the money
is spent trying to attract existing customers and not to actually
expand the market and gain new customers.
I donít think we are smart about the way we advertise.
Manufacturers are advertising in industry publications almost
exclusively and stores refuse to work together for fear that a
competitor might succeed as well.
Adam Bandenberger wrote a fabulous book called Co-opetition;
and in it he explains how business is competition when it comes to
dividing the pie, but has to be cooperation when it comes to
creating it. He talks about how in New York City, the Museum of
Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Natural History Museum,
while competing for the same visitors, curators, and funding, all
got together and ran a joint advertising campaign called
"Summer in the City," knowing that the more people they
brought into the city, the more people would visit each museum.
I just saw an ad in Sports Illustrated where several
competing television networks got together with the United States
Tennis Association and advertised several upcoming tournaments and
which station they could be seen on. One of the stations reported
viewership had increased 32% over the previous year.
I think independent stores and manufacturers need to work
together to help attract new customers as well as expand this
(Editor's comment: That is exactly what happened in yarn.
The major yarn manufacturers joined together and formed the Craft
Yarn Council of America, which is the primary reason why yarn is
even hotter than scrapbooking today.)
CLN: Do you think the switch to digital photography will help
or hurt retailers? Will digital photography generate more photos to
crop, or will consumers switch to online scrapbooks and therefore
buy fewer products?
CULLIMORE: I think on the whole people are taking more photos
than they used to, but are developing fewer pictures because of the
ease and convenience of digital cameras. However, I donít
necessarily view this as a bad thing. I donít know too many people
are scrapbooking the off-center, out-of-focus pictures they had to
develop in order to get the three that turned out good.
Like I said earlier, the industry is changing. Itís not just
about photographs. Even back in 2000 Valerie Pingree, former
Director of Marketing for Creating Keepsakes, defined it as
"the art of preserving memories through the creative
enhancement of pictures AND memorabilia."
I donít ever see the "digital revolution" having a
significant impact on such a tactile industry.
(Note: Jessica Leach resigned from Crafters Home,
effective Sept. 26. She will be replaced by former manufacturer's
rep Samantha Speakman who will be VP. With the change the CH
corporate offices will be moved to Utah over the next few weeks. The
new mailing address will be Crafters Home, PO Box 580, Kaysville, UT
Agree with Shane? Disagree? Email your thoughts to CLN at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read previous entries in Memory, Paper & Stamps, click on the
titles in the right-hand column.)