Home
Business-Wise
Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard


Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


 


The trends, the issues, and productive business strategies.

Printer Version

The Scrapbook Wars: A Report from the Trenches 

Clearance sales and short-sighted vendors make a tough business tougher.

by Lisa Kanak, The Cropper's Corner, Frederickburg, VA (February 20, 2006)

I'd love to be all sunshine and light about the industry, but the facts are pretty grim. By the end of October, Northern Virginia had lost six scrapbook/stamp stores and the opening of two of Michaels' ReCollections stores. A seventh independent is thinking about closing, and there may be others that I haven't heard about.

All of these closings caused our business to suffer as well (people were spending all their money getting the close-out bargains, and had little, if any, left for us.) We rode out the first wave of closings and saw sales begin to climb, only to fall back again due to the most recent wave of store closings.

That has put a pinch on what we could spend on new products, merchandising, advertising, etc. I've got areas just DYING for new products that we can't afford to get in. Products that usually clearance-out easily are just sitting because of all of the other clearance sales going on. It's a vicious cycle. In cases like this, stores should try to ride out the storm.

Store sales haven't been helped by discovering after the fact that "new" products we were bringing into the store were on sale at Dollar Tree, Michael's, A.C. Moore, and other national chains and outlet stores. We feel cheated, because we bought things for what they are retailing for elsewhere, and we have no hope of making money on these items. Yet the manufacturers have our money and are happy for now, because needless to say we won't be buying from them again. I know we weren't the only store "burned" (and now, I've heard that one manufacturer has "burned" another manufacturer in much the same way.)

Have we forgotten that a one-time sale will NOT guarantee long-term success?? There's nothing like finding merchandise in an outlet clearance center for less than what you paid for it.

On the brighter side, we have seen a constant influx of new customers; many of these are beginners. We have also seen a return of many customers to the store; they're intent on getting "back" to scrapbooking. This tells me that the industry isn't really dead but that it ebbs and flows. Even while many of our customers HAVE started quilting, beading, knitting, etc., they are still committed to scrapbooking over the long haul.

I think it's the style that is changing, more than anything.

For example, when polling nationwide, 60% of consumers indicated they would rather have less paper and more embellishments than MORE paper and fewer embellishments. Yet most manufacturers produce the direct opposite.

Consumers as a whole are growing tired of "all new" (not that there aren't those that crave new, trendy things), but I hear from far more consumers that they want a simpler, easier style. I also hear a lot more complaints/frustrations about all of the constantly changing products.

Also, there is just too much "clutter" out there. Book and magazine sales have slowed dramatically because there are simply too many choices. Thankfully, some manufacturers have lowered their purchase minimums from 15 to 6 (whew!).

Yet great selling products are being discontinued like mad; not always because they are poor sellers but because "they've been around for awhile." That is a direct quote from a manufacturer, by the way.

Manufacturers are all trying to stay on top of trends (fashion & design) but are forgetting that there are niches that still need attention. Retailers are told to "go after" the genealogists group, while at the same time manufacturers pretty much eliminate the entire category. New and trendy is fine, but each market is going to have certain things that they will always be drawn to.

Take interior design & furniture styles. The south is drawn towards traditional designs, traditional color palettes, etc. If Hepplewhite suddenly decided it was going to stop making the traditionally-styled furniture it's been making for hundreds of years and said, "The fashion of the day is bohemian," and dropped their signature style because it's not trendy, they'd be out of business FAST. That said, Hepplewhite (and traditional) doesn't sell as well in the Midwest. The company knows its market and focuses on it instead of trying to appeal to everyone with one design.

(Note: To read previous Memory, Paper & Stamp columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column. To comment on Lisa's ideas, email CLN at mike@clnonline.com.)

xxx

 

horizontal rule

horizontal rule



   
   

Memory, Paper & Stamps Recent Columns...
SCRAPBOOK ETC, READERS SPEAK OUT; They are sad and angry.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT SCRAPBOOKING; Return to preserving memories and other suggestions.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT SCRAPBOOKING; Reconnect with its roots: printing photos and preserving family legacies.

THE STATE OF SCRAPBOOKING IN MICHIGAN; And probably everywhere else.

WHAT'S HAPPENED TO SCRAPBOOKING; Why it's not what it was.

WHY SCRAPBOOKING NEEDS A NEW WAY TO MARKET OUR PRODUCTS; An invitation to an informative seminar.

BUSINESS TRENDS AT THE CHA SUMMER SHOW; Adjusting to the tight economy.

THE SECOND HALF OF '09: SCRAPBOOKING; Challenges...and opportunities.

RETAILERS COMMENT ON THE STATE OF SCRAPBOOKING; Is the demise of Memory Makers a sign of scrapbooking's decline, or a decline in advertising?

PAPER VS. DIGITAL OR...Is there a profitable middle ground?

Q. & A. ABOUT PRESERVATION; Preserving newspaper articles in scrapbooks, and other useful tips.

VENDORS JOIN FORCES TO SUPPORT INDEPENDENTS; A special event to boost sales.

SIXTEEN WAYS TO ATTRACT NEW CUSTOMERS; If each method attracted 20 new customer...

WHAT'S HAPPENING TO SCRAPBOOKING? The digital world is changing the category and the consumer.

A PHOTO/SCRAP STORE CHANGES COURSE; Offering digital services rather than scrapbook supplies.

PROBLEMS IN SCRAPBOOKING...Will only be solved by cooperation.

A SCRAPBOOK SHOP HOP: AN INNOVATIVE MARKETING STRATEGRY FOR 2008; The nuts and bolts, and why they produce results.

UNAPPRECIATED LOYALTY; Why many devoted scrapbookers are angry.

CONSUMERS RESPOND; Anger, misunderstanding, and thought-provoking comments...

CHALLENGE #1: INSPIRING CONSUMERS TO PRINT PHOTOS; Interesting advice and comments from CLN readers.

STOP WORRYING ABOUT DIGITAL SCRAPBOOKING...And worry about printing photos instead.

PMA SPEAKS OUT; On trade shows, scrapbooking and more.

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SMART GROUP'S DENNIS CONFORTO

ME AND MARTHA STEWART

A SCRAPBOOKER'S IMPRESSIONS OF CHA'S WINTER SHOW, 2007; A step in the right direction.

CRAFTER'S HOME: BIG PLANS, NEW PERSONNEL; All designed to help independents and grow the category.

PREDICTIONS FOR 2007; Further consolidation and new opportunities.

WE NEED HOG WILD CRAZY CUSTOMERS; They're our best customers, but they morph into no-so-good customers.

SCRAPBOOKING IN 2010; Sound advice for retailers and vendors to survive and prosper in the next four years.

DIGITAL OR HARD-COPY SCRAPBOOKS? Is one better than the other? Or is there a "best of both worlds" solution?

WILL SCRAPBOOKING FADE LIKE OTHER TRENDS? No! Yes! And maybe it's a moot point, say subscribers.

THE SCRAPBOOK WARS: A REPORT FROM THE TRENCHES; Clearance sales and short-sighted vendors make a tough business tougher.

CHA's DIGITAL IMAGING SEMINARS; Digital and imaging programs for retailers -- and vendors.

TECHNIQUE OR STORYTELLING? Techniques enhance memories by appealing to more senses.

WHO'S TO BLAME WHEN A STORE CLOSES? Outside competition? Or something else?

THE STATE OF SCRAPBOOKING; Readers react to the thought provoking comments by Crafters Home's Shane Cullimore.

CRAFTERS HOME'S SHANE CULLIMORE SPEAKS OUT; Thought provoking analysis of how scrapbooking is changing.

WHAT'S HAPPENING TO SCRAPBOOKING? Readers offer complicated, tough answers.

WHY INDEPENDENTS AREN'T MORE "LOYAL" TO SMALL VENDORS; Large vendors: Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

THOUGHTS FROM AN EX-SCRAPBOOK RETAILER; Who's to blame? Not the chains, but vendors?

THE PAPER CHASE; Too much paper, there are more profitable products to stock.

MERCHANDISING MATTERS; Advise to vendors on packaging and racks.

INCREASING THE SIZE OF THE PIE; Attracting newcomers by creating an identity.

SCRAPBOOKING IS APPEALING TO THE WRONG MARKET; We aren't keeping it inviting to newcomers.

THE STATE OF SCRAPBOOKING AND INDEPENDENTS; The new leader of Crafters Home speaks out on what's right -- and what's wrong -- with retailing in 2005.

DO WHAT YOU'VE ALWAYS DONE; The scrapbook industry is in trouble! Some possible solutions.

MORE WAYS TO TURN A CRAFTER INTO A SCRAPBOOKER; Bring the message to the consumer, use consultants, and don't call it "scrapbooking."

TURNING A CRAFTER INTO A SCRAPBOOKER; Strategies to attract the doubters.

GREAT BRITAIN: GETTING CRAFTIER BY THE DAY! Scrapbooking is growing, but card making is king.

LEARNING FROM ANOTHER MARKET FOR SCRAPBOOKING; Gaining a broader perspective on your business.

THE STATE OF SCRAPBOOKING; Interview with Crafter's Home President Norm Carlson.

CHARACTERISTICS OF A HARDCORE SCRAPPER; And how to keep her coming back for more.

PROBLEMS LOOM FOR SCRAPBOOK RETAILERS...But there are some common sense solutions.

MEMORIES COMMUNITY RELEASES SURVEY DATE, PLANS MAGAZINE; Demographics and media.

AN INTERVIEW WITH SUE DIFRANCO; Candid talk on the state and future of scrapbooking.

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS FOR SCRAPBOOK RETAILERS; Strategies to make 2004 more profitable and enjoyable.

PAPER:THE NEW FOUNDATION; Allows scrapbookers to go beyond scrapbooking.

INTERVIEW WITH SANDRA JOSEPH; Blunt talk about challenges, trends, and the future.

STAMPERS, SCRAPPERS, AND ALTERED BOOKS; Who does what, and why.

SCRAPBOOKING STILL SHOWING STRONG GROWTH; New study pegs market at $1.2 billion.

SCRAPBOOK RETAILERS & CRAFTER'S HOME; How joining forces can help independents survive and prosper

SO, WHO'S AFRAID OF MICHAELS?; It's way, way too early to panic.