The trends, the issues, and productive business
A Scrapbooker’s Impressions of CHA's Winter
A step in the right direction.
by Nancy A. Nally (February 19, 2007)
To get to Anaheim, I survived a pilot who thought he was flying
an F-14 instead of a 737 – and it was late due to a passenger
being removed for repeatedly failing to return his dog to its
carry-on crate. So I walked onto the floor Sunday morning, bright
with anticipation, but a little bleary-eyed from that late flight
and jet lag), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
I was struck almost immediately walking around the scrapbooking
vendor area was size – not the size of the booths, but the size of
the designs. Design elements have become very large. Where patterned
paper used to be covered in small-scale dots and designs, now all of
the patterns seem to be much larger with more visual impact. Even
embellishments such as brads are larger.
Designs are larger, and more formal. They are more ornate,
trending away from the cuteness of the past towards more of the
Bohemian and Asian ornate designs that had started to emerge in the
past few product cycles. And at this CHA show, distinctly Indian
influences were extremely apparent in many products, especially
Text as a design element – even as a background – was still a
strong feature, as was seen at the past few shows. Instead of just
the text itself being a design element, however, its use is
expanding into embellishments that are themselves decorated with
text (such as alphabets that are filled with boilerplate text).
The only color trend that really stood out to me was a lack of
color. Lines done completely in black and white seem to be the next
big thing. Other than that, new lines were introduced in a wide
range of color palettes, a refreshing change from the past.
With design becoming more formal, of course fonts have as well.
The handwritten, casual look has almost disappeared in favor of more
classic fonts, often given a bit of an italic flair to relax them a
bit. And like the other design elements, fonts in letter stickers,
stamps, and other alphabet elements are becoming larger.
Boys and Girls.
It may be winter, but it definitely looked like spring on the
show floor. Flowers were everywhere, especially silk ones for
embellishments. It seems a line isn’t complete without floral
elements, perhaps presenting retailers a bit of a challenge in
selling to customers who have sons or who don’t have a
One thing that might appeal to boys is the new crop of skull
embellishments. Variously described by CHA attendees as
"pirate," "punk," or "biker," many
companies offered edgy skull designs pulled from youth fashion.
While it is definitely an interesting concept to try to appeal to a
different, less traditional audience, only time will tell if skulls
pull in more bodies to scrapbook stores.
More Common Threads.
I wrote recently in CLN defending the staying power of
paper scrapbooking because of its tactile elements, and new
introductions at CHA certainly encourage touching your pages! Soft,
touchable textures such as felt, velvet, and gellies are sprouting
up in many lines for spring.
Chipboard and rub-ons have become pretty much standard elements
that no line is complete without. Clear stamps have also started to
be more standard elements in product lines, and were introduced for
the first time from many companies that had not offered stamps in
Making journaling easier is a common thread. This was being done
with journal tags and labels, as well as stamps with lines for easy
writing. This reflects both an awareness by vendors that consumers
are pushed for time and the increased realization that journaling is
While many people have speculated about the rising popularity of
digital scrapbooking threatening paper scrapbooking’s long-term
viability, this show actually saw paper product introductions that
reflected the influence of digital design. Several companies
introduced products such as transparencies and rub-ons for paper
scrappers, products designed to mimic the effects produced by
digital elements for people who like the look of digital but prefer
paper for tactile, technological, or social reasons.
Organization continued to be a hot product category, with
Advantus debuting several celebrity storage lines and many other
companies (both new and old) trying to gain or increase their niche
with new products. The vendors of these products (as well as new
tool introductions) seemed to assume scrapbookers will pay more for
items in feminine colors. It will be interesting to see if the
market supports that or not.
Several things that I didn’t see stuck out to me.
Buttons are almost entirely gone, replaced by "bling"
rhinestone elements in most embellishment lines. There are also very
few new themed items being introduced (with the notable exception of
a few manufacturers such as EK Success) and most of those items are
baby- and school-themed.
Besides products, there was other important news. Many larger
manufacturers rolled out ambitious new marketing plans to assist
smaller retailers advertise and sell their products. These programs
to support local stores are important for both parties involved. For
the retailer, they offer valuable marketing assistance in an
increasingly competitive environment. For manufacturers, especially
those who sell to chains, it cements the loyalty of independents who
are becoming frustrated with the conduct of some manufacturers.
One overwhelming impression I received was diversity. There
really was something for everyone. It's good for retailers to be
able to serve their particular stores’ needs and their customers’
tastes, instead of being the victim of trends that may not serve
their needs as has happened in the past.
Last but certainly not least, the show floor itself. The
scrapbooking area has become so big that a buyer can’t possibly
see everything. I didn’t take any classes, and completed very few
make-it/take-its, but still had time to see only about half of the
scrapbooking booths in my three days. And I wasn’t writing orders,
just gathering information and asking a few questions! This means
buyers must show up with a pre-determined list of booths they need
to visit, and squeeze looks at new vendors in as they can. This can
make it very hard for vendors to pick up new customers, I believe.
I believe CHA Winter 2007 possibly represented a big step in the
right direction for the scrapbook segment of the industry. We’re
going to need to all work together to make sure that those positive
trends towards market diversity and support of smaller retailers
continue, to ensure the health of the scrapbooking segment.
(Note: Nancy operates a blog, Scrapbook Update, at www.scrapbookupdate.com.
She has written numerous articles on scrapbooking for various
publications, including CLN, Creative TECHniques, Scrapbook
Business, and DesignerZine. Nancy can be contacted at email@example.com.)