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The trends, the issues, and productive business strategies.

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Retailers Comment on the State of Scrapbooking

Is the demise of Memory Makers a sign of scrapbooking's decline, or a decline in advertising?

Staff Report (May 18, 2009)

The announcement of the closure of Memory Makers magazine stated the reason was the "the recent and dramatic downturn of the scrapbook industry." CLN wondered if it was due to the category declining, or simply a downturn in advertising, so we asked various independent craft and scrapbook retailers. Excerpts are printed in the current issue, but their complete comments are below.

Emma Gebo, Sierra's, Pocatello, ID

We're having consistent interest in scrapbooking. Although the consumers are using stash, they are purchasing more albums to put their newly finished pages in, and they are still buying items that are offered at a great value. Our sales and customer count in scrapbooking have not declined. We're still seeing a lot of enthusiasm among our customers!

Jim Bremer, Tall Mouse, Southern California

Our scraps are full and classes are up. Guests are not purchasing many of the "tool" items and are definitely sharing product and using their stash. Paper, glue sales are at or above previous levels. We have similar results for sewing and quilt classes, bead nights, and knitting events. We have guests purchasing storage boxes to hold several "albums" and indicating they will construct the album later but want to get the pages done. Use of die cutters and other in-store tools is very popular.

Elizabeth Boyle, Treasury of Memories, Bellingham, Washington

It's absolutely an "interesting" time for everyone, isn't it? But I would suggest that scrapbooking still has a very bright future! Our segment of the industry grew so fast that, not surprisingly, when the economy got tight, it became very uncomfortable. We are all now needing to work harder than ever before; we like to think it's making us very good retailers. Can you imagine what strong businesses and practices we will have once we're out of this downturn?

More than ever before, our industry needs to pull together and figure out how we can encourage crafting in our ever busy world.

Bud Izen, Scrapbook Fever, Salem, Oregon

I don't believe for a minute that the industry is dying. I think, as I have stated numerous times before, that when economic times get tough, businesses that are managed poorly will be shaken out. Be it a retailer or vendor who is used to paying this week's bills with last week's cash flow, when the cash flow decreases, the business folds. I believe we are seeing this in all manner of small businesses (as well as some large ones) nation-wide, not just in the scrapbook industry.

Because Mervyn's is closing, Kohl's is in trouble, Macys is closing stores all over the place, etc., does that mean that big box retailing, as an industry, is dying? I don't think so.

During the Great Depression, what types of stores stayed in business? Service businesses, such as radio repair. People didn't have enough money to replace, so they paid for repairs. Other than solid financial management, what keeps a small business in business? The quality of service that they give to their customers.

Again, as I have stated previously, scrapbooking, as a craft, is different than other crafts. It is primarily based on memorializing one's family, and secondarily on the social aspect (i.e. crops) of doing so in the company of like-minded (predominantly) women. Well-managed stores whose mission helps enable their customers to successfully fulfill these two requirements will survive, even thrive, through economic hard times.

There are still scrapbook stores being opened all over the country, and there are new vendors going into business all the time.

The glass is either half full or half empty depending upon who you speak with. The glass is certainly far from empty.

Larry Olliges, Dee's Crafts, Louisville, Kentucky

One only has to talk to any scrapbook manufacturer, distributor, or rep to find out that scrapbook sales have declined, especially the number of outlets where the product is sold. There are no independent scrapbook retailers left in Louisville, and the number in Kentucky has declined by over half Ė as is evidenced by the size of trade shows for the last couple of years, including the demise of Memory Trends, the movement of EK Success to beads, and multiple vendors leaving the business or cutting back drastically, manufacturers no longer selling to independent retailers shows the industry is changing, quicker than we can all keep track.

As for our business, our sales have declined, partially due to the opening of Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann and Archiver's all within a half mile in the last year. Consumers are still buying scrapbooking product, but I don't think you have the super consumer who has to have the latest greatest product the minute it hits the stores. The consumers are still fickle and last month's greatest vendor is now on the bottom of the list.

Scrapbooking seems to be headed towards being a staple item with consumers using more basic products. Tools are hard to sell because everyone has a bunch.

In my view, scrapbooking has peaked as an industry; where it levels off is anyone's guess. (See cross stitching, painting on clothing, etc.)

Bob Ferguson, Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames, Redmond, Washington

So far this year we are not seeing a fall-out that is significant, so, no, we donít have a dramatic downturn in sales in the department. We break out sales five ways in our Paper Arts Department: Paper sales are down about 2% ... Sticker sales are down big at minus 23% ... Scrapbook accessories, which include tools as well as things like punches, up 9% ... Stamping and stamp accessories, IE inks, cards, etc., are up 3% ... Overall sales in the entire department are down 2.3%.

The business has definitely shifted away from the more traditional page-in-an-album business. Cardmaking is huge, and accessories added to school projects are even bigger. Incorporating scrapbooking products into other mediums has kept us going. Paper is being purchased to add to and accessorize many other craft projects, from jewelrymaking to framing and all points in between. The die-cut center has become a magnet for every kind of crafter imaginable, and paper is so well done and so timely, fashion-wise, it is even being used for some home decorator projects.

(Note: What do you think? Is scrapbooking going down, or are manufacturers advertising less? Email your thoughts to CLN at mike@clnonline.com.

xxx

 

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