The trends, the issues, and productive business
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
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
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
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