The trends, the issues, and productive business
What's Happened to Scrapbooking
Why it's not what it was.
by Name Withheld (March 21, 2011)
(Note: This was written in response to
CLN's request for reader comments regarding the state of
I am a former scrapbook retailer of 10 years.
It was successful while in operation, but I closed my shop because I
saw the writing on the wall and knew that I was not in a position to
respond. I have also been on the manufacturer side of the carpet
with a digital company for five years.
I am still a passionate scrapbooker and do both
digital and traditional scrapbooking.
Just last night, I was scrapbooking and
thinking about the industry. My main reason: I was considering the
industry is because I am working on a business plan that will take
me back into it!
I jotted down on a scrap piece of paper where I
think the industry went wrong. Mind you, I came into the industry
while it was just forming, back in the days when Stacey Julian and
Lisa Bearnson were on the ground floor as exhibitors at CHA, Melody
Ross had a table for her booth, and Curtis Platte displayed a single
Here are the top reasons I think the industry
1. Manufacturers turned away from the
mom-and-pop shops -- Indi sister-type shops that created the
industry -- and turned to the mass market. About the dumbest move I
EVER saw in the industry was when Bed Bath & Beyond picked up a line
of product promoted by a celebrity. What do Bed Bath & Beyond
employees know about archival; what do they care? It was a
crappy line and really showed that manufacturers were exploiting a
trend and only looking for a fast buck.
2. The industry stopped bringing in new
customers. Manufacturers and publications catered to the top 10% of
scrapbook consumers who were experienced, but ignored the 90% that
could have grown the industry. Pages became too involved, tools
became too complicated, and it really turned customers off.
My store was one of the top three stores using
SDU from EK Success because we always kept the beginner in mind. In
your recent article, you say, "Scrapbooking has so permeated modern
culture that most consumers now know what it is. They either
participate or they don't." Scrapbooking has failed to evolve and
failed to educate what scrapbooking is today. It is NOT what it was
15 years ago. The principle idea of scrapbooking and archiving is
the same, but the actual WAY that people do it has totally changed.
3. Retailers and manufacturers failed to
embrace the digital age.
4. Digital sharing and storage of images
has replaced photo albums. With the decline of the number of photos
that are being printed (the Photo Marketing Assn. can provide the
stats), it is obvious that people are not doing anything with their
photos. If egos could have gotten out of the way, PMA and CHA could
have worked together and realized that the important part of the
process is the photo and what people do with their photos.
Yes, I do believe that CHA is partly
responsible. CHA should have learned from the cross stitch, macramé,
and any other craft cycle what the process was and worked hard to
move the Titanic in a direction that would show longevity in a
category. CHA should have offered more business classes to people
that had no business opening a business but did anyway.
(Editor's note: Over the years CHA has
offered numerous business seminars, most intended for independent
retailers but you can lead a horse to water….)
Manufacturers should have held their
mom-and-pops in a little higher regard and understood that that is
where the innovation and passion comes from, that they are an
important part of the pie.
Don't you think it is ironic that as mom-pops
have declined, so has the industry? My guess would be that that is
not unique to just the scrapbooking craft. Independents are also
responsible for not negotiating better terms, for not creating close
relationships with sales reps who should represent their interests
to the manufacturers, and for pulling manufacturers down with their
bad business choices.
You hit a hot button of mine today and one that
I was just thinking about last night. At times, I wished I could
have shaken a few retailers into awareness and knocked some
manufacturers' heads together.
With all this being said, I think that the
scrapbook industry is not dead; it has settled in and needs a
shake-up of excitement.
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