The trends, the issues, and productive business
The State of Scrapbooking in Michigan
And probably everywhere else.
Staff Report (June 6, 2011)
Carrie MacGillis, M.S., is the Editor and
Advertising Sales Manager for Michigan Scrapbooker and has
been scrapbooking for 15 years. Carrie lives in Oakland County, MI
with her husband, David;, daughter, Kaylie; and their golden
retriever, Daisy. While working as an Editorial Assistant for
Michigan Gardener magazine she approached the staff of Michigan
Gardener with the idea for a new magazine and they agreed to start
the endeavor together.
In its 4th year of publishing, Michigan
Scrapbooker is a grassroots, one-of-a-kind publication. It is
published in February, May, August, and November. It is free when
picked up at one of the 90+ distribution locations, including
scrapbooking stores and retreat houses, scrapbooking crops and
expos, and several scrapbooking and stamping consultants. Paid
subscriptions are also available.
Michigan Scrapbooker has 40,000 readers
and 2,100+ Facebook fans. The goal of the magazine is to support
scrapbooking businesses by providing them with a unique opportunity
to reach their ideal target audience. Michigan Scrapbooker
recently launched an e-newsletter with subscriptions increasing
CLN: In the last two years or so, has the
consumer's interest in scrapbooking seem to increase or decrease?
MACGILLIS: The consumer interest in
scrapbooking is definitely increasing. The hobby is expanding and
evolving, which makes it easier for newcomers to participate.
People are realizing they can create a small, 8-by-8-inch album of a
vacation or make a scrapbook for a new graduate or work on a baby
album. More people are participating in the hobby, even if it is
only for certain occasions.
Scrapbooks are wonderful, homemade gifts and
more people are seeing the value in having a family legacy to leave
for their children. Crops are being organized as fundraisers for
schools, churches, charities, and more, so people are participating
in order to support their favorite needy cause.
The industry is also expanding into the digital
world, which is attracting young people and those who may not be as
interested in the tactile aspect of the scrapbooking hobby.
CLN: Are consumers branching out into card
making and other paper-related crafts?
MACGILLIS: Some scrapbookers are
expanding and branching out into other paper-related crafts.Card
making is a very easy craft to transition to from scrapbooking.
People are realizing that their tools and embellishments are useful
for other tasks and projects. Michigan Scrapbooker recently
held a survey to find out what people use their scrapbooking
supplies for, besides scrapbooking. The answers were very
interesting and even humorous! Many people use their supplies for
their children's school projects. In addition, people are fixing
screen doors and wedding dresses with glue dots, stamping on sugar
cookies, using small rhinestones on fingernails, and using their
Cricut to make garage sale signs.
Scrapbookers are by nature very creative
people, so it is easy for them to notice all of the fun and
functional ways they can use their talents.
CLN: Has the number of independent scrapbook
stores declined in Michigan like it has in some other parts of the
MACGILLIS: Yes, the number of stores in
Michigan has declined recently. The quick answer to why is: the
economy. I have a more thorough answer that I've come to understand
from talking to our readers and store owners.
First, as I stated in the above question, the
interest in scrapbooking is increasing, so if more people are
scrapbooking where are they getting their supplies? One answer you
will hear is the "big box stores." Store owners have told me that
the big box stores can sell products cheaper than the small store
owners can buy them. Also, the chain stores offer coupons that many
consumers use. This is true; however, small scrapbooking stores
often offer many things that the big box stores don't or can't,
including: knowledge about scrapbooking (better customer service),
classes, and crops, and unique products. Michigan Scrapbooker
recently printed an article, "Support Your Local Scrapbook Stores:
It's a Give and Take." The local scrapbook stores offer so much more
than the chain stores are able to offer. And many times the local
stores are willing to accept competitors' coupons and run their own
So then why do the consumers still run to the
big box stores? My opinion is that there is an assumption that the
big box store has more to offer and is cheaper. Why do people assume
this? Because the big stores advertise and create that image.
The local stores in Michigan are very lucky, in
that they are in the only state with a local scrapbooking magazine
and they need to be taking advantage of it. It is the ideal way to
reach their target audience -- local scrapbookers! There seems to be
a downward spiral that happens with the stores -- the economy is
hard and they start to struggle, so they stop spending money on
advertising and new products, then people forget or don't know they
are there and if they do come in there are no new products, so
people spend less at the store, and the store has to cut back even
more until eventually they close.
Research was done during the recession in the
1980's about businesses and their recovery after the economy picked
up. The businesses who cut advertising increased their sales by 19%
after the recession, while those who continued to advertise saw a
It is very clear that the stores need to
continue advertising to succeed. Michigan Scrapbooker readers
have told us time and time again that they read the ads and plan
their travels based on where the stores are. The readers post on our
Facebook page that they are sad when stores close.
I see the answer to this problem as two-fold:
the stores in Michigan need to advertise in Michigan Scrapbooker
and the consumers need to shop at the local stores. It's not
complicated at all, and this is the solution, in spite of the
CLN: Michigan has been hit hard by the
recession, but the high unemployment rate seems to be going down,
thanks in part to the rebound by the auto industry. If all that is
true, how has that affected scrapbook interest and sales? What about
the effect of gas prices?
MACGILLIS: We recently had a discussion
on the Michigan Scrapbooker Facebook page about the economy
and stores closing. Some fans did say that there are times they have
to choose between gas and food or scrapbooking supplies. It is
obvious which they end up spending their money on.
However, because of people trying to save
money, they are tending to travel locally instead of to far-off
destinations. Michigan has many scrapbook retreat houses, which are
consistently full. We also know of many scrapbookers who plan day
trips with friends to travel to several scrapbook stores around the
Scrapbookers are still willing to spend money
but they want new, interesting, unique products. So it is important
that the stores do their best to keep their stores attractive,
inviting and fresh.
CLN: Are you seeing trends in where/how
scrapbookers shop? For example, more or less with chain stores or
MACGILLIS: E-commerce sites are becoming
more popular; however, some people want to see and touch the
products they are buying. Chain stores are one option for
scrapbookers, but often the big box stores are limited to certain
lines and manufacturers and have other limitations that were listed
in an above answer. One other fun way to shop is at scrapbook
conventions and expos. These events are popular in Michigan and
offer scrapbookers an easy way to shop with many stores or vendors
at once. We are lucky to have the Mega Meet (www.megameet.com)
and Great Scrapbook Events (www.GreatScrapbookEvents.com)
in Michigan, which offer wonderful shopping opportunities for
CLN: What trends do you see in scrapbooking/paper
crafting? For example, are more people creating their pages on the
MACGILLIS: Digital scrapbooking is
gaining in popularity. One fun trend is hybrid scrapbooking, where
people combine digital and traditional pages in one album or even
combine the two techniques on one page.
The trends in traditional scrapbooking are
continually evolving. One trend I've noticed: people are interested
in more and more is organization. Scrapbookers tend to accumulate
supplies, so they have a need to store tools and products. Ways to
transport and organize are always of interest to scrapbookers. Scrapbookers
also seem to always want to see what is NEW! So anytime someone
comes up with a different product, people are interested.
CLN: Any suggestions on how the industry can
inspire consumers to print all those photos they have sitting in
their computers and cell phones?
MACGILLIS: Most scrapbookers have heard
the statement, "You don't have to scrapbook every photo." The first
thing people need to do is just organize the photos. I use a very
simple system of creating folders by year and then event in my
computer. There are software programs to help you organize. It isn't
necessary or economical to print every photo usually. We have many
more photos than our ancestors did. We've all had the experience of
looking at old photos and wishing we could ask our ancestors who the
people in the photo were and what they were doing.
If the consumers would realize they don't need
to print all of their photos, just some so they can tell the story
of their life, they may be more willing to tackle the task. I
recommend printing photos at least once a month so that they don't
accumulate. Once the photos are printed, even non-scrapbookers can
just put the photos in a regular photo-safe album or box and add the
names and dates. Future generations will be grateful for the
CLN: Are you seeing any evidence of
consumers posting their photos on Facebook rather than making
scrapbooks? Or using one of those services where you send in photos
and the company prints and binds a photo album for you?
MACGILLIS: Facebook is a very popular
way to "share" photos, but it isn't an effective way to create a
family heirloom. I think sharing on Facebook and emailing photos are
replacing printing doubles to share with family and friends. The
services that create photo albums for you vary widely in what they
offer. Some services don't have any flexibility or allow for
creativity, so I don't think those services will satisfy the avid
scrapbooker. It is a nice option for the non-scrapbooker.
Digital scrapbooking software is very appealing
to some scrapbookers and is designed to allow for artistic
individuality. As appealing as this option is to many people, there
will always be those who prefer to touch and feel the products they
are working with.
Digital scrapbooking doesn't take away from
traditional scrapbooking, it adds something to paper crafting
industry. The key point is that scrapbookers enjoy the opportunity
to be creative; it is an artistic outlet for them. Facebook can't
replace that and I don't think it is trying to.
CLN: What advice do you have for someone
considering opening a scrapbook store?
MACGILLIS: ADVERTISE!!!! Make sure you
get the word out about your business through several avenues-send
out press releases, create a Facebook page, place an ad in
Michigan Scrapbooker, ask nearby retreat houses to pass out your
cards and reciprocate, offer to help advertise scrapbook expos at
your store in return for them passing out your information, send out
email updates, and more.
The possibilities to reach out to customers is
endless. In Michigan Scrapbooker there are many FREE
opportunities to reach the readers: calendar of events, distribution
locations list, sending in group photos, donating prizes for
contests, and more.
I honestly believe that in spite of the
economy, there is no reason a store should have to close if they are
taking advantage of all the ways to market themselves.
The other suggestion I would offer is to
research the area you want to open a store in. One local area I know
of had several scrapbook stores within a 5-10 mile radius and now
there is only one left. Competition is good, but in an industry that
is somewhat of a luxury, business people need to be careful not to
saturate the market too much.
(Note: Information about advertising,
subscriptions, the e-newsletter, calendar submissions, and more is
www.michiganscrapbooker.com. Carrie can be reached at