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The trends, the issues, and productive business strategies.

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Will Scrapbooking Fade Like Other Trends?

No! Yes! And maybe it's a moot point, say subscribers.

by CLN Subscribers (March 20, 2006)

(Note: The March 6, 2006 edition of Creative Leisure News included a three-part series comparing scrapbooking with counted cross stitch, which was the "scrapbooking" of its day in the 1980s. It faded from its preeminent position. Will scrapbooking do the same? Below are some answers. To read the original articles, read the March 6, 2005 issue in the CLN Archives -- right-hand column of the main page.)


I enjoyed the commentary on the "trend" of scrapbooking as compared to macrame, cross stitch, and other "hobbies." I am a small retail store located in Southeast Arkansas and wanted to throw in my two cents from a scrapbook (non-chain) retail owner's point of view.

Will scrapbooking fade into the archives as other "hands on" hobbies have? No!

The difference is this: folks will never cease from taking photographs of children, loved ones, occasions, and events. With the onset and explosion of digital photography, I have only seen my business grow! Moms and grandmas will continue to take photographs, therefore there will always be more cropping to do!

Scrapbooking, although viewed as a trend by those who don't participate in the craft, has been around for years and years; but since it has become known as a "hobby," some see it as a new fad. In fact, our grandmothers' grandmothers were putting their black-and-white photos in plain-jane, oversized binders using scotch tape! That was scrapbooking; it was just not known as actual scrapbooking back in those days!

It is sad to see small retailers like myself who are not able to compete with the Hobby Lobbys and the Recollections of today's scrapbook retail world. I feel my only advantage is that, other than Wal-Mart (which has nothing in the way of acceptable scrapbooking products to sell, according to my customers), I do not have competition in the way of a large chain store like Michaels or Hobby Lobby within a 40 mile radius of my store – and for this I am thankful!

I feel more recognition should be given to small "serious scrapbooking" stores such as myself who had the guts to take the plunge and make a go of a self-owned business in this market. Owning your own business is tougher than anyone realizes; most of us are lucky to have a part time worker for a Saturday, so therefore we ourselves not only SELL the product, we must MARKET it ourselves, PLAN classes, MAKE the projects, TEACH the classes, and ORGANIZE weekly fun events to keep customers active, SEND the email blasts, PLACE new orders, STAY on top of what is new, etc., etc., etc., all the while smiling when our customers come in with their bags from their most recent trip to Dollar Tree where they found the "coolest pack of papers for $1!"

Makes us wish that large chain stores would stick to what they do best and let US stick to what we do best. Customers recognize there is no clerk in the Hobby Lobby aisle to advise you about which eyelets go with which papers, and you also do not your frequent-purchase card punched at the chain stores as you do at the smaller retail venues such as mine. – Lea Ann Sorrows, The Scrapbook Patch, White Hall, AR

Sadly, yes.

Reading your latest issue regarding the growth and demise of single craft retailers and the explosive growth and subsequent death of the category reminds me of the history of Pretty Petals, the product I was so closely associated with in the seventies and early eighties.

(Editor's note: The Pretty Petals line of flower-making products was one of the most successful lines in industry history.)

Pretty Petals took off like a house on fire and took the industry by storm. At the beginning we couldn't keep up with the demands of the craft market and couldn't fill the pipelines. We created the bridal market in the craft industry and retailers were springing up all over the country catering exclusively to the wedding business. Brides came in to make the silk flowers for their weddings and the business grew so fast that the retailers and their customers didn't have the time to make the flowers anymore, so they started using finished silk flowers imported from overseas. In other words our success created our own competition.

Retailers from outside our industry started benefiting from our pioneering work creating this market; pretty soon the Pretty Petals bubble burst and the single-category retailer was out of business.

In my years in the industry I've seen this happen with macrame, with decoupage, with cross stitch, and every other trend in our industry. So it went with rubber stamps as it will go with scrapbooking. I preached years ago that we must always support a varied product mix to be successful and things haven't changed. I look at the trade magazines now in my comfortable retirement (thanks to Pretty Petals) and I don't even recognize my beloved industry anymore. It's all "Johnny One Note" and I don't recognize the tune. – Wolfie Rauner, retired Manufacturer's Rep

Too much already!

In Scrapbooking & Cross Stitch, Pt. III it said, "…Yet scrapbooking has a far greater potential. Consumers take billions of photos each year. They have to do something with them. Some retailers have joined forces through Crafter's Home, et al, but vendors continue to do their own thing without joining forces to promote scrapbooking to the masses."

My question: Why does the consumer have to do "something" with their photos? I suspect that most people are perfectly content to load them onto their computer, email them to friends and family, and show them to others on their laptops in a slide show while having drinks at a convention.

That’s the "something" I do: create computer files such as "Caribbean Cruise 2005," "Katie’s Graduation," etc.

I don’t have the time to create elaborate pages for scrapbooks, don’t have the space to store them if I did create them, and don’t have enough time for the hobbies I already have like jewelry- and card-making and gardening. Most of the people I want to show photos to are not in my home where scrapbooks would be kept if I was a scrapper. I want something more portable and my computer suits my needs just fine.

Plus, I have BOXES of old photos and family memorabilia from dead relatives – and to be quite honest, I couldn’t care less who most of these people are and I doubt my great-great grandchildren will want to inherit volumes of scrapbooks from some relative that they never knew. Photos of people who were close to me are in two albums and labeled with their names, relation to me and approximate date, and that’s good enough.

I have actually seen bookcases full of scrapbooks in people’s homes! And I wonder, where will they all end up when the owner dies? A few may be passed on if they are specifically on a family’s heritage, but the others will end up at the dump. Every generation will have their own photos and only so much space to keep them all in.

Think about the snowball effect: If I leave my son 10 scrapbooks when I die, and his wife’s parents leave them 10 scrapbooks when they die, and my son and daughter-in-law already have 10 scrapbooks of their courtship, vacations, bridal shower, wedding, etc., they’re starting out with 30 scrapbooks. Twenty of which were someone else’s memories. Supposing they’re newlyweds and are expecting their first child; they could create a scrapbook for each school year of the child’s school (12 more), then 3-6 more per additional kid), then there’s all the other events worth scrapping -- grandma’s 95th birthday, remodeling the house, the exchange student, vacations, etc.

I know a young couple that has a baby who just turned 1 year old. They already have at least a dozen scrapbooks: 1st haircut, 1st teeth, 1st steps, 1st birthday, sleeping, in the swimming pool, in the bathtub, pulling the dog’s tail, 1st Easter, 1st Christmas, 1st Halloween….jeez! It HAS to end somewhere.

But when it does, something else will come along. It always does.

I started out in this industry almost 20 years ago with a company that made fabric paints and dyes. It was at the beginning of the "wearable art" craze. We sold thousands of gallons of fabric paint to OEM accounts that made hand painted T-shirts and clothing. Then they segued into home dec items like pillows and shower curtains. That business financed growth and the creation of other products. I would look at the sales of that fabric paint and wonder what would happen to the company if that business ever "went away."

It did, eventually, and yet the company is doing just fine. Susan Kocsis, Search Press USA

PS You’re right about the vendors not joining forces to promote scrapbooking to the masses…but I suspect that Martha’s going to! -- SK

(Note: So who's right? Is scrapbooking unique, so different from previous hot trends that it will not suffer an eventual decline? Or will it inevitably suffer the same fate? Email your thoughts to CLN to mike@clnonline.com. To read previous entries in Memory, Paper & Stamps, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)



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