Why They Aren’t Afraid of the Big Box Stores?
by Heidi Grieser
Scrapbooking is huge in Utah and the scrapbook marketplace is extremely competitive. Hear from the small business owners who are surviving amid big box encroachment and bargain shoppers.
Scrapbooking is the, “number one, top-selling category of the 39 craft segments in the $27 billion U.S. craft and hobby industry,” says a 2010 study by the Craft & Hobby Association. The study found that “about 35 percent (or 40 million) of the 113 million U.S. households scrapbook, rubber stamp or make cards, and spent approximately $4 billion in 2009 on scrapbook, “Memory Craft” and other paper crafting products.”
Scrapbooking is essentially combining photos, mementos, and journaling onto a page in an album to document memories and events. It has grown to include many paper crafts. In spite of the recession the craft has continued to grow because it is therapeutic, fun, and an inexpensive way to decorate your home or make gifts.
“According to Google.com, there are now well over 1.3 million scrapbook bloggers, thousands of scrapbooking events, and dozens of magazines dedicated to scrapbooking. Many major cruise lines now offer special scrapbooking cruises. Tens of thousands of people across the country participate in special scrapbooking parties and retreats, called “crops,” where they get together to “scrap,” socialize with friends and family, and create new memories.” Despite the general upward trends, craft stores and scapbooking related stores have received their fair share of problems during the recession.
Larger general craft stores such as Robert’s Crafts, Country Heart Crafts, and Zim’s have closed their doors. In the past 6 months, two long-open scrapbooking specific retail shops have also closed: Pebbles in My Pocket, open for 18 years, closed in January, and the Heartland Paper Co., open for 13 years closed their Taylorsville store, but sold their Bountiful store, which is now open under new ownership.
Kathy Stott, owner of Mom and Me Scrapbooking, reflects on the changing retail scene, “there were only about 4 stores in the city when we opened 14 years ago. Since then it seems like every 6 months a store opens and they last an average of 2-3 years.” She said some shops don’t make it because, “so many scrapbookers think it will be easy, like ‘Oh I like scrapbooking, I’ll open a store.’ They don’t last long because of mismanagement or that the market is over saturated.”
National craft super-chain Hobby Lobby is rapidly expanding in Utah, but Stott explains why that’s not a threat to her shop. “Beginners just getting started might go to Hobby Lobby, but most of our customers are people already familiar with scrapbooking who are interested in the newest designs and trends.”
Kathy Henderickson, owner of Paper Creations in Brickyard shopping center says of the two local stores closing, “We just feel sad for them, because they worked hard too.” One of Henderickson’s three daughters who help run the shop, Lisa Fillmore, points out, “Robert’s crafts in our own parking lot just closed. We’ve really diversified what we do- it’s not just scrapbooking.” Fillmore says, “Wedding invitations keep us busy. People like to make them themselves or have us do them because you can customize every color.”
Another of Henderickson’s daughters, Kris Hopes, says Paper Creations hosts workshops on National Scrapbook Day (first Sat. in May- 7th). Manufacturers come in and do a double page layout with each class. This year they have six companies coming and sign-ups begin 3 weeks prior to the event. “It’s a really good deal. Workshops start at $6, and it’s pretty neat, the companies all try to out-do each other. Last year we had 150 available spots and they filled up in 30 minutes.” Henderickson chimes in, “we had 100% attendance last year. Can you imagine, every person that registered made it.”
While Paper Creations offers classes, Mom and Me specializes in kits that come with cut out papers, embellishments, and instructions. Kathy Stott says, “We quit the classes 5 years ago because the last thing a woman wants to do is come to a class after working all day. Now we do the kits and we ship them all over the U.S. and the world.” Stott’s daughter Karen is co-owner of the store and the resident designer. In 1999, Karen won a spot in the Scrapbook Hall of Fame (top 20 out of thousands of entries), and her mom brags, “when we go to conventions people recognize her.” She ads the award has brought the store notoriety.
Aside from the two main retail stores in SLC proper, We R Memory Keepers, has headquarters in SLC. We R Memory Keepers says, “ We are a 4th generation book binding company, so our albums are the best in the industry. We pioneered a lot of the features that you see on albums today, such as the top loading Label Frame on the spine of the album.”
The company some of the best quality products, which they say has enabled them to “weather the storm.” They also manufacture easy-to-use, portable tools, and they say, “watch any of the demos on Youtube for why the Crop-a-dile, after 5 years, it is still one of our best selling products.”
Scrapbooking is big business in the U.S. and especially in Utah. The local retail industry may have recently taken a hit, but the popularity of the craft and fast-changing design trends ensure that there will continue to be a fertile market. The ongoing questions remains whether consumers will support their local scrapbooking stores or buy from box chains.