local scrapbook store

Local Scrapbook Stores: A Controversial Question

While perusing the interwebs for scrapbooking news – as I often do because it’s a CAPITAL way to avoid housework – I came across THIS blog post about a local scrapbook store in Minnesota that is closing.

Thanks for the Memories VIP!

Submitted by Kathy on Tue, 2012-08-14 03:25.
Big Change at VIP…
Thanks for the Memories!

V.I.P. Scrapbook will be closing its doors on September 1st. We know everyone will be wondering why we have made this decision and to be honest, it is for a variety of reasons. The current staff has had a great 3 years building our store to where it is today. We are proud of how our store looks, the new product we have continued to get in and most importantly, the relationships we have built with many customers.

It is not a secret that many, many independent scrapbook stores have been closing. In today’s economy as well as the online sites and chain stores, the independent stores have a very difficult time competing. We would just like to remind everyone that if you value the individual attention, free advice, and personal service you can find in many independent stores, then we must all remember to help support them, whether it is a scrapbooking store or a small town grocery store…

When one door closes, another one opens… we, all the staff, are ready to start new chapters in our lives. Some of us have come to places in our lives where we are excited to pursue new opportunities. On behalf of all of us here at VIP, we would like to truly thank our customers that have supported us in a variety of ways. Thanks for all the wonderful memories!

The part that sticks out to me is this:

We would just like to remind everyone that if you value the individual attention, free advice, and personal service you can find in many independent stores, then we must all remember to help support them, whether it is a scrapbooking store or a small town grocery store…

I have seen or heard about statements like this in many a “goodbye” or “holy crap, I’m about to close and I need your help to save me!” posts and letters from local scrapbook stores around the country. I wonder what scrapbookers think about this kind of message being directed to them?

The feedback I’ve heard in the past has been really mixed. Some scrappers feel like it’s not their responsibility to keep LSS’s in business and others feel an obligation to them in varying degrees.

*Random LSS photo found online :)

Here are my feelings about it: As someone who lost 7 local scrapbook stores within a few years and has been relegated to shopping at Michael’s, Tuesday Morning, and one craft store 40 minutes from home, I do feel an obligation to support LSS’s. I don’t think scrapbookers SHOULD have to support their LSS financially by shopping there regularly, but I think they DO have to support them if they want them to stay open.

When times were good in the scrapbooking industry, I think manufacturers did very very well for themselves. But I don’t think LSS owners were ever getting rich, even in the best of times. {I’m sure there were exceptions but none of my 7 store owners were driving Lexi* and drinking martinis in St. Tropez}.
*That’s the plural for Lexus, right??

So when we were hit with the worst of times, LSS owners really struggled. Like I heard an owner say once, “I have to sell a LOT of sheets of scrapbook paper just to pay the light bill.” Then figure in rent, personnel costs, insurance, other utilities, minimum product orders, etc.

The markup on scrapbook products is typically about 50%. So for each $1 sheet of scrapbook paper sold, the owner is profiting only 50 cents. For those $4.99 Thickers you bought, they made a whopping $2.50. So, yeah, they gotta’ sell a lot of product to be viable. LSS’s don’t typically sell many big ticket items like electronic die cutters, larger tools, etc. {we get those for cheaper at big box stores with sales and coupons, right?}. They don’t tend to make a big profit on classes and crops. Those are “break even” events whose main purpose is to draw customers into the store, hoping they’ll buy product while there.

So tangent alert! I did it again (sheepish smile). But my point … and I do have one … is that I personally DO feel an obligation to support the local scrapbook store for almost purely selfish reasons: I want them to succeed so they stick around and I don’t have to keep schlepping to Michaels with my flippin’ coupon and spending it on Herma tab refills because I can’t find anything from this decade, much less the most recent CHA. Or walking into TJ Maxx with my fingers crossed that they have some 2-year-old Dear Lizzy stickers I missed the first time around. Ya feel me?

Two small LSS’s have opened within an hour of me recently. As soon as I heard about each store, I rushed over to support them! Well, okay, I rushed over to see what scrapbook swag they had and to sniff massive amounts of paper at once, but you know what I mean. Sheesh.

They are smaller stores, which I think is a smart way to start, and I will do my best to choose them over the big box stores as where to spend my scrapbooking budget. To me, it’s like picking up litter or letting the one-item gal go in front of me at the supermarket check-out: One person CAN make a difference in her own little way. If a lot of other “one persons” join in, we’re golden, people!

I would love to hear what you think – and please don’t hesitate to disagree. I can completely see both sides of this issue and would love to hear it all.

In Defense of the LSS…

My last post was about all the new GOODIES at Target. That post prompted a well-written response in Comments, which I loved. So I asked the writer, June, if I could make her comment a standalone post {I want to make sure everyone sees it}, and she graciously agreed. So here ’tis:


(From June…)

Ah, yes. Another reason to visit – as if I needed one! LOL! But please, please, PLEASE remember the LSS’s in your area. Yes, it is certainly CONVENIENT to be able to browse and purchase SB supplies at the same time you’re stocking up on shampoo and dog food, I have to say how sad it makes me that the “Independents” struggle to survive amidst the Big Box stores. Many people don’t even realize that some of the most WONDERFUL goodies stocked at your local LSS aren’t even made available to chain stores (a wonderful way suppliers are trying to help the LSS’s to compete). And further more, people make the GRAVE mistake that they’ll save a lot of money by buying from the Big Guys rather than their LSS’s – not exactly true. If you’re up for the challenge, make note of the price of patterned paper, brads, adhesives, etc. next time you’re in a “Big” store, then treat yourself to a fun little jaunt to your local LSS and compare… Is that dollar you’re saving at the “Big” store really worth the price we all pay by not having an LSS to “escape” to on a quiet afternoon or to be able to attend crops and classes at with friends? I bet you’ll find the gal stocking the shelves of your local LSS MUCH more personable and knowledgeable about the best adhesive to use on that project you’re desperately trying to finish than the young, college-aged fella wearing the backwards baseball cap who’s stocking the scrapbooking aisle at the “Big Box” store. Besides, I always get in trouble in those stores; always intending to pick up one or two items and coming out of the store 20+ items and $100+ over budget. At least the LSS receipts are easier to “hide” than the ones with scrapbook items AND the toaster Hubby wants to take back because it didn’t work out of the box. I’d rather hand him a receipt with a toaster and toilet paper itemized on it instead of one with a toaster, toilet paper, and $50 worth of scrapbook goodies on it!

Sorry. I’m rambling. Maybe it’s because I just went to work for Just Let Me Scrapbook! in Barnesville, GA – the last LSS in my area (if you can call 25+ miles away from home “in my area”). I had just discovered the darling, exquisitely stocked little shoppe when I found out the owner, Mary Beth Burrell, was considering CLOSING the doors and going home to run her business exclusively online from her home (because overhead is SO darned expensive). That would have made FOUR brick-and-mortar LSS’s in two years in my area that closed their doors! Each of them were wonderful little gems in their own right. Each of them fell victim to “Big Box” and Chain retailers with far more buying and advertising power than these smaller coutnerparts. It has always made me SO UPSET that we, as scrapbookers, undervalue the BEAUTY of the LSS. The POWER we have as women, as consumers, as trend-setters in the fastest growing craft/hobby in not only the U.S., but in much of the world. The classes, crops, advice, and stellar industry knowledge that can be found in these quaint shops all over America is INVALUABLE!!! When you shop at your LSS, you’re doing more than just “adding to your stash”. You’re helping women entrepreneurs feed their families, pay their mortgages, fulfill their dreams, and helping them serve as FANTASTIC role models encouraging younger girls and women who may also have that entrepreneurial “spark” within them. In my store, we have hired a young lady who’s working after school as part of her high school curriculum; learning invaluable lessons about retail economics as well as how to stay positive even when things look bleak financially. She now has a good understanding of what it looks and feels like to run a small business and can compare her experiences with us with what working for “someone else” might offer. Her horizons have broadened. She’s been exposed to the inner-workings of a small business from the ground up. They don’t teach you that at University. I wish they had.

More than the mushy-gushy, touchy-feely “support your local female entrepreneur” schpiel here, I just want to emphasize how VERY appreciated your hard-earned dollars spent in your local LSS are. We know you could have spent your money anywhere you chose to, but you chose to spend them with US; purchasing paper and supplies to document some of the most IMPORTANT people and events in your lives. The part-time gal at the counter may not express it at the time of check-out (though I hope she would), but that LSS store owner who reconciles the cash register (and sometimes online sales) at the end of the day sure does. She’s the gal that doesn’t get to scrap much herself, but MAN! does she enjoy helping you make your pages SHINE!

At least that’s how we feel at Just Let Me Scrapbook! in Barnesville, GA. If you can, stop by and see us sometime on your way to Target. I’ll bet you’ll find something in OUR store you’d NEVER see at the Big Box.

Be Blessed! (and thanks for reading all this! Don’t know WHAT got into me!)

-June ONeal

Oh yes, this girl is passionate and she can write! If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know how I LUUUUURRRVVVE the LSS. How I am so saddened to see all but one of the stores in my county close. How I have always held the dream to own my own store “someday” and am crushed to see that dream die. How I support local business owners in general, because they are our neighbors, our friends, our fellow church goers, our Little League coaches, our local economy-drivers. So, yes, I am conflicted about shopping at Target et al. I think there is a place for those stores, I just hate to see them take over every single community to the point that the Mom and Pops are killed by them. I spread my money around to the big and small, the big for necessity-sake, the small because they are ALWAYS better at what they do.

Anyway, I just thought June did a beautiful job of saying what I’m always trying to say. I hope you enjoyed reading her post as much as I did. If you too believe in the LSS, go visit the online part of the LSS she works at and help to keep them afloat. Or just visit their blog and say “hi,” or since they’re in Georgia, that would be “hey, y’all”, right? If nothing else, go read the store owners’ About Us page…what a cool story.

Here is a picture of Just Let Me Scrapbook! from their website. SO wish I was close to Georgia. What an adorable place…