ARCHIVER’S scrapbooking chain sent out this e-mail recently. I’m not on their mailing list so I copied it from a posting online; I apologize for the lovely ‘chopped up’ quality :)

I’m on the West Coast and have never been to an Archiver’s, altough shopping there is on my Scrapbook Bucket List :) I’m rarely even in an LSS anymore – all of mine closed years ago – so the thought of being in a scrapbooking warehouse of sorts is pretty exciting! Alas, I’ll have to cross 2 large states to reach the closest one!

Archiver’s Locations:

But when added to their BANKRUPTCY NEWS from the recent past {where the irony of them shafting some of those small manufacturers they now propose to support has been mentioned} and now this e-mail, it’s starting to feel like another thing I’ll have to remove from the Bucket List as impossible {like seeing The Oprah Show in person, boo hoo}. In other words, I have to wonder: Will Archiver’s even be around by the time I can travel to one?

The message boards are blazing with reaction to the above Archiver’s e-mail. Here’s the gist of some of the comments, both good and bad:

– Archiver’s is clearly NOT a small business and trying to cast themselves as part of Small Business Saturday was tacky and unwarranted. While they ARE a small chain {33 stores} in comparison to big boxes MICHAELS {1000+ stores} and HOBBY LOBBY {800+ stores}, they do not meet the definition of a small business {25 locations or less; they missed it by 7}. Personally, I don’t read that they think they ARE a small biz, just that their continued existence helps to keep ‘small biz’ scrapbooking vendors alive. And that they are similar in many ways to a small business in that their home office and individual store staffs are relatively small. I was surprised to hear that only 30 home office employees run a chain of 33 stores; I had pictured a much bigger ‘corporate headquarters’ type of set-up.

– Archiver’s in the past seemed to be practicing “Goal: World Scrapbooking Domination”, putting stores in close proximity to local scrapbook stores {LSS’s}, which many feel was a targeted and successful attempt to shut the smaller stores down. So isn’t it ironic that they now would like to cast themselves as a ‘small business’ or small business supporter?

– Archiver’s has made other business mistakes – like employees who seem to lack scrapbooking knowledge or interest, installing Memory Labs in their stores which don’t seem overly popular, must’ve been hugely expensive, and take up lots of store space that used to hold product, etc. So to send this e-mail that seems to imply that it’s the customers’ faults that Archiver’s is struggling is like a slap in the face.

– Scrappers who do have Archiver’s stores nearby enjoy shopping there, feel they offer something special, and they try to support them with their dollars. Shoppers realize that if we as customers don’t show our support, i.e., spend our scrappy dollars there, we simply won’t have them as a choice eventually. And no one wants that :(

– The e-mail from Archiver’s didn’t bother some scrapbookers at all. They either found it harmless, just the truth being spoken, a necessary cry for help, etc.

Please remember, I stated these are not MY opinions per se, just a compilation of things I’ve seen expressed on the message boards.

Again, as someone who’s never shopped at Archiver’s, I can’t comment on their business practices, their employees, etc. But I can say that if I DID have an Archiver’s within driving distance, I would be there as much as possible. I do have other loyalties to keep with my scrapbooking dollar {as a MEMORY WORKS consultant since 2007, a lot of my dollars have gone there obviously … but they are closing effective 12-31-13} and other places I like to buy basics {Michaels, etc.}.

But I personally wouldn’t take offense to the Archiver’s e-mail. It would’ve opened my eyes to the dire straits they appear to be in, and would’ve renewed my interest in and commitment to shopping there. Hoping it wouldn’t be too little, too late for “us” to save them …

Are you an Archiver’s customer? What has been your experience with Archiver’s? Did the e-mail bother you or no? Do you think Archivers is on its way to closing down?

Even if you don’t have an Archivers close enough to shop at, I’d love to hear your opinions on this issue. Like THIS post I wrote a while back, scrapbooking stores, manufacturers, and customer support is an issue that’s going to keep coming up as more stores continue to fight to stay in business in these tough times … or give up when it’s no longer possible.

Do we as scrapbookers “owe” anything to these retailers? And if we don’t monetarily support them, are you okay if they close?

Please leave your Comments below!

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  1. avatar

    I’ve been to Archivers in Utah 3 times. Never has the staff known anything significant about scrap booking- not brands, not recent product arrivals or even what particular products are called. This is basic knowledge you can pick up by looking around the store as you work.
    The manager was downright rude to random customers and all her coworkers the last time I went so I decided not to go back as the store is pretty far from SLC.
    I like that they have space for customers to crop in but their stores are not wired for wifi so I could never get access to the coupons they emailed (also a problem with Ms and Js). I have to take a photo of the email if I want to show it at check out.
    I never understood why they bothered with fancy photo printing tech when most scrappers already have that problem solved- that was a huge misstep.
    I wasn’t offended by the email but I think it would have read better if it started with a personal note about the owner or thanking customers for their patronage because the truth is that what’s changed is that most people can’t afford to spend 100 dollars on bits of paper anymore. And that is what they are asking when they say they need more visits and more purchases.
    Last time I got 3 packs of Basic Grey embellishments, 10 sheets of card stock (on sale) and a stamp set- the final tally was 45 dollars! I’m sorry but no matter now much I’d like to be supportive I can’t shop that way every week. Then I went to TJ Maxx and I found the very same American Crafts stamp set for 6 dollars!
    So the paper craft industry needs to face the truth- current stock is vastly over-priced and many times too generic/repetitive or badly made to warrant purchase.
    Customers want to buy multiple times but also need to put food on their tables- it’s not that we expect deep discounts all the time or to have our butts kissed when we walk in the door, but more value has to be added to the brick and mortar shopping experience if you want people to keep coming back. At the very least please discount your stock when the same items appear in discount stores!
    The stores are also facing a basic economic fact- small items at low price points don’t add up to enough profit to pay the rent in most malls. You need your store workers to know how to upsell or at least know what the current trends and most wanted items are so they can help customers make more purchases.
    If the letter had acknowledged some of the above and not focused so narrowly on how customers habits have changed I don’t think most readers would have taken offense.

  2. avatar

    I have an Archivers nearby and used to shop there A LOT. THey DO have the latest and greatest and have recently given out more coupons (they pretty much stopped for a while). The Memory Lab is HUGE and takes up a lot of space in their small store. I don’t use the memory lab. I did use their picture printing kiosk they had before the lab took over. What I find funny is that the prices on the Annex are LESS than the prices at the store, but I like instant gratification and can’t wait for things to be shipped! I like going to their crop nights (10 bucks for your space, but 20% off EVERYTHING YOU BUY at the end of the crop) with door prizes. THe folks at my Archivers are SUPER friendly and helpful. I hope this location lasts as Michaels and HL don’t really carry the product I look for.

  3. avatar

    We had an Archivers for no more than a year before they closed down :( I do all my shopping online now.

    1. avatar

      Archiver’s is a small store chain and they are not owned by Winmark, they were MANAGED by Winmark, I don’t know where you got your information, but it is bad. Our CEO is Jan Olmstead, not any of the people you have listed above. Winmark’s CEO may have tried to manage Archivers, but they did not fund the company what so ever and the ideas this man tried, did nothing for the company, hence the reason Winmark is no longer managing Tomsten. Maybe you should read the news, they filed Chapter 11 back in April, which is reorganization. It in turn means yes, they are struggling to pay their bills. Closing their stores is not something that take lightly.

  4. avatar
    ldmccarty says:

    Here’s what I said over on twopeas:

    I’d like them to define “struggling”. “Struggling” as in profits are only in the 10s of millions or “struggling” as in, like true small businesses, they’re struggling to make rent or payroll?

    Also, what are the salaries of the ‘C’ level execs? CEO, COO, CFO, etc? (hint, $400,000 to $700,000 per year) .

    Apparently, Winmark took over Tomsten (the official name of the Archiver’s company) in 2009:,+Inc.+dba+Archivers/5152835.html

    The company made net profits of over $4MM in the quarter ending June ’13. Extrapolating to a year, that’s profits of about $16MM/year.

    Not exactly “struggling”.

    Generally find the email off-putting. To me, small businesses are those w/a small wage base and reasonable wages.

  5. avatar

    They should have come further north. We have scrapbook stores still here in NJ/NY metro area and we have tons of cropping events. Maybe the problem is the stores are located in areas that have been hit harder by the economy.

  6. avatar

    I shopped at the Archivers in Cleveland, OH….until it closed in October. It is still a 2 hr. drive and would be a special day trip for my husband and I to go there. Yes, he is an enabler! The staff I found to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I had no complaints. I also have been to the Archivers at Easton Mall in Columbus. Don’t know where people are having bad service because the Ohioans are on the ball. Never had a bad experience.

    I would be sad if they went under as it doesn’t leave us much choice anymore except to order on-line but the timing of the message just hit me wrong. And you know they are REALLY close to being a small business. Sorry but 7 stores is not that far off in comparison to the box stores numbers.

    I would frequent them more if I had one nearer to me.


  7. avatar
    Jenn says:

    You should try calculating some figures and realize operating costs for 44 stores plus a home office including varying salaries alone on avg could reach 8mm include inventory dollars for 40000 sku’s in a avg 4800 sq ft store and you are closer to your figure. So to say that Archiver’s was so called “struggling”. I’d say so. Every company built to grow and profit has CEO CFO salaries that far exceed that of the employees. That is the way of the world. The passion from everyone that has built this company truly has been from the heart. Business must profit yes. When tied with passion for the industry itself and all the people involved it is a sad day to see it no longer. Jenn

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