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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.

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