Aug 27, 2005

Starting a Scrapbook Store

I just got an email that sparked a thought. Over the past three years of being in the scrapbook industry and helping people set up a business, I could start a "Hall of Fame" (or Shame) with the number of really, um, "interesting" emails I have gotten from people wanting to open a scrapbook store. I really don't help people open stores, but there is the perception that I do. I have gotten some DOOZIES!

Here are just a few of the more interesting questions and comments I have received...

"I love to scrapbook and would love to have a store so I can spend all day scrapping!" (I love this one - it's very common - I then burst their bubble by telling them that they will probably never scrap again.)

"I want to have a scrapbook store so I don't have to pay retail for my own supplies anymore" (HA! And go about $100,000 into debt for the privilege- buy retail, you'll be thousands of dollars ahead...)

"There is a store in my small town, but she doesn't carry the stuff I like." (two words - ONLINE SHOPPING)

"There isn't a store in town with a very big crop area. Would it be good to turn, like, half the space into a cropping area?" (um, go back to your Retail 101 class - you PAY for the giant crop area as part of your lease but it makes you, like, no money in return.)

"I am getting a divorce and I have never worked, but, I need income now to support me and my son. I want to open a store - can you help?" (This one made me sad - ENTREPRENEUR RULE NUMBER ONE - never start a business in response to a MAJOR life-changing event. Businesses built on desperation fail. This one goes hand-in-hand with "I want to quit my job and open a store".)

"I signed a lease on a space last week and now I have no idea what to do next..." (oh my heck - what were you thinking??? Signing a lease is the thing you do right before you place orders, which is the thing you do right before you open - which is the LAST thing you do. Signing a lease is NOT step one!)

"There are already stores in town, but one more can't hurt, can it?" (can you hear me SMACK my head against the wall? THAT'S your biggest justification for opening a store???? Yes, it CAN hurt - right in the checkbook!)

"I have $10,000 to open a store - is that enough?" (for the Point of Sale system - YES. To stock a store, buy shelves, pay your bills until you make a profit, pay a lease with deposit, pay taxes and fees, employees, etc. - NO.)

I get this one a lot - thanks to Field of Dreams...

"If I build it, they will come..." (it only works in a movie where you get to hang out with Kevin Costner - it doesn't work for scrapbook stores)

"The one store in town closed last year..." (pick up the phone and CALL the owner of that store and ask her why she closed. People usually tell their customers they are closing for PERSONAL reasons, but the REAL reasons are usually also related to how tough it was financially and not just personally - no one is going to send out a newsletter to customers saying, "we're closing because we're losing our shirts financially". It sounds better to say, "we're closing because we want to spend more time with family".)

I see people talking about why stores are failing all over the place right now. I will venture to guess that it's because many of them were opened with these types of reasons. If you don't have a clue how to manage yourself out of paper bag, then stay away from a retail specialty boutique aka a Scrapbook Store. It takes skill, not luck or talent. It takes experience and education. It needs someone who can manage the store or it will manage you. It takes more than a love of scrapping. Heck, I know store owners who have hardly scrapped a page in their lives but have the experience to run a store. They leave the creativity up to their employees and they take care of all the management.

There are stores opening all over the US that WILL survive and do well for their owners. But, the days of "wine and roses" when a store could open and survive DESPITE the inexperience of the owner are over. You have to look at opening a scrapbook store as a BUSINESS INVESTMENT. If the investment doesn't make sense after doing proper research, then walk away...


{L}ynette said...

AMEN KIM!! I have personally mentored nearly a dozen wanna-be or soon-to-be store owners, and that's not counting the twenty or so that I talked out of opening a store. All the reasons you listed (and more!) are what I heard day in and day out. I am a former LSS owner, and closed my store because customers spent less and less and complained more and more. We will be paying off our debt for YEARS. I have business background, and yet the market just wasn't there. Hats off to you for ScrapBiz!!!

Lynette - Host

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the advise! I was thinking about possibly looking into a scrapbook store, now I am gonna stick to what I know... USED CHILDRENS CLOTHES

Diana said...


Diana said...

hi kim
i saw one of your posts on start up nation, i am a member too.
I am amazed at the conflicting reviews of the scrapbook world.
I am a new scrapbook maunufacturer/support website. Products for early pregnancy and infant loss. Passion for keeping my children's memories alive has driven me.
No mortar and bricks, just online store. We just launched last month We'll be featured in scrapbooking and beyond and scrapbook retailer this fall. Were featured in memory makers last march.
We will be marketing to several other groups-funeral homes, florists, hospital,online memorials, grief support groups, etc.
I really don't have it in me personally to be a seller and i am wondering on what price to sell products to resellers
Can you give me some words of wisdom.
Also, nancy nally and mike from cln have responded positively to the product because it will be introducing many potential scrapbookers to the market
Thank you so much Kim

Sherri said...

Diana, put ads in professional nursing journals. Design the ad as if you were teaching a neonatal ICU nurse or labor and delivery nurse about what your products can do for their patients, the mothers mourning lost babies. I think what you are doing is very important. I'm a nurse, too! And I adored our L&D nurses. They made memory boxes and books ahead of time in case a client lost a baby during birth. So sad, but a necessary part of life. You have to appreciate the good and bad in life, or it will drive you crazy. Let's keep in touch. I want to sell your line in my store. I think I'd offer you a job as a designer too if I ever go corporate.

Sherri Jones
Scrap Force

Scrap Force said...

Also, something else I imagined while looking at your products, a booth at a nursing expo. Nurses have to get continuing education credits. Many complete these by attending medical conferences. These conferences hold vendor space for teaching nurses about a product, or selling nursing textbooks. The last conference I went to had a military recruiter table. Nurses would love to see you at these conferences. If you hit conferences for neonatologists or post partum professionals, nurse, doctor, obstetrician, nurse anesthetist with product and pamphlets, I'm almost certain you'd reach your target audience. Try to work out a pamphlet or package that a nurse can take back from the conference to a hospital administrator, for approval to add your product to the official list of hospital supplies, as common as safety socks and bendy straws. If you take a local L&D nurse to lunch I'm sure you could interview her during the meal and hash out details or a clearer plan. Half the battle is knowing what organizational names these professionals call themselves.