After 5 years, I am cancelling my membership in the Craft and Hobby Association. The biggest reason being that my dues went from $100 annually to $400 annually - overnight. I got the bill a month or so ago and hadn't looked at it. When I finally sat down to pay it, I about fell off my chair. It was a 300% increase over the previous years.
I emailed them about it and got some long-winded explanation about how non-exhibiting suppliers get the same benefit as exhibiting suppliers so they made the costs more equal. Basically, I am paying for the honor of NOT exhibiting at the trade show. It seems a bit like a shakedown to me - "Exhibit or pay the price..."
Honestly, beyond free admission to the trade shows, there was no benefit to me as a very small business at CHA. They have all these perks such as cheaper freight and craft-industry research that have very little value to me. Every year they have this "celebrity" (honestly, I have NO IDEA who she is) that is supposed to blanket the country with her ads about crafts being life's little pleasure. I have NEVER seen the ads anywhere. And, I'm not a craft supplier, I'm a SCRAPBOOK SUPPLIER. National Craft Month is NOT National Scrapbook Month.
I'm actually beginning to feel a bit homeless when it comes to national association support. I joined PMA (which I thought was expensive, but now looks like a bargain) and although they have promised all this support for the scrapbook industry, I fail to see much. Their magazine is still full of nothing but photographic news and the PSRO (Professional Scrapbook Retailer's Organization) has exactly 2 benefits that I can find - an ad maker (looks more like it's for photographers than scrapbook retailers) and a relationship with a direct mail post-card printer. Sure, they do research but I always have trouble finding the links to the scrapbook research. They purchased The SMART Group, and I while I greatly respect the SMART Group, I am paying dues to PMA, not The SMART Group. I'm still on the fence about PMA, but I did make my reservations to attend the PMA/Memory Trends Show in January. I'm going to reserve my judgment until I see the show. I don't expect a lot of benefits for me, the very small business, but I do expect to see an emphasis on the scrapbook industry as a whole - and not just the digital side of it.
Recently, at ScrapBiz, we were discussing vendors who were now out of business. Many of them were vendors I spoke to at the first CHA show in 2002 who looked down their noses at me and said, "We don't work with HOME-BASED businesses." Interesting... They felt that anyone running a business of home didn't have money that had the same value as a bricks and mortar store. Yet, I have to believe that their anti-home-based attitude may have contributed to the reason they are now out of business. You can't count out a whole class of customers anymore. A sales channel is a sales channel and revenue streams are what makes businesses solvent. ScrapBiz members represent probably $1,000,000 a year in revenue to all the vendors our members buy from. Our customer service rep at one large industry distributor calls to thank me all the time for the business I send their way. Very small businesses can have a collective large impact in the scrapbook industry.
Apparently, CHA feels they can live without my membership. I'm sure I won't be missed. But I wonder how many others will also leave due to the increase.
Makes the case for the scrapbook industry to have it's OWN association.