Sep 25, 2007

Farewell CHA

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.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blog and have been for some time.

I am just an everyday scrapbooker. Reading your blog gives me lots to ponder over. I like your writing style.

Think you could write about behind the scenes about the companies? Just as what is happening with would be nice to get the real facts instead of rumours that others seem to spread around.

Thanks again!

Kim Guymon said...

Hmmmm, I don't get into individual businesses that way. Most of that would be speculation or rumors like are already going around. I wouldn't want to spread anything that I didn't know was true or didn't have permission to post or wasn't personally involved in.

Rose said...

YIKES. I bet that will kill off a bit of CHA's business. It doesn't do vendors much good to vend with no attendees.
Makes you wonder if they are trying to kill off their business.
Where is that DUH board anyway someone needs a whack!

Ann said...

I completely agree that the scrapbook industry should have their OWN association!! :D