Oct 22, 2007

Bye-Bye Recollections

Someone emailed me last week and asked if I was going to comment on the closing of the 11 Recollections stores. Of course, I have an opinion on it - I have an opinion about everything - LOL!

First of all, it doesn't surprise me, really. Not that the scrapbook industry is dying or anything, but rather, that it's just really hard to pay the bills on a store that big selling pretty much nothing but paper. See this past blog entry for my commentary on paying bills with paper. There just aren't that many high ticket items in this industry. So, now you add a corporation who MUST make a profit, put them in a LARGE store space in a high traffic area (ka-CH$NG) and add employees who I assume are paid more than most LSS's pay theirs. And, add benefits for them on top of that and you're talking about a heck-uva-lot-o-paper that has to move through those doors each day.

Honestly, I don't believe that any single craft segment can survive in that type of scenario. So, it could have been a giant yarn or bead store and perhaps had the same outcome. A general craft store has the opportunity to pull in more people through the diversity of the crafts they carry. It's like butcher shops - it's hard to get people to come in JUST for meat when they could go to the grocery store and get bread, eggs, cereal, etc., too. That doesn't mean a butcher shop CAN'T survive, but how many 5000 square foot butcher shops do you see? Most of them are small.

Now, here's what bugs me. I was reading in the Creative Leisure News yesterday about this issue. And, something that I hadn't really thought about came up. If you go to trade shows, there are teams of people from the "Big Box Stores" running around. They are pretty demanding. I've seen whole booths cleared out for them because they don't want anyone to know what they are negotiating. The big box stores are difficult to work with from what I've heard because they want the moon and stars for 20% off of wholesale.

So, enter Michaels and their Recollections stores. They negotiated with vendors based on their plans to open 200 of these stores. Well, they stalled out at 11 and stayed there. So, these vendors who gave great deals at their own expense or perhaps changed their distribution plans for the chance to go into Recollections got the short end of the stick.

Not to mention that lots of LSS's packed up their cardstock and went home the minute a Recollections was announced for their area. Everyone was afraid of this store. Yet, apparently, the stores were just sheep in wolves clothing. It's too bad LSS owners got scared enough to close because we lost some great stores over this. I hope LSS's will fill in the void, BUT, that those owners will be skilled business men and women so we don't end up with more store disasters.

I really don't think the death of Recollections spells anything ominous for the industry. In fact, I don't pay much attention to Michaels. Honestly, I feel like they are so big that they don't have the ability to "strike while the iron's hot". Look how long it took them to spruce up their Scrapbooking section - just in time for the industry to slow it's growth. Now that beading has been hot for several years, my M's just added a TON of beads. I assume now that M's has done that, beading will slow tremendously. If you want to see what craft segment USED to be hot - just go see what M's is adding - LOL!

That's what great about micro-businesses in the craft industry. Small businesses have the ability to react to trends much faster than bloated corporations who must take a vote before they paint the walls of their bathrooms. Businesses like you'll find at ScrapBiz or Etsy can see a trend emerging and latch onto it and provide their customers with the materials or products from that trend within days, not months.

So, as you drive by your local scrapbook store (LSS) today, stop in a buy the cardstock you need for your holiday cards. Honestly, we need and should LOVE the LSS's. Otherwise, this beloved craft becomes just another aisle in the craft section at WalMart.

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