Oct 15, 2008

Taking Shelter from the Storm

WOW! What a week it's been! I think even those who are doing okay because they have a solid home loan and no debt (there are a few of us out here) are feeling just a little queasy about what the stock market's doing.

If you're a business owner, you're probably feeling REALLY queasy about the whole thing. Some store owners are reporting that their sales are sharply down. Retail sales reports came out today and the news isn't good over the whole retail world.

So, are you standing out in the storm all by yourself? Are you wringing your hands and wondering what to do next? You shouldn't be alone at a time like this - you should be looking for a community shelter full of others who understand and can help.

I think that if there was EVER a time in the history of the scrapbook industry that retailers needed to band together, it's NOW. We need to stand together in the storm and collectively figure out how we are going to adapt and grow.

Last week I received an email from business book author Jeffrey Gitomer (fun fact- Ali Edwards' sister is his girlfriend). He suggested that there are two ways to look at change. Which side are you on? I would say that I fall on the bright side of change and especially love that CHANGE IS OPPORTUNITY.

On the dark side:
Change is eliminating.
Change is terminating.
Change is hiding or avoiding truth.
Change is disappointing.
Change is scary.
Change is morale busting.

On the bright side:
Change is refinement.
Change is growth.
Change is movement.
Change is acquiring.
Change is upgrading.
Change is opportunity.

Well, CHANGE is happening - in our industry, in our economy and among our customers. It's caused a lot of failure in the scrapbook industry. Some store owners may not even have known how to bail the water out as their boats sank.

A business group is useful in that you have a group to help you start bailing the minute you see the water coming in. They can't keep you from sinking altogether, but they give you a better chance of NOT sinking.

There are several business groups in this industry that can help you weather the storm of change. I'm biased so I'll just say that ScrapBiz is a great group to join. We have been talking a lot this last couple of weeks about what's going on and how things are selling. The consensus is that customers are buying consumable supplies and using their stash. The Professional Scrapbook Retailers Organization is another group to join. They don't yet have the feeling of community that other groups offer, but they are pumping out lots of information for retailers to help them stay afloat. Another group if you are a bricks and mortar store is the SMART Group. They, too, can help you find shelter from the storm. There are other groups out there, too, that can offer you some help during these challanging and changing times.

Some retailers might think that they can't afford to pay to join a group like this. But, I would say that you can't afford NOT to. Time is so precious for most retailers and these groups can save you a lot of time by providing answers to questions and information nearly at your fingertips. Also, the peer to peer networking can be invaluable to your business. Many retailers in our industry have resisted working with their competition for years. ScrapBiz members have always worked well together despite this.

But, now we need to put our collective heads together and figure out Phase 2 of our industry. When this industry was born in the late 1990's, no one could fathom anything but the printed photo. The internet was just a few years old and computers were way too slow to make and print out a high-resolution image. Customers wanted the fun papers and fancy stickers - it was a decorative diversion from plain photo albums.

Now we have online stores, digital photos, digital scrapbooking, home photo printers, large format printers and custom photo products. Yet, many retailers are still plugging away with card stock and stickers in a world where customers want solutions, and not JUST products, for their photos. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "Not that there's anything wrong with that", except that you may not have done anything to adapt to the change and you may have paid a price for that. Every store doesn't have to adapt, but many should. You can't ignore the technology that has crept into our industry. Many of these groups are talking about it and trying to figure out how to use it to our (and our customers') benefit.

If you are a lone retailer in the scrapbook industry - be that a home-based business, an online store, a custom scrapper or a bricks and mortar store - I would invite you to take a look at joining a group like ScrapBiz to take shelter from the storm with others who understand and can help.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You are so right. Right retailers need to seek help, advice and cooperate more than ever. Business Groups offer a great opportunity to get help and ideas. They exist for your benefit.

I am available anytime for retailers; they can call me at 905-862-0303 (Canada) or the SMART Group corporate office at 866-966-6855 (USA).

Lisa Fedele
Sr. Retailer Consultant
The SMART Group