I got a postcard in the mail today telling me that the 14 year old scrapbook store north of Seattle is closing. My gut tells me that if they can't make it, no one can with a bricks and mortar store. They are in a great location - right next to the huge regional mall and they have tripled in size in the last 9 years or so. The owners say they are retiring - which I believe because they are in the right stage of their life to want more freedom. Honestly, though, if you have a "cash cow", you either sell it to retire or hire a really good manager so you hardly have to be there. Closing is a last resort since you don't get any financial benefit from doing that.
About a year ago, just before CHA, they sent out a bizarre email to all their customers defending the store from a comment made by a customer. It was odd because, of course, 99.99% of the people who received this email didn't hear the comment. Maybe they thought OTHERS were thinking what this customer said. Apparently, a customer came in just weeks before CHA and pronounced the store, "EMPTY" and walked out. The owner got upset and sent out this email telling everyone that the store wasn't empty on purpose - they were gearing up to order a bunch of new products at the upcoming CHA show. It might have sounded reasonable to the average scrapper but it sounded like "spin" to me. Knowing what I know now, I believe it WAS "spin" for a store that was limping along. In all the years I have lived her, I have never seen that store feel like it was empty. But, the last few times I have been in there, it felt that way.
They really gave it a good run and I'm sorry they're closing. I have been very critical of LSS's over the years but this one always seemed to shine while others failed. They added some digital elements. They added a scanner for photos. They had great classes and fresh products. The staff was friendly and helpful. I never had any criticism for this particular store. In fact, I believe it was the reason so many other smaller stores in the area failed. No one else could match their selection so scrappers would often just head there first.
But, their closing also re-affirms my belief that a bricks and mortar scrapbook store is not for the faint of heart. Even the strong can't always survive.