Online and Offline Scrapbookers

When I started in the industry, nothing that I did related to scrapbooking was online. I shopped in my local scrapbook store (I worked there and got a great discount). I only scrapped with paper, not digitally. I did not visit message boards or galleries, and as a very busy graduate student, I wondered who had time to do all of that anyway. I secretly judged those who carried on conversations offline about stuff they read on their favorite message board.

Today, I still rarely visit message boards. I have always found them overwhelming, and still just can’t get over that feeling. But I no longer judge those who do use them.

That’s not the only thing that has changed. I now do a lot of my scrapbook shopping online. I do have a local scrapbook store about 30 minutes from my house, but they do not carry everything I want and I do not always want to drive all over the place to get supplies anymore. I also now dabble in digital scrapbooking.

And of course, I visit blogs. I subscribe to blogs. I write a scrapbooking blog. I love scrapbooking blogs.

It has taken me years to go from exclusively offline scrapbooker, to someone who shops, hangs out, consumes, and even creates online scrapbooking content.

Once we get immersed online, we tend to forget that there is still a whole world of people who are not online. They might have email and a Facebook account, but they do not use the Internet to support their hobby in any way. Those of us online, however, begin equating online scrapbook trends and offline scrapbook trends. I hear it all the time. “Scrapbookers do this….scrapbookers do that…look at how the hobby is evolving…” But then the evidence given is evidence from the online world of scrapbooking.  The next sentence might be: “I don’t read the magazines…or attend crops…or shop offline…” If that’s the case, then how do you really know what is going on in the huge offline world? Most likely, you don’t.

It’s easy to get into this mindset, if like me, you have a tendency to think subscribing to a 100+ blogs is something everyone does.

So what’s the point of all of this? Online business owners have to be careful about equating what happens online with what happens offline, and offline business owners should do the same. The reason for this is simple: In order to attract more customers, you need to make sure you are providing something  that new customers might want. If I want to grow online, I need to get more people online. If I want to grow offline, I need to figure out what the needs of offline scrapbookers are. In order to access the needs of online and offline scrapbookers, I need to go where these groups are and even though there might be some overlap in their wants and needs, there may be important differences that matter for your business.

Are you ignoring the specific preferences of the offline scrapbookers in your customer base? Maybe you should think about what you can do to better reach them.

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72 Responses to Online and Offline Scrapbookers

  1. Maxine Hodges May 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    I am a lss. If everyone were you we would all disappear. If they don’t have what you want-ask. Customer service is something you can’t get online. Thank goodness everyone is not like you. I understand if people don’t have a lss. However, to say you have one, but do not care to support your local business whose service probably helped make scrapbooking popular is very disheartening!

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 24, 2012 at 7:55 am #

      I never said I don’t care to support my LSS. I do not feel the need to drive an hour round trip (about 50 miles) to support my nearest one every time I want to shop for scrapbook supplies.

      Online businesses can also offer customer service. I’ve had positive experiences and negative experiences with both online and offline businesses inside and outside this industry. I have requested items at LSS before and sometimes they can make these purchases and sometimes they can’t. I’m not my LSS target customer.

  2. Sara Grafton May 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    I have supported both online and local scrapbook stores over the years as a customer. I hope that there will continue to be room in the industry for both! My scrapbooking education and shopping started at an LSS before I had a child. I had time to take classes and attend evening crops. I do not have that kind of time now with a full-time job and a 3 year old, so I appreciate that I can read blogs, watch tutorials, and scrapbook at my kitchen table after my son goes to bed. With online shopping, I like that I can search for a specific product, but I do not like paying for shipping. When I have a little free time, I still like to browse and shop at an LSS. Having both resources can help us stay connected with the hobby even when our lives are busy.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 24, 2012 at 7:57 am #

      Personally, I like buying paper at an LSS rather than online. Most other items I can buy either place, but I still like to see the paper first. Once I become familiar with a brand of paper, then I’m more comfortable buying it online. Shipping costs don’t bother me. I figure it costs me about $6-7 to drive to and from my nearest LSS. Shipping is almost always less than what it costs me to drive somewhere. Thanks for commenting.

      • Sara Grafton May 24, 2012 at 11:49 am #

        I agree that it is difficult to buy paper online. Most of the time that I’ve been scrapbooking, I’ve had a local store or two within 20 minutes. Unfortunately, all of the local stores in San Antonio closed after I moved. I think that the stamping store in town is trying to offer more for scrapbookers now.

        There is also another sement of customers to consider: crafters who buy primarily through direct sales. I participated in a stamp club for over two years, which influenced by style and buying habits. I am sure that could fill it’s own article.

  3. Terri Harmon May 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Stephanie, I think you are so right. I design for my LSS and very often they are out of touch with the latest and greatest because they are so busy running the business that they don’t take time to pay attention to the online scrapbook world. I also think they could expand their business and reach more customers by taking advantage of social networking. They are always willing to special order for customers when possible but I think it would help to be able to offer trendy techniques while they are still fresh.

    • Maxine Hodges May 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

      Terri, I am a one person business. I have a Michaels, JoAnns, Hobby Lobby and AC Moore within 1 1/2 miles. I have been in my shop for 7 years. If I did not do my homework and keep better and newer products I would have been out of business long ago. Sure, I can’t have everything, but I have the best. I offer customer service that the big box or online stores can’t. I perceived the article to tell people that the lss can’t serve the community like the online. To brag that you have a store but do not support it is what all main streets across the nation are worrying about. If we do’t support our local businesses they will disappear.

      • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 24, 2012 at 8:01 am #

        My point was that online and offline scrapbookers are confused by business owners. By online scrapbookers, I am talking about those who may shop online, keep a blog, and generally are very involved with the hobby online. (In other words, people like me.) By offline scrapbookers, I am talking about those scrapbookers who may shop online sometimes and maybe they are on facebook, but most of the scrapbooking knowledge and participation in the hobby happens offline. My point is that these customers are often confused as the same types of customers. That they are scrapbooking in the same way for the same reasons, and that’s just not true.

        • Isabel May 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

          You’re right, offline scrapbookers and online scrapbookers–though they are usually one and the same are very different. Many offline scrapbookers have been forced into being online scrapbookers mainly because they have lost their LSS, but they end up really liking the touching and seeing everything in person.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 24, 2012 at 8:02 am #

      To me a store might appear out of touch, but that’s because I am well aware of what all is coming out at CHA. If I asked most of my friends who scrapbook who don’t do anything scrappy online, they would have no idea what CHA even is. Thanks for commenting.

  4. JJ May 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    If my LSS doesn’t have what I’m looking for – I ask. Every time. Because how will she know I want it, if I don’t speak up? No store can carry EVERYTHING, so they have to make their best judgement call and make decisions.

    Oh – and 9 times out of 10 – she finds it and brings it in for me. Try that with an online store.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 24, 2012 at 8:06 am #

      Exactly, no store can carry everything, which is true for both online and offline. I used to work for an LSS and understand how you can’t please everyone, nor should you try.

  5. Laura May 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    It makes me sad to read that you have an LSS 30 minutes away and choose to shop online because of selection. Have you thought about supporting your LSS by buying what you like there and supplementing online or asking if they can order something? I am always ordering special things for my customers… they purchase from me and don’t have to pay shipping. We offer classes and crops that online retailers can’t… Also, I hear much of the time, I don’t have time to scrap, attend crops, etc, but I truly believe that we make time for what we want to do. I also think that there is room for both of us online and offline…. There are people who love the face to face contact that you cannot get online… Touching the paper, taking the classes, laughing along with everyone else… I also always look online to get ideas, to stay up on the latest and greatest….

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 24, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      To be clear, I do shop at my LSS. Do I shop there every time? No. My time is worth something (30 minutes = an hour roundtrip). I also spend about $100 every time I do shop there. I find plenty I like. I suppose, I used poor choice of words when I said they don’t have everything I want, but they don’t. That’s not a bad thing and that’s not the only reason I don’t always shop there. The point of this post was to get scrapbook businesses to stop lumping all scrapbookers into the same category. We have a tendency to think all scrapbookers are like ourselves, when this just isn’t true. There is a great deal of diversity among scrapbookers and one way we are diverse is how much of our scrapbooking lives center around online (and not just shopping, but blogging, and using facebook). Many of these online things can easily be done by offline businesses to reach this type of customer. It is much easier for an offline business to get online and reach new customers than it is for an online business to get offline to reach new customers. Thanks for commenting.

  6. LindaBabe May 24, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    My “LSS” is 90 miles away, in Palmer, MA. Life’s Memories and More. I get there about 4 times a year. If I see some new stuff I want, I email the owner and ask if she has it or can get it because I WANT her to stay in business! She has a website, newsletter on line, but she also runs tons of classes and crops for local scrappers. Since Palmer’s a small town, they don’t have the big box competition immediately available but it’s less than 20 miles away.

    Even though I’m active on line, I mostly buy stamps and tools on the second hand market. For new, I’d rather support my LSS.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 24, 2012 at 8:16 am #

      Sounds like you have a great store. You say you are active online, and I have a couple of questions about that. Are these free sites, membership sites, ad-supported sites? I’m just curious, because as I’m thinking more about this topic, I wonder how people show support for those sites they use and how that differs from supporting an LSS. Any thoughts? Thanks for commenting.

  7. Trish Reddick May 24, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    Stephanie, thank you for your perspective on both types of businesses that provide for scrapbookers/ paper crafters . We are lucky as consumers to have both online and offline stores to supply our needs. As one reader says, No one place can be EVERYTHING to everyone!

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 24, 2012 at 8:18 am #

      Thanks for commenting. I really hope it helps businesses (both offline and online) to really think about offline and online scrapbookers.

      • Isabel May 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

        This topic has really helped me, as being both an online store owner and physical storeowner, each store as differently as scrappers shop.
        Thank you for this topic.,

  8. Isabel Lawrence May 24, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    I am also an LSS, as well as an on-line store since 1993. I can see where there is a place for both, especially in rural areas or where you don’t have a local scrapbook store within 30 minutes from you, or the weather is so bad you can’t drive anywhere. Personally, maybe because I have always lived rural, 30 minutes is not far to drive to support my local stores, and yes my time is just as important as anyone else’s. Do I go in every day? no, that’s just not realistic, both time and money wise, but with a little planning I can get what I need in my local independent stores, without the added shipping (yes I know many entice with free shipping but you usually spend more than the shipping to meet their free shipping $) and quicker becasue I don’t have to wait for delivery.
    As a LSS, if I didn’t keep up with the lates trends, the newest, latest, greatest—I would have had closed my doors years ago, but no one store can carry everything. Even the large chains, I’ve gone in looking for something, my coupon in hand, and come out with nothing still coupon in hand.
    What I’m now trying to figure out-because when I started out in 93 there was no online, is how or what local customers are missing that has taken them away from their LSS or that they at least remember they have a LSS. How do I reach local scrappers and keep a presence within their minds that I’m still local and they can shop with me locally without having to turn to the internet for the exact same things as I have locally–minus the shipping costs, waiting time for shipping–and personal one-on-one time that I don’t get with on-line shopping, and without being a nusance. What advertisements do scrappers read to find local stores, even local stores with on-line presence? Do you prefer communications/ads/sales/event announcements/newsletters via email, blog, website or snail mail? Do you see their local ads in local newspapers/television/radio?
    What would be that ‘special’ reason you would shop locally, remember that you even have a LSS before you read of their going out of business sale then boo-hooing that you’re LSS is closing up shop, which is what I read alot. What types of classes? Do you still like attending events at your LSS? or is it only the online events you attend now. How exactly does the LSS find that happy medium with scrappers to meet their needs and still remain in business? What has kept you away from your LSS? Cost of crops/classes/products or lack of new crops/classes/products. What keeps your LSS in your top 10 list to go to first when you need something?
    Love this topic by the way, it’s so hard being the LSS–which to me an LSS can be either on-line or off-line.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 25, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      Honestly, I would love to see stepped up Facebook interaction from offline businesses. (Keep in mind this is based just on the offline businesses I like on Facebook. I try to like on Facebook any local business I want to see stay open.)
      If I were an LSS, I would start using instagram (or other easy photo sharing that gets on facebook) to upload photos when you are displaying new inventory or to show boxes of new stuff that just came in. Show me a photo of customers having fun in a class or excited over a new purchases.
      I would also add regular status updates. These could be specifically about your store: ask fans what they want in the store, ask fans for ideas for classes, remind fans of upcoming classes, offer promotions at the last minute to get the class filled. You could also ask questions about what they are scrapbooking. Creating Keepsakes and Scrapbooks Etc. does a really good job with this on facebook. Managing social media does not have to be a full-time job. Some of these updates can be scheduled once a week. I think more offline customers are at least on facebook that the investment in managing the facebook page would be worthwhile.
      I think this might become its own post in the future. Lots to think about. Thanks for commenting.
      Oh, and I wrote a bit more about where I spend my scrapbook dollars on my on site:

      • Isabel May 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

        FB with my store is something that I have to learn, but haven’t had much time for FB other than getting pics of the grandkids so I can scrap. LOL

  9. Melissa May 24, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    I’m glad you posted on this topic. Nancy and I spoke about this very thing at CHA two years ago. I mentioned to her about how many of the trends of which they spoke about on roundtable were not what we were seeing in real life (still true, by the way). Since so many of the guests on Roundtable are online scrappers, Roundtable doesn’t always reflect the offline scrappers. Of course, that’s not their target market. For the talk Nancy was giving that day, though, I thought it was an important point to distinguish who your target market was since it was a topic on trends in scrapbooking. The trends seen online don’t always translate to what will actually sell in a LSS.
    I’m an online retailer and an offline one at conventions. Most of the time, in my “offline” convention world, the customers aren’t following online trends at all. So, even if something is hitting big online, it very well might not sell at all off-line. Balancing this can be very difficult for stores.
    Stores do need to take into consideration who their customer is and what they want. All store owners have limited budgets-online or off-and need high turnovers to stay in business. While you should ask your LSS if they can bring in something for you, please understand if they can’t. There are minimum orders and quantities that they have to meet, and sometimes they can’t do that for a single item. Also, please try to keep your LSS in mind. Otherwise, you might end up like me. My closest LSS is now 75 miles away. I still stop by when I’m traveling, but I do miss the ones we had locally.

  10. VickyR May 24, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    I know the point Stephanie is trying to make. I shop at 2 lss. The local store close to where I live and another in the state where my family resides. My local store is great. When I need papers for the local schools and themes that are specific to the area where my family lives, I must visit my non-local lss in-person or place a phone order during their business hours. If my non-local lss had a web presence, they would get more orders from me because I could place orders outside of their business hours instead of having to visit in-person, placing phone orders during my business hours or making do with less than ideal substitutes.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 25, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      I know why LSS don’t typically want to do online orders, but I wonder if they would at least allow people who place phone orders to do an order via email, which would be more convenient for the customer? Thanks for commenting.

      • Isabel May 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

        I have customers that like to order online but pick it up on the store. They get overwhelmed with everything in the store so find it easier that way, then when they come in they wander around and aren’t so stressed. And they’ve told me they like shopping in their jammies . . . LOL

        • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

          That’s interesting that they are overwhelmed in the store, but not online. I wonder if it is the amount of product, deciding what to purchase, the whole process, or what.

          • Isabel May 28, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

            I’m not real sure, that I haven’t figured out, that’s why I thought a night of ‘personal kit making’ mixing what they already have with something new that also includes the photos initially planned for certain items in their stash may help. We’ll see.

  11. Karen May 24, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Wow…I’m just a scrapper, but this fussing is getting a little too familiar. Every locally owned store can relate to this. Ever wonder how many brides go into a local store, get the CPU code and order the dress online? All I can say is that if my LSS offers a class or event that appeals to me, I will go! I love “getting my hands dirty” and playing with the products. I will drive to a LSS that’s 35 miles away before I go to another LSS, 20 miles away, because I like it better. They offer classes more to my taste, the store is brighter, more organized and the staff MUCH more helpful! I can’t get that online, BUT, I can’t shop in my PJ’s either. I do both, but prefer the LSS and just don’t have the time to make the trip often enough. I am much more likely to purchase something new if I can use it and see and feel how it works. I love seeing displays of cards and LO’s! And I don’t think I’m unusual in that regard. I am a visual, touchy, feely learner. Here’s another way of looking at pulling customers into your store: I have amassed a LOT of product and have taken an online class so I can use what I have. Don’t know how you would work that into the LSS model, but I’m sure you could. I also ended up purchasing a few items in addition to using what I had, so it was a win/win.
    I do purchase online as well, and mostly from a Mom and Pop store than anywhere else, but it IS online.
    So there you have it from a hobbiest/collector-of-scrappy-things point of view.
    Bottom line is if you are a LSS owner, please don’t be belly-aching about customer’s shopping habits. Change and do what YOU need to do to make YOUR store appealing to me!!! You can’t change me, but YOU can change YOUR STORE!

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 25, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      Thanks for commenting. I wonder how many LSS (and online businesses) are doing there own market research for their store? This would be an excellent idea and doesn’t have to be hard.

      • Wendy May 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

        Well said!

    • Isabel May 26, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      Well said Karen,
      But, what exactly does a store need to change to make it appealing. I’ve never been a store to belly-ache about my customer’s shopping habits (except when they come to my store/crops to hand out coupons or sell from their catalogs), have even helped customers shop at other stores to match what I have to what they have. What I’m trying to achieve in my newest store is that “change” that would make my store appealing. What classes are appealing, what types of classes/crops are scrappers looking for that would be appealing, and yes we do have a ‘jammie’ night–it’s alot of fun. I too have a scrapbook room at home with all my collections, but find myself missing things when I sit down to scrap. I’ve been mulling the idea of a ‘kit making night’ where scrappers bring what they have photos, papers, etc, pre-planning layouts with what they have then adding to their ‘personal kit’ from the store what they would need to complete those pages (including the cello to keep everything together), then having a ‘kit night’ where they can bring those pre-made personalized kits, tools and actually get the feel they’re accomplishing something at crops. Just thinking . . . It’s a totally different animal between online stores, expos, home parties, warehouse sites & physical storefronts, with scrapbookers expectations being different with each type of setting.
      This topic has really gotten me to thinking.

      • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

        I think it depends on what your end goal is. Are you looking for more people to take classes? More people to buy product? The same people to buy product? Getting people to go from just buying product to taking classes (and vice verse)? How do you currently get feedback from customers?

        • Isabel May 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

          I get feedback from customers by asking them , having surveys, and just by watching them when they’re shopping around the store. My end goal would be for more people to get back into scrapbooking, whether it’s classes or crops–doing either will result in them buying. Around here many have so much stash they don’t know where to start, and many have shyed away from scrapbooking because the magazines have made the layouts look so complicated and artsy.

  12. Addie May 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    If my LSS doesn’t have what I want, I should ask? Why? I may not want to wait for a special order or I may not feel like getting into a conversation about my purchase. Sometimes I just want to run in and out. In my area I also find the big box brick and mortar stores out of touch a lot of the time and often end up buying from a big box store online. I’m extremely supportive of small business and would prefer to support my LSS by advocating for policy at the Federal and State levels that give tax incentives and breaks to my LSS, rather than bending over backwards to buy things there.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 25, 2012 at 8:13 am #

      Good point, there are government policies that can make it more difficult for LSS compared to bigger stores. It’s not just about the customers.

      • Isabel May 25, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

        guess I’m not aware of govenment policies making it more difficult for LSS . . . the only difference between an independend LSS & big box is they buy in the larger quantities that the manufacturer gives them a bigger price break on than they do on the LSS, but I haven’t seen where there’s any government policies that make it difficult for the LSS–I’m US based so I can only comment on US government/taxes/etc.

        • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

          I’m thinking of the tax breaks/incentives local jurisdictions sometimes give the bigger companies to open up shop in their communities.

    • Isabel May 26, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      I think you should ask just so the store owner knows what is being sought after in her store, you don’t need to get into a long discussion or explaination about why, just ask–you don’t even need to have her special order, but how is the store owner suppose to know what local Scrapbookers are looking for if there’s no input from Customers.
      Looks like I’ll add a ‘comment box’, or a way for shoppers to drop a note in as to what they’re looking for that I’m not providing, but so that they can do this anonymously?

      • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 28, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

        I have seen a local business use postcards to get feedback. They are addressed to the store and a customer can take it and provide feedback anonymously. They can also make requests this way. I’ve also seen businesses use facebook and twitter for this purpose, just asking customers what they want. I think a lot of people just don’t think to ask or that it is even possible. Sometimes just asking customers if they found what they were looking for can jump start this conversation.

  13. Lisa Gurwich-Cutler May 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Wow, this is an interesting topic. I’m a long time reader of SU and really enjoyed reading all the comments. My “LSS” is Archivers and I don’t really call it a LSS. Maybe a mini-big box. They don’t carry alot of the smaller brands I like and sometimes don’t carry the entire collections so I go online. Their special orders take FOREVER!!! If ever. And I have a Silhouette Cameo and they no longer carry any of their products, so I pretty much have to order online for that so if I am already paying shipping, I’ll go thru and really shop at whatever store I am online at. And they have such a long time to get rid of old merchandise, I go to my crop and maybe only spend $15. They just don’t have anything I want. I am not sure why that is…

    I do have a LSS about an hour away. They are on FB but it seems that every time I think about heading up there, they are closed. They close on a whim, rainstorm, whatever. I have learned to check FB or call them first. And she carries stuff that I is not ‘me’. Tons of Teresa Collins, Authentique, Graphic 45. I’m just into different things.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 25, 2012 at 8:18 am #

      I wondered where a place like Archiver’s fits. I just wrote up a post on my own site ( about where I spend my scrapbooking dollars. It didn’t feel right to place them in the big box category or the LSS category. They seem to be something in-between.

      That is one of the things I love about an LSS: you get the store owner’s personality/style in the selection. This makes every visit to a new LSS an adventure. At the same time, they do have to take care to include the stuff they don’t like as much because that could be someone else’s style. There has to be a balance.

  14. Debby May 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Maybe I read the article wrong but I don’t think we are talking about the differences between on/offline store as much as on/offline scrappers…
    I am an independent store owner. I have a very diverse group of crafters. Some spend lots of time following blogs and trends and some look at me like I have 2 heads if I mention a popular line by name because they have never heard of it because they don’t follow online at all. I believe that is the issue the author was speaking of.
    If I were to generalize my customers, I would say that the scrapbookers who shop with me are much less trend-savvy than the card makers. They are ladies who started scrapping with CM and still get together once or twice a year at a retreat with their consultant or a group of friends. They like to “get ‘er done” when it comes to their pages and like stickers and the cricut for embelishments. The card makers follow certain designer’s blogs and usually know about new stamp or die releases before I do (and I spend a LOT of time online). Somewhere in the middle is my target audience. We want to be able to get the “advanced” crafters the latest and greatest while still supporting the ones who enjoy keeping it simple and quick. We have a goal to bring some of the beginning scrappers up a notch and teach them to be more creative but at the same time don’t want to overwhelm them. It is a very difficult job.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 25, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      Nope, you read it right! That’s interesting that you notice this split between scrapbookers and cardmakers. Thanks for commenting.

  15. Jersey Girl Anne May 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    I have been forced to shop on line and I HATE it!! Both of my LSS have closed and I get tired of seeing the same old thing at the box stores!! They are way behind when it comes to new product. I am a person who is hands on and wants to see the true color of the products etc. I loved my LSS and supported it as much as possible.Whe they started to struggle because of the recession they would send out Emails and tell us all that if each person spend $10 a week there, they would not have to close. It was sad to see it go under and even more so because they were right up on all the new stuff and didnt keep old product on the regular shelves. Now that i am forced to shop onlone ,I try to buy from the smaller stores and have found that they have much better service too.

  16. Gab May 25, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    Great post – very thought provoking!

  17. Cathy C. May 25, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Interesting topic. Both of our LSS here in town closed within months of each other. One catered to the online scrapbooker and one catered to the offline scrapbooker. The online and trendier store couldn’t meet customer demand because of minimum ordering requirements. It was just too expensive and those of us who asked for the new collections were repeatedly told it wasn’t possible due to cost. We had to settle for what the LSS owner liked and purchased and most of the time it was the same type or style of product.
    This store had the better crop area and enticed the offline “get-er-done” scrapbooker, but those people would come in to crop and hand out coupons to the big box stores never purchasing any product in that LSS because it was too expensive or they couldn’t get it “on sale”.

    The offline store never got any new product in and focused on stickers and the Cricut. It resembled more of scrapbook clearance store than an LSS. The crop area was horrendous but there was a consistent group of women who met up there and once again, wouldn’t buy anything because the big box stores offered the coupons.

    Long story short, the scrapbook consumer in my town is frugal and those who like the latest greatest are few and far between. I’m an enigma and all on my own out here:(

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 25, 2012 at 8:28 am #

      You sound like me! Hehe…How tacky to hand out coupons to the other store during the crop at the LSS. I’ve seen some LSS do something like offer the crop for free if you spend so much money during the crop. I heard this in both a city (where I worked in an LSS) and in the rural area I am now in, but people don’t like to pay for crop-space. It seems like customers need to be educated that they are renting space to crop and that space costs money for the store owner. The store owner is making very little money if any on cropping fees.

      • Isabel May 25, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

        When you figure the cost of an employee, tables, chairs, the room space, heating/ac & lights–the store owner is not manking any money on crop fees– And I’ve had people come to my store handing out coupons for another store–or their direct sales catalogs while they trash the products I carry saying they’re not safe. They are a totally different breed of scrappers in themselves. Then they get mad when I show them the same product on my shelves priced less than either their coupon (which the big box stores up their retail price to compensate for their coupons) or catalogs for the exact same item.

        • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 26, 2012 at 6:58 am #

          Do they come back after you point out the supplies on your shelves? How frustrating for you!

          • Isabel May 26, 2012 at 11:14 am #

            Yes they do, most didn’t even realize that the big box raise their prices to compensate for the discounts. The direct sales reps–get tiffed but after we talk and I explain it would be no different than my attending their parties and promoting my store trasing their catalogs, they too understand. It’s hard and frustrating, but yes they do come back and they do understand, it’s just heart-breaking when it happens. Maybe I just take things too personal sometimes

  18. April May 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    I found this article very interesting. I have been scrapbooking for over 10 years now, and started out as an offline scrapbooker. The problem? Everyone there looked at me like I had a third eye when I scrapbooked out of chronological order and scrapbooked more than just events but everyday moments and photos that may have been taken years apart. No matter the products I wanted with three local scrapbook stores around, none wanted to carry or even order, more generic product. Themed was everywhere – football fields, a whole piece of paper that had a big ol’ tennis ball on it, and I could go on. I was forced to go online by THREE local stores. Only one is in business now, but I still go in there on occasion. The problem still remains that it’s too thematic because “that’s how people shop” I’m told. Well, no. Not all people shop that way. I shop by color and technique/tools used more than anything. Or even by manufacturer . . . But not hardly theme.

    I hope more LSS owners read this and take your message for what it was meant and learn how to cater to those who don’t shop in their store more frequently if they want to gain our business.

    • Isabel May 25, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

      Your post is very helpful, thank you so much. I am an LSS, from what I’m reading–I’m not a normal retailer, LOL, I’ve alway been the one that’s not only out of the box–but I’ve been told I have to be on-top of the box LOL. I have more unthemed in my store than themed. I like the generic papers and such personally, and found that most everyone in my area does too, so even though I have themed areas, they aren’t very large areas–most everything in the store is generic. At least with your post I’m feeling like I’ve set up my newest store the way alot like–by theme (small amounts), cardstock is all color grouped, the generic papers are stocked by maufacturer since for the most part manufacturer’s make their papers to match, then I have my embellishments that match the papers/manufacturer’s not far from them–drives me crazy to have to go across the store to find the matching stickers, brads and such, then I have the tool corner. I have found that most scrapbookers do like to shop by theme or manufacturer, card makers like their little corner too of the 81/2×11 or card sized papers/embellishments/etc, digi scrappers basically stick to the digi corner which some manufacturers have digi & lumpy to make the hybrid digi pages, and then there’s the paper crafters who don’t want anything to do with scrapbooking–they look for the lunch boxes, receipe boxes, alterable items. And of course the online scrappers want to shop the same way online and even have the option to order online and pick up at the store.
      Thanks, this has been a great topic.


      • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 26, 2012 at 7:04 am #

        I’ve seen stores organized in both ways. I “grew up” in an LSS that organized by manufacturer. It took me awhile to “get it.” Now, I mostly see stores organized by theme. Or a combination of manufacturer and theme. Honestly, I skip the themed sections about half the time. That’s not how I scrapbook even though some themed stuff is kind of generic or could be used in other ways. How should a store be organized? I think an individual store would need to do some research here. Most LSS are small enough that an employee could be on staff just to observe the shopping patterns of customers for a day or more. Are they going to the themed areas? What do the customers ultimately buy? Who is the target customer? Who are the actual customers?

        • Isabel May 26, 2012 at 10:42 am #

          Thanks Stephanie,
          Since I opened my 1st store in 93, what I have seen scrapbookers like most is the bright well organized store where they aren’t tripping over things, and they can see what’s there. I have seen the definite difference between scrappers: online — like to research online, get ideas, visit the manufacturer’s sites and shop somewhat by manufacturer liking everything together as much as possible, digi –like attending crops, but get forced into corners because they need a plug for their laptops (some stores don’t allow the use of their plugs now), hybrid mixing digi w/ lumpy/bumpy/texture, card makers, paper crafters-don’t like scrapbooking pages but preserve photos on alternate materials, and traditional. I still see them all as scrapbookers who have chosen the art that fits their personality and all still want to preserve their photos/memories. Yet, they all want bright clean uncluttered stores/sites, crop areas where they don’t have to pay a small fortune to get away from home for a couple hours, and are more than understanding about fees for the day/weekend crops/classes — ‘no frills’ and ‘frills’ crops, and sometimes assistance from a live store owner/staff member that walks around with them matching/helping plan layouts they’ve gotten stuck with. All scrapbookers are the same even though they have their unique scrapbooking differences, all scrapbookers are achieving the same goal–saving memories

  19. Wendy May 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    This has been a VERY interesting thread! I shop both brick and mortar and online. I love browsing in an offline store. Having the hand-on experience is so great. I don’t have any small business-owned stores within 50 miles, but I do love it when I get a chance to visit one. Scrapper’s heaven!! But, I can’t always get to a store, and sometimes I want to “browse” the web instead. I do think it’s important for owners to recognize the wants and needs of their different customers (offline vs. online). Mindsets are different and it’s important for owners to think about that so they can cater to all.

    Along another line, times, they are a changin’ and as much as it’s important to support our local brick & mortar merchants, there are also many U.S. online stores who are trying to make a living too.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 26, 2012 at 7:09 am #

      Good point about online stores. The other thing about online businesses is that they can have worldwide reach. This is a good thing for the hobby overall. I worked in an LSS from 2003-2008 and in the early days, I recall getting international customers. They made a point to visit an LSS while in America because they could not get the product overseas. I remember one man from Australia who visited our city regularly. His wife sent him with a list of items she had seen in the magazines and we did our best to get him the things on the list and few other items. Online retail has definitely helped spread scrapbooking and support scrapbookers around the world.

  20. Ruth B May 27, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Hi Stephanie,
    I am loving your writing on SU, thank you. As a listener on PRT, who enjoys your comments there, I was excited when Nancy announced you were joining the team and your articles have been really thought provoking and well considered.
    I am a bit surprised at the direction of the comments, since I think you were quite balanced in the article and did not imply anyone should not shop at their LSS.
    I live in Australia and have 2 LSS one 15 minutes and one 45 minutes away. I like to visit both but with 2 small kids I can only do so occasionally and consider it quite a treat. Like Sue said earlier, it is often more practical to do stuff at home while the kids are asleep. This is why I have switched from in store classes to BPC, and TwoPeas classes. I subscribe to heaps of blogs in google reader and regularly add or remove as the content interests me, this never-ending stream of up-to-the-minute scrapbooking images and commentary has replaced my old mag subscriptions and I currently get 2 different kit clubs. I am a keen online scrapper indeed.

    On the other hand I have several friends who started years ago like me and have never gone online. They only buy from the LSS, but actually spend less there than I do, though it is only a percentage of my total spend. Their scrapping has not changed and they spend less and fuss less about the newness of the products less. They don’t feel the need to buy much new stuff. They are also less motivated or passionate about finding time to scrap, IMO. They do most of their scrapping at the annual weekend away we attend and use Becky’s CK Sketches for every layout. They are all completely turned off by the idea of having to watch a video online about scrapbooking, and any recommendations I make to do fall on deaf ears. Exactly as your article alludes to, as I understood it. I certainly relate to what you describe.

    I particularly wanted to mention one LSS that I think is doing a really good job of meeting both groups effectively, and that is Scrapbook Generations. (Mind you, they are not local to me – I wish!) They have tapped into some of the things that work in each group. For locals they have a very inexpensive regular class schedule that gets people into the store. They focus on showing scrapbookers they can make layouts with just paper and no embellishments using sketches, keeping it cheaper for the frugal scrapbooker. For the online scrapbooker they offer these class kits grouped together as a monthly subscription, and invite subscribers to email them to include extra product if they need something else and do not have a lss themselves. I am mentioning them here, because they have built quite a following online but still seem to have a good handle on who their offline customer is, and so if LSS are looking for someone succeeding in this area, I wanted to suggest they are a good example.

    Great article and great comment conversation. Thanks Stephanie!

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      Thanks for your feedback! I actually learned about Scrapbook Generations from my LSS. They were selling some of their books and I looked them up online. I’m not super-familiar with their business, but it is possible to reach both groups, if a business wants this as their business.

  21. Krystal May 28, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    This is such a good post to get the post stirring. 🙂 I think people make their own money and should be allowed to spend it how they wish without being scrutinized. People who work online have a family to feed just like the people who run LSS. I feel like most online scrapbooking places that I have ordered from, the product is being shipped straight from the owner or at least the company isn’t extrememly huge with 1000’s of employees. Like the ladies that have shops and advertise through youtube- they’re selling they’re own product. Yes- it’s ordering online, but you’re buying from an individual person. I’d rather support them if they’re selling something they’re made or a product that I can buy at my LSS or Micheal’s. I like to take crops and classes at my LSS becuase that’s something I can’t ‘get’ online. It’s kind of like magazines and something I once heard Nancy (I think it was her) say on paperclipping, that people want to know what is current now so magazines are not hot right now becuase the Internet is so much quicker in getting updates (this was specific to CHA). Well, if I wait for my LSS to get that favorite piece of paper in, I may not get it and it may take quite a while. I’d rather order it online. However, I shop plenty at my LSS, online, and handmade. I love scrapbooking and the products that come with it regardless of where it’s from. Hopefully this makes some what of a point 🙂 Happy Scrappin’

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath May 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

      I didn’t even realize this would stir the pot! I’m kind of glad it has because it is really helping me get to know the audience of SU and giving me lots of ideas for future posts.

  22. Crystal Williams May 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    I’m pretty sure ALL of my points have already been made. Just wanted to say “Thank you”, Stephanie for your research, insight, and terrific choice in topics.

  23. Kathleen R May 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I work with Close To My Heart as an Independent Consultant. I read all of this last night and let myself sleep on it. I think what I hear the article saying is that offline/LSS should try to also appeal to the online (not necessarily just SHOP online, but read/learn/digest online) scrapbooker.

    The thought that came up for me this morning was how many markets are too many? Do you spread yourself too thin if you work all these angles? You offer traditional products (many, keeping up with the fast pace), online products, products for scrappers, card makers, papercrafters, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Newsletters, Blogs, classes, crops, workshops and on and on. I’m not sure that this is wise. (Even though I believe that Close To My Heart tries to do this and does a good job with it. But then, we have a whole corporation behind us!)

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath June 1, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      You’re right, you can spread yourself too thin and I think each type of business is going to be a bit different. That being said, every offline business must have some online presence. Depending on the business a website might be necessary. Depending on the customers, you might be able to select between Facebook, Twitter, an email newsletter and so on. You might not need them all. My own site has evolved. I used to do a weekly newsletter and it was just killing me. I took to heart the message that an email newsletter is necessary. Perhaps, but I’ve cut it back to once a month. I do get interaction from the newsletter, but I had to prioritize and weekly newsletter was too much for me. I also don’t do much on Twitter. I spend more time on Facebook. As a business owner, you have to decide where your time is best spent. Talk to your customers. Find out where they are, what online tools they use or want to use, and go from there. Thanks for commenting.

  24. DLMillard June 20, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    I’m probably talking to an empty room by now, but what I am hearing here describes a vast, diverse marketplace and I think that’s good for all of us. I love the LSS because I can hold the product in my hands. Just today I was in a stamping store that carries SB papers and was impressed by the quality of a sheet of Authentique PP. I can’t do that online, but I won’t hesitate to order diverse exotic products from online since they are making them available to me. It’s how I get what I want and that’s good for both the LSS and the online stores.

    Thank you for an insightful article.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath June 20, 2012 at 7:44 am #

      Thanks for commenting. Great point. Online and offline businesses are not necessarily competition or only competition but can compliment one another quite well.

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