Archiver’s Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Major scrapbook retail chain Archiver’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota.

The Archiver’s board authorized the bankruptcy filing on April 25th via a written directive. In court filings, the retailer indicates that it intends to continue operating. The initial petition estimates the company has between $10-$50 million in assets, and $1-$10 million in liabilities, and indicates that the company believes there will be at least some funds available for distribution to unsecured creditors.

As a retailer, it’s not surprising that a large portion of the company’s top 20 unsecured creditors are product wholesalers. The largest unsecured creditor is EK Success, who is owed over $250,000. Also appearing on the top 20 creditors list are American Crafts, 3L, We R Memory Keepers, My Mind’s Eye, Bazzill, Love To Scrap, Doodlebug, BoBunny, Ranger, Silhouette, Pioneer, Pink Paislee, Ellison, and Queen & Company, who are owed between $55,000 and $200,000 each. The Archiver’s bankruptcy is a double hit for 3L, who was already listed as one of the top creditors in the Creative Memories bankruptcy a few weeks ago.

A meeting of creditors is scheduled for May 30th at the US Courthouse in Minneapolis. Proof of claims from creditors are due to the court by August 28th, an important deadline since the petition estimates that there will be funds to disperse to the creditors who submit claims.

Archiver’s is headquartered outside of Minneapolis and currently has 40 stores spread across 18 states. In the past seven months, the company has closed five store locations: Algonquin, IL; Fort Wayne, IN; South Austin, TX; Aurora, CO; and Memphis, TN. One of those locations, South Austin, had only been open a little over eight months when its closure was announced on April 2nd.

In their public statement about the bankruptcy, Archiver’s blamed technology for causing a declining scrapbook industry, but expressed optimism about the future:

We took this step to give us the time needed to make necessary changes in our business. Please be assured Archiver’s is not going out of business – quite the contrary, we’re making it better.

As with many retailers, the past few years have been difficult for us. This has been due in part to the recession, but also to the increased use and ease of digital technology, causing a segment of our customers to look elsewhere for ways to enjoy, share and preserve their memories. The result has been a sharp decline in the purchase of scrapbook and memory craft products, the core of our business. So, we must recognize the changing needs of our customers and adapt accordingly.

The changes we’re making are the result of several months of evaluating our business and learning from our customers about the ways in which Archiver’s can be improved. The introduction of Archiver’s Memory Lab™ is the most obvious and important addition, and you’ll find that it’s a great way to help you access and enjoy your photos and memories. Over the next several weeks you’ll see other changes as well, from our website redesign to new merchandise assortments. We encourage you to come see the new, improved Archiver’s, and we thank you for your past – and future – business.

The company seems to be putting a lot of its future in the new Memory Lab service, which offers printing, copying, scanning and photo gifts. The parallel to the Creative Memories bankruptcies is startling – and noteworthy. During that company’s 2008 bankruptcy, they planned for future growth for the company based largely on projections of success of their digital offerings such as their Memory Manager software. But a few weeks ago, Creative Memories was back in bankruptcy court again. In the new court filings, Creative Memories is specifically citing the failure of their digital products in a market where they were up against established brands such as Shutterfly for the failure to meet the projections of their first bankruptcy plan.

Update: In a Facebook statement late this afternoon, Archiver’s says that it has no plans to cancel Scrapfest, which is scheduled for Sept. 20th-22nd, at Mall of America.


30 Responses to Archiver’s Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

  1. Kate Swanson April 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Thank you for the update!

  2. Isabel April 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Wow–thanks for the update. It’s sad to see even the big guys having problems, but I don’t think that everyone is going digital. Or am I missing something?

  3. janschollj April 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    We have been discussing this on FB all day and I just explained to hubby what was going on (his business went chapter 11 in 2009). All the talk about digital and I don’t get it. I know ONE person who does digital. ONE. But it only constitutes about 10% of what she does. I am going to the Mall of America in a couple of weeks (wasn’t my choice) and I requested some time in Archiver’s store. We have two stores in Michigan and honestly, one needs to go. Never busy, too expensive and the employees need to stop the hard sells and actually learn what stamping and scrapping is about. In the Great Recession, people were not saying “let’s go to Archivers”, they were saying “I need groceries from the dollar store”. And some are still in that mode.

  4. VickyR April 30, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Sad to hear about Archiver’s problems. The last time I shopped at the store in Louisville, it appeared that their inventory was low. As with Jan, I don’t understand digital. If scrappers are preserving memories for the future, digital is not the way to go, unless everything is printed as you go. All the old files (not scrapbook pages) that I can no longer access due to operating systems, software, media etc. no longer available or compatible, physicial pages are the only way to truly preserve memories. I believe that the move to digital magazines and advertising of scrapbook products only to existing scrappers ignores potential new scrappers. We who have been at this for a while have stashes. And new scrappers are not getting the message and buying products.

  5. Nancy L. April 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    Scrapbooking and cardmaking are mostly done with discretionary income – play money. In this economy there is very little play money to go around. The only good thing about digital is that you don’t have to pay for picture prints and you only print off the ones you like. I agree that the digital age has not hit everyone. I only know of one person who is fully digital; the rest of us in the group still like the old ink and stamps and the occasional embellishment. I’m sorry to hear that Archiver’s and Creative Memories are in difficulty and I wish them the best in what is one of the most challenging businesses in retail.

  6. Gela April 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    Wow. ScrapFest has been on my bucket list maybe I should make plans to go sooner rather than later. I thinks paper scrappin is alive and well. It is had to complete with online businesses. thanks Nancy for being on top of the news.

  7. michelle May 1, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    I don’t use digital scrapbooking, because it costs just as much if not more to print with the cost of ink! I also like to work with my hands, and items that I can feel and touch. I think the economy and lack of cost of living increases have a lot of impact on the stores.

  8. Kathleen Loughran May 1, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    I don’t think Archiver’s Memory Lab is a move to cater soley to the digital scrapper. However it’s a move to help people living in the technology age utilize their store with greater width. For example how many of us are living with thousands of photos on our cellphone. There Memory Lab service allows you to get those out if the phone and onto a page. Also with them installing wifi at locations it allows the cropper to to utilize laptops and download cut files look up inspiration and a wide variety of tasks. I consider myself a hybrid scrapper. I dare say that there are probably very few people that technically aren’t hybrid scrapers out there. I hope this move as well as other changes they make guarantee their longevity.

  9. Kay_Tee May 1, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    I work on the PC all day long – and it’s why I resist the digital crafting. After a long day, the last thing I want to do is spend more time on the PC and print more stuff out…PLUS it’s expensive to print out all that at home.

    Like someone already pointed out – it costs just as much, if not more to print out your own stuff. **AND** the colors you see on the screen are not always the colors that will print out.

    But, this makes me recycle, use more things around the house…stick to basics.

  10. judy May 1, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    they are way too expensive!

  11. jenntn May 1, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    I went all digital back in 2005, and of my scrapping friends about half are digi. It’s WAY cheaper, even including printing. I can print a page for less than $2 from an online service, I can’t make a paper page for that. No digiscrappers I know print at home, that’s crazy. But we do love purchasing our supplies once and being able to use them over and over – I can do a 20 page album from a $5 kit. Stores like Archiver’s are hit with a triple whammy – reduced discretionary income, technology advances, and the fact that many have stashes they can no longer justify adding to at a high rate. This is very similar to the changes in the photography industry – you can choose to be Kodak or choose to find a new way to engage and become Flickr, Shutterfly, Snapfish or any of another companies who have embraced digi and thrived.

  12. Debbie O May 1, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    I don’t believe Archivers means they are going digital but wanting to capitalize on the new technology…most of us take a large majority of our photos with our phones or tablets these days capturing every day life. I hope this new lab of theirs works for them because Archivers is not just a store but a gathering place for like minded hobbyist. Its part of the whole experience. The other thing is that Archivers model of location choice limits their accessibility to other parts of their community because they are so far away from 3/4 of their potential market. I hear this repeatedly when I talk to others in cities with an Archivers..”I like it but they are an hour away”. I do hope they make it and stay around.

  13. bobbie1207Bobbie May 1, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    I used to not “get” digital scrapping either, but now I am 100% digital, as are a good portion of my friends. If I had not gone digital I would not have 8 completed and up to date albums on my shelves. I do a lot of my digital scrapping in the car while my husband drives (we are on the road a lot) and especially on vacations. It is not uncommon for me to have all of my vacation photos completed digitally by the time we get home from vacation.

    As far as expense of printing goes I don’t print at home but through a vendor. I purchase bulk credits for less than $1.60 each. Shipping is just $5 flat fee so I don’t see that digitally scrapping is any more expensive than traditional scrapping.

    I have an entire corner of one room stuffed to the gills with traditional scrapbooking supplies. It makes me hyperventilate to think of all the “projects” I had planned that will probably never come to fruition due to time restraints. There are a few albums that I started traditionally (my son’s school album for instance) that I hope to one day finish. When will that be? I have no idea but hopefully for at least that album it will be in the next four years before he graduates, and I’ll admit to dreading the idea of pulling all of that stuff out to finish that album. Everything from 6th grade on has been done digitally. I would say that 90% of the tools and supplies back there will never be used again.

    Creative Memories shot themselves in the foot when they refused to see the big picture and encouraged a “We’re the only one who will ever be able to service your needs and if you use any other supplies you are going to burn in scrapbook Hades.”. They were too late to the digital age and when they did come on board they made their software and content proprietary. They most likely lost millions in potential sales to people who were already entrenched in digital from other companies.

    We have an Archivers in our area and there were a few things that I would pick up every once in awhile. When I was a traditional scrapper I was a pretty simple scrapper and did not use a lot of product on my pages. What I found from Archivers leaned more towards crafty projects rather than scrapbooking supplies.

  14. Publius May 1, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Archivers lost their way. Thank goodness for the leading independents like Rocky Mountain Memories in Estes Park, Colorado. Way cool!

  15. Carol Salter (AKA The Biscuit Scraps) May 1, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    I love Archiver’s! I love their crop room and the ability to enlarge photos…and that’s with just the old photo lab equipment…I haven’t even used the new photolab. That is coming up on May 18. I do hope the reorg gives them the time they need to get it all in order so those of us who find traditional scrapbooking can continue to exercise our creative paper therapy.

  16. craftingwithoutkids May 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    I don’t think Archiver’s is any more expensive than any other retail store. The only comparison is to buying stuff online. In this tactile field, it’s often nice to be able to touch and feel and see true colors before making a purchase. If their new Memory Lab moves wi-fi into all their stores, than I think that will be huge for them as a lot of people use their computers for Pinterest, photos, and documents and this has really been lacking from their crops.

  17. Gab May 4, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    Wow I hope they can make it work

  18. NexxusStar May 6, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    This is very interesting – in 2003 my family and i opened an independent scrapbook store, and ran into the Archivers group at the then active Memory Trends Tradeshow in Las Vegas. All we kept hearing from the management team (talking amongst themselves) was that their strategy was to put the independent out of business. It seemed awfully cut throat in an industry that was built on community and sharing and family. But that is business! And we toughened up, focused on running the business and trying to compete. But we suffered with the economy and the perception that Archiver’s was so much better, cheaper, bigger and more helpful. And after 4 1/2 years open – we changed our direction, our product mix and services – our general focus. Now, after 10 years we have made it and are still around and actually thriving but Archivers is filing for Chapter 11 and will probably not pay half or even less of what is owed to their vendors. It is appalling! And in the end – they will put themselves out of business, not the independent. So sad.

    • Scrapbooker August 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      I applaud you for remaining open. I like to shop at the independent stores and feel you get way better service too! In all the scrapbooking circles I hang out with, did hear the same talk that Archivers wanted to put everyone else out of business. Look at them now. But really they have hurt all of us.

  19. AngelaRedCoat May 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    What I find interesting is that the majority of the Archiver’s locations are in areas where incomes are average, therefore ‘play money’ is just average, if existent. They are in areas that are experiencing dramatic turnover from area industry. Granted, when they arrived the overhead in these areas was low, but as any Business 101 graduate will tell you, “You get what you pay for”… If you are only in areas that are average then your sales will be average.
    Archivers gets literally 1000s of emails from areas of the country where scrappers spend on average, $12K/year on their habit to have a store, but these calls/emails go on deaf ears.
    They have no stores on the West Coast, East Coast or in Florida, which 3 years ago there was an industry survey that stated the scrappers in these areas spend MEGA bucks on their craft. Over 70% of the scrappers in these areas have rooms, and sometimes free standing houses, just for scrapbooking!
    I live in the northeast and we scrappers here spend huge amounts of cash for our craft. Our average incomes here are 6 digit and we are gaining industry infusions from companies that are leaving all the states that Archiver’s are in. We drive hours on end every weekend to support scrapbook stores and crops. However, CM… thinks of themselves as knowing better than what the marketing numbers tell them. Many marketing firms have stressed to Archivers in the past to expand to the coastal regions and they refused.. these marketing firms stated that if you don’t you won’t be able to survive…and look what has happened.
    I don’t find this surprising in the least and I feel for the creditors of both Archivers and CM. CM has been down this road before and you would think they would have learned their lesson, but they kept business as status quo after their first filing. They didn’t change anything except reduce the commission of their consultants.
    Archivers was given a warning a few years ago by marketing firms to change their format and they refused as well. They kept paddling in circles hoping to catch a wave only to realize they are in a puddle not in the ocean.
    Lets hope that they can get their egos in check and start listening to all the experts in the industry as to how to forge ahead.

  20. Jannene July 3, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    WOW! Didn’t realize Archiver’s was having the same problems as CM. Now I’m leary of taking my negatives to have them digitized for my kids. I have tons of 35mm negatives…I heard that some Krogers will do this for you too. Has anyone else?

    • Scrapbooker August 6, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      Yes, some Kroger’s do printing. I use them a lot. I also heard from an Ex-Creative Memories employee that Archivers was started by Creative Memories as they wanted to capture both markets- retail and online. Anyone else know of this?

  21. notebookingfun July 30, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    I find Archivers’ management’s decision to try to get out of paying their creditors as completely reprehensible. As a previous poster alluded, their attitude toward manufacturers, other retailers, and even customers has been offensive right from the start and it starts at the top. Their staff has zero customer service ethic. And yes, the industry is changing. I do both digital pages (printed in batches for less than $2 per page) and paper pages, and I still enjoy going to crops. I even go to crops at Archivers occasionally but they are just not fun anymore, primarily due to the pissy employees. It’s much more fun to rent a cabin for a weekend with friends and there are plenty of options in places dedicated to scrappers.

    As for CM, it’s nearly the same problem. Their holier than thou attitude and trying to keep everything proprietary, bad-mouthing other products and even non-sanctioned styles — it was just a gross way to do business that won’t last in the end.

  22. Carol September 4, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    I do not know many artists, crafters, stampers, scrapbookers, etc., who are going digital….sorry. I have a very small stamp and paper arts business, one of the few left; business has been up and down since 2007, which was booming prior to that. I have regular customers who purchase when they need. Stamping isn’t going away. I personally tried digital stamping right away and while I might use it, I can do my own and I’m not all that thrilled with it. Digital cannot fold paper forms, at least not yet anyway, not the way I can manipulate paper with my hands and eyes. I couldn’t believe that I read how one digital stamper stood by her printer and as soon as the digital stamp came out, she was dousing the image(s) with embossing powder before the ink dried….egads, woman, what a mess your printer would be in(I had to say it)! Stamping is like using scissors to cut: it’s the thrill of using your imagination, creativeness and motor skills independently. Digital, while having many visual opportunities, does not provide that hands-on and what can I do next. However, I’m certain that digital will have its positive side in the future, and while I will not cast it aside, I will certainly never stop stamping, cutting with scissors, etc., even though I use digital and crank technologies every day. After 40 years of stamping, my mind continues to be overflowing with hands-on ideas! Something I inherited from my grandmothers, great aunts, mother and father and the like. Big business needs to learn getting down to the very beginning of things….learn how to use the old with the new but never forget the old…. A seasoned rubber stamper, paper arts creator, paper folder, designer, teacher, demonstrator, exhibitor and retailer, C.

    • itsybel September 4, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      Carol, I’ve had my Scrapbook Store since 1993, like you business is still here, and I don’t have any plans to go anywhere for at least another 20 years, I’ve had ups and downs like any other retail industry, but I don’t believe it’s going to go away. It’s just cycling like all crafts do. I have a lot that have gone digital–partway at least–but they come in for the embellishments, and such to add to their flat pages LOL.
      I do the embossing on images, wordings, etc straight from my printer, but it doesn’t hurt the printer at all, actually you take the paper straight from the printer into the embossing power tray right away and it works just as well as any stamp, you don’t poor the embossing powder into the printer or anywhere the printer. Works great when brides come in wanting to do personalized invites–basically we have an assembly line with the bride, maid of honor and bridesmaids, so that as soon as it comes out of the printer someone is ready with their embossing bin & power, tap off and pass it off to the next person who has a heat gun and they chit-chat, laugh and just have fun while doing it. Makes a great personalized class for any type of invitation that you can’t purchase a stamp for.

  23. janscholl September 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    You hear that Archiver’s is closing the Mall of America store in October? Several others in this round are going under, too.

    • Nancy Nally October 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

      Yes, working on that story (sorry, behind this week because I’m sick).

  24. Shyra Murphy Frueh October 1, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    Any updates on the bankruptcy? I saw they are closing 5 more stores. Sigh

  25. Ami Bradish December 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    I personally like scrap booking and card making the old fashion way and a couple times a year make the hour long trip to Archivers to get supplies. Hope they never go out of business I will be very sad.

  26. kelli December 26, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    Thank you to everyone that has faith in Archivers. I have been scrapbooking for about 12 years and fell in love with the store the first time I walked in. So much so, that I am now an employee. We are doing what we can to stay open and appreciate all of the support we have received and are continuing to receive.

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