Top

Archive | News

Update

JOANN store exteriorMakeover. One of the country’s largest (and at nearly 75 years old, one of its oldest) craft chains is undergoing a rebranding. The company long known as Jo-Ann Stores recently began calling itself “JOANN” in company announcements and has a newly redesigned logo and a fresh new shade of green as its signature color.

In addition to the new cosmetic look, the new JOANN is also engaging in a branding campaign, promoting the hashtag #handmadewithjoann and launching a series of videos about creating and creators.

In addition, JOANN has created a new mobile app that is much more community focused, allowing users to share their own creative projects.

“As shoppers’ behaviors and preferences evolve, we need to adapt the way we connect with them,” said Chris DiTullio, senior vice president, marketing and omni-channel at JOANN. “We’re committed to the longtime loyalists coming in to our stores, as well as the next generation of creators who want to shop, learn and share wherever they are. This app is so exciting because it offers something no other craft retailer does – the ability for customers to confidently share their finished projects with us, and with friends, family and one another as well.”

Partnership. Etsy has announced that it is launching a partnership with Printful that will provide print-on-demand integration to Etsy sellers. This will allow graphic artists to sell on Etsy and have Printful handle the logistics of printing and shipping items like t-shirts, mugs, hats, totes, wall prints, and other items.

“We applaud Etsy on adopting more professional services for their sellers,” says Printful CEO, Davis Siksnans. “Sellers can continue devoting time to their craft while leaving logistics to third-parties like Printful.”

Support. Taylor Swift got support from an unexpected source during the recent trial in Denver over her successful civil suit alleging she was groped by a radio DJ during a fan meet & greet. The offices of Craftsy are right across the street from the Denver courthouse where the trial took place. The Craftsy staff showed their support for Swift during the trial with a series of Post-It note messages on the windows that were clearly visible from the street below. Swift’s unofficial girl squad at Craftsy did not go unnoticed – they received a delivery of flowers and a note of appreciation from the singer on Tuesday after the trial’s conclusion.

Delinquent. The Tennessean reports that on the evening of August 8th, firefighters had to climb to the roof of the Dickson, Tennessee Hobby Lobby store to remove a 15 year old trespasser trying to use the store’s roof as an impromptu skateboard ramp.

Calls. Tombow USA has a call open until September 11th to find members for their 2018 design team.

Jobs. The following craft industry jobs are currently listed as available:

1

Update | Etsy Earnings, Closure, Hancock Fabrics, and more!

Welcome to the weekly Update column from Scrapbook Update for August 3rd, 2017!

[Disclosure: I have professional relationships with Cricut and Scrapbook.com who are mentioned in this article but this content is not sponsored.]

Closures. Illinois-based craft product distributor Product Performers closed its doors unexpectedly on June 30th. The closure of Product Performers leaves three remaining major distributors serving the paper crafts industry in the U.S.: Michaels-owned Darice, Notions Marketing, and Petersen-Arne.

Earnings. Etsy reported its 2nd Quarter 2017 earnings after market close today, posting a 19.1% year-over-year increase in gross revenue. The company also posted a 10.9% year-over-year growth in active sellers, and 17.2% year-over-year growth in active buyers. Mobile continues to grow in importance for Etsy, with approximately 65% of visits to the site occurring on mobile. Just over half of the platform’s gross merchandise sales (GMS) now occur on mobile.

Etsy has cut nearly a quarter of it’s workforce since January 1st, and says that this and other operational streamlining to reduce costs should reduce costs by $20 million in 2017 and by $35 million on an annualized basis.

Based on 2nd Quarter 2017 numbers, Etsy released new earnings expectations for Fiscal Year 2017. The company’s new forecast is for Gross Merchandise Sales to be up 12-14% year-over-year, and for revenue to grow 18-20% year-over-year.

Events. AFCI and SPC have announced the date and location for the 2018 Mixed Media Event. The show will take place at the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy, Utah (south of Salt Lake City). An education day is scheduled for July 16th, 2018, and the show floor will be open July 17th-18th, 2018. For more information, visit the AFCI website.

Endings. The Paperclipping.com online video service run by Noell & Izzy Hyman will be closing down at the end of September. Members are being given one last chance to renew their membership on a month-by-month basis this month and then the Hymans plan to shut its doors after next month. The closure of Paperclipping has been planned by the Hymans for nearly a year, as Noell is moving on to a career as a yoga instructor in several studios near their Arizona home.

Crimes. Israeli police have arrested five antiquities dealers in connection with the illegal sale of artifacts that were seized from Hobby Lobby by the U.S. government over allegations of smuggling.Cricut Maker

Partnerships. Cricut is partnering with Simplicity as part of the launch of its new machine, the Cricut Maker, that was announced on August 1st. Simplicity is making hundreds of its digital patterns available in Cricut Design Space to cut on the Cricut Maker machine, which features a special rotary blade specifically for cutting fabric. Previous generations of the Cricut machine could cut fabric, but only when stabilized with an iron-on backer, which isn’t necessary on the new machine.

The launch of the Cricut Maker machine reflects a broader trend among companies that were once marketing solely to the paper crafts market to try to serve a broader audience – and the sewing market, via fabric and quilting, has been a popular target of many companies making the shift.

Endings II. The liquidation of Hancock Fabrics, which began well over a year ago, is still underway, with the liquidation plan finally being approved by the bankruptcy court on June 20th. Liquidation of many of the company’s key assets had already taken place, despite the lack of a court approved plan. In Summer 2016, Michaels Stores purchased the brand assets of Hancock – its trademarks, brands, and customer database – for $1.3 million. The Hancock-owned trademarks bundled in the deal included the brands Sew Perfect, Absolutely Cotton, and Creative Sewing Solutions (among others). Michaels did notify Hancocks customers that it planned on using the customer database to give them the option to opt out. Whether the company will use the sewing-related trademarks is another question. Sometimes purchases of assets like this are made not for intended use but as a sort of game of corporate “keep away” to prevent the assets from being used by competitors.

Social. If you are an Etsy storeowner looking to improve your social media reach, Forbes has a must-read article analyzing how some Etsy artisans have dramatically improved their sales using Facebook Live.

Change. A lot is written about the local retail businesses that die as a result of ecommerce, but we don’t hear as much about the businesses that are built from the rise of ecommerce – and the jobs they create. To learn more about one company that credits its booming growth to the rise of ecommerce, including clients that do business in the crafts industry such as Amazon, and Hobby Lobby – visit mlive.

Milestones. Congratulations to stamp company Neat & Tangled on reaching its five year birthday yesterday!

Products. Simon Says Stamp has released a new collection of stamps and dies by designer Cathy Zielske. In Zielske’s signature cheeky style, with sentiments like “Hello my hide-a-body friend”, these aren’t your grandma’s everyday stamps. (Unless, of course, you have a really cool grandma.)

Social II. In case you weren’t already convinced that Pinterest was a search engine, the social media platform drove the point home this week by updating its mobile app to reduce the number of clicks required to do a search. The search box is now visible on the app’s main home feed page, instead of buried in the explore tab as it previously was. They’ve also placed the button to access Lens, the feature that uses your device’s camera to take a picture and search for similar items on Pinterest, on the home feed page next to the search box for easier access.

Pinterest said in the announcement that monthly mobile searches are up 40% over last year and that 85% of all Pinterest searches now take place on mobile.

History. For a great read about the history of stamping and the rubber stamp dating all the way back to Old Testament times, check out Scrapbook.com’s article “The History of Stamping“.

2

Update | Taxes, Growth, Exclusives, Earnings, Events, and More!

Taxes. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) has proposed a bill that would affect how companies like Etsy, Lyft and AirBnB have to report their sellers’ income to the IRS. The bill would lower the income threshold that requires reporting by these entities to the IRS from $20,000 to $1,000 per year. It’s estimated by one tax policy expert at American University that the policy change, if implemented, will result in billions of dollars of new taxes being collected from sellers in the sharing economy who previously didn’t report their income.

Predictions. Market research firm Technavio has just made a new report available on the Global K-12 Arts and Crafts Material Market that predicts that market will grow at a CAGR of over 2% from now until 2021. To purchase the full report, visit the Technavio website.

Exclusives. Sizzix has announced that its Big Shot Jewelry Studio machine and an exclusive collection of jewelry dies and embossing folders are now available in a limited number of Michaels Stores. Only 30 stores – less than 3% of Michaels stores – are scheduled to stock this collection. To see the list of stores, visit the Sizzix website.

Bella Blvd Designer Day

Events. Registration is now open for Bella Blvd’s “Designer Day” event that will take place in Milwaukee on October 12th. The event will feature classes by Illustrated Faith designer Shanna Noel, Megan Hoeppner, Cynthea Sandoval, Jamie Pate, and Bella Blvd founder Stephanie Smokovich.

Deep Thoughts. Vicki O’Dell has a thought-provoking blog article up about the concept of being a “serial crafter”. I’ve long believed that most crafters tend to migrate through multiple crafts over the course of their lives. It’s an interesting thought to contemplate both from the standpoint of what it means for craft marketing, and what it means for the careers of professional crafters.

Security. In modern marketing, social media accounts are a vitally important company asset. They are also a major target for hackers, and a successful hack can cause at best a PR crisis or at worst the complete loss of social marketing assets. To combat this threat, Pinterest has just announced it is rolling out several new security features to help keep its users’ accounts secure. Turning on the new two factor authentication will require providing a code sent to your phone before you can log in. A list of logged-in devices on their account will also be available for Pinterest users, allowing them to disconnect ones they do not recognize. In addition, Pinterest will begin notifying users via email if a device not previously used on the account logs in.

Expansion. Hobby Lobby’s new store in the Lake Park area of Palm Beach has had its opening delayed until after the first of the year by what the company calls issues with getting permits. Another new store in progress, in Turlock, CA, is expected to open in September. A hiring event for 30-50 positions for the new store will be scheduled once an opening date is set.

Earnings. Amazon announced its 2nd quarter earnings today. Investor anticipation of the number temporarily made Jeff Bezos the world’s richest man, as Amazon’s stock rose enough to put Bezos over Bill Gates before a drop put Gates back on top again. The company reported a 25% increase in net sales versus the same period in 2016. Net income, however, was down significantly compared to 2016: $197 million versus $857 million last year.

The recent Prime Day event on July 11th, which will be reported with 3rd quarter sales, was described in a July 12th announcement as the biggest day ever in Amazon history. While sales were lead by offerings of Amazon’s signature devices like Fire and Kindle tablets, many other companies took part as well. Cricut was one craft company who offered Prime Day items. Even Amazon Handmade sellers took part, with Marcia Ricchiuti of Kahili Creations in Pahoa, Hawaii saying of the day that “So far, this year’s Prime Day sales increased 350 percent from last year’s. Getting the opportunity to offer lightning deals as a Handmade at Amazon artisan has been a boom to my business.”

Salutations. Happy Birthday to Jayne Burns of West Chester, Ohio. Jayne works at the cutting counter at the Jo-Ann Fabrics in Mason, OH – and celebrated her 95th birthday with her coworkers on Wednesday.

Peeks. A lot of crafters joke their homes look like a craft store…but what would your house actually look like if you owned one of the country’s biggest craft chains? You can check out this real estate listing for the answer – it’s the iconic Dallas home of Michaels Stores owner Sam Wyly. For a mere $12.5 million, you too could live in 7579 square feet of historic 1924 home on the Dallas Country Club golf course.

Jobs. The following industry jobs are listed as open and available:

2

Update | Kickstarter, Stacy Julian, Merger, Crimes, Jobs & More

Recall. American Crafts is recalling two of the Jane Davenport acrylic paint kits that were sold in Michaels Stores in the U.S. and Canada before June 16th, 2017. Some Jane Davenport Portrait Paints Kit and the Jane Davenport Matte Acrylic Paint Kit may contain some defective paint containers that split and leak during use. Click here for full info on the recall, and contact acinfo@americancrafts.com for information on how to get a refund for your paints if you own the affected kits.

Start-up. Designer Lesley Oman is about to conclude a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch her own stamp company, called Heffy Doodle. Her campaign has raised over $15,000 so far to fund the launch of the new company.

New. Stacy Julian, founding editor of Simple Scrapbooks magazine, has a new product line coming in 2018. The product line, called Story by Stacy, was announced on June 30th at the annual Close To My Heart convention and will be a Close To My Heart exclusive. Julian was associated with a previous product line called Photo Freedom with Echo Park Paper, but it is fitting that she should get a product line with Close To My Heart – she started her scrapbooking career as a consultant with the company in 1993. Follow the Story by Stacy instagram account to keep up to date on the upcoming new line.

Story by Stacy logo

Mergers. Liberty Interactive, the parent company of tv shopping channel QVC, announced on July 6th that it is acquiring QVC the remaining 62% part of competitor HSN that it did not already own. Liberty also owns online retailer zulily, Evite, and interests in several other companies. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017, after which HSN will remain operating in its St. Petersburg, Florida headquarters under the direction of Mike George, CEO of QVC. The move will combine the two eCommerce channels, both of which have strong presences in the craft segment, into the internet’s 3rd largest retailer.

Hoaxes. Like a celebrity death hoax that won’t go away, the viral Facebook post that claims “Hobby Lobby is closing all of its stores” is making the rounds again. No, it’s not true this time either. This go-round was probably triggered by the recent stories about Hobby Lobby facing government penalties over the illegal importation of ancient antiquities.

Crimes. A 46 year old man was arrested in the Hobby Lobby in McAllen, Texas in the evening of July 13th, accused of using his cell phone to take photos up the skirt of a female shopper in the store. The man was charged with making invasive visual recordings, a felony, and released after posting $10,000 bond.

Crimes II. The Joann Fabric & Crafts store in Thousand Oaks, CA reported to police on July 8th that the store had been the target of petty theft and embezzlement for a six month period beginning in January.

Earnings. Etsy will announce its second quarter 2017 financial results after market close on Thursday, August 3rd. These numbers will be being keenly watched by investors, as Etsy has had several rounds of layoffs recently and also launched its new Etsy Studio website for selling craft supplies.

Location. Michaels Stores is increasing its presence in New York City, with plans to build a second Brooklyn store in a new building going up at 1633 E. 16th Street. Michaels has signed a lease for 20,000 square feet on the ground floor of the building, expected to be completed in 2020.

Sneaks. The AFCI trade show in Salt Lake City is over, but the sneak peeks aren’t. Today we did a major new update to the Summer Sneak Peeks page on Scrapbook Update…check it out for all of the latest!

Jobs. The following industry jobs are currently listed as available:

5

Update | Stamp Presses, Craftsy, Deals, Sneak Peeks, Jobs, & More

Peeks. Next week is the AFCI Mixed Media show in Salt Lake City, and that means it is time for our sneak peeks page of summer releases! Click here to check out the Summer 2017 sneak peeks page, and watch for more updates this weekend and also next week as more products are unveiled. (Also, coming soon: features rounding up previews of the Christmas and Fall/Halloween lines, so if you’ve got one to share, send it to nancy at nallystudios.com)

Changes. It’s hard to believe, but Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman are celebrating the 10th birthday of their website A Beautiful Mess this week. Along with the celebration, they made a big announcement: A Beautiful Mess is ending its arrangement at the end of August with Inked to  produce and handle orders for their products. (Inked is the parent company of Studio Calico). The Happy Mail and Messy Box subscriptions will be going on hiatus during the transition to new arrangements, and the pair promises exciting news coming soon about future plans.

Neutrality. Etsy was among the major internet sites taking part yesterday (July 12th) in a day of action to support net neutrality regulations enacted by the Obama administration – which are now under threat by the Trump administration’s FCC. Etsy spent the day displaying a special banner as part of their rotating box at the top of the site. Clicking the banner took site visitors to a special page on the Battle for the Net site that lets Etsy store owners send a message to the FCC explaining how ending net neutrality will hurt their businesses.

Etsy Net Neutrality

What is net neutrality, and what is all of the fuss about it? To quote Google, net neutrality is “the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.” Put bluntly, net neutrality helps prevent your internet provider from holding your access to small sites like this one hostage – or relegating it to a slower access lane – because we haven’t paid them for access. Net neutrality is also an important way of way guaranteeing that, for instance, Comcast won’t try to force you to watch the cable and network tv assets that they own by choking off the streaming access of (or charging exorbitant fees for access to) digital competitors like Netflix and Amazon. In the craft world, net neutrality is an important part of the marketing process, as a large portion of marketing in the industry has moved to digital platforms like blogs, social media, and YouTube.

Presses. The stamp press wars are heating up again, as both We R Memory Keepers and Tonic Studios are coming to market simultaneously with revised competitors to the MISTI. The MISTI has been the only stamping press on the market since its patent was granted in April and legal action resulted in the pulling from store shelves of products from Hampton Art and We R Memory Keepers. Legal action also delayed the release of the Tim Holtz Stamp Press from Tonic Studios, who is still mired in litigation with MISTI manufacturer My Sweet Petunia over alleged patent infringement by their original design.

The revised version of the We R Memory Keepers stamp press, called the Precision Press Plus, is currently available exclusively on HSN. The special HSN package retails for $44.95 and includes several stencils and stamp sets to use with the press. What is new about the Precision Press Plus, versus the previous Precision Press, is that the press comes with three interchangeable lids. One is the familiar one from the previous press to use for stamping, and one has channels for sliding in small alphabet stamps for stamping envelopes. The third “lid” is not a lid at all but a clipboard clip to hold stencils in place on the press’s work surface.

No word yet on details of the revised Tonic Studios Tim Holtz stamp platform. A photo of boxes of it at the Carson Stamp Show, where the platform was first offered for sale, was posted on instagram last week by Mario Rossi. It’s also shipping from Scrapbook.com. [affiliate link]

Education. It’s being reported by Abby Glassenberg at Craft Industry Alliance that Craftsy is planning to offer a subscription  model in 2018. It’s unclear at this time whether this will replace their current à la carte pricing model or be an addition to it.

Changing pricing models on customers always comes with risk of backlash. Craftsy would do well to learn from the experience of Big Picture Classes. That company switched to a subscription model and ended “forever” access to previously purchased classes after its purchase by Studio Calico, causing a huge uproar from customers.

Deals. Bella Blvd is hosting an online warehouse box sale for its Illustrated Faith brand on Monday, July 17th starting at 9am CT. Boxes with a retail value of $191 will be available for $49.50 plus shipping. U.S. shipping will cost $12, and priority shipping to Canada will be $45. (Elsewhere in the world, shipping cost will be $60.) Visit the Bella Blvd website to take part in the sale.

Online retailer A Cherry On Top is holding a warehouse sale at its warehouse in Saginaw, Michigan this Saturday (July 15th) from 9am-4pm. For all the information about the location, and tips to make your shopping more efficient, visit the sale information page.

Events. Etsy will be holding “Etsy Community Market” events in Australia on July 29th.  Local showcases in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, and Adelaide will gather together some of the best of the Etsy marketplace in Australia to promote their creative products in person to shoppers. To get details on locations and times of the event in each city, visit the Etsy Australia blog.

Apps. Persnickety Prints, the favorite photo printing service of many scrapbookers (including this one!) has announced that customers can now upload photos from any web browser. Previously, photos could only be uploaded to the site from the company’s phone app. This change makes Persnickety much more accessible to dslr shooters and photographers who edit their photos in programs such as Adobe Lightroom. It means these photographers will no longer have to transfer their photos back to their phones after editing or use a solution like dropbox to upload from their mobile devices. (Excuse me while I go do a few cartwheels.)

Jobs. The following craft industry jobs are currently posted as available:

(Above is just a selection of the 51 jobs currently listed on the Michaels website. Click here to view them all.)

10

Update | Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Celebrities, Layoffs, Jobs & More

Crime. One of the culprits behind the 2011 payment card data breach at some Michaels Stores pled guilty recently to two charges related to the crime, which involved installing 88 counterfeit PIN pads at 80 Michaels Stores locations in 19 states. As many as 94,000 cards were believed to be compromised in the breach.

According to a press announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, Angel Angulo pled guilty in Federal Court in Camden, NJ on June 20th to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The conspiracy to commit bank fraud charge carries a potential sentence of 30 years in prison (plus a $1 million fine). In addition, the identity theft charge carries a mandatory 2 year sentence, which must be served consecutively to the bank fraud charge sentence. Sentencing in the case is scheduled for September.

Another conspirator in the fraud, Crystal Banuelos, pled guilty in 2015 to similar charges, and is still awaiting sentencing. She also consented in her plea to a forfeiture of $480,300 which is believed by prosecutors to be proceeds of the crime.

Crime II. Ivette Rodriguez, an attendee at Stampfest in Orlando over this past weekend, is being hailed as a hero by exhibitor Marco’s Paper and Crafts after she caught two people attempting to shoplift in their booth. Later in the day, in perhaps proof that the arc of the universe bends towards justice after all, Rodriguez won one of the event’s door prizes – a gift certificate to Marco’s Paper and Crafts.

Celebrities. Does your favorite Etsy seller have a secret – famous – identity? According to several news stories this week, Etsy apparently has some celebrity crafters lurking among its store owners. Singer Adele told a Wembley Stadium crowd recently that she has a secret hobby of making pom poms and selling them on Etsy. Also, Tila Tequila recently opened her own Etsy shop to sell her paintings through. (And of course, it’s not new…but who could forget Snooki’s Etsy shop?)

Celebrities II. Julianne Hough, of Dancing with the Stars fame, had her wedding shower last week for her wedding this Saturday to hockey player Brooks Laich. The event was thrown in Hough’s native Utah by her sister Sharee, who brought in Heidi Swapp to help plan and design the event. Hough’s blog contains an extensive recap of her wedding shower, including details on how Heidi incorporated her Design Boards and Instax products.

Books. Proving that trend is still going strong, designer Erin Bassett has a new book coming out September 5th called [Amazon affiliate link] The Art of Bible Journaling. The book is being published by Get Creative 6, an imprint of Sixth & Spring, which is a division of SoHo Publishing.

Layoffs. Etsy, for the second time this year, has announced that it is laying off staff. This second round of layoffs will include approximately 140 positions (or 15% of its workforce), making a total of 230 (or 22%) of its workforce laid off in 2017 based on end of 2016 employee numbers. The current round of layoffs will primarily be of marketing and product management staff as well as general & administrative positions. Most affected employees will come from the ranks of the company’s Brooklyn headquarters.

Etsy has not fared well with investors since its IPO in April 2015. Debuting at $16/share, the company briefly traded over $30/share before beginning to drop in value. Trading below $7 at one point in early 2016, the stock has been making a volatile climb back up. But as of today, it is still trading at $14.63, well below its IPO value 27 months ago.

Travel. If you are traveling to Creativation in Phoenix in January 2018, and your driver’s license is from Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, or Washington, you will need an alternate form of ID in order to travel home by air (starting on Jan. 22nd, 2018). Starting on that date, state ID from those states will no longer be valid for use for Federal purposes such as entering TSA checkpoints in airports, due to those states’ failure to implement the Federal REAL ID law that was passed on recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Residents of those states will need to supply alternate ID, such as military ID, a green card/permanent resident card, or a passport, to be able to pass through airport security when traveling. It is recommended that if you need to apply for or renew a passport in the coming months, that you do so early, as the State Department expects a higher than normal level of applications due to REAL ID implementation in 2018.

Fees. Photobucket, in a stealth update to its terms of service, implemented major changes that now limit the ability to link to images hosted on the site from 3rd parties. This ability – which was previously available to all accounts, including free ones – is now limited to the service’s “Plus 500” level of account, which costs $399/year (or $39.99/month).

Linking to graphics hosted on free Photobucket accounts has long been a popular way on the internet of displaying message board images, and of hosting blog graphics to circumvent bandwidth and storage limits on blog hosting accounts. This change by Photobucket has resulted in a millions of images all over the internet now displaying instead as a Photobucket error graphic – being referred to as a ransom graphic by some. In many cases, the refusal of PhotoBucket to serve hosted images that have been linked has totally destroyed the usability of the associated content on blogs and message boards. In the crafts industry, this is especially true of one of the most affected sites – Etsy – where listings without photos are virtually useless.

Changes like this are why I always recommend to bloggers that their graphics be hosted on their own blog host. Linking to graphics on 3rd party sites carries the risk that those links could be cut off at any time. Especially risky is linking to images on accounts controlled by other people, such as design team members, who may choose to delete those accounts or images at any time for any reason.

Events. Ali Edwards has announced a second Story Camp in Eugene, Oregon fot October of this year. Registration opened  on June 27th, but bad news if you are interested in going – all 35 slots are already sold out!

Settlements. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced yesterday that it has filed a civil complaint against Hobby Lobby, alleging the company smuggled Iraqi antiquities into the U.S. in 2010. According to the government, Hobby Lobby spent $1.6 million in Dec. 2010 to purchase 5,500 antiquities from a dealer in UAE. The company proceeded with the purchase, allegedly, despite having been warned by a consultant they had retained about several red flags in the transaction that indicated the antiquities may be looted Iraqi objects. The antiquities were then shipped to the U.S. without proper customs paperwork, and labeled as “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (sample)” that originated in Turkey. Some of the shipments were seized by U.S. Customs, and further shipments originating in Israel were seized the following year.

cuneiform tablet forfeited by Hobby Lobby

International law enforcement agencies are highly interested in stopping illegal trade in antiquities from Iraq and other locations in the Middle East because selling looted antiquities is widely believed to be one source of funding for the ISIS terrorist network.

In a stipulation of settlement that was filed with the complaint, Hobby Lobby agreed to forfeit thousands of artifacts it had illegally imported, and pay a $3 million fine to settle the case. In addition, the company agreed to implement changes in the way it will acquire future antiquity purchases and to submit quarterly reports to the government of their purchases for the next 18 months to ensure that such transactions are legal. “We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled,” said Hobby Lobby President, Steve Green. “Hobby Lobby has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, and with the announcement of today’s settlement agreement, is pleased the matter has been resolved.”

Jobs:

 

4