Why Local Stores Offer Classes – And Why To Take Them

I did something this weekend that I rarely do: I took a class at my local scrapbook store. All the stars were aligned to make it work out – the price and time were right, I had childcare coverage, and I was really interested in the class.

The store also promoted the class on Facebook ahead of time. Actually, they asked fans of their store who would be interested in taking classes from a particular manufacturer. I signed up as soon as the class was a sure thing.

The point of the class was to play with a specific manufacturer’s product and learn how to use it. A local store does not need the manufacturer to come in to do this for them, but it sure did make it a bit more exciting to have a manufacturer visit this little-bitty town in the middle of a cornfield.

I wound up spending about $60 on product related to the class, in addition to the price of the class. I found the class to be well worth the money and the class seemed to work well as a marketing tool for the store to get customers to spend money on product, since I’m not the only one who left with an additional purchase. There were actually three classes that day from this manufacturer, but I could only commit to taking the first class. I left the class with a mini-book containing examples of ten different techniques created using the product.

So who was this manufacturer that earned a share of my time and my cash? Tattered Angels. I had bought a couple of bottles of spray mist before and have used them, but really didn’t think I would buy many more because I just did not know all the different ways to use the product. I was also unfamiliar with the other items they make (glimmer glaze, glam, stained glass, and chalkboard). This class changed that.

Why should a local scrapbook store offer classes?

In a well-planned class, customers get hands-on experience with products they might be unfamiliar with. I learned in my class not only how to use products that I already owned, but also about products I didn’t even know existed before the class. This experience means it is more likely I will continue to buy products from this manufacturer – and from this store as they were the place that hosted the class.

Why should you take a class at your local scrapbook store?

You get to learn about and play with a variety of different products, with guidance from experts on what can be done with them. And, you might even get a special discount on the product used in the class. This small discount definitely motivated me to buy more products at my class than I otherwise would have.

Do you take scrapbook classes? Do you take them online, offline, or both? What do you like and dislike about the classes you have taken? Comment below.

23 Responses to Why Local Stores Offer Classes – And Why To Take Them

  1. DorothyCC July 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    An alternative to classes are free or low-priced make-and-takes like the ones offered at Archivers. I agree with you that classes and make-and-takes introduce me to products that I never knew about before. I’m much more likely to buy new products after trying them out myself.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 12, 2012 at 6:34 am #

      I’ve never been a big make-and-taker. I think my issue is, yes I get to play, but then I have this item that I made that I may not really want and I have a hard time just throwing it away. But, you are right, make-and-takes can be really great for this, too.

  2. Judy Webb July 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    I have met few classes that I didn’t love!! I followed one designer/teacher from TX to GA. (Of course, I have family there.) Part of my enthusiasm for scrapping is the continued change and learning process. Classes are a learning and socializing mecca. So thankful to have a local scrapbooking store. I love spending my $$s in her store.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 12, 2012 at 6:37 am #

      I agree. I have a tendency to just buy products and figure out how to use them myself because it is difficult to fit classes into my work schedule (that also work to have child care covered), but I want to try new things and learn new things in scrapbooking.

  3. Terri Torrez July 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    I’ve taken a fair number of product-related classes over the years, and I have to say most of them were terrible. Most classes are not really about learning to use the product in different ways; they’re just about following the steps to make a specific layout or project. You might love the product but you don’t usually learn anything. In all my product-specific classes I’ve had two manufacturers that were notable exceptions – one is Jenni Bowlin and the other is Tattered angels. I took the TA class a couple years ago and I still refer back to my technique binder.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 12, 2012 at 6:39 am #

      I am familiar with those classes. They are definitely not the kind I would want to take, but, I do know that some scrapbookers really love those types of classes. I remember customers that really needed or wanted that much direction. I’m not sure how popular that type (basically scraplifting-style) of class is compared to others. Maybe a store owner could speak to this? Which type of class gets more response in stores?

  4. Marilyn S July 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    We no longer have any LSS here…(I’m only a bit south of you) and I’ve barely scrapbooked since the last one closed. I used to love when the companies sent reps to teach their classes. I loved Mrs. Grossman’s sticker classes and never would have seen the beautiful ways to use their stickers.We used to have a Quickcutz club which was inspiring as well… I so miss those days.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 12, 2012 at 6:42 am #

      Awe, bummer. Maybe there is an independent consultant in the area that offers classes? Not quite the same, but they sometimes offer classes.

  5. gk scrapper July 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    Yes, I take scrapbooking classes both online and in OUR local scrapbooking store, DAISY LANE. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the Tattered Angels classes. Online classes are generally much more flexible with my work and family schedules; however, offline classes offer an opportunity to play and learn about products hands-on. It is also fun to connect with other scrapbookers in person. Overall, in-store classes are win-win-win…good for the store, manufacturer, and consumer.

    P.S. Maybe I will meet you at the “Don’t Distress over Ink” class later this month. Of course, I am sure that you have heard that Tim can’t make it. LOL! Somebody at our local store has a sense of humor. Keep up the good work and have a great day!

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 12, 2012 at 6:47 am #

      Ah, you got me and figured out the store! I wish I could make the ink class. I have one distress ink but I really don’t know how to use it to its full potential despite watching an online video or two about it. I would need to buy more tools (more inks, blending tool) to really play with it.

  6. LynB July 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    We have a wonderful LSS that I not only teach classes for, I take classes from my fellow instructor team members. As an instructor, my objective is to always teach a technique, a trick, and provide more product knowledge to enhance their learning experience. Of course, I hope they make purchases to support what I taught as well! We always offer a shopping discount to anyone taking a class that day. Even the monthly paper arts card making club that I run is all about teaching something new or trendy or just focusing on a particular product. My most recent class was called Ranger Round Up and we specifically worked with several Ranger products in a spiral bound mixed media journal. People loved it so much we are offering a followup class!

    On the flip side, I LOVE taking classes because I want to kick back and enjoy making something that I am specifically interested in. I will admit for the most part I seek higher end classes and that sometimes leads me to online classes where I have been totally satisfied. Jenni Bowlin, Tim Holtz and Carol Wingert just to name a few.

    I guess if you are lucky enough to have an LSS nearby, let them know what you are looking for in classes. Our classes tend to be held on Saturdays and Sundays. Our clubs are weeknights and crop is weekday mornings. We recently implemented Demo Day which was a free two-hour demo of certain products and that was very well received and is going to be a quarterly event. Store owners are only in business if you, the customer, support them and let them know what you want!

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 12, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      For me the time of the class really helped. It started at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. Of course, my child is not in soccer or baseball or any other sport with a Saturday morning commitment. I really was happy with the time of the class, but know that that time is probably not the best for most customers. I liked that I could go take the class, buy some groceries, and then come home and still have the rest of my day. I was a motivated to actually scrapbook after the class and had a chance to do that for a bit when I got home. I don’t know how stores select times. Do they just try this time or that time and see if they get more or less students? Do they survey their customers? I’ve can’t recall ever being surveyed on when to take classes or what types of classes should be offered and I’ve been on a number of stores mailing lists. The closest would be the facebook question on would people take this class if we schedule it that I mentioned above.

      • LynB July 12, 2012 at 10:27 am #

        Our LSS has been around for over 15 years and so we’ve determined when to hold classes that generate the most interest and attendance. We host Make & Takes occasionally that are offered over 3-4 days in hopes of capturing people during the weekday. I believe one of our best communications besides our blog and Facebook is weekly emails that reach out to many, many customers because it targets what’s new that week, upcoming events, classes, crops and specials. We also ask at the register how they heard about us if they are new to the Shoppe and get their email. I always ask if they receive our weekly e-blast and they usually say yes. Another good question to ask is if they are a card maker, scrapbooker or both as it helps us guide them in a direction to return to the Shoppe!

  7. Gab July 12, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    I think I would take product related classes if my LSS had them. They seem to mainly have LO classes where you come away with a completed LO. I’ve done a TON of online classes, which I love

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 12, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      Have you talked to your store about other types of classes? That seems to be the general consensus from the above commentators. Are they receptive to other ideas?

  8. Debby July 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    As a store owner I am so glad that you had a wonderful experience and have shared it with others. You asked a couple of questions that I would like to respond to. For our customer base, it is all about techniques and/or product features. The layout classes, as you said, tend to not be much more than paint by number… You don’t really need a class for that, just a kit; but some people do like to just get out with their friends and come home with something completed. We don’t do well with those classes.

    As for scheduling classes, well— it is hard. We try to offer a good variety of days and times, but regardless we can’t please everyone. We love to have our customers tell us what works for them as long as they understand that a particular instructor may not be available then. When we have guest instructors (who travel around the country) we don’t get a lot of say. They can be very expensive . Some require us to pay travel expenses like airfare, hotels, meals etc. A little place like mine cannot afford that so we try to piggy back on other events; like the NY Stationery Show. If an instructor is already in the area it saves us airfare. The downside is we are limited to the day right before or after which could be mid week; so the people who can only attend weekend classes get left out.

    For our own instructors, we offer semi-private classes. If a group of 3 or more people want to schedule a class at a particular time we will do it for them and then open it up to anyone else who would like to attend. We are guaranteed at least 3 students and they are guaranteed the class will run.

  9. Judy Johnson July 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    My experience with Arciver’s classes and Make n Takes is that their employees have not been trained how to use the products. I feel sorry for the person teaching, she just trying to do her job. Taking classes at LSS gives you more qualified teachers, especially when they bring in the experts. I’m taking the 3 Tattered Angles Classes tomorrow at Creative Cuts and Crafts in Elmhurst, Il. They are taking full advantage of CHA this week, by having guest teachers all week, including Donna Downing and Teresa Collins, Tattered Angels, Authentique Paper and others. Check them out all year for great classes.

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 14, 2012 at 6:25 am #

      I bet you will have the same Tattered Angels class and instructor I had. She was traveling all over Illinois this week leading up to CHA. Have fun! I’ve always lived too far from Archiver’s to try any of their classes and can’t recall ever even doing a make and take. When I go there, I usually have either my husband and daughter waiting or mom and daughter waiting so I have to be as quick as can be. I have heard that problem before though at big-box craft stores. I have never taken a class at a big-box craft stores, so I can’t say for sure. That is frustrating though, for both customers, and the person who has to teach the course.

    • keely July 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

      Judy, I am taking a class with Donna Downey tomorrow at CCC. Can’t wait!! Last year, I took 3 classes at CCC with Debby Schuh when she came into town for CHA. Another designer people should look out for is Wendy Vecchi. She has taught a couple of times at another LSS. Lots of techniques and introduction to new products that you might not purchase otherwise. I agree with the comments about Archiver employees. It is really unfortunate but they are not generally well trained or informed on new/current trends and products.

  10. Siri July 15, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    I work at a LSS and I’ve held several technique based classes. A lot of the scrappers/card makers attending my classes sign up to every single one just to be social and try new stuff (even though they might not buy anything or have an actual interest in that specific product). We have a very limited space at the store, so I have no more than 7 participants in any class. I think the social aspect of the class is just as important as the actual class. We laugh, talk and have loads of fun! It has also lead to people visitng each other for crops. It is surtainly a great way to meet likeminded people and make new friends in your area!

    • Stephanie Medley-Rath July 15, 2012 at 7:39 am #

      Yes, classes are certainly social, that is what I like about going to crops. I don’t go to crops often, but do enjoy the social aspect of it.

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