With the start of the new year and trade shows happening, we have lots of catching up to do with the craft industry news! So let’s get started!
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Cutting. Cricut has made two big product announcements recently. Fans of the Cuttlebug will be disappointed to learn that the die cut machine and its accessories are being discontinued. Those still wanting one (or supplies for one they already own) can shop while supplies last at Cricut.com.
Files from one of the most popular sources of SVG files for use on die cutting machines are now available in Cricut Access. Miss Kate Cuttables has launched several new collections in Cricut Access, including Spring Has Sprung, Springtime, All You Need Is Love, Be Mine Valentine, Love Letters, and Valentine’s Day.
Closing. Furniture chain Hemispheres, which was founded in 2001 by Hobby Lobby’s David Green, will be closing. The company’s vendors have been told the store will be placing no further inventory orders. Hemispheres’ eight stores in Texas and Oklahoma will close later this year after selling through existing and already-purchased inventory.
Closing 2. Impress Cards + Crafts has been serving Seattle-area paper crafters since 1987. But on February 23rd it will close its University Village store in Seattle, leaving only its Tukwilla location.
Closing 3. Scrapbook Store & More in Greenfield, Wisconsin will be closing their doors on March 31st. The owner, citing health problems and a changing scrapbook market, has announced plans to open a craft retreat house in late spring or early summer 2019 that will sleep 10-12 people.
Every store closure is a loss to the industry, of course. But this particular store is noteworthy as the store that started the scrapbooking career of a young Stephanie Hunt (aka Stephanie Smokovich) – now known to scrapbookers worldwide as the founder and designer of Bella Blvd.
Changes. In yet another sign of the decline of the popularity of pocket cards, Kelly Purkey has announced changes to her monthly subscription club. The subscription traditionally included pocket cards and an exclusive stamp set. A second subscription option will now be made available moving forward that includes only the stamps, without the cards. The new stamp-only subscription will cost $16/month for a 12 month subscription.
Direct. Too Marker, the manufacturer of Copic markers, has announced that they are discontinuing their distribution agreement with Imagination International in the United States for the popular markers. Instead, the company plans to sell the markers directly themselves to the U.S. market.
Channels. Tonic Studios announced this week that they are changing channels. The company, which has long partnered with Hochanda for TV shopping sales, is jumping to Create and Craft TV starting in March 2019. Click here to see the full announcement.
Legal. After settling their patent infringement lawsuit against Tonic Studios in July, My Sweet Petunia moved on to another target in October: Stampin’ Up. In a widely anticipated move, My Sweet Petunia filed suit against Stampin’ Up in October 2018 alleging the company was infringing its patents on the MISTI tool by selling its Stamparatus tool. Stampin’ Up! has filed counter-claims against My Sweet Petunia challenging, among other things, the validity of one of My Sweet Petunia’s patents.
Wholesale. Stamp-n-Storage, which produces storage options for scrapbookers and card makers, is entering the wholesale market with its popular magnet cards for storing thin metal dies. All four sizes of Stamp-n-Storage magnet cards (5×7, 6×7, 8×7 and 8.5×11) were on display to retailers at the recent Creativation show in Phoenix. The company had previously marketed its products only via its own website and at consumer craft shows such as Stamp & Scrapbook Expo.
Adjustments. Facing a shrinking market for her company’s core Project Life products, Becky Higgins has shared with fans some major changes being taken to help ensure the health of the company moving forward. The company’s physical office space has been shut down, with all staff working from home now. The Good Life product line – the company’s foray into lifestyle products – is also going away. And they are also stopping exhibiting at consumer shows and shipping product internationally from their online store. Finally, they are discontinuing their affiliate marketing program.
In the email to consumers discussing the changes, Becky promised fans would see more video content containing Project Life projects soon, along with more online courses for the Becky Higgins classroom. The company also is planning what she described as “an adjustment in how we offer / package the Project Life product,” which may be a welcome change to many scrapbookers if it includes fewer duplicates of the 3×4 cards. Too many duplicates of those cards is a common complaint among Project Life core kit purchasers.
Chains. Michaels has announced it is closing all of the 36 Pat Catan’s stores in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The company acquired the Pat Catan stores three years ago when it bought Lamrite West, the parent company of Darice and Pat Catan’s. At the time of the acquisition, Michaels’ public statements pointed to Darice as the motivation for the acquisition, so the announcement of the retail stores’ impending closure is not particularly surprising. Michaels says it intends to rebrand up to 12 of the stores as Michaels stores and reopen them in the 2019 fiscal year. The company will also continue to maintain a warehouse for its wholesale business in Strongsville, Ohio.
“After a comprehensive review, we have decided to close all of the Pat Catan’s retail stores. We expect to rebrand and reopen up to 12 stores as new Michaels stores in fiscal 2019, and we will continue to maintain a support center and distribution center in Strongsville, Ohio to support our growing wholesale business. We believe these changes will provide more value for customers and shareholders by enabling us to leverage a more consistent merchandise assortment and eliminate duplicative retail operating expenses,” says Chuck Rubin, Chairman and CEO of The Michaels Companies. “This was not an easy decision, and I am grateful for the contributions of our Pat Catan’s Team Members. As we work through the closing process, we intend to provide employment opportunities or transition support for all Team Members.”
People. JOANN Stores has a new CEO to replace Jill Soltau, who left for JC Penney in October 2018 – and it’s a familiar face. Wade Miquelon, who had been serving as interim President and CEO since Soltau’s departure, was appointed last week as her permanent replacement. He was also given a seat on the Board of Directors as well. Miquelon joined JOANN as EVP and CFO in March 2016, and came to JOANN from The Walgreen Company.
Cruising. Michaels is partnering with Carnival Cruise Line to be their exclusive arts and crafts provider for their fleet of 26 cruise ships. Onboard ship, Carnival Cruise Line customers will have access to a variety of “Make It With Michaels” craft experiences that will rotate seasonally. And this spring, Michaels will host Carnival Cruise-themed classes in their stores.
“As we continue our mission to make it easy for parents to provide their kids with more mindful, screen-free fun, we are excited to partner with Carnival Cruise Line to inspire creativity at sea,” said Steve Carlotti, Michaels EVP of Marketing. “Carnival carries more than 5.2 million guests every year, including 800,000 kids, and this program will give guests of all ages a new and creative way to interact with our brand. As the number one player in the arts and crafts space, we are the preferred destination for making and creative play, and this new partnership is another way we are solidifying our leadership position.”
To celebrate the program’s launch, the companies are giving away five Carnival Cruises between now and April 30th. You can enter to win on the Carnival Cruise website.
Dates. Speaking of getting away, Jenn Shurkus has announced the 2019 dates for her Creative Journey Art Retreats on Cape Cod. The spring retreat will be April 27th-28th, and the fall retreat is November 2nd-November 3rd. Registration for the spring retreat opens February 17th at 9am ET.
Sold. U.K.-based Coats has sold its North American Crafts business to Spinrite, the Canadian manufacturer of yarn brands such as Caron, Bernat and Lily Sugar n’ Cream, for initial cash consideration of $37 million. The acquisition brings brands like Red Heart, Susan Bates, Aunt Lydia and Coats & Clark to Spinrite.