We know the craft industry, more specifically, scrapbooking, has been in trouble for a few years. Stores are closing, magazines are shutting down, and companies are going out of business. It's not really anything NEW, seeing as we've been in this funk for, what, 6 or 7 years now? I would say the decline started in 2007…

I heard about this article from a friend at a crop this weekend and then I saw a few posts about it on Facebook. Four more craft product manufacturers closing their doors.

I had heard about the posts on Marah Johnson's Facebook timeline and had taken a look at them and made a few comments myself last month. It's sad. At first I didn't think that kind of thing should be played out on social media but then again, what options does someone have left when they feel the rug has been pulled out from under their business and livelihood? I can't blame Marah. She is a passionate artist and this is her life's work and her income that is being affected – when you're a business owner (or in a relationship with one) the business really is part of who you are and your life. It IS a personal attack when someone attacks or damages your business.

I loved Splash of Color back when it was Creative Imaginations. Their lines with Helen Dardik were my favorites, followed by anything Samantha Walker designed. Right around the time they became Splash of Color, my interest waned. I got confused by their giant booth at CHA that year and then had a hard time following what they were doing – I didn't see any more lines from my favorite designers. I already get overwhelmed and easily distracted at the shows so it was easy to pass by their booth. I kind of lost track of what they were doing except for the posts I saw from Marah.

I never really dealt much with Canvas Corp but at one point in time I was an Educator for Tattered Angels, back before they were bought by Canvas Corp. ** please note Canvas Corp has filed bankruptcy but has not announced closures 4-16-14 **

I only ever dealt with GCD Studios through Donna Salazar. I had one interaction with Heidi Sonboul in her position with the company – my overall impression of the company was, at best, neutral. Their paper was kind of weird – I never really like the texture and thin feel of it and it didn't react with ink as well as I would like.

I was really excited about Lily Bee when they came out and I applied for their Design Team. I remember I bought the product from TwoPeas because it was required to use their paper (I think they only had two lines out at the time) to try out. It was the first and only time I have ever purchased paper for a call and I did not make it. I remember being brushed off by them at CHA in their booth later that year when I came in to place an order. I didn't place the order.

Why am I telling you about my relationships and experiences with these companies?

Because I won't miss them. That sounds terrible! It isn't in a mean way – I just wasn't a customer of theirs. I did not buy their products and they weren't on my radar.

Is it because I had too many choices? I certainly am not wanting for product – I mean I am happy with the paper choices I have, with the ink I buy… I don't need anything from these companies. It isn't that I don't like their products (well, except for GCD's paper), it is more that I had so many choices and only so much money/need for product, that I just didn't have the attention to give.

Is that why these companies went under? Do we have too many choices?

The other day, I had a conversation with several other ladies in my area about grocery stores closing. We lost all of our Ralph's stores and have one Vons and one Albertson's left. Fresh & Easy closed. For a while there were grocery stores on almost every corner, some intersections with 2-3 grocery stores on them. We now have Stater Bros., two WinCo locations, a smattering of Latino grocery chains, and Super Walmart or Super Target. Indoor Swap Meets or other stores (not grocery stores) have opened in most of the empty stores. I never really shopped Albertson's or Ralph's so it was no big deal to me. But Fresh & Easy closing was awful for me – I shopped there all the time! Why did all these stores close? There aren't fewer people. And, unlike crafts, people still have to eat every day – eating isn't a luxury. At any rate and for whatever reason, we have fewer choices.

I felt that way about scrapbook stores  – like maybe having 2-3 stores in a single city was kind of overkill and not sustainable. That was just too many for the current number of crafters to shop at and keep open. But now it seems there are too few!

The same with scrapbooking paper companies. I felt like from 2007-2010 there were a ridiculous number of companies with more coming out all the time! There was no way to keep them all straight and no way for enough people to buy enough paper to keep them operating. But now they are closing down or being absorbed by larger companies …

At the end of the day, it is sad that people are losing their livelihoods when they have to close their business. It is sad that someone who had a dream to have a scrapbooking or craft company has to close their doors. But if you never shopped there or bought their stuff, do you even notice if they close? Do we still have enough choices for products that we won't feel the loss? At what point will the industry hit the bottom and we'll get a respite from closures? I hope it is soon. Because that means the only way left is up. And that will be a good day!

 

Author: Jennifer Priest

It started with jewelry, beading, sewing, home decor, painting, basket weaving, pottery, and cross-stitch. Marry that to an entrepreneurial spirit & at 9 years old a girl is selling her wares at craft fairs as far as her parents and grandparents would drive her. These days, Jennifer enjoys crafts of all genres from sewing to scrapbooking to jewelry with a little dabbling in the mixed media world. Her style is approachable and she wants everyone who sees her work to feel that they too can embrace creativity and make their home and life beautiful.

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11 thoughts on “Now Manufacturers are Closing… *edited*

  1. Interesting to go back and read your post done in 2010 and it would be to see how many more stores you have taught at have also closed since that post. We have just lost our biggest local store here in Cape Town…BUT we don’t have Michaels and Joans etc to back up the industry. We only have the little local stores. I think the industry is changing and where more can you see this than at CHA which I watch from an on line vantage point. I see the dates and months are changing for this too…

    Posted on April 15, 2014 at 4:58 am
    1. Oh my gosh since that post almost all them have closed. Only 5 or do that I taught it are still open! I do love the local shops we still have but I do shop online and in the box stores as well.

      CHA’s summer shows was having less and less attendance by buyers and sellers and I want to say (not 100% sure) they polled people to find out if they wanted to keep the show or not. They are trying some new things, partnering with other markets, trying to respond to the members’ requests, like with the paper arts show in July. It is really expensive to go to the show as a buyer or as a seller and with so many companies releasing their catalogs early an ddoing online sales early, I know alot of people started questioning why they shoudl go to the show. You used to only be able to get show specials (freebies, percentages off, etc) for ordering at the show but now most companies offer them to anyone who orders.

      Posted on April 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm
  2. The crazy thing to me is that crafting is bigger than ever. So something doesn’t compute. Maybe a lot of LSS owners were burnt out and the money wasn’t good enough to sustain their stores if they weren’t involved as heavily. I think retail stores in general are waning thanks to giants like target, walmart, and more importantly Amazon.

    Posted on April 15, 2014 at 8:08 am
    1. What kind of crafting? I only have anecdotal information but I see alot of my scrapbooking friends branching out into jewelry and knitting and quilting. I see more DIY and upcycling. I say that overall the industry has declined because the trade shows have gotten progressively smaller since 2008/2009. Fewer companies are exhibiting.

      I think people are crafting like crazy! But I don’t think they are buying like crazy, like they used to.

      Posted on April 15, 2014 at 5:36 pm
  3. I read this article a couple days ago. I will say that with GCD Studios it was more of an issue of management and communication, not so much sales. By the way, we still have some chipart and Melody and Donna’s products . . . and will sell until hopefully they are gone. But I just thought I’d share I know first hand that with one in particular it wasn’t so much the sales. Sad to see in so many ways.
    I do agree that sometimes you see the same things over and over. I think that’s why the new and fresh lines are always so successful.

    Posted on April 15, 2014 at 8:16 am
    1. Thanks for the info Cheryl – the article from Scrapbook Update made it sound like the doors were already closed. I know you loved GCD’s products – the Melody Ross line was pretty cool. I don’t think we will ever get the full story on why any of these companies closed – it seems a whole mix of reasons. When scrapbooking was going great, it seemed that the excessive sales were enough to disguise even bad management or other internal problems but not so much any more.

      Posted on April 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm
  4. Jennifer your article is great! As a past player in the industry with a retail store (I closed early 2011) I feel like I have some strong opinions about this subject. I feel like over the years I have watched this industry shoot its self in the foot. Like you pointed out well they grew too big too fast. Like you when I went to CHA it was at times overwhelming, there is a TON to see while there. Many of them held no interest for me because I could not either afford their minimum orders or it was not in my customer bases interest. Yes, I know there are companies like Notions and Gary Burlin, to name a few, for this but I found I always had better service when dealing directly with manufactures and this was better for my store. My gripe about what happened in my experience to the industry is this. Because manufactures were grappling for all the business they could get in a high competition market was they would sell to anyone with a tax id number. I remember when I started my store I had to jump through hoops to prove I was a retailer, even providing many of them with a copy of a utility bill and an actual photo of my store. In the end I had many customers, because many crafters are thrifty (that is a polite word), that had formed groups with one woman holding a tax id placing orders with companies to get product for wholesale prices. Frustrating for me none the less when they would come to me to learn how to use this product. Not only was this hard, many of the manufacturers would sell things to the larger stores at a better price because they were buying in bulk for instance Provocraft and Spellbinders. I couldn’t afford to carry these very popular products because they were always 40% or more off at the larger stores.

    Now CHA that is a whole other story. I am very glad to see some of the changes in this over the years. When I went I not only went for purchasing purposes but to learn. The classes were almost impossible to get into though because they allowed the store owner, her employees, sister and mom (ect.) into the class. Many of these women only taking the class because they wanted to meet the teacher because of the ‘star value’. Those of us who legitimately wanted to take the class so that we could learn, network and merchandise these products could not get into the classes. Frustrating is the only word that I can think of for this.

    Oh I could go on forever. Sorry! I still love this industry but it is now a hobby and my only options for purchasing are either purchasing at ‘box’ stores who do not carry the products that I want or online shopping. I don’t know about you but I for one don’t care to shop online. I would rather purchase my products from a location that can provide samples, good customer service and learning experiences also. So lets hope this is the end of the demise and the only way is up :)

    Posted on April 15, 2014 at 8:55 am
    1. I definitely agree that the industry was their own worst enemy – we encouraged people to build up these huge stashes and spend spend spend and now that people don’t have the cash to spend and have all of this reserve of supplies, they are not buying becuase they don’t need to and can’t afford to keep up the habits they had before.

      Someone commented on Facebook about the disconnect between what Design Teams are sharing and what people are actually making ot wanting to make. For example, a DT member might make a layout with $50 in product on it and a “real” scrapbooker can’t afford that plus it just isn’t practical for them to make pages like that.

      Are the companies out of touch with what their customers want/need from them? Is that still part of the problem and could that have contributed to these companies going under? It seems a real mix of reasons why these companies closed:

      GCD – bankrupt, management problems (acc, to Cheryl’s comment here), maybe sales issues?
      Lily Bee – they say health reasons
      Canvas Corp – not sure
      Splash of Color – embezzlement/theft and partnership issues

      Posted on April 15, 2014 at 5:33 pm
  5. I am happy for you Jennifer, that you are not directly effected by these occurrences. I however am GREATLY SADDENED by the demise of Splash of Color as I was on their Design Team and had and still have a GREAT LOVE for their products, ….and Canvas Corp….I have been a HUGE FAN of all their textures for a very long time. In my life….these two companies not being around will DRAMATICALLY impact how and what I create…..just sayin’!!!!

    Posted on April 15, 2014 at 9:46 am
    1. Lynne I am so sorry that you were affected. It is sad when companies go out of business because they all have followers and fans and supporters as well as staff, designers, and others they work with who are affected. I am sorry if my post offended you. I didn’t say I didn’t like the companies or that they had bad products ()other than GCD’s paper) – I just didn’t use their products regularly. And I made that statement to bring up the question about a) when will industry hit rock bottom because in many ways it feels it already has and b) does this mean we have too many options or is it another problem.

      I am sorry this has affected you so much. It is sad and while I was writing my post, I considered what the effect would be if a company I loved and worked with had closed – it would be devastating but I would have still asked the same questions and had the same thoughts and that is why I wrote this post.

      Posted on April 15, 2014 at 5:29 pm
  6. Well written… Jennifer! We had several scrapbook stores and stamping stores in our area close, it was so sad as each one put out the sign “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS”. We still have one LLS open in my area with two big box stores within a mile of it. I just wonder how long it will be able to stay open! The big box stores offer so many coupons that the LLS cannot afford. Luckily the owner of the “last one standing” has a passion and a personal interest. They try to carry what the big box doesn’t offer. Only the future will tell.

    Posted on April 19, 2014 at 10:49 am