Something has been weighing really heavily on me the last year or so and especially in the last 4 months. So I have quite a few words to share about it.
Last night I got an email from It's About Time…Scrapbooks and More in Murrieta, CA. It was their newsletter. Announcing that they were closing. For good. On Tuesday. I had just gotten home from teaching a class at Now & Then Scrapbooks in Wildomar where the staff and customers were talking about It's About Time closing. I had suspected something was up with all of the sales they were having but was hoping it was just to get the store busy and drum up more capital. But I was wrong.
So today I drove back down to Murrieta and went shopping. Spent $133.07. Money I don't really need to be spending — my brakes are being fixed tomorrow so I probably should have not spent it. As I was driving down there I was thinking of all the other things I should be doing with the money. The one thing that kept going around my head was that I should be saving it, not spending it.
But if EVERYONE did that then we would never get out of this economy!! I knew my budget could allow me to spend just a little so I did. And it is too little too late. Because with or without my $133.07, It's About Time is closing.
Just like Pages of Time (sorry I never get this name correct) in Murrieta closed a few weeks ago.
Just like Auntie Amy's closed two months ago.
Just like The Loft closed in July.
Just like Among Friends in Highland closed last year.
Just like Screamin' Susie's in Whittier closed this summer.
Just like Scrapbooks N More in Canyon Lake closed in June.
Just like Black Eyed Susan's in Loma Linda did.
Just like Scrapbook Story in Rancho Cucamonga closed in summer 2006.
Just like Now & Then's second location in Temecula closed in May.
Just like Scrapbooks Unlimited in Temecula closed last summer.
Just like the Crop Circle closed.
Just like Paper Pansies closed.
Just like Angel's Scrapbook Garden closed.
Just like Urban Scrapper closed.
Just like Kandy Scrappers closed.
Just like Mad Scrapper closed.
Just like Once Upon A Time closed.
Just like Strictly Scrapbooking closed their Torrance location.
Just like Scrapbook Corner closed their Hemet location.
Just like Stamp Your Heart Out closed their scrapbooking store location.
Just like A Little Bazaar closed….
Well, you get the picture.
Of the SEVEN scrapbook stores in the Murrieta/Temecula area Scrapbook Royalty had on their “Black, White, & Scrap All Over” tour in June 2008 only ONE is still open. ONE. That was only FOUR months ago.
SIX stores closed in one geographic area in FOUR months.
I know we can't all afford to just shop for the sake of shopping to keep all these stores afloat. I know it is a “sign of the times” that stores are closing–Mervyn's, Circuit City, and others are having a hard time keeping their doors open and they are retail giants compared to an LSS. Even Michael's and Joann's are offering 20% off your ENTIRE purchase coupons. Have they ever done that, in all of your memory? I think not.
I might be preaching to the choir because if you read my blog, you likely shop at an LSS. Or two or three…or ten! But I know some people in my own circle of friends who rarely go into an LSS but religiously trek to M's every week with their coupon in hand. I am not condemning anyone that does this. Just keep reading to see what I am asking…
Speaking of Michael's and Joann's, here is where my plea to you comes in.
We have money to spend. It may only be $10, but we have it and we spend it on scrapbooking stuff. YOU are in control of where you spend that $10. Does it go to Walmart? Do you go to Target? Do you use your 40% off coupon at Michael's to buy a $25 item? Do you go online to shop because you can get free shipping?
I'll admit. I can get more bang for my buck at the “box” stores (mentioned above). But why don't I shop there on a regular basis?
Because I love my LSS. I like coming in the door and everyone knows my name–it is like our own “Cheers”!! I like being able to go into a shop where people there share the SAME passion as I do for papercrafting–they aren't some teeny-bopper who doesn't know a Crop-A-Dile from an alligator. I like being able to CROP somewhere for a decent amount of time for a decent price. I like having a place where I can make friends. Some of my best friends I MET at a scrapbooking store!! And most of all, and this is the most self-serving reason but I gotta be real, I like having a place where I can teach the classes I want to teach. I get requests to teach certain topics and techniques in classes all the time–at an LSS I have the freedom to do that. At the box store, I have to teach their curriculum, not mine.
If we do not shop at the LSS, they will close.
It is just plain economics, They have to make money to stay open. While we are off “saving money” and “using our coupons” at the box stores, the LSS is not getting any customers. They will die off. They will all close. Well, maybe I am being a little extreme. MOST of them will close but a few will remain. And they will be FAR AWAY, not in every neighborhood like they were last year and the year before. They will be crowded on crop nights. The LSS won't still be there waiting for us when we get the economy back on track. We can't just put them up on a shelf and expect to come back next year to crop and shop at them.
I have heard people say things like, “Well, other people can shop there to keep it in business. I just can't afford it.” This is as they sit in the LSS cropping with all the goodies they got at M's and J's and Target. I am not saying those places are bad–I shop there too! Love those Martha Border Punches. But everyone can't start shopping the box stores, stop shopping at the LSS, and still expect the LSS to be there for crop nights.
I think that was a luxury people had the last few years. Some of us did “carry the load”, supporting the LSS so that everyone didn't HAVE to. It's not like we were asked to–we just like shopping there and getting the products, service, and knowledge that only the LSS could offer. But now that everyone's belts are tightening, we can't do it ourselves. We just don't have the money either! LOL I used to spend several hundred dollars a WEEK on scrapbooking supplies. There are some ladies I know who spend $1000 a pop!! I know I just can't do that anymore. We don't make any less money. It just doesn't go as far once the utilities, food, gasoline, mortgage and other bills are paid, there isn't as much left over. So I totally get it!! Believe me!
In order to keep our LSSs available, we ALL have to shop there.
Otherwise, they won't be able to survive and they won't be there when we decide to go back to them next year or in 2010, whenever this recession/economic downturn/whatever-you-wanna-call-it is over.
So back to your $10. Do we really NEED anything? Adhesive, maybe I'll give you that. But REALLY? Do we NEED anything? No. We WANT things. New things, new paper, new tools, new embellies. So I am proposing we blend TWO ideas.
I had a scrapbook store owner contact me about a blog post I made earlier this year. It was about going on a “stash diet”. Use the items you have in your scrapbooking supply stash at home before you go out and buy more. She was perturbed that I was even proposing such an idea! That would take business away from her store if no one shopped–acckk!! I can see her point but I have mine as well – hehe. And I can;t stay on a strict stash diet anyways. I go into stores wayyyyy too often and see too many cool new things that I can't “not buy” completely!
We all know we over-bought the last few years. There was just so much great stuff to buy! We have ROOMS to store it in, there is so much of it! So yes, I needed a stash diet then and I need one now too. I don't have anywhere to put that $133.07 worth of stuff I bought today but I still bought it. Don't even have plans for any of it. Just bought it. It was good price and I WANTED it. Can't break the obsessive nature of a scrapbooker, can ya?! LOL We need to address this over-buying we all did the last few years and USE the stuff we have. We just have to. Or there'll be a whole lotta women getting divorced in these parts if we keep on buying and we have ROOMS of stuff we still haven't even taken out of the bag.
So let's blend these two ideas — your $10 you have to spend and the need for a stash diet.
How about you go on a partial stash diet. It's like you're doing South Beach instead of Atkins so you can have a little carbs but you're still watching what you eat.
Here's what I am going to do to help my LSS stay OPEN (and I am asking you to do the same or something similar):
- Use the stuff in my stash. I have alot of it, I need to use it. If I use it, that will make room for more stuff that I can buy!
- Go to crop nights at the LSS. Paying for a crop night helps the LSS stay open because they usually make a little bit of money off of them if they are sold out. If we all go to them, that will help make them “sold out”. Also that will give you time to get some pages done to use up what is in your stash. And you can see what is new in the store to stay on top of the trends and to get the good stuff when it comes in.
- Split packs of stuff with your friends. I can thank Anne Fisher for helping me to do this. If you and your friend like something, buy it and then split the pack. Most things come with multiples in the package. You'll get more stuff and can buy a larger variety of items at the LSS than if you just bought one thing each. I can see some LSS owners cringing at this but in the end, you will sell more product because people will use up the split packs faster than they use a whole pack of something. Then they will have room in their stash to buy more. See?
- Spend your $10 at the LSS INSTEAD of at the box stores. Yes, $10 will only get you $10 worth of stuff at the LSS. But sometimes they have sales. Some stores offer discounts on the day of a class if you take a class. Some stores have customer rewards programs where you get coupons after you spend a certain amount. Just buy something you really really like at the LSS. Let that purchase be one you will really use. Face it. We don't need this great huge pile of stuff. We need GREAT products to put in our books. So get them at the LSS. Plus they are usually better quality products at the LSS than at the box store.
- Use your box store coupons to buy stuff the LSS does not have. That way you can still use your coupon, just not on stuff you could buy at the LSS.
- Ask the LSS what you can do to help. Do they need more people to know about their store? Where can you spread the word? Bring a new friend to a crop each week to introduce them to the store. Let your LSS owner know you are behind them and want them to stay open. Are there clearance papers or back stock they'll make you a deal on? Do they have fixtures laying around they need to sell for extra cash? Some of that stuff you can use and sometimes they don't think to sell it unless you ask. Unlike the box stores, you can actually talk to the owner of your LSS and make a deal.
So please, right now is the time to make sure your LSS doesn't close. It is all up to us, the customers, to keep the stores in business so they will be here for us in the years to come.
A place for us to crop.
A place for us to take classes.
A place to make new friends.
A place to go talk to the “experts” in papercrafting.
A place where everyone knows your name.
A place that is our own.
Because if we don't shop there, all we will be left with is the box stores. And that would be sad indeed.
6 thoughts on “Quite A Few Words.”
((waving over here in her corner of Corona)) I’m OPEN!!! I’m still open!!!
I guess that’s saying a LOT these days. I’m not thriving, but I’m open. And I plan on staying open too. The economy will get better. Well, that’s what I tell myself.
I read your post and got to thinking…WOW, now that’s a lot of stores. And they all closed within a short amount of time between each other. And in the midst, I open. I must be nuts.
Thank you Jennifer for your post. Got me to thinking. I need to do MORE for my customers.
I agree. Wish poeple in my area thought so too. We’ve lost all five of the LSS close by here in the last year to 18 months. My closest LSS are 45 to 1 hour one direction and 2 hours in the other. It’s sad.
Hey Miss Jennifer,
I am so sooo happy you addressed this issue! Working at our LSS, I see the effects of the big box stores first hand on the smaller more specialized Scrapbook Stores. Everyone thinks the deals are so much cheaper than their LSS, but I have comparison shopped myself, and in most cases the items the Michaels and Joanns carry that are the same as our LSS, there is only a small price difference, in most cases the price of the gas used to go to Michaels or JoAnns as opposed to the LSS! I am going to be totally honest right now and hopefully won’t make anyone mad, but do people not realize how wrong it is to come into your LSS and discuss sometimes loudly what you just bought at the big stores? Or worse, bring it in and lay it all out for all of our customers to see! Well, thats all I have to say about that right now, but I too will discuss this more on my blog later. Thank you so much for bringing this to everyones attention. And thanks for the plug girlfriend. Talk to ya later!
Oh my goodness, so sad… =( I’ll never shop at Michael’s again without thinking of your post and feeling GUILTY, which will drive me to go to the LSS instead!! ;)
As a 5 Year Old Store, getting ready to close their doors next week. Your post brought tears to my eyes. Very well said, and please listen to her. She is right!!!
Thanks Jennifer…I had avoided the post (even with endless people asking if I had read it ;) because I knew it would hit close to home and it does!!!
I agree with Cheryl. It is very hard for me to listen to people talk about their trips to the big stores before they head to my store to crop for free or for very little. I let people use my diecut systems for free at crops and other times too. They come in use it over and over all night and then spend nothing all night!!They have me giving them adivce on layouts for products they bought at michaels then spend 3$ here and rejoice while checking out in how little they spent in my store for a whole night. Really??? Honestly then go to Michaels and get layout advice from the staff there! I am not saying this to be mean and I am not bitter. I just think sometimes people don’t get that my help, my “free” tools, the endless searches for just the right color cardstock to match your patterned paper you bought elsewhere is all part of my business.I am my business. I love my customers and I will continue to offer my help, my tools and anything else I can do so that this is where everybody knows your name!lol. I am not saying that anyone is expected to spend loads everytime they come but keep in mind that stores do keep crops and events at a low price in hopes that you will purchase products here in the store.
Thanks for giving a good perspective and one that seems fair to stores & consumers.
Ultimately this is not a get rich business. It is a business that you do because you love the industry and the people and hopefully make enough money to sustain.