Scrapbooking: Evolution?

So yesterday I talked about the final days of Archiver’s and how much I’d miss them. I think it’s a symptom of an ever evolving scrapbook industry. Over the last few months I’ve taken a lot of time to think on how much the scrapbook world in general has changed in such a short time. I don’t think it’s “dead” as a hobby, but it is changing, and I’m not sure where it will go from here.

I know Archiver’s took a lot of heat for “putting the smaller stores out of business”, but I think that’s as much a casualty of a nosediving economy. Back in the day there were plenty of scrapbooking dollars to go around, and people had seemingly endless budgets. And then the economy tanked, and with it so went discretionary spending…

Scrapbook companies seen as pioneers in the industry started to go out of business; Rusty Pickle, Making Memories, Junkitz, Creating Keepsakes, Creative Memories, Scenic Route, Daisy D, Chatterbox, etc. There’s several threads on 2 Peas in a Bucket about manufacturers that are very missed. I admit to still hoarding a small handful of papers from some of those manufacturers; looking at you Scenic Route, Chatterbox, Rusty Pickle, Making Memories. Over time, other companies formed, others merged, some churned out so much product it was near impossible to keep up it seemed as though the industry was getting far too big (if you can believe that!), and there was simply more product than there were dollars to go around. It was becoming near impossible for the smaller local shops to keep up with the abundance of product, especially when some of the order minimums were so astronomical. Archiver’s had buying power as they were a larger outfit with multiple stores. Digital started to become an entity, and people were learning other new ways to preserve and share memories; facebook, blogging, Instagram, etc. And there’s another thought to consider, we are taking more and more photos and printing less and less because of evolutions in digital cameras and storage. I have over 10 thousand photos in my iPhoto and almost 2 thousand on my iPhone that haven’t been imported. Just think on that, years ago in the film era we were far more sparing of what we took, and of course, every photo got developed.

During the industry boom, Michaels, with their even larger buying power, expanded their scrapbooking section anchored by the star power and recognizability of the exclusive Martha Stewart line. They also offered deep discounts with their 40% off coupons, and the local stores further struggled to compete. Online stores started to open up all over the place, again offering discounts, free shipping and a wide variety of products as they didn’t have to worry about things such as the rent/utilities/maintenance of a bricks and mortar storefront, staff salaries, inventory shrinkage (fancy name for customer theft), and local business taxes.

What the local stores can and do offer is a community. A place for likeminded scrapbookers to gather at crops and classes. I still have many friends from my days when I used to go to crops that were always sold out on a Friday night, and the monthly Saturday crops had a wait list! But scrapbookers were changing, and starting to “collect” product. As fast as lines were being created, beloved lines were disappearing fostering a hoarding mentality.  Little Yellow Bicycle was one of the first to create small runs of product with a finite limit. In the process of local stores closing, online and big box stores ramping up, scrapbookers started to opt to stay home instead of going out to socialize and scrapbook. Staying home eliminated the need to pre-plan pages, pack up supplies, lug supplies (that are now bountiful) to the crop location and then anyone I know who has scrapbooked with a group has more than their share of “crop horror stories”. Some websites do offer online virtual crops and google+ hangouts, but I can honestly say I’ve never attended one. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Also in this time, scrapbookers got busier, opting to go the pocket page, Project Life, style of scrapbooking; a great way to preserve all kinds of memories in a quick and stylish manner. Kit clubs have also started to flourish. Again, as a time saving way for scrappers to get a variety of product, easily delivered to their doorstep, in a controlled monthly budget cost.

As I write, another local bricks and mortar scrapbook store has just closed their doors after several years in business citing rising rent costs as a big factor in the decision to close. American Crafts has just acquired another industry giant in Bazzill Basics Paper. What’s next? I have no idea.

Last summer, Nancy Nally of  Scrapbook Update shared her thoughts on how Project Life has revolutionized the scrapbook industry as we know it. Nancy is a great resource in the industry and definitely has her finger on the pulse. If you aren’t a follower of hers yet, you should be.

Ironically, last summer she also shared her thoughts on “Scrapbooking’s Identity Crisis“. We have similar thoughts. I’m curious to hear yours.

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