The hottest trend to sweep through the arts and crafts world in years, scrapbooking is pegged by industry retailers to generate somewhere between US$2 billion and US$2.5 billion in sales this year – that’s up a whopping 1,250% from US$200 million in 1996. And the big chains are starting to sit up and take notice.
Craft retail giant Michaels has thrown its hat into the scrapbooking ring, having launched its first ReCollections store devoted to the pastime in Frisco, Texas this past June. The 6,400-square-foot emporium is stuffed with scrapbooking supplies and tools, including more than 2,500 SKUs of specialty paper, acid-free adhesives and mounting papers, specialty scissors and paper-punching implements.
The store’s performance is exceeding expectations, according to senior VP of new ventures Sam Crowley, and Michaels is planning to roll out an additional 11 ReCollections outlets (5,000 square feet each) within the next year, the next one opening in Dallas’s Old Town early this month. Crowley says the scrapbooking market doubled in size in 2002, and he estimates that there are already more than 2,500 independent scrapbooking stores in the U.S. ‘We think we probably waited a little too long to start opening these stores,’ he adds.
Although the demographic behind the burgeoning scrapbooking trend is women 25 to 55, a fair number of kids are being turned onto the activity by their avid moms and female relatives. Reminiscent of quilting bees, scrapbooking is largely a communal and social hobby. Participants at ReCollections get together for weekly gatherings that often involve food and prize giveaways supplied by the store. Crowley says it’s not uncommon for a group of roughly 35 women to use ReCollections’ classroom space on Fridays from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Sometimes moms bring their kids to these events, and ReCollections has set up a ‘mom and me’ program to cater to these customers. Kids and moms can come in and work on set scrapbook pages together in groups of 12. For example, one class might involve a mother and daughter producing a scrapbook page for grandma. Because the store is so new, it’s only held a few of these sessions so far, but Crowley says they’re building the program since it has met with good response from both moms and kids.
It’s important to note that modern scrapbooking requires a fair bit of finesse. We’re not talking about those hoary, mucilage-filled newsprint pages you slapped together in kindergarten. Using matching papers and books and embellishing those pages with stickers, die-cuts (which are basically cut-outs that aren’t self-adhesive like stickers), eyelets and trim, scrapbookers craft illustrated storybooks from their own pictures and family histories.
Crowley says scrapbooking appeals to kids because it’s such an easy craft to do, much like coloring books. He also points to two other kid trends that are bolstering kid interest in scrapbooks: young girls are increasingly going back to diary- and journal-keeping as a means of recording their many milestones, and teachers are making the production of polished scrapbooks part of classroom assignments.
To serve the next generation of scrapbookers, the Frisco ReCollections store held a camp for kids ages six to 12 this summer. Ten kids (including three boys) attended the week-long camp that taught various scrapbooking techniques. Crowley says plans are in motion to hold similar sessions throughout the coming year.
Kid-themed scrapbook supplies like stickers, coordinating borders, papers and the books themselves are on the market and selling well, says Crowley. He points to Toronto, Canada’s Sandylion Sticker Designs as one of the industry’s largest kid-themed scrapbook supply manufacturers. A sticker maker by origin, Sandylion now produces a full complement of kids scrapbook merch that includes both generic and licensed product. The company has comprehensive Disney, Scooby-Doo, Hot Wheels, Tonka and Baby Looney Toons scrapbook lines in its extensive bag of tricks.
Although Sandylion licensing manager Brenda Seto estimates that scrapbook-related purchases made by children themselves comprise less than 5% of the category’s total sales, she believes kids have a strong influence over the purchase of kid-themed product. ‘Moms buy the product,’ says Seto, ‘because they’re looking to commemorate a memory or occasion related to their children.’ And often, that involves products decorated with the kids’ favorite characters.
To serve that consumer demand, Sandylion has recently added Barbie, Precious Moments, Nickelodeon and Humphrey’s Corners products to its scrapbooking line, and it regularly refreshes its Disney range with new themed sticker sheets, mounting/coordinating papers, scrapbooks, templates with traceable cutouts of the characters, and die-cuts.
As far as product novelty goes, Sandylion has just released its own Horizons line of decorative boarders that create an entire scene when used on consecutive scrapbook pages. Seto expects this innovation to play out in Sandylion’s licensed kids lines within the next few months.
Crowley and Seto agree that kids scrapbooking products, and scrapbooking supplies in general, move quickly because scrapbookers are always clamoring for new products. Not unlike other kid-targeting retailers, Crowley says when it comes to buying kids product, his buyers are looking for the next hot property. He adds that there are lines of scrapbook products available that follow children from nursery school to high school, noting that licensed product does well in every age bracket.