Yesterday I saw post after post on Facebook about how PaperCrafts & Scrapbooking magazine was closing its doors. I have yet to see the email myself and the PC&S website looks like business as usual but the people posting are trustworthy so I have to think that it’s true that the magazine is closing. All American Crafts Magazines filed for bankruptcy last month after closing their doors in August this year. PaperCrafts is just another casualty of what everyone calls a dying industry.
But is it? Some will blame blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, and social media for creating an alternative place for consumers to get inspiration. I don’t think people have stopped paercrafting altogether so I don’t think that is to blame. Maybe its a combination of factors – big box retailers disallowing consumers to use coupons on magazines, fewer independent retailers ordering and selling magazines, consumers cutting costs and cancelling or allow subscriptions to expire, better access to quality content online, magazines not growing the online side of their business enough to become an income generator in addition to the magazine… who knows?
The thing that is interesting to me is the industry people commenting on this. And there are ALOT of them. Being someone that works in the industry, I rarely buy magazines. But I submit my work to them. People are expressing how they will miss the beloved magazine because they were published in it all the time but did they ever spend any money on it? It’s like the magazine closing is some kind of insult to them. I bet the magazine would LOVE to keep operating. I imagine they are handing out pink slips and figuring out how to liquidate assets and none of that is very fun at all. But if people are not buying, there’s nowhere to get money from to continue operating.
It’s this emotional attachment we have to entities in our industry because we are so tied up in our craft and what we create. But that is a problem because it doesn’t equate to dollars and good business. It feels like a personal attack or like “breaking up” when a store or magazine or product manufacturer closes. If you listen to the news, the economy is picking up. But if we look at the evidence in our industry, we’re still seeing closures on all levels — from magazines like these to manufacturers like Lily Bee to local scrapbook stores like Scrapbook Daisies in Long Beach, CA to big online entities like Two Peas In A Bucket.
Nobody wants to talk about this ugly problem we have in the craft industry. It’s like we’re scared to death to admit there’s a problem and deal with the issue.
I believe the problem is that people have too much stuff. My situation is not like everyone because I receive a lot of product from manufacturers for projects and don’t always shop for product. But in my day when I was full-fledged shopping with the rest of you, I amassed a stash that would make Imelda Marcos’s shoe collection look like child’s play. I am STILL getting rid of stuff I bought because I just lost my damn mind and had to have it all. Really, I need $10,000 in Quickutz dies? Apparently I thought so. We were all caught up in this idea of “limited edition” and that we had to buy before it sold out or we had to be the first one to get THAT HOT line of fresh paper! Stores knew who to call when they got in a new shipment, phoning customers to make sure they stopped by to get their goodies before everyone else. We bought and bought and had to create rooms to put this stuff in and then we bought some more. An entire industry grew to meet demand that they created. It was glorious.
But then things started crashing. People lost their jobs and investments and homes and could no longer buy. Add to that the stores closing and selling everything off at rock bottom prices, the plethora or discounted product in stores like Tuesday Morning and Marshall’s, and crafty yard sales and well, why pay full price?
I just lugged two boxes of product to my son’s school today because I feel I am drowning in STUFF. I have stickers in my stash from 2003. I will never use those! Some of my local crafty friends had a crafty yard sale last weekend selling off their excess. And we haven’t had a local scrapbook store up here for 4 years and I know these ladies have curbed their spending the last 3-4 years. I was in Michaels yesterday and they were doing buy one, get one free on all stamps. They have never done that before in my memory. We all have so much stuff, that we don’t buy unless we have a coupon or the deal is ridiculously good. And even then, I walked out only spending $30 and I have a plan for every single thing I boguht. My average tab in 2007-2009? $400. And I had no idea what I was going to make. Shoot, some of that stuff is still in the package!
We have a problem with people having too much stuff. They don’t need to buy. So the only way we can get them to buy is to appeal to their wants and desires. Maybe the only way to drive sales is to put pictures of George Clooney and Ryan Gosling in paper pads.
We’re going to see more closures. We’re going to see more sadness. It sucks. It really sucks. Because you can’t compell people to buy stuff they don’t need when they’re still struggling to get the basic necessities. I don’t have an answer. But we need to figure out how to deal with this ugly reality or we’ll go the way of all the tole painting stores and rubber stamp fanatics of the 1980s and 1990s.
A craft industry professional for over 14 years, Jennifer Priest has been featured in major publications and online by the likes of Apartment Therapy and MSNBC. Jennifer's digital marketing consulting firm, Smart Creative Social, has a prestigious client list in the craft and hobby industry, connecting influencers with brands, developing digital marketing strategy, and guiding clients in creating a solid social media strategy for their brand.
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