Knowing Your Market
A lot of people who start scrapbook stores do so with a vision in their mind of their “ideal” store. The trouble is, they’re thinking how they, as a shopper and cropper, think. This can be a good start, but in reality your audience in much wider. For example, maybe you love altered books but in your region, they haven’t really taken off. It would be self-indulgent and foolish from a business standpoint to invest a huge amount of stock and space to this trend. (Of course, feel free to experiment a bit. Who knows? You could start the next trend in your region!)
When it comes time to place orders, restrain yourself! Try to put yourself in the heads of your customers—and not just the experienced scrapbookers. For example, very few published scrapbook layouts make use of brightly colored stickers. However, this product can sell very well to a portion of the market. Gauge your customers’ interest in certain products before investing heavily in them. As previously mentioned, some regions are slow to pick up on “trends.” For example, scrapbooking “on the wall” for home décor may be all the rage in one part of the country, but be a complete flop in another region. And, while it could be foolish to stock a wide variety of rubber stamps if there’s a rubber stamp specialty store in your region, you may find it advantageous to dabble in some of the acrylic stamps that are becoming popular with scrapbookers today.
Don’t underestimate the value of convenience when it comes to what shoppers will buy. Sure, they could get that ribbon at a cheaper per-yard price if they bought it at a chain retailers, but 40 cents for a yard of gingham ribbon that’s the perfect match for the page they’re working on that day in your shop is a small price to pay.
Your store will keep you very busy, but take time to keep up with industry trends, including what’s being highlighted in magazines and on the Web. The top scrapbooking magazines are: Creating Keepsakes and its sister publication Simple Scrapbooks; Memory Makers; Scrapbook Trends, Scrapbooks, Etc. (published by Better Homes & Gardens) and Legacy Magazine (artsy, with lots of altered projects; its name is changed to Somerset Memories in April 2007). Scrapbook Answers, which came with a CD of techniques and downloads, was recently discontinued, and PaperKuts and Ivy Cottage Creations are defunct as well. Paper Crafts and Paper Trends focus on cards and gifts. Most of these magazines also put out special editions, such as seasonal page collections or “hall of fame” issues. For scrapbooking retail news, you’ll want to subscribe to Craftrends (which in February 2007 launching Memorytrends with a focus on scrapbooking, only to later in the year fold it back into the Craftrends publication) as well as Scrapbook Premier and Scrapbooking Retailer Magazine. Try to spend some time online as well, checking out scrapbooking Web sites and message boards for the latest buzz. One of the most embarrassing things for a scrapbook store owner is having a customer come in and ask about the next big product that’s all over the online message board but you’ve never heard of it.