Setting Up Your Store Crop Room

A great crop room is a hallmark of a successful store. People come to a scrapbook store for several reasons, including: to get out of the house and socialize; to get projects done and to gain the use of materials they don’t already own nor have access to. If you have a well-stocked crop room, combined with a homey, welcoming atmosphere, your store is well on its way to being a success.

Stock your crop room with as many “nonconsumables” as you can, planning to add as your business grows. You probably already have a large collection of supplies; throw in what you can. Some of your scrapbooking friends may even be willing to donate unwanted punches, decorative scissors, lettering templates and so on. (More examples of tools to include in your crop room: rubber stamps, foam letter and shape stamps, acrylic paints, eyelet-setting tools, hole punches, paper trimmers, idea books and magazines, circle cutters, ruler and other measuring tools, self-healing cutting mats and paper scraps.) Place these items in labeled drawers, cabinets and on shelves in the crop room. Consider requiring a sign-up system for costlier or easy-to-misplace items such as QuicKutz dies.

Try to make sure each cropper gets at least four feet of table space to herself. A “cramped” cropper is an unhappy cropper. If your store is small, you know all too well that space is at a premium, but if you’ve chosen to have a store where community is key, you need this dedicated space. You can always take down a few tables if you overestimated interest in classes and crops, or if attendance is seasonal.

There are basically two models to consider: Charging for use of your crop room, or offering its use for free to customers. Of those stores that charge, some do so by the hour (say, $2 per hour with a $5-a-day maximum), while others charge a flat rate for the day. Others offer “crop club” memberships, often combined with other discounts, in which customers pay a flat monthly or quarterly fee that includes access to the crop room. You could also sell a separate crop card that allows access only to a select type of nonconsumable tool or gear. (For example, classroom teachers who don’t necessarily scrapbook may be happy to pay $5 a semester for use of paper punches and die-cutting tools such as QuicKutz and Sizzix.) Maybe you’ll want to provide a computer and printer for on-site journaling (be aware of copyright laws), or even a photo printer. Some stores have invested in pricey lab-quality photo kiosks, and Creating Keepsakes has introduced such a product to the retail store market.

You will need to decide how crop room users will keep track of their purchases. Some store owners are more comfortable with a “pay as you go” policy, under which customers must “check out” at the register each time they select and use a product. This can be disruptive to the scrapbooker, but helps ensure that no purchases are overlooked. Others enact an honor system whereby croppers keep track of what they’ve selected and pay all at once at the end of their crop session.