Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Real, It's Here and Now What are We Going to Do About It?

Christine’s March 2011 Newsletter:

Hello Everyone,
I have so much to share with you! Some is about new changes to the store and some is a bit of venting about the scrapbook industry - all of it good and juicy so grab a cup of tea and join me!
New Website and Online Store
First, last week we launched our new website! We can still be found online at http://www.treasuredmemoriesca.com/ with a new look and we are also now selling online. Our Treasured Memories (TM) Online Store is currently live. We've started out small and are adding more products weekly. We don't want to compete with the huge online stores out there, we just want to stay our quirky unique selves and at the same time broaden our horizons. It is a way for us to continue in business in the depths of a weakened economy of which we've all endured the past couple of years.

Economic Woes
This economy has not been kind to many types of businesses, not just scrapbooking or crafting. To be completely honest, I am tired of seeing my friends scrapbook stores close. I miss them and our camaraderie so much. I miss working together, talking about our businesses and just sharing our feelings as we can only relate to each other about what it takes to run this type of business. Though I am thankful to have the SoCal Group (SCSRA) to talk about some of these issues, I felt this more poignantly in January at the CHA Show. I was able to visit with some old friends, which was awesome, (a shout out to my Jill and Vera) but in general the show was just well... different. There was "no buzz".  It was the least attended show I have experienced in the past 10 years. Official numbers just released by CHA reports that CHA Show attendance was down 21% from last year.
The Honest Truth
For the first time in years, I feel as though independent scrapbook retail stores could be on their way to being a thing of the past.  Maybe not right now, but within the next three to five years, not all of them of course, but as leases are up, many stores are closing regardless of how long they've been in business.
No one really wants to talk about this, but it is happening - and at an alarming rate.  Customers will still be able to buy at Michaels, Jo-Ann's and online as the first two have enormous purchasing power and the online stores don't have the overhead. The real danger here, that I don't think people realize, is that the manufacturers are in danger. Can the manufacturers survive with a majority of their business being big box and online companies only, as well as some Expo's thrown in around the country? Manufacturers are going to need to operate smartly in order to thrive in this industry.

I know this is not a pleasant subject for many of us.  Believe me, it is painful to talk about, but I have always been very honest with all of you.  There is no more pretending that scrapbook stores are doing okay, because most of them are just surviving.

Family, Friends and a Good Roof
I want you all to know and understand clearly that I am not complaining about how things are; I am just pointing out what is happening in this industry. Also, all of this needs to be put into perspective in the scope of life. I've whitnessed friends and customers lose their homes and watched dear, dear customers fight the great fight of cancer and thankfully in most cases (sadly not all) win.As long as we have family, health and a good roof over our heads, we will all be okay.

Most importantly I am NOT closing, nor do I plan to in the near future. Like many store owners I have put my heart and soul into this business and I'm working daily to keep my business growing. I am blessed with awesome employees and teachers who are amazingly loyal which I appreciate and respect so much.     

So, I've laid it on the table, the econmy is still sluggish, scrapbook retailers are struggling and manufacturers are feeling the pinch as well. What are we to do? We work smarter and innovate whenever possible of course!

TM Online Store - Now Open for Business!
The addition of TM Online, our online store, was created to assist customers who lived far away as well as to help busy crafters that want to run in and pick up an order. To be clear, TM Online will not be selling single sheets of paper, we are focused on providing collections of products, layout & class kits as well as unique special offers. In total, TM Online will offer seven different categories of products with items added weekly. You will always find the latest crafting goodies both in-store AND online. Because we have been open so long and have formed great relationships with many of the manufacturers, we are able to receive product before many other outlets.
To encourage you to explore TM Online and purchase from our website, we are offering 20% off your entire online order. Just enter the promo code TMROCKS during check out and you'll save 20% off your entire purchase!

Currently we offer flat rate shipping via USPS or In-Store Pick Up. As we've done for years, we still offer shipping anywhere in the world with all of the products we carry in the store. We hope you have fun browsing the new online store and be sure to check back weekly as we are just beginning!
Staying Up-to-Date with the TM Blog
We started the TM Blog years ago and we weren't consistent with posting new entries. We've recommitted to our blog and with Lisa and the teachers taking turns writing several times a week, there will be plenty to share. The TM Blog is also where we will be posting new product arrivals, class highlights, store information and upcoming sales. I encourage you to subscribe to the TM Blog posts so you'll receive new information as soon as it's posted.
Scrapbooking Retreats
Next Thursday, I am off to Roughly Manor in Twenty-Nine Palms to play hostess for another wonderful weekend of scrapbooking and crafting. This is our second weekend retreat and once again we have a full house! I am really in need of a scrapbook get-away. I always come back so refreshed and it's actually kind-of funny that we get to take a break from all of our daily duties and kids etc., yet we go away and scrap about our families and children all weekend and love every minute of it! These weekend retreats have been well received so we are going to keep offering them! We are accepting enrollments for our retreat the weekend of November 19th. I expect it to fill quickly, so register today!
Classes - Here to Stay
I've heard mention that some stores are dropping their classes because they are too much work. I believe providing a place for women to go to create and be with others is extremely important so we will continue to offer classes as well as bring in guest teachers every few months. For Spring there are some great classes with Beth, Carol, Maura and Molly, check the Classes section on the website for dates and class details. I am so excited to announce that Lisa is returning to teach in April! She had major surgery in January and I am so happy to report that she is getting stronger everyday and can't wait to get back to teaching. We have really missed her.
Guest Teachers
This Spring we have TWO guest teachers coming to the store! First is Stacye DeWid who represents Tattered Angels and Prima, she will be teaching on April 16. We are so excited to have her at TM and thank you to Patty Lechuga for recommending Stacye!

Also, back by popular demand (yes we heard you!)  - guest teacher Suzy West is returning to Treasured Memories on May 21!! Class details for Suzy are still being finalized so call the store if you want to be notified when all of the details have been worked out.
Scrapbook Saturdays
Being in business for over 13 years means we've done hundreds of Midnight Madness Friday night crops, we had some requests to offer a Saturday crop. We're listening, and I'd like to introduce Denise Coulter, who is going to be hosting our Saturday Crops! She is a design team member for Crafter's Companion and a talent in her own right! Come join her for eight hours of cropping and crafting. If you just need a little kick-start or have questions about a particular project, or just want to escape and craft for a bit, this is the perfect event for you. Our first Saturday Crop is April 2 from 3-11pm.

Customer Cards
Treasured Memories has offered a Customer Loyalty Card since the day we opened and we continue to do so today. We believe in rewarding those who are frequent shoppers and this is one of the ways for us to say thank you!
We will continue to carry the latest and greatest products this industry has to offer. See the list to the left of our CHA finds for the store.  Many of these products will be available on our online store as well. I hope I didn't wear you out reading this newsletter! I had a lot on my mind about the crafting industry and of course all of the wonderful things we have going on at the store! Please let me know what you think of our new website, online store and all of the other innovations we are implementing to help create the type of scrapbook store you'd like to visit, crop and shop at!

Take care and happy crafting!

Christine Mesko, Owner
Treasured Memories Scrapbook Store, Inc.
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