Today is a sad day in the scrapbooking industry. Two Peas in a Bucket, a long time on-line retailer of scrapbooking products, announced they are closing. This was not unexpected as many of us had noticed they were not getting in as many new products. Still it was a shock.
Anytime we lose a business in our industry, the inevitable conversations pop up about how the industry is dying. I want to share my thoughts about the industry and business in general for what it is worth. I would like to preface this by saying that I do not know why Two Peas went out of business. There could be many reasons.
I'll start with why I closed my 16 year window treatment business last year. I got tired of it.
There are certainly other factors. I didn't feel I made enough money for my efforts. I despaired quoting so many jobs in the last couple of years I didn't get. The price of fabric had gone up so much it was almost embarrassing to quote the price. But it really boils down to, I wanted to do something different.
Could I have made this business more successful? Sure. Would it have been harder than it was when I started in the late 90's? Yes it would have. Four main factors affected my business IMO.
Number 1 - Home and Garden TV (which I despise) in general not just the specific network tells us that we can just take a few things we find around the house and with a twist of the wrist turn them into the same fabulous creations we would pay hundreds of dollars for somewhere else. Nonsense. There are people who can create beautiful window treatments for themselves. They have sewing skills and they take the time to find patterns, study completed creations, invest in new quality fabrics and work hard at making something beautiful for themselves. They put in the effort and are rewarded. You can not through a sheet over a cheap rod and get the same result as a professional or the accomplished home sewer. If you like the sheet draped over the rod, that is fine. It just isn't the same as lined draperies custom fit to the window. Yet the TV shows will have you think it is. (ok, that rant is over now.) So, yes a custom treatment costs money because it is a quality product.
On the opposite end of the scale, these shows will have you think it cost $80,000 to remodel a kitchen. it does not. (ok, now I'm really done.)
Number 2. We have changed the way we shop. We shop on-line far more. Even when we don't buy on-line, we research on-line. We know far more about what things cost than ever - or what we think they should cost. This isn't all bad of course. In fact it is mostly good although it sometimes leads us to think we can get ANYTHING with free shipping. It still costs to ship and that cost is in there somewhere. It used to cost me $17 to get a small box of trim from Des Moines to my house.
Number 3 - The economy. In our area, it still hasn't recovered. Employment is back up but houses are not selling and new home construction is slow. Interest rates are through the floor and that is terrible for investors particularly the over 55 group which were the main market for my type of products.
Number 4 - Styles have changed. In the window treatment industry it is now all panels and Roman Shades. Customers just don't want valances and this affects profit margins. As in any business, you make more on some products than others. When trends shift, it affects the bottom line.
Now you can take every point I just made about my industry and apply it to scrapbooking.
1 - Everyone, including me, is showing you how to use what you have to create beautiful pages. There are tons of technique videos for finding or creating product substitutes. Not everyone wants to make their own shimmer paint but it can be done and there is a YouTube video to show you how if you want. The question is do you want to make your own or do you want the convenience of buying. You have to decide but inevitably this will lead to changes in what we buy.
2 - More buying on-line may have helped Two Peas but it certainly hurt local stores. Shipping is a much complained about topic and as I said before, it costs to ship. We have to remember that resellers like Two Peas and all the others have to have product shipped to them first so that shipping must be figured in too. Shipping costs have really gone up in the last few years. And no wonder, have you bought gas lately?
3 - The economy affects every industry - up or down.
4 - The type of products we like has changed and I don't know which ones have better margins than others in the scrapbooking industry but it is bound to make a difference.
So there are tons of reasons why one retailer may not make it. Is the industry in trouble? Maybe, but I've been hearing the doomsday call for a long time now. I'm not that worried. I was scrapbooking years before I'd ever used a single sticker, heard of Ranger inks, or touched a 6x6 paper pad.
So I hate to lose a good supplier, a good source of training and a fine community. I'm sad for those who put so much effort into this business. Losing a business for whatever reason even if you had a good run and are just ready to quit is still sad. (I grew up in a family business and it was hard on my Dad to finally retire even though he had been successful for 40 years.)
Yet, we scrapbookers are passionate about our craft. We are naturally do-it-yourselfers who can create things that please us with all kinds of materials. We will find new products and continue to connect on-line one way or the other.