Monday, June 13, 2011

LSS Closures

A well known vendor posted a link to a blog this week and the content I found incredibly sad. It was a snarky rant about LSS's (local scrapbook stores). I don't have one as I live in a small town. The closest is over an hour away. I don't get up there very often, but I really enjoy the store when I can get up there.

This blogger's rant was about how LSS's should all close and become just a place for classes or crops that offered exactly what she wanted and the times to fit her schedule. She was also demanding stores that are closing to put every single item on sale for a drastic reduction...something like at least 50% off.  She sounded like a cheerleader for the big box stores. You know the stores that still carry paper from over 10 years ago! The places that sell cardstock so flimsy it's like plain white paper for your printer....yeah she was rooting for them! UGH SIGH Big sad face!

Her idea that a store could survive paying rent, utilities, taxes, insurance, employees, etc all just with crops and classes sounds a bit ridiculous. I know one store that closed several years ago whose rent was $4,000 a month. That did NOT include heat, air conditioning, water, lights, phone, internet, taxes, insurance, employees, fixtures, merchandise, classroom space, fixing up a storefront, etc. These are all real costs in this business. Whoever said owning a scrap/stamp store is cheap and makes a killing is sadly mistaken. With the extremely high number of LSS's closing over the last two to three years, you'd think people would realize how costly the stores are to run and maintain.

Why should you support your LSS?

  • Almost all of them are owned by women or a local family. Why wouldn't you want to support your neighbor? You're helping support local jobs which every single community in this country desperately needs. 
  • Where else can you meet other people who are truly passionate about this artform? Whether it's a hobby for you or a money making business, it's always nice to get out there and meet people! The is a very social craft.
  • Customer service. How many times have you gone into one of the big box stores and looked for something in their sale flyer and not been able to find it? you ask someone who works there and they look at you like you have 57 heads and are shooting lasers out of your nostrils. They don't care what the store carries. They're there because it's a job. 
  • Most LSS's will order something for you! How many big box stores will order something from Flower Soft or Art Glitter for you?
  • Classes are huge in our industry. Sure some are pricey, but most aren't. For some reason, a lot of people think $25 for a class is expensive, but they don't mind paying $12 to see a movie and then another $15 for popcorn and a soda. All so you can have some pest kicking the back of your chair for an hour and a half. Thanks but I'd rather scrap and learn something!
  • Friendships. I travel a lot and always look for scrap/stamp stores in my journeys. No matter how small or large, I stop. I have made some amazing friends by doing this. I literally have friends over 1,100 miles away. Some of them are my best friends. People I would do anything for. 
Anyone who has had a LSS close can tell you how devastating it is. A few weeks ago, an announcement came from my favorite store ever. They are closing the end of summer. They have been open for over 12 years. This was a store that I KNEW would make it through this tough economical time. I knew they'd make it because of the things they sell, the classes they teach, the crops they offer, and the absolutely amazing staff. I never imagined this store closing until the owner wanted to retire and she's far from that age. I was heartbroken and literally cried over the news. I have never cried over a store closing before. My first thought wasn't, "Oh crap where am I going to crop now?"Nor was it, "Well, they better have everything on sale." My first thought was, "Oh my god! The poor girls who work there! They're losing their jobs and their family."

The girl who's the manager is just awesome. She is wicked crafty and loves to get inky. I really worry about her. This is her life. She's an artist. When she's not being the store manager, she travels around teaching at other stores. She's even gone to Canada to teach! How awesome is that? I really hope she can find a job doing what she loves. I can't even imagine what she is going through.

One girl who works there had a baby a few months ago. She also has two other children. Her husband is employed also, but this is her creative outlet. Her time away from the kids. And her job. She gave up another job a few years back to let her artistry shine. I have spoken with her and she's devastated over this. Even her husband got how big of a deal this is and that it's just another store closing. When Wal-Mart closes, does anyone really care? There's another one 10 feet away selling the same junk.

The store that's closing used to be four hours away from me before I relocated. I would go out for the weekend crops. I would get tons of pages scrapped (always came home with at least 60 pages done!), shopped until I dropped, had great food and amazing conversation, got to sit on the beach and stare at the Atlantic Ocean. Watch sunsets at lighthouses. Collect shells and sand. It truly was an amazing weekend. How often can one have an experience like that in life? 

One of my first trips there - back when I didn't know anyone really - I locked my keys on my car the day I arrived. That car has OnStar so all I had to do was call them and they could unlock my car for me. Guess where my phone was? In the bag next to my keys. I could see them looking at me sticking their tongues out me. I went in the store a bit freaked out. Here I am four hours away from home with no way to get my keys, money for lunch, call my husband because I'm freaked out, or get into my hotel room. 

One of the girls working there was wondering if I was ok. She could tell something was wrong. She calmed me down a bit and gave me her phone to use. This was a person who I didn't know. I dialed the wrong number and got some crazy thing that said it charged $10 a minute. I told her and she said don't worry about it. I told if her it there were any charges to please let me know and I would send her the money. OnStar was able to open my car and I got my keys. I had a great weekend and became friends with the girl who lent me her phone. Other people in the store were also very concerned about me and made sure I got my keys and had my purse. The store owner also made sure I got everything ok. 

Now if this had happened at a big box store, I'm pretty sure no one would have helped me. At least not the employees. Maybe a customer would. But would we have become friends after that? Doubtful.

Her lending me her phone doesn't sound like much, but when I was panicked and freaking out because I didn't know anyone and was four hours from home, it meant the world to me. I was so stressed and really had no idea what to do. Her just giving me her phone to use for however long it took and however many calls i needed to make was a true act of kindness. One you don't find every day or every where.

Over the years of visiting this store, I have seen that the ladies who work there aren't just employees. They aren't even just friends. They've become a family. They spend holidays together. Go out to dinner together. Get together for drinks. They spend time together outside of the store. They shop together. Go to concerts and the beach as a group. They're so much more than just friends. Even the lady who owns the store is in on this. She's not just a boss. I always thought she was an amazing person and probably one of the greatest "bosses" a person could have.

So you see, there's so much more to a LSS than most people see or even recognize. No, not all stores are like this one. But there are stores that have become families and help out friends when they need it. No how big or small the problem is. 

Until next time *

Visit your LSS! And tell them I said "Hi."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Attention Stampers

Apparently, this is my week to comment on things I see on Yahoo groups! There's a discussion about stamps and I discovered new companies. Oy smack to the forehead! Don't go looking for them...No seriously remember my Paper Collector or Paper Hoarder post? Yup, pretty much the same thing for stamps except that I haven't quite cut back as much. I used to think I had every stamp on earth. I have to tell you, I'm not even close. But holy cow! It sure seems like it. It can be extremely overwhelming going through my stamps when I'm looking for what I want and think I have. I need get serious about my stamp organization and kick it into high gear!

So who are my favorite stamp manufacturers? Oh that is really a tough question! Are we talking rubber? Mounted? Unmounted? Clear? See, there's a lot of things to consider and decide.

Well, for clear stamp I like Close To My Heart and Papertrey Ink the best. For rubber, I'd go with Stampin' Up!, Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous, and Unity Stamps. Well, those are my answers for this week. It could change next week. It all depends on what I am working on or have plans for.

Until next time *

Have you been inky lately?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Collector Or...

One of the Yahoo groups I am on has a post going around about what brands of paper you like and if you're a collector. I kind of found this interesting for a few reasons. I recently organized all of my paper for the 10 millionth time and noticed some interesting trends. There are definitely a handful of companies that I have been really fond of in the past, but the things they've put out for the last year or so I am just not into. These were my die hard always go to places, too.

Makes me wonder if my tastes are changing or if their style has been changing. So I went looking on their websites and I have noticed one company in particular has really changed what they're putting out. I used to love their products and now you couldn't give them to. I'm kind of sad and frustrated with this change in direction.

I am also realizing my tastes are changing. I have so much paper and I have really cut back on my purchases. With this, I really try to only purchase paper to go with photos I already have printed or taken or to go with an upcoming trip, event, or holiday. Cutting back was really hard to do initially, but once I say how much paper I have, I realized it was really necessary. I have more paper than many stores I have been in. That's frightening! For the first time ever, it all is neatly organized and has a home. I stare at it all whenever I am using my studio. That has really made me stop and think.

So my challenge to you.....

Paper Collector


Paper Hoarder

Whichever one you are, are you happy with it? Is it time to take a step back and really consider which you are? If you're happy and it's all working for you, that's great! Seriously, it is and you should be proud of that.

If you're not happy or if it's not working for you, can you see your floor, table, chairs, walls, etc? Are you stepping over piles or boxes with things hidden? We ALL do it! There's no shame in it. If you have a significant other (or have ever had one while being a crafter), chances are about 99.99% you've "hidden" a purchase.

I admit I have done it more than I care to count. My husband works from home. In our old house I could be sneaky since it was 2 stories and he was upstairs all day. In our new house, it's one floor and I have to walk by his office to get to my studio. So my hiding days got nipped in bud. Not really a bad thing. I think that also helped me take a step back and think about how much I was spending and where on earth I was going to put things. All of my paper bins are stuffed. Stuffed to the point where the bins fall out when I pull one out. I have bruised toes to prove it!

In my world, it's time for a lot less shopping and time for more creating! This holds true not only for my paper life, but my fabric life. And my credit card is happier. My monthly payment actually makes the balance go down. I've paid off two cards! Well, one now has a balance since has had cartridges on sale for $19.95 including a bunch of Imagine cartridges. Cartridges....oh that's a whole separate addiction!

Until next time *

Be happy with your creativity!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things Are Happening!

As you've probably noticed, I have been pretty quiet on the blogging as of late. I've been working on some business ideas and the education I would need to go along with them. Well, finally I have made some major progress. Unfortunately, none of it is super speedy and I have no patience so I am going to try and speed things up as much as possible.

For the business ideas running in circles around in my head they are also making progress! I can't wait to be able to share what they are, but I can't yet. They are going to be amazing!

I do have a new gadget to share with you! I'm the proud new owner of an Epson Stylus Photo 1400 Printer. Why is this news worth sharing? I can now print 12x12 papers/photos/layouts!! Exciting I know!

If you're looking at getting one, Staples has a great deal right now. I returned an old printer to be recycled and they gave me $50 off the sale price of $300! I also got a rebate of $80 coming to me. This printer normally goes for $400 and it's mine for $170!

You're thinking oy what about ink? Yup, ink can be a royal pain as we all know. But Staples has a rewards program so I should be getting a coupon for the rewards from the printer. I also returned 3 ink cartridges for recycling so there's another $6 towards my ink pile. Staples also has a discounted box of all the colored inks in. It doesn't include black, but I'll take the discount and say thank you!

Next week, I'll have some news about some of the classes I am looking forward to taking!

Until next time *

Have you recycled today?