Book 'Em

A Touch of Class

The social aspect of scrapbooking is a big factor in its popularity, Bearnson says. "Quilting used to be the big social activity among women. Now it's scrapbooking," she says. "A scrapbook workshop is a time when women get together, tell stories and reminisce while creating priceless heirlooms."

Robin Nash, owner of Curious Kitty Stamps and Stickers, a rubber stamps and scrapbook store in Holland, Michigan, agrees the social aspect of scrapbooking is important. "Classes are a must to keep your customers satisfied," she says. "We average three workshops per week."

But don't try to do it all yourself, Nash warns: "At first, I tried to teach all the classes myself. I soon learned that you can only do so much, and I began hiring customers who showed a talent for teaching. If they do a good job, the attendees end up buying a lot of goodies before they leave."

Nash offers classes on basic scrapbooking, stamping, creative lettering and card-making, among other things. The most popular activity at her store, though, is "cropping time"--when customers get together to cut, paste and work on their own scrapbooks.

At Impress Yourself, a scrapbooking store in Jacksonville, Florida, customers can come in and "crop" anytime the store is open, including Friday nights until midnight. "Our cropping time is free," says owner Becky Slate, 37, "and customers can use our nonconsumable supplies, such as paper trimmers, punches, circle cutters, rulers, templates and scissors."

Nash, 34, a scrapbook enthusiast herself, started her business in 1994, selling supplies from a shop attached to her house. "I wasn't satisfied with the products available locally," she says, "so I started researching and decided to open a business."

After an initial investment of $2,500, her business took off, and she moved into a small store. Soon she needed even more room, and in November 1996, she moved into a 1,750-square-foot space where she surpassed $100,000 in sales last year.

Slate's is a success story, too. "When we opened in 1992, we were a rubber stamp store," she says. "Our initial inventory probably cost $3,000. Within the past two years, we've evolved into more of a scrapbook store, and business has grown by leaps and bounds." Slate's store grossed $180,000 in 1997.

Nash believes one reason for her success is that she continuously asks customers what they want and works to provide those products and services. "[As a small store,] we have to be very customer-oriented and give the personal touch chain stores can't give," she says. "My customers like the fact that we know their names and are interested in more about them than just their money."

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This article was originally published in the August 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Book 'Em.

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