7 Biggest Paper Crafting Business Trends of 2011

2011 was a tumultuous year for the paper crafting industry. We saw the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between.  (It is taking every ounce of my self-restraint not to reference specific incidents here! Ha!)

As we look back over the year and consider what we’ve seen, a few distinct trends begin to emerge. While I’m not sure what these trends mean for the industry, I will say this: I am hoping that when we look back at this year, we’ll see that 2011 was in fact the beginning of the renaissance for our favorite hobby: Paper crafting!

7 Biggest Paper Crafting Industry Business Trends of 2011

1. Industry Consolidation

After the explosive industry growth of the late 90’s and early 2000’s we have recently experienced some painful industry contraction. In recent years we have mourned the total loss of some customer favorites such as Rusty Pickle, Scenic Route, and Simple Scrapbooker. This year, as the Darwinian “survival of fittest” trend continued, some of our favorite brands have thankfully found a new way to respond to challenge: They have teamed-up with stronger partners in order to survive and (hopefully) thrive.  Advantus acquired Cosmo Cricket; Canvas Corp acquired 7Gypsies; American Crafts acquired Crate Paper and Studio Calico; ANW Crestwood acquired Making Memories. Hopefully now these great brands have the financial and operational support they need to continue to bring us the wide variety of products, styles and mediums we crave!

2. Co-Branding

Several brands banded together this year to leverage each others strengths and to reach new customers. Pink Paislee  and Prima each co-branded lines with Tattered Angels; American Crafts created a line of products designed by Amy Tan that builds upon her popular & unique style (Amy Tangerine); Provo Craft partnered with Creative Memories to create CM branded Cricut products; Provo Craft partnered with Teresa Collins on additional TC branded cartridges that have been among the most popular cartridges in Provo Craft’s history. Creative Memories partnered with Nancy O’Dell to develop a second book and several lines of products which have brought mainstream attention to our hobby niche. In addition, every week brings cross promotional blog swaps, blog hops and design team swaps galore!

3. Industry Cross-Over

Popular brands have crossed-over into fabrics, stationary and home decor in order to bring their popular designs to a broader audience. Graphic45, Cosmo Cricket, October Afternoon, and others have licensed their designs to fabric manufacturers in order to reach sewers, quilters, altered artists and general crafters; BasicGrey created its own line of children’s specialty home decor; Tim Holtz introduced totes, tissue paper and other items for the gift and home decor market.

4. Store Closings

There’s just no way to spin this one in a positive way. We lost more of our hometown, independent paper crafting stores this year. We did see a few new ones spring to life, but overall, the industry has continued to contract and there are less independent scrapbooking & paper crafting retailers today than there were a year ago today. View our map of all US paper crafting stores here.

5. Direct to Consumer

This year we saw many more manufacturers finding ways to bring their products direct to consumer through special discounts, warehouse sales, daily deals, and HSN (Home Shopping Network.) While the independent store owners may not like this trend, the manufacturers have been forced to find ways to reach new customers and create new revenue sources. With the above-mentioned store closings, the manufacturers can no longer rely exclusively upon distribution to independent stores to meet their own financial goals. Examples of this trend include: Making Memories “Wholesale Prices to Consumer” Sale Site, American Crafts’ short-lived ScrapZoom site (what ever happened to this?), a steady stream of warehouse sales and box sales, and tremendous growth in special crafting deals & packages offered on HSN.

6. Online Classes

The above-referenced store closings have left the consumer with fewer local paper crafting class opportunities. Popular designers have responded to this need by offering more paper crafting classes online. Today, you can find self-paced as well as instructor-led classes for just about any paper crafting topic. Take your class independently or find one presented in an online classroom that attempts to recreate the sense of kinship once found around the table at your local scrapbook store. A few online class options include: Two Peas In a Bucket, Scrapbook.com, Online Card Classes (with Jennifer McGuire & Kristina Werner), True Scrap, Ella Publishing, Donna Downey Video Workshops, Big Picture Classes and many, many more. (To find real-life crops, classes & events in your state, click here. To add your upcoming events to our free listings, find our submission form here.)

7. Facebook

The paper crafting industry certainly isn’t the only one to find Facebook to be a convenient way to socialize with like-minded friends .Facebook has seen growth across the board!  However, I do think that our numbers on facebook and have increased faster than in other areas. Your average person on the street probably hasn’t even heard of Stampin Up and yet they have more than 100,000 facebook fans.  Creating Keepsakes has 50,000 facebook fans.

Consider this: In September 2010 (here & here) we pulled some statistics from facebook and found in September 2010 there were 600,000 people in the US, on facebook, who were interested in scrapbooking, card making or paper crafting. Today, there are 980,000 people in the United States on facebook with those interests!

That’s 63% growth over 15 months! The bottom line is this: If you are in the paper crafting industry, you definitely need to be leveraging Facebook to your best advantage! (Visit or like PaperCrafter’s Corner on facebook here.) If you would like help with your paper crafting industry blog or facebook presence, please contact me to learn more about my social media consulting services. I also have an e-book in the works that local paper crafting retailers are going to love!


These are the paper crafting industry trends we’ve noticed for 2011. (Rebecca shared her fun list of the 9 biggest paper crafting product, technique and style trends of 2011 in her article here.)

What other industry trends have you noticed that we didn’t list here? What do you think of the trends that we highlighted? What do you think the industry has in store for us in 2012? I’d love to hear what you think, via the comments!


    • Susan Mintmire says

      Rosemary – Thanks for letting us know! I didn’t know about this co-branded cartridge or else I would have mentioned it too!! – Susan

  1. Sue Turchick says

    Although there was significant contraction among the independent brick and mortar retailer, the independent store front is FAR from extinct. The stores remaining have changed and adapted to be able to keep delivering products to the consumer.

    So while manufacturers are consolidating (or just going away)—-keep in mind that that is not so different than some of the contraction in stores. While the barriers to entry are low for both retailers and small manufacturers—it’s difficult to keep going, even in the best of times.

    • Susan Mintmire says

      Sue – Thank you for your comment. You are absolutely correct and I did not mean to imply that the stores were nearing extinction. As you know, we here at PCC are committed to supporting the local stores however possible and we provide multiple free avenues of support for those stores. We have the best, most up-to-date store listings found anywhere on the web AND we offer the stores the chance to list their crops, classes, retreats, etc via our free localized listings.

      Thanks so much for your sharing and perspective. We look forward to working with you and with Crafter’s Home as we continue our goal toward growing this industry we all love so much!


  2. Elizabeth Woods says

    I read with interest yourarticle. In Australia, the same trends seem evident as the USA, more store fronts closing, or at the very least, moving to smaller premises. The on-line businesses continue to grow and offer more, and as our available funds for scrapbooking continue to shrink, we the scrapbooker become more purchase savy. We have to, otherwise we would not be able to continue to enjoy our passion to scrapbook.

  3. Shilo says

    This touched on a lot of points that I was definately aware were happening, as they directly affected my scrapbook store and the amount of business it generated. I closed the doors to my little shop in December, sadly after being open for just 9 months. Changes have definately been happening….I just wish I would have known the trends were shifting so much BEFORE I opened my shop…hind sight is always 20/20.

  4. says

    I have noticed that in the absence of local scrapbook stores, many former store owners and instructors are turning to video blogs and home-based studios for teaching classes and hosting crop parties. It has been a proven success for Stampin’ Up! and Creative Memories demonstrators now for years, and I think others are beginning to catch on. I know of at least 5 instructors from local stores who are now teaching classes or presenting some kind of scrapbooking content either online or in their homes, and that’s just from my immediate area. I’m seeing it happen in other areas as well. It’s really very smart. They’ve cut operating costs by eliminating high rent and utilities, and they don’t have to have a large inventory of products since mostly what they are selling is their “expertise”, not product that consumers can buy elsewhere at a lower cost. Rather than compete with the big box stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, they have found a niche that those stores can’t serve, and they are finding more and more creative, effective, and inexpensive ways to do it. I have tapped into that market as well, and it is growing.

    • says

      I agree Cindy. As a former teacher at a scrapbook store that has closed in the last year, I have also had to adapt to the changes in the industry. I started having some classes in my home and it is working out well.

  5. says

    Awesome article Susan!! As always your insight is spot on. Thanks for putting it out there in such an information and concise manner.
    Love your site!


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