I received an interesting email last night from a small, local scrapbook store (LSS). At first glance, I thought nothing of it. The LSS owner was sending a note on behalf of a customer who was also a Creative Memories consultant. The CM consultant was hosting a scrapbook retreat and the LSS owner was sending a note to her customers advertising the crop for her. Nice…
And then it hit me: Aren't the LSS and the Indepedent Consultant competitors? … Lately some certainly treat each other as such. As the size of the scrapbook market has shrunk, many small business owners have taken that as a sign to "hunker down" and to focus on protecting their customer base.
In fact, when we first started PaperCrafter's Corner less than a year ago, many small business owners greeted us with a cold shoulder. Local Scrapbook Stores, Independent Consultants, Retreat Planners, etc. Whatever for? Our goal is to interconnect, energize, & entertain paper crafters so that they will craft more, scrap more, enjoy it more, and indoctrinate more non-scrappers… which should only serve to help the small business owner.
And I'm sure many of us remember the days from long ago when CM scrappers referred to non-CM products as "contraband" and such contraband was not allowed at their crops!
Should small scrapbook business owners work together? Or should they protect their clientele? Let's go back to my original example of the LSS & the CM Consultant:
- The CM consultant may very well be the person who first introduced scrapbooking to some of the LSS' best customers. (+)
- Depending upon the location of the retreat, the retreat attendees may stop by the LSS to pick up some "necessities" while on their retreat. (+)
- The retreat opportunity may inspire a LSS customer to not only attend the retreat, but bring a non-scrapper with her. (+)
- But: It's a tough economy. Each scrapper only has X dollars to spend on her hobby. Should each provider fight her hardest to make sure those dollars are spent with her? After all, we're all familiar with the phrase "survival of the fittest." (-)
By working together, can the LSS and the independent consultant actually make the pie larger? So that there is more to go around? Or are they just slicing the pie into smaller pieces?
Another situation that made me think about this lately was the "Stamp This / Scrap That Crop" sponsored by a Stampin' Up group in Dallas, GA last weekend. In looking at blog photos from the event (yes, I am a stalker:)) I noticed that a couple of design team members from a LSS were attending the event. My first thought was, "Cool!" My second thought was, "What? You mean they actually attend crops other than the ones sponsored by their LSS?"…But of course they should… right?
One last observation: I have also noticed that some of the LSS are actually supporting each other, and that's encouraging. For example, Sweet Memories in Carrollton, GA and Scrapbook Mania in Bessemer, AL list a few other LSS names & blogs on their websites. And from talking to them, I know they are trading war stories & tips with each other. After all, if their stores are more than an hour's drive from each other, are they competitors or are they teammates with a common goal?
What do YOU think about this topic? As a LSS owner or independent consultant, what's your opinion? Are you on the same team or are you competitors? As a paper crafter and/or scrapbooker, what do you think? Are your favorite providers working together to make your hobby more fun & enjoyable? Or are you pulled in diferent directions? Do you feel like you are "cheating" on your independent consultant when you make a purchase at a Big Box retailer or attend a crop at an LSS? Do you have advice for your LSS or independent consultant that would help them actually make the pie larger?