Nancy Nally is the owner of Nally Studios and the publisher and editor of Scrapbook Update and Craft Critique, two websites focused on the scrapbooking industry. And avid scrapbooker for more than 20 years, Nancy has a keen interest in news and trends that affect the industry. This year she will be bringing us quarterly reports on the scrapbooking industry and we’re excited to publish this first installment. Here’s Nancy:
Craft chain stores have been steadily reducing their footprint of paper crafts products the past few years. In February, the reductions at Michaels Stores claimed a high-profile victim: Project Life by Becky Higgins. Project Life was the hottest thing in scrapbooking a few short years ago, occupying almost the entire side of one aisle in my local Michaels. Now, Michaels has abandoned it entirely in favor of trends such as planners. Project Life isn’t going away, though. Fans of the company’s pocket scrapbooking kits, which are distributed by scrapbooking mega-company American Crafts, can still find them at many independent retailers, Hobby Lobby, JOANN stores, and on the Project Life website.
The decline of Project Life and the pocket scrapbooking fad is part of a trend that has been overtaking the scrapbooking industry for several years: the incredible shrinking scrapbook page. The 12” by 12” page size, the industry standard since at least 2000, has been steadily falling from favor. It’s been replaced by a series of trends for smaller and smaller albums. First, there was a flirtation with letter size and 9×12 albums. Then 6×8 albums became the hot size. A few years ago, the planner-as-scrapbook trend hit, turning weekly planners into memory keeping. Now, in 2018, the latest fad has shrunk the scrapbook even further. Traveler’s notebooks, with a page size of only about 4.5” by 8.5”, are the latest hot way to scrapbook.
The repercussions of this downsizing trend ripple through the industry. It’s not just albums getting smaller. Trends like planners and traveler’s notebooks are driving a miniaturization in all areas of scrapbooking. Perhaps the most extreme example of this was seen at Creativation in January, when Pink Paislee introduced a 2” by 2” paper pad as part of their Paige Evans scrapbooking collection. The trend to planners and traveler’s notebooks is also bringing back categories that had lost popularity. Stickers and rub-ons, which are portable and great for use on thin journal paper that can’t handle inks without bleed through, are becoming trendy again.
Martha Stewart Brands announced in April that the brand has a new licensing deal with Cricut. The new Martha Stewart-branded Cricut Explore Air 2 machine bundle is debuting in Michaels Stores this month. The machine is actually just a small part of a 300-piece Michaels-exclusive party planning collection called “Martha Stewart Celebrations”. Martha Stewart Brands has been aggressively expanding its portfolio of licenses since the company’s sale to Sequential Brands Group in mid-2015. The new Celebrations collection is part of a larger deal inked in 2017 between Sequential Brands Group and The Michaels Companies that makes wholesaler Darice the manufacturer and distributor of Martha Stewart Crafts products.
My Sweet Petunia, which makes the MISTI stamping tool, has been engaged in litigation with Tonic Studios for over a year alleging that Tonic’s Tim Holtz Stamp press infringes on the MISTI’s patent. Like most patent suits, this will likely be an extended legal battle. The current schedule with the court for arguments and filing briefs in the case currently extends well into 2019. The legal issue didn’t prevent Tonic from releasing a mini version of the stamp press earlier this year. Several other brands pulled similar stamp presses from the market after My Sweet Petunia threatened legal action last year. Many, including We R Memory Keepers, have released redesigned versions of their tools in the past few months.
In other legal action, Stampin’ Up! is taking on the rampant copyright infringement on Chinese ecommerce site Alibaba. Many U.S-based stamp companies have been complaining loudly for a long time about counterfeit versions of their products being sold on Alibaba. Stampin’ Up! filed suit in Utah Federal District Court last month against Alibaba Hong Kong and several individual sellers on the platform. The suit alleges, among other things, that Alibaba willfully turned a blind eye to rampant copyright violations taking place on its platform and did not do enough to track down and remove offending products.