Taking The Pulse Of The Scrapbook Industry At Scrapbook Expo

I attended Scrapbook Expo about 10 days ago, in Anaheim, CA. The Expo was in the basement, at the back of the Anaheim Convention Center. I laughed when I pulled up – is scrapbooking now the red-headed stepchild in trade show land? I wasn't sure I was going to go to the Expo but I ended up going with two purposes in mind: the first was to see my friends and the second was to take the pulse of the scrapbooking industry. Are people still scrapbooking? Surprisingly, yes, they're still scrapping!

For over 15 years, Scrapbook Expo has been THE place for scrapbooking shows, especially here in Southern California. I attended my first Scrapbook Expo in 2003, thanks to my friend Denise. Attending that Expo is what started me on a path to create a business and life in craft. I had always crafted but I had no idea I could actually run a business doing it until then.

This Scrapbook Expo was particularly interesting. I saw friends but the show floor was small. I got photos with Nancy Nally and Cindy Fahrbach, did make n takes with my friends at Charity Wings, had a nice chat with Marion Smith, and waved to Richard Garay giving a class on the show floor.

Scrapbook EXPO - Anaheim CA Jennifer Priest Cindy Fahrbach Scrapbook EXPO - Anaheim CA Jennifer Priest Nancy Nally

But it wasn't like Expos past. I mean, usually I see SO MANY people that I know. I saw some of my local scrapbooking friends like Aprile and Becky but for the most part, there were few people there I knew.

I think a big reason for that is that Scrapbook Expo has changed.

I detail what's different and where I think the scrapbooking industry as a whole is going in this video. Watch it to hear my exact thoughts and see more photos from the show:

Like I said in the video, people are still scrapbooking.

They've just stopped buying or cut way back on shopping. I spent $25 at the Expo – that was $15 for parking and $10 for a ticket in the door. I didn't buy a single thing. And it's not for vendors' lack of trying. It was because I don't need anything, I wasn't “wowed” by anything, I don't have space for anything new, and a tiny part is that I work in the industry and get alot of product shipped to my house. But that was a small part of it, believe me. I don't get everything for free and there were TONS of things at Expo that I don't own and have never owned that would be fun to use. It just wasn't fun ENOUGH for me to pull my wallet out and buy. That sentiment was held by alot of people there. They came, but not to buy.

This photo of the crop area at Scrapbook Expo in Anaheim shows 500 people scrapbooking:

Scrapbook EXPO - Anaheim CA JPriest

This area was larger than the area the booths occupied! According to attendee Shemaine Smith, in a post on Facebook, the crop last year at the same location had 300 attendees. That's a 66% increase in attendance!

Here are my thoughts on the current state of the scrapbooking industry:

  • People are still scrapbooking – they're using up their stash. Evidence: record-breaking number of attendees at Scrapbook Expo's crop; conversations with scrapbookers at the crop and elsewhere
  • People are still shopping but mostly for things they need and for things that are amazing deals. Evidence: number of $1 bargain booths at Scrapbook Expo; conversations with scrapbookers at the crop and elsewhere; proliferation of craft supplies at closeouts stores like Tuesday Morning, Marshall's as well as crafters seeing those stores as long-term sources of product; people are not going to the Expo to shop – they are going to see friends, crop, and maybe see what is “new”.
  • People are using scrapbooking as a gateway to other paper and non-paper crafts. Evidence: number of card-making and jewelry booths at Scrapbook Expo; conversations with scrapbookers at the crop and elsewhere; removal of scrapbooking section from Target stores – replaced by general crafts in hipster/maker style; opening of maker spaces around the US while scrapbooking stores close or evolve into craft stores.
  • Stores and manufacturers that evolve into new sectors of craft outside of scrapbooking and those who create pathways between other industries and the craft industry will grow and thrive. Others will close due to lack of a market for their products. Evidence: Popularity of Project Life line, which makes memory-keeping accessible to non-crafters; companies broadening their offerings like Heidi Swapp with her marquee letters; companies going outside of craft, like Adornit with their clothing lines.

I'm not an economist or marketing scientist. I am just calling it like I see it after 12 years in the craft industry with a focus on scrapbooking. I've watched the industry rise and fall and it will rise again. It's always evolving. I mean, who would have thought macrame and weaving would rise it's fuzzy head after the 1960s and 1970s but here we are, with instagram plastered full of weaving images. I am hopeful that people are still scrapbooking but as for the industry… I think they oversold so much product that they produced themselves out of a market. More on that later this week in another post.

What do you think about the state of scrapbooking industry?

Keep up with our adventures, craft ideas, and frugal living tips by subscribing to the Hydrangea Hippo Crafty Newsletter.Jennifer Signature Block-Fall 2014



About the Author

Author Profile

Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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  1. Excellent observations, Jennifer! I began as a Scrapper 17 years ago and there were few places to purchase supplies. There was a point where I couldn’t enter a store – almost ANY store – that didn’t have scrapbooking supplies available. I’ve seen many, many great stores go out of business which is sad.

    I think there’s a new normal out there and a lack of disposable income that forces people to choose wisely and spend carefully.

    Thanks for a great article!

  2. I think people are still Scrapbooking but not in the way we are accustomed to. Project Life is so easy for those who were into the clean and simple approach. I was an avid scrapbooker and will go back to it someday. I was not a CAS, graphic style scrapbooker. I enjoyed making heavily detailed pages with embellishments and titles. Why did I stop? Well, I was on a design team for a Christian Paper-Crating forum and everyone there was more into making cards. Plus, I couldn’t find any inspiration in the Scrapbooking publications for my style of pages. So, I started giving cardmaking a try. I was awful at it to begin with. As time went on, I got better and was able to weave in my style to the cards I was making. Then, I discovered I liked the smaller canvas better. So, even though I am not scrapping right now, when I look at project life binders, I’m drawn to the 6×8 size. Another thing that slowed me down was having to go back to work full-time. So money is definitely playing a part in it. I’m still shopping but don’t have the time to use what I’m buying. Thanks for doing this segment. I’m glad to know people are still Scrapbooking.

  3. Great room Jennifer. I love how organized you are. I have to say organized in my space of I’ll go crazy. I do like the idea of having all your stuff in color order. I have done that with my small embellishments but I may change up my drawers and make them color coded. Great idea. I have so much that I still need to get rid of. Slowly but surely I will. I hate the feeling over being overwhelmed with stuff in my craft room.

  4. Very observant Jennifer and you are exactly right. ….I actually was on the fence about even making the drive…even started doing math to see if it was even worth it. I must say, I did get to see many of my old and new friends it was almost reunion like!
    I did however spend the same amount as you…parking and admin ticket. ..and that’s about it!

  5. Well said Jennifer. I couldn’t agree with you more, especially on the Target side of it. I was in Target 3/19/15 just as they opened the store. I noticed the scrapbook section was MIA and replaced with what I called the Craft section. I asked one of the guys working if I could have the extra large bag of Styrofoam boards and he was happy to give them to me. I told him I was a pre-school teacher and I could use this with the children, I just didn’t want to look super crazy asking for trash. I bought a Project Life album because it was marked down to $5.98. I noticed the subtle shift in the magazines in 2010, I was very disappointed in what they had to share and I no longer subscribed to any magazines. Ok now on to the Expo side of it. I just thought the wow factor was gone for me because over the years I have acquired more than my share of scrapbook product and I didn’t have to have that hot new item, and if so we had many stores to choose from if I changed my mind. I have went to all the Expos in So. Cal Ontario my fav. and Costa Mesa my least, however I thought it would be better since it was relocated to the convention center. I went to the Expo last year to help work a booth. I went this year and I did buy, however it was very limited. I was looking for something specific that I hadn’t found in the stores only because it was a slightly older item. The other things purchased was discounted as you mentioned. As for scrapbooking I still do it but it has opened the doors for many other creative avenues that I have eased into. I no longer call myself a scrap booker I have became a crafter because scrapbooking is no longer the only thing I do. I also think experiencing the CHA January for the first time also played a part in my view of the Expo. Well done Jennifer!!!!!

  6. Very interesting. Haven’t been to an Expo for a while, but went to a CKC a month or so ago and it was dead. Nothing really “new” that I couldn’t live without.

    I also think the proliferation of kit clubs has taken the place of shopping. Seems like there is a new kit club every time I turn around.

  7. I just saw this post….I think things may be different here in Florida. The Expo in Orlando is HUGE every year that I have been. It is in a gorgeous hotel convention area, the crops are huge and there are tons of shoppers spending money, though some people just go to crop and never leave the crop room. They used to have a 2nd show in the fall in south Florida, but those shows weren’t as busy for shoppers or croppers, not sure why. They did stop having fall shows in 2014. I have been attending since 2008 and have seen the trends shift from straight scrapbooking and branching out to stamping, card making, jewelry and mixed media. I was thrilled to take a mixed media class this year. I have done very little scrapbooking myself, I love stamping, mixed media & card making. I like to make mini, non traditional albums. Not sure I like the Project Life, but I do love ATCs. I like going to see the people that I have met over the years and to have a fun time cropping with my sisters as and annual trip. I live in a rural part of Florida and our local scrapbook store closed last year. I have to drive more than 30 miles to the closest craft store or Tuesday Morning. With that in mind, the Expo is the place for me to see the new products and to shop for them as well. I miss my local store, and our little town is craving a craft store of any kind…So I will continue to look forward to the Expo every year, to see the new trends and to watch the evolution of our craft.

  8. I’m not a scrapbooker but recently became aware of the market due to increased interest in fountain pens, inks, papers and altered books / journals since that’s my interest. What I see is that the market is maturing and there is more cross over with journaling as scrapbooking, thanks to the instant printer and thanks to the self discovery that everyone is creative. You can see the trends with growth in areas such as urban sketchers, midori style art journals, the atc groups, zentangle and adult coloring books. I can’t count the number of facebook groups.

  9. Nice observation. I know many of my friends have brought the “scrap” back into scrapbooking. We trade scraps for new papers. We don’t buy duplicate dies, stencils or cartridges. We share, borrow and give away. When we go to crops, expos or stores, we buy different items so we can share. Papers are purchased with coupons and we NEVER pay retail … I am retired and have a limited income so the money has to stretch. That being said … when our usual group of friends get together to scrap, it IS a social event !! We laugh, share, vent and sometimes cry …. while scrapbooking, sharing photos and yelling out stuff like ” Does anyone have a moose sticker?” … followed buy 10 or so gals yelling back … “I DO !!” . That’s what I love … everyone and anyone shares there stash !! I could go on but I have some paper to sort. .. and I love this craft.

  10. I totally agree! I have been scrapping for ….holy crap…like 20 years WTH!!

    but about 4 years ago I went almost entirely digital with my scrapbooking and now I paper craft with all my fun machines and embelishments! I do paper quilling, card making, etc!

    Digital scrapbooking was cheaper in the long run, I can have any embellishment or paper I want when I want it even at 3 am. I can create my own paper and embellishments even The amount I was spending on physical product I now put into printing gorgeous books that fit on my bookshelf. I still come out ahead and have a giant stash I work through doing other crafts.

    Another reason digital scrapbooking worked for me is I could do it anywhere…I needed my laptop, my bamboo and my digital drive filled with embellishments and pictures. Everything fit in a little laptop bag and I could go meet my friends anywhere without needing a car to lug my supplies and tables worth of space.

    When I do a book, if I want I can order 4 copies for the grandparents etc. I am still creating beautiful textured designs but more conveniently.

  11. I still scrap and I also do cards but I am finding I have so much that I need to use up I’m not buying much other then adhesive and an occasional line that really catches my eye. I think most of us that have been involved in the industry any time at all are in the same boat as me more stuff then they could ever use. So I’m slowly selling stuff I don’t like or giving it away and just keeping what I love and not buying much. I think people are doing more crops and things like that so they can be with their friends but are not buying much.

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