Local store still feels scrappy

FAIRMONT – News of the closure of scrapbooking mecca Archivers has stirred up concern for locally owned Picture This, Scrap That of Fairmont.

“I’m not going anywhere,” said owner Deb Kelly, who purchased the business in 2007. Its founder, Sue Anderson, began the company almost 13 years ago.

To reassure her clientele, Kelly sent out a newsletter to the 650-plus people on her mailing list.

“When we first started, cards were in full swing and many were getting into the scrapbooking,” she wrote. “Then scrapbooking went huge and fast … companies and stores popped out of the woodwork. … Pretty much, the industry saturated itself.”

As a small business owner, however, Kelly feels she has an advantage over her larger corporate competition. Flexibility and diversity are two of her strong suits.

Picture This, Scrap That focuses not just on scrapbooking, but lots of different paper crafts, plus the store sells children’s toys, and educational supplies for teachers and parents. The store also has a picture station for resizing and printing pictures, and offers services such as taking passport pictures, converting slides to DVD and VCR tapes to DVD.

And when retail trends change quickly, which they do, Kelly is able to adjust quickly to meet her customers’ demands. That came in handy when she started noticing a change in scrapbooking, as more people began turning to online options to show off their photos.

Many of her loyal clients, like herself, prefer the look of a 3D scrapbook, and Kelly’s grateful for that. It’s also helped that card-making has made a comeback.

“I definitely still have all my scrappers who scrapbook,” Kelly said. “But I do see a change in the next generation. They’re more interested in digital things – not all of them but a lot.”

The change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, she says. While scrapbooking may not interest these digitally-savvy youngsters, they are interested in do-it-yourself projects, such as cardmaking and smashbooks. Inspired by creations they see on social networking site Pinterest, people are printing pictures of crafts they’ve seen online and asking Kelly to help them make them.

“Pinterest, that’s helped a lot,” Kelly said, laughing.

Kelly’s understanding of the crafting industry gave her the insight to create a getaway for scrapbookers, quilters and the like to focus on their projects. Her retreat house is doing well, she noted, attracting people to the Fairmont area from as far away as four hours, with several groups who are repeat customers.

“Scrapbook garage sales” at the store, like one slated for this week, Thursday through Saturday, also help her connect with customers by connecting them to each other. Picture This, Scrap That is in charge of the sales, and customers are awarded store credit for items sold.

“It’s huge, a big deal,” Kelly said.

All these things add up to help her bottom line, but Kelly acknowledges the Internet does cut into her profits.

“I have felt it, like any other store,” she wrote in her newsletter. “We have tried to educate our customers that when you buy online instead of from the store, it hurts not only the store, but that taxes that are paid from the store to your community and state. Those taxes are used for our schools, city, roads and more. The more we sell, the more taxes we pay.”