With the proliferation of digital cameras, social media networks and photography apps that allow users to alter images with the flick of a finger, anyone can play memory-maker with their phones, tablets or computers. But for everyone who still enjoys creating something with their own personal style, the feel of paper in their hands and the sounds, scents and textures of scrapbooks, there is Archiver’s.
The one-stop craft supply stores offer products to support a creative person who wants to make her or his own greeting cards, invitations, scrapbooks or similar projects. Along with supplies, each Archiver’s location employs like-minded crafty individuals who offer project ideas, insider tips and interactive demonstrations and workshops. They can help any level of scrapper, from the novice just getting started to the veteran looking for something new.
“We have a great product assortment, and these are very interactive and fun places to be compared to a typical retail store,” President Brian Olmstead says. “Combine that with the passion of our employees – who are some of our biggest customers – that love helping customers be creative, and it works out great.”
Archiver’s was founded in 1999 with its first location in Apple Valley, Minn. Soon after, the company expanded with four stores in the Twin Cities area before branching out to Denver and Chicago.
Today, Archiver’s employs 675 people and operates 45 U.S. locations, extending as far east as Raleigh, N.C., and to Boise, Idaho, in the west. It hosts Scrap Fest® in Minnesota’s Mall of America every year, offering celebrity workshops, book signings, demonstrations and exhibitor booths.
Despite the onslaught of competition from digital photo products, Archiver’s stays true to its original mission as a supplier of paper memory supplies. Olmstead believes there is still a market for people who prefer disconnecting from the cyber world to make something of their own.
“I still think there is a place for a person that wants to be creative and do something that’s more crafty,” Olmstead maintains. “If they’re on a computer all day long at work, the last thing they do is spend more time on a computer at home.
“It’s a release, it’s something they really like to do, and it will always be there.”
Big Box Competition
According to Olmstead, the scrapbooking trend peaked around 2007 and 2008, and the hobby has experienced a slight decline since then. Along with digital photography, the company also competes with big-box craft stores like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft, which focus solely on price.
“We have to continue with our mission to be helpful to customers’ ideas by showing them how to take three things and making something neat out of them,” Olmstead adds.
To do that, Archiver’s focuses on product variety and interactivity. Olmstead says each Archiver’s locations feature a large demonstration counter at the front of the store where customers can try products like trimmers and rubber stamps before making a purchase. And instead of filling end caps with more products, Archiver’s displays show ideas to help inspire its customers.
“Typical end caps have products, but we’re all about ideas,” he says. “We’ll show some creative way of displaying photos or something similar from our group of designers at our office. When we show [customers] our creativity, that’s when they buy the product.”
Each location boasts a workroom that offers customers a creative space with tables, chairs, lighting and instant access to a store full of supplies and ideas. The rooms are open during regular business hours except Friday and Saturday nights, and when they are reserved for special events.
“Even when we hold classes, we keep half of our workroom available to our customers,” Archivers says. “We have over 400 die-cut shapes, cards and envelopes on display and free to use in our workrooms.”
The company offers classes, workshops and events designed to help customers expand their skills. On Fridays and Saturdays, workrooms are reserved for Scrap Mania, where customers can socialize and work with their crafty peers for $15.
Archiver’s is launching more private-label products, as well. Olmstead believes it is imperative to have its own assortment of merchandise under a variety of brand names, not just to separate itself from the competition but to capitalize on the latest trends such as chevron patterns and the systemization of scrapbooking for those who struggle with creativity.
“Some people say they’re not creative and they can’t do that, so we try to break things down to make it easy by developing some systems,” Olmstead adds. These systemized products include pocket-style pages, which allows customers to slip elements into pockets, merging scrapbooking and photo albums.
Archiver’s is focused on bringing its product variety and expertise to the World Wide Web. The company launched online sales through its website in 2010, and it is a growing part of its overall operations. Aside from sales, the company’s website provides customers with a peak into what they’ll find in Archiver’s brick-and-mortar locations.
“This is a real important part of our business,” Olmstead says. “Once people see and love our stores, we’ll be able to sell online, as well.”