Scrapbooking and papercrafts dominated the 65th Annual Craft & Hobby Association Convention and Trade Show, gobbling up half the floor space of the Las Vegas Convention Center Jan. 30 through Feb. 2. General crafts claimed the second biggest chunk of real estate, and yarn, beads and jewelry-making were also hot at this year’s comprehensive event, experts told TDmonthly Magazine.
| “Scrapbooking is huge,” said senior marketing manager Dana Conover, and “definitely” a growth area for Elmer’s.
A total of some 1,100 exhibitors had registered for 3,200 booths at the show, according to the CHA. The association released a Consumer Usage & Attitude Study at the event putting annual retail sales in all craft categories at an all-time high of $30 billion.
Scrapbooking, a $2.5-billion phenomenon, occupied about one half of the booths at the expo — the largest if its kind worldwide. Also prominent was a new Imaging Pavilion with digital scrapbooking equipment and accessories by Epson, Sony, Noritsu, Polaroid and Mitsubishi, said Tony Lee, CHA’s vice president of meetings and expositions.
Some in the scrapbook industry have said that the category is beginning to plateau, and some manufacturers and retailers are citing declining sales at retail. Several independent shops around the country have closed over the past year or so.
CHA show planners had heard nothing but good news, however. The number of booths dedicated to scrapbooking and papercrafts at this year's show, 1,500, was up over last year by roughly 20 percent, said Shelley Fulghum, exhibit sales manager.
"This is the largest show we've ever had, both in terms of scrapbooking and overall," Fulghum said.
Even general craft companies not traditionally associated with the so-called memory category were most heavily promoting their new scrapbook supplies. Elmer’s glue is one example.
“Scrapbooking is huge,” said senior marketing manager Dana Conover, and “definitely” a growth area for Elmer’s. The company introduced a full line of scrapbook tools that includes a Magnetic Cutting System and an Adhesive Dot Stamper, which deposits adhesive dots when pushed onto paper then automatically advances to its next sticky dot.
Like other large scrapbook manufacturers, Hot Off the Press was prominently promoting kits that simplify scrapbooking for newcomers and save crafters’ time. Products include the company’s Almost Done Page Kit, which contains matching papers and embellishments and layout suggestions.
“It’s also a great solution for retailers who want to try out scrapbooking … but don’t want to turn over a huge portion of space to a category that’s not strictly within their area of expertise,” said marketing director Sara Naumann.
That might have appealed to Lee Kellogg, whose Santa Fe, N.M., shop, Guadalupe’s Fun Rubber Stamps, specializes in various paper crafts.
“I’ll probably spend 75, 80 percent of my budget on vendors I already stock,” Kellogg said before the show. “I also want to look at die cut machines. They are huge.”
In the general crafts aisles, Westrim Crafts highlighted another hot trend, pom-poms, with its new Crafts to Go product. The kit’s contents, packaged in a Chinese-food takeout container, include soft, round, sparkly pom-poms to assemble into whimsical little monsters and other critters.
“This design surfaced and we had to go with it,” said Terri Seiden, a spokeswoman for Creativity Inc., owner of Westrim Crafts.
In the still-hot yarn category, felting is particularly popular just now, said Craft Yarn Council of America board member David Blumenthal, president and CEO of Lion Brand Yarn.
Lion Brand introduced its first wool yarns intended for felting, a knitting and crochet technique for scarves, bags and other items that produces a dense, matted look, like felt. “There’s been a tremendous resurgence of felting,” Blumenthal said.
Jewelry-making and beading are also enjoying the spotlight, thanks in part to an increased use of beads in scrapbooking, quilting and on clothing, said CHA board member Mike Hartnett.
“Michaels says jewelry-making is one of its strongest categories,” added Hartnett, who publishes Creative Leisure News, a craft industry newsletter.
Jill Szymanski, a craft buyer for Notions Marketing, a distributor for mostly independent stores in the United States, Canada and Australia, said her company is seeing more children getting into the act.
“Bracelet kits and beaded-pen kits are really popular for kids,” said Szymanski, adding that chunky pendant necklaces are big among adults.
Among many other new items, Beadalon, a large jewelry-supply manufacturer, unveiled a new line of stainless steel wire to attach all those beads, said advertising coordinator Yvette Rodriguez.
The following is a bit more information on a few products that were at the show.
This Peek-a-Boo Felted Scarf is made with Lion Wool, a worsted-weight 100 percent wool yarn. Solid colors are packaged in 3-oz. balls. This pattern is recommended for advanced beginning knitters.
This paper cutter, with a "self-healing" mat and sliding bar cutter, uses three magnets to hold paper in place for precise cuts. It comes with 12 different blades for various uses.
These kits, packaged in Chinese-food take-out containers, include almost everything needed to make cute monsters and other critters. Sparkly pom-poms and pipe cleaners are featured.