Scrapbook like you mean it

2005 Midwest Scrapbook Convention reveals the many degrees, passions and costs of scrapbooking

by Erin Adler

Thousands of die-hard scrapbook aficionados filled the St. Paul exhibit hall Saturday, trying to balance their enthusiasm for an overwhelming array of materials with the limits imposed by their wallets.

Kristen Jovle, 25, stood out among the bustling, middle-aged crowd. She admitted that sticking to spending limits can be hard, particularly when you’re surrounded by people willing to spend $500 on a deluxe pack of paper.

Selling everything from handmade papers to the latest in embellishments, the 2005 Midwest Scrapbook Convention took place June 8 and 9; for the third year, it was held at the RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul.

The event showcased the latest trends in what has become a multimillion-dollar industry. It also offered workshops on specific topics, from card-making to recent trends involving digital scrapbooking.

Industry divisions

It was clear at the convention that not all vendors are created equal. The market is populated by a variety of retailers with different niches.

Archiver’s employee Marlana Regino, 20, has worked at its Apple Valley, Minn., location for three years. She separated scrapbooking retailers into three worlds: the “ma-and-pa-type stores,” mainstream craft retailers (Michael’s and Jo-Ann’s) and stores like Artsy-Tartsy or Minnesota-based Archiver’s, which boasts more than 30 locations.

“We’re into popular and culturally relevant (supplies) and the digital stuff, and less of the cheesy stickers you used to see at other scrapbooking places,” she said.

Indeed, the convention featured the booths of smaller scrapbooking stores as well as specialty stores that fulfill a specific need, such as three-dimensional shadowboxes to put in the back of a scrapbook or framing supplies to hang work on a wall.

The family of Lauren Cooper, 18, owns a smaller, “ma-and-pa-type-store” in Roseville, Minn., called Binding Memories. Her mother opened the shop nine years ago, just as the scrapbooking trend was taking shape, Cooper said.

She said scrapbooking is an “immortality thing,” and that it encourages people to “write down memories before they forget them.” She said she enjoys scrapbooking herself and considers it a calming hobby.

Younger scrapbookers

Jovle, who works as a University computer programmer, said she has been scrapbooking for less than a year.

Unlike many of the attendees in their 40s, 50s and beyond, Jovle is interested more in stamps and card-making than actual scrapbooking.

Thus, she skipped the booths selling scrapbook apparel bearing logos like “Phi Kappa Scrappa – A Sisterhood of Scrapbookers” or “There’s No Stoppin’ When You’re Croppin’. “

Instead, she spent $30 on a pack of sparkly “Moon Glow” paints, which can be used wet or dry.

For Jovle, scrapbooking is a social event.

“It’s a creative outlet; we bring our stuff and get together on a Friday night at Archiver’s. They have those big tables,” she said.

Echoing a pattern of other young scrapbookers, she said this is the only “arts-and-crafts-type” activity she does.

University sophomore Debbie Thompson, 19, who did not attend the conference, said she prefers to work on her scrapbooks alone. She has made seven so far, but identifies one drawback to the hobby for college students – it’s not cheap.

Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs graduate student Katie Dvoracek, 25, said she kept her scrapbook – made to commemorate a trip to Ireland – inexpensive by avoiding trips to scrapbooking supply stores altogether. Instead, she bought materials at Target.

“It seems like if it has the scrapbooking label on it, they can charge more,” she said.

“Plus, some of the stuff they have is kind of cheesy. But don’t write that,” she added.