Creative Leisure News
2677 Ashley Ct.
Tremont, IL 61568
February 19, 2001
Vol. V, No. 4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This is the longest issue of CLN in its history. In my last issue, I
asked for comments from buyers and vendors about the January trade
shows -- and was bombarded with interesting, thoughtful reactions.
Here's my dilemma: Probably the most common compliment I hear is
that CLN can be read in 10 minutes. In order to make this issue a
10-minute read, however, I'd have to cut or radically edit the show
comments -- and they're too thought-provoking to do that.
JANUARY SALES UP, BUT MARGINS...?
Sales for most retailers were adequate in January, but often at the
expense of margins, as stores slashed prices to reduce the
inventory. Many retailers also released fourth-quarter and annual
sales figures, but the earnings reports, due soon, will tell the
For the fiscal year, Michaels' sales rose 19% to $2.247
billion and same-store sales rose 5%. Fourth-quarter sales rose 20%
to $809 million and same-store sales were up 4%. January same-store
sales rose 7%, but CEO Michael Rouleau said, "Given the overall
soft Christmas retail environment, competition for customers'
Christmas clearance merchandise dollars was fierce, and we saw our
customers purchase our clearance merchandise later in the month,
when seasonal markdowns were greater. This delay in consumer
purchases had a negative impact on our January gross margin rates
and accordingly are expected to adversely impact our fourth quarter
and year-end earnings in the range of $5 to $7 million.
"Despite this being a difficult year for retailers,"
Rouleau added, "we are still projecting an increase in our net
income for fiscal 2000 of over 25%, clearly a superior performance,
and we fully expect this performance momentum to continue into
As usual whenever Michaels admits life is less than perfect,
investors punish the stock, which dropped 19.8% in a single day. It
has since rebounded somewhat since then.
Michaels will release its February sales and fiscal year earnings on
March 7. A.C. Moore, which does not report monthly sales
figures, releases its earnings report February 22 and hosts a
conference call at 11 am EST.
Jo-Ann's same-store sales rose 0.4% for January, 0.2% for the
fourth quarter, and 1.3% for the fiscal year. Overall sales rose
29.5%, 8.8%, and 7.4% for the respective time periods. The fiscal
year had an additional week compared to a year ago. Excluding that
53rd week, the increases were 6.1%, 3.8%, and 5.7%. Fourth-quarter
and fiscal-year earnings will be released March 13. A conference
call will be broadcast over the Internet at 10 am EST.
Hancock Fabrics' January same-store sales rose 4.7% (but that
"did not make up the business that was lost in December due to
temporary weather-related store closings and to the broader slowdown
in Christmas spending," said CEO Larry Kirk).
Ames' same-store sales dropped 8.0% in January. Overall sales
rose 26.2% for the quarter, 4.2% for the fourth quarter, and 3.0%
for the year, thanks to the extra week in the fiscal year. If fiscal
2000 had been 52 weeks, net sales would have resulted in a 0.8%
decrease for the month, and increases of 0.2% and 1.7% for the
quarter and year.
Wal-Mart's same store sales were up 5.0% for the month and
5.1% for the year. Overall sales rose 13.3% for the quarter and
15.6% for the year.
MCCALL'S, BUTTERICK MERGE
MP Holdings Inc., parent company of The McCall Pattern Co.,
and Butterick Holdings, the parent of Butterick Pattern Co.
have agreed to merge their companies.
McCall opened in 1870 and Butterick in 1863. Butterick manufactures
patterns under its own brands and also holds the license to
manufacture patterns under the Vogue name.
The two companies will maintain separate corporate identities;
Butterick will operate under the Butterick name as a McCall
subsidiary. McCall's offices will remain in New York City.
"Consolidation in the pattern industry has been compelled by
the precipitous decline in home sewing since the 70's, and is long
overdue," said Mcall's CEO/President Robert Hermann. "The
significant cost savings generated by this merger will benefit the
companies, our retail customers, and the home sewing consumer. This
merger will assure that the McCall, Butterick and Vogue brands will
continue to be available to the world-wide sewing community."
HANCOCK EARNINGS JUMP 59%
For the fiscal year ended January 28, net earnings increased 59% to
$10.9 million ($.65/diluted share), from $6.8 million ($.38/diluted
share) a year ago. Sales increased 1% to $385.2 million. Same-store
sales were up 2.0%.
For the fourth quarter, net earnings rose 27% to $5.0 million
($.31/diluted share), compared with $4.0 million ($.22/diluted
share) a year ago. Sales decreased 2.1% to $101.2 million.
Same-store sales were 0.8% lower. Hancock closed 4 stores during the
Hancock repurchased 1.4 million shares during the year which helped
boost earnings on a per share basis by 40% in the fourth quarter and
70% for the year. Hancock also implemented a new merchandise
management system and reduced bank debt from $31 million to $16
million (about 16% of total capitalization).
CEO Larry Kirk said, "Gross margins were very strong all year.
With the general economic slowdown in the last six months and
unusually deep discounting in fabric retailing, we chose to promote
the value in our products and not to sacrifice pricing in what we
believed, in the prevailing environment, would be an unproductive
attempt to buy sales."
The plan for 2001 includes opening new stores; a roll-out of the
"store-within-a-store" concept (with Waverly Fabrics)
from 37 stores to 150; similar expansion for special occasion and
quilting departments; and targeting marketing and advertising
towards increasing market share of the core sewing/home dec
consumers and non-traditional customers who may not sew.
Current store count is 443 stores in 42 states, plus 100 independent
wholesale customers and Internet sites under its domain names, hancockfabrics.com
CHAIN OPENS DOORS TO NEW VENDORS
Zany Brainy, the 188-store, "edutainment" chain for
kids, has launched the Zany Best Stuff Search program, which
makes it easier for vendors to get a foot in the door. A jury of
Zany execs (merchandising, product development, marketing,
operations, etc.) will meet monthly at the home office in King of
Prussia, Pa. Each month, up to 20 vendors will make presentations of
their latest products to this committee. The first meeting is
"So many great products never reach the marketplace," says
CEO/President Tom Vellios. "Our new Zany Best Stuff Search
allows us to ... evaluate and launch new great stuff through our
stores, online, and through our catalogs.
"As an example," Vellios added, "for a new toy that
we deem ready to go, we can have it in our stores for a test in as
few as 10 days."
Anyone wanting to make a presentation can reserve a 20-minute slot
by calling 610-278-7800.
ASG OPENS OWN NATIONAL OFFICE
For the first time in its 23-year history, the American Sewing
Guild (ASG) has hired an Executive Director, Margo Martin, and a
management staff . Since its inception, the ASG has been run by
outside management sources. The new ASG headquarters is located at
9660 Hillcroft, Suite 516, Houston, TX 77096. Call 713-729-3000; fax
There are almost 17,000 ASG chapter members in 42 states. The ASG is
THE consumer sewing group and membership is open to all interested
"We're absolutely thrilled at the opportunities that we can now
pursue by having our own office and staff," said Joan Campbell,
ASG Acting Chair of the Board and Executive VP of the Home Sewing
"It has long been our combined dream to achieve independence
and chart our own destiny," adds board member Pat Chester.
"This has always been a step we have planned for" Ann
Jacobi, national Board member added. "And now the day has
finally arrived when we will be able to focus on bigger and even
better benefits for our chapters. We couldn't be more
DESIGNER COLLECTS FROM WAL-MART
(Note: We recently received word that Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum,
a well known needlework designer, collected a settlement from Wal-Mart
regarding a copyright infringement case. Her designs can be seen at www.tiag.com.
Here's an edited version of Marilyn's story.)
"In 1995 my designs grossed $1.5 million. Of course, sales have
dropped like everyone else's, but we are still bringing in more than
many others because I keep all my designs in print and they sell
well around the world.
"Last summer I was among the designers complaining of copyright
infringement which we found on the Internet. An email group, Pattern
Piggies, put full and complete charts online for anyone to
download for free. There was the Los Angeles Times article
which quoted Jim [Hedgepath of Pegagus Originals, a leader in
the fight against copyright infringement on the Internet] and me.
"Last November, a note was posted online by a stitcher asking
if I had sold the rights to one of my angels to Wal-Mart for use in
their stores. (Had we not had the previous fuss about copyright
infringement, I don't think I would have been told about it.)
"Others sent in pictures, and when I went to my local store, I
saw a cardboard kiosk for Christmas books. It was near the front of
the store and on each side the company had put my Angel of
Christmas' -- a total of 8 copies of the design for each store.
"I gathered my legal copyright registrations and sent pictures
of the infringement to my lawyers. They immediately notified
Wal-Mart and within hours Wal-Mart replied that someone had made a
mistake and that they wanted to settle.
"My angel was taken from my website exactly as it appears;
nothing was changed. Wal-Mart had the lawyers deal with the company
that produced these book displays. We tried to settle before
Christmas and finally settled the end of January for a substantial
amount.. "Without the discussion online between myself and my
stitching public, this would have gone unnoticed. We were able to
tell Wal-Mart which stores did not have the angels covered; it was
as if we had an army of spies all over the country.
"Wal-Mart wasn't selling my designs; they were just used for
decoration. But they did not have my permission to use this design.
"Until now, the needlework industry has been just threatening
to sue. Now we know how much a copyright issue is worth. To settle
in 10 weeks for such a large amount (six figures) should make some
of these reckless people open their eyes to legal matters.
"My artwork is my intellectual property and I will defend it,
what will be my grandchildren's education, with my heart and soul.
"I do have a reputation for being very outspoken. I tend to
whine' -- that's what the reporter said in her L.A. Times
article. But this isn't grammy's doilies we're talking about; this
is much more. We [designers] won't settle for just seeing our name
in print anymore. This is business; if we want to be respected as
good business people, then we must demand that respect."
(Comment: We wonder what Wal-Mart officials said to the
company that supplied the kiosk with Marilyn's angel!)
RANDOM NOTES, RANDOM THOUGHTS
1. HIA says the buyer attendance was up slightly; most
exhibitors disagree. Here's how that can happen: the crowd was
spread throughout a larger space; the new exhibit area, filled with
numerous scrapbook vendors, was mobbed, so the upstairs halls felt
"quiet"; and registration didn't mean buyers spent the
entire four days on the show floor, particularly the last day when
the weather finally warmed up.
2. I really am encouraged about the future of needlework for
two reasons. A. A group of needlework vendors and buyers met
informally at HIA to consider forming a group similar to the Craft
Yarn Council of America. If they can eventually do for
needlework what the CYCA has done for knitting and crochet.... B.
Look for more needlework on television, particularly QVC, and
a strong push to attract new consumers by key needlework players.
(Note: Most of the pertinent information concerning the
Anaheim trade show was included in our previous issue. Online
subscribers: click on "CLN Archives" to read or re-read
that issue. For personal accounts of the show by buyers and
exhibitors, see below.)
FINAL #'S. Buyers: 8,931 ... % of buyers from outside the
U.S.: 16 ... Total exhibitor-buyer attendance: 20,200+...
Exhibitors: 1,113 in 3,103 booths ... New exhibitors: 238 in 272
booths ... Non-U.S. exhibitors: 71 from 19 countries.
WINNERS. Golden Press Kit awards: 1st Place: Paper
Adventures ... 2nd Place: Colart.
OFFICERS. The board of directors elected William Reed (Better
Homes & Gardens Craft Group), VP/Trade Shows & New
Business Development ... James Bremer (Tall Mouse),
VP/Finance ... Marie Clapper (Clapper Communications),
VP/Member Services & Programs ... Michael Rouleau (Michaels),
VP/Marketing & Communications ... Alan Rosskamm (Jo-Ann's)
was re-elected board Chair last fall.
NOMINATING. The board named Tom Ware (Bagworks) as
chair and Dee Gruenig (Posh Impressions) and Steven Baune (Coats
& Clark) to the Nominating Committee. They join Donna Wilder
(Free Spirit Fabrics), Sandra Wilmot (Books n' Things),
and Mike Hartnett (Creative Leisure News), who had been
elected at the annual business meeting. Alternates elected were
Miguel Litchi (Fantasias Miguel) and Larry Sloan (Larry
Sloan Sales); board alternates are Rudy Heukels (NV Tissage
Gilbert) and Michael Rouleau (Michaels).
TRADE SHOW COMMENTS: BUYERS
(Note: All the following trade show comments from buyers,
exhibitors, reps, and consultants have been edited for length and
Large Independent: "The HIA show was good for us,
but even though there were eight of us, seeing all vendors is
difficult. We found a lot of new items and some bargains on staple
products. Most vendors seemed more than willing to go out of their
way to help.
"Shipping was good; we have a lot of product in the store now
and it is selling.
"I am always baffled by the vendors that stand two abreast in
front of their booth, eliminating the chance to go into their booth
without asking them to move. We just move on.
"We found the training seminars very good. Each speaker left us
with ideas that we could put to work at once in bettering ourselves,
staff, and our stores. We are pleased with the progress made by HIA
in providing education for us." -- Adrian Taylor
Regional Chain: "The scrapbooking section, which is one
of the departments I buy, was larger than before. Lots of new
designs, styles, products, etc. I shop every vendor; it took me two
days just to cover scrapbooking.
"I was also glad to find some new products to paint on, and a
few new wood sources. I am always looking for something new to keep
the customer interested. The paint department has been difficult as
tole painting is almost gone.
"Painting on plaster is very soft as well as is paper mache.
Stenciling and stamp blocks to decorate the home are still going;
however, stenciling for fun on small craft projects seems to be
over. For example, this was the first year that Christmas and
Halloween stencils for craft projects did not sell well.
"It is easy to keep scrapbooking fun and exciting, but much
harder to keep the paint department fun and exciting. I did manage
to come away with about 24 inches of paperwork on lines I will
"I also noticed a trend toward finished products for the home
or gift items. I feel the future is in this area because customers
have less time to make items.
"I was talking to one of my wood vendors and he was also aware
of the change toward finished items. I believe in the future you
will see more finished products emerge at this show." --
Darlene Van Hoy, Beverly Fabrics
Distributor: "The show was almost over and two members
of the board were each patting the back of the other, commenting on
what a great show it had been. I held my peace but thought to myself
about the booths that did not have traffic; I wondered how great
those exhibitors thought it was.
"I also think the show is way too big for the amount of buyers
in the industry. I also know what a source of income to HIA the show
is." -- Name Withheld
Independent/Distributor: "We are ordering more product
than I can remember in a post-HIA show period. Not sure exactly why
-- are we better organized, did we find more, was there more to the
show than appeared on the surface? I think each of these applies.
The buying staff has a very up' attitude coming off the show --
definitely no sense of ho-hum'.
"We're paying more attention to what to discontinue than in the
past. There is a sense that the departments are full and with each
new item something has to come out. So, the good news is we are
ordering -- and also deleting.
"The new HIA research is raising the questions, Why is our
industry not focused on the full family? How do we bring in more
family members to crafting -- not just women?" -- Jim Bremer, Tall
Mouse (and HIA board member)
Independent: "HIA was a good show, but there's got to be
more to it than scrapbooking. I went to the Housewares show
to find cash register' impulse items. Attendance there seemed down
-- more reps and exhibitors than buyers, especially young buyers.
"I go to shows to place orders. At Housewares many exhibitors
were shocked; they don't take orders at shows!" -- Dave
British Retailer: "I personally don't feel trade shows
have been as exciting as in previous years. New product development
(truly different things) is at a bit of a low. This is especially
true at European shows where the poor trading in 2000 has meant many
manufacturers have cut back on new launches.
"HIA was a little better than many shows, but the new HIA
research suggesting that the U.S. market has been flat for three
years is certainly an eye-opener.
"As for 2001, HobbyCraft sales have got off to a cracking start
with a very positive increase over 2000's same-store sales -- truly
encouraging!" -- Chris Crombie, HobbyCraft
TRADE SHOW COMMENTS: EXHIBITORS
Craft Exhibitor: "HIA was excellent. Good
traffic, lots of product expansion plans, etc. Thanks to the super
designers and developers we work with, I am sure the show will
generate the needed dollars." -- Mark Lee, AMACO Craft
Manufacturer: "Both Michaels' [CEO Michael] Rouleau
and [Jo-Ann Stores' CEO Alan] Rosskamm have significant roles
with HIA, as well as with their respective companies. Yet their own
personnel was lacking. The lack of buyers and merchandisers was
noticeable and conveyed a lack of support for the show and the
vendors which serve them."
[Comment: The writer is referring to the fact that some
retailers did not send their entire buying staff to the show.]
"A great deal of money is spent to impress the buying community
and new products are developed especially for that venue; to not
have appropriate personnel attend the show conveys too many
different messages, all negative. "Otherwise, a very good show,
with many positive meetings with the next tier' of
customers."-- Name Withheld
Craft Manufacturer: "Many buyers seemed breathless'
trying to find a new product. Actually, I thought the mood of the
buyers was good. Hard to tell about the show traffic. That huge hall
swallows traffic, but overall it seemed a little light.
"Is the show(s) a barometer of the year to come? No, I think
the Wall Street Journal is. As you once quoted, We're like a bunch
of kids at a Halloween party, sitting around telling stories so we
can all be frightened.'
"Also, retailing is tough. Consolidation is rampant and
potential bankruptcies frighten me.
"My personal gripe: after years of complaining about show hours
and number of show days, it was a ghost town on Wednesday. We should
keep the hours shorter (9:00 start - 5:00 close) until the traffic
picks up on the last day.
"By the way, our competitor had knocked off three more of our
products. We are now very selective as to whom we show prototypes
to." -- Name Withheld
Craft/Kids Vendor: "The publicity surrounding the Bedazzler
has been nothing less than spectacular. This was the second time the
Bedazzler was on Jay Leno. Rosie O'Donnell liked the machine
so much on the Feb. 2nd show, she ran another short segment on the
following Monday. Recently People, In Style, and Entertainment
Weekly gave a blurb to the Bedazzler. On the strength of
all this media (including the front cover of the January CNA),
the major chains, many shops, QVC, HSN, Craftopia,
Michaels.com, and the Book of the Month Club have
added the Bedazzler program.
"We also won awards, including an HIA Innovation award
for our Decor-it paint line.
"We were swamped by the media during the entire show. Needless
to say, for me it was spellbinding as the new guy' to receive all
these accolades. As far as the show goes, NSI has been doing the HIA
show as one of the original 10 founding companies, and this was one
of the most successful for us." -- Erik Mandelberg, National
Small Manufacturer: "Being a small company, we have the
age-old problem that many of our new lines are dictated by the
chains. If our new products are over-the-top, then even the
inventory we have set aside to sell at the show is being ordered up
by the chains.
"We nervously displayed our new lines at the show, but we did
not demonstrate them. We did make-it/take-its using discontinued
inventory we needed to move out of our warehouse. We priced the
merchandise to sell and our independents and pro craftrs were
delighted! We wrote over 50 orders (to people we had never met
before) and turned our trash into treasure.
"Keep in mind there was nothing wrong with any of the
merchandise; we simply have gone on to other designs. We would have
let go of this product (because we needed the room) for nothing
(literally); instead we turned it into over $25,000 cash! Everybody
won! We had a great show." -- Name Withheld
Multi-Category Manufacturer: "We had our best show in
the past 4-5 years. We took a very aggressive approach to new
products and marketing and it seems to have paid off. Reaction to
the following programs and categories was tremendous: Decorative
Details, a joint program with Hirschberg/Shultz ... The
entire rubber stamp and sticker category -- Scooby Doo, Harry
Potter, and Posh Impressions were big hits ... Folk
Art One Stroke continues to pick up steam ... The new paint line
for working on plastic, a surface which is emerging in a very strong
"Needlecraft buyers see the category starting to pick back up
after a 3-year decline. Great interest in quick-to-complete
projects. We had a great response to new, quick latch hook designs
shaped to match the design (e.g flower, car, rockets).
"Our expanded calligraphy program was well received, evidence
of a continued interest in personalization and use of aphorisms,
messages from the heart, etc. Also, wearables is back! Many of our
new programs were targeted at different consumer groups, especially
tweens and teens, and most were well received. Buyers recognize the
need to attract new consumers and are going beyond the old
definitions of kids' crafts.
"I sensed that paper crafting and scrapbooking-memory were the
most vibrant categories. The overall trend to faster, simpler craft
materials such as stickers, stamps, decals etc., continues.
"Overall the buyers' mood was pretty upbeat. Most believe the
economy will favor crafts, but there's some natural concern about
the first and possibly the second quarters. There was a good turn
out of Pacific Rim and South American buyers. Europe was not well
"We benefitted from having all our brands (All Night Media
and Bucilla) under one banner. Simpler for buyers and we got
a lot of crossover sales. Our anniversary theme was well received
and we were able to confirm a lot of retail promotions for this
later this year.
"I thought the attendance overall was down, but Tuesday was a
big day. The keynote speaker, Dr. Oren Hararri was great -- let's
bring him back next year!" -- Mark Hill, Plaid
Craft Publisher: "HIA was fabulous for Hot Off The
Press! Paper Flair identifies a new market segment:
card-makers who do not rubber stamp. This new line of card-making
kits, and supplies was a big hit with scrapbook retailers, stamp
stores, and general craft shops.
"While conducting our market research, we discovered there
existed an untapped market of card-makers who aren't necessarily
stampers. In fact, many were scrapbookers! And nothing on the market
filled their need.
"We invited independent retailers to a pre-show presentation on
Paper Flair . The program was a smash hit, as retailers told us how
happy they were to hear information on the behind-the-scenes
development of the program. We shared consumer market research,
information about our focus groups, and even more important, gave
them insights on how HOTP creates, develops, and markets a new line
like Paper Flair . We treated retailers like partners."
-- Sara Nauman, Hot Off The Press
Importer: "Holiday Expo--- our company had a
record-setting show; the number of new customers was encouraging.
It's been good for us the past three years. But as good as it's
been, the Silk show in June in the same location continues to
slip and suffer.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the HIA show a 7;.last year was
a 9. One concern: I never saw so many Professional Craft Producer
badges at any HIA show as there were this time. We sell to them as
long as they qualify, but credit and the use of credit cards is
becoming a huge issue. I have always been a very strong supporter of
PCP's, but it is a problem for us now and creating quite a dilemma.
"I definitely do not believe the attendance figures this year!
"What is happening with floral?---Universal Sunray, Allstate,
and Platon were really the only players in that category at the
show. Teters, Reliance, Celebrity, and all the other sizeable
companies never go to the HIA or ACCI any longer. Yes, they have
showrooms in Dallas at Silk, but they have to be missing business at
"The entire floral industry is really in a muck right now and
we have had many, many discussions here regarding the future and the
current market situations." -- Name Withheld
Magazine Publisher: "Everything I heard was very
positive. We had a great show with lots of interest in our new
magazine, Creative Home. There was incredible energy in the
scrapbooking area and even a couple of the major yarn manufacturers
seemed upbeat -- probably because of our announcement that we are
coming out with a knitting and crochet newsstand special later this
"We had a great turnout at the HIA International Reception and
I spoke to many new exhibitors who were very positive about their
first show. Our new member reception was also very well attended.
"The HIA Crafts. Discover Life's Little Pleasures
branding campaign seems to be catching on, which is a great thing
for this industry. We must work together to get the retailer and
manufacturer to grow this industry." -- Bill Reed, Better
Homes & Gardens Craft Group (and HIA board member)
Knitting Vendor: "I never left our booth -- much too
busy. Synopsis: best show yet for us. There's a lot of confidence
"Also interesting is the extent of cooperation among
exhibitors, from selling or buying to and from each other to
strategic alliances of many types, to distribution arrangements and
more. Our industry, more than so many others, lends itself to these
types of relationships.
"We had a super location, good but manageable traffic, and
limited guests' -- designers and pro crafters -- who were very
appreciative of the main responsibilities we, as exhibitors, have to
the real' buyers.
"And there seems to be an increasing number of young people
becoming involved in our industry. Much different from a few years
ago. From international buyers to media people to chain store buyers
to exhibitors, they seem to prefer more upscale projects and
products, from the packaging to the product function and
applications. Very nice to see the torch being passed and accepted
"I have one request: we need more information on dealing with
the increasing number of foreign buyers. While most speak English,
there are other obstacles -- packaging requirements, weights,
languages required, video formats, tarrif regulations, required
documents, etc. Something printed on a per-country basis would be
very helpful. Even shipping to Canada can be tough." -- Cari
Clement, Bond America
New/Old Exhibitor: "We had an awesome show. We thought
the level of professionalism of the buyers this year was very
"This was our first craft show since 1949 where we introduced
items other than our famous Rub-On Art. Chartpak has a huge Professional
Artists line, and in the last year or so, the demand by crafters
for really pro-quality tools has been surging. So, we added lots of
brilliant new stuff to our Decorative Arts line [the one we
bring to craft shows]. We also brought studio and pocket-sized tins
of professional drawing and colouring pencils that have been made in
the same factory since 1790 (Chartpak purchased Koh-I-Noor
last year)". -- Gia Finamore, Chartpak
Manufacturer: "We had our best HIA ever, though I think
the traffic was down. We wrote more orders with larger totals. I
hear from other exhibitors that things have leveled with their sales
at this show, but we're still somewhat new to the show, so we're
"HIA is one of the most professional and organized trade shows
we exhibit at." -- Name Withheld
Needlework Vendor: "We had a good show and saw almost
everyone we expected to see. Since cross stitch is flat, everyone is
happy that we are starting to direct our line to the crafters as
well." -- Armand Daniel, Daniel Enterprises
Craft/Sewing Manufacturer: "The HIA show was very good
for HTC, although I felt the traffic was much slower than in past
years. Most exhibitors I spoke with seemed to agree. However,
because so many of our buyers do attend, we've made this the only
show we'll attend this year.
"I feel there are far too many exhibitors for the buyer to
handle. As a result, major buyers tend to visit only companies they
know. This goes against why we have trade shows. Eleven hundred
exhibitors lends itself to incredible redundancy. Yet we do exhibit
every year and get to spend time with most of our customers, and
occasionally a new face." -- Ed Lidz, HTC
TRADE SHOW COMMENTS:
Manufacturer's Rep: "I can't give you an unbiased
commentary on this HIA show or ACCI, NAMTA, et al, because I
remember the glory days'. I don't care what the associations say,
the attendance at this show and all the shows I've been to for the
past five years is DOWN.
"Three of my manufacturers had a total of five
demo/make-it/take-its, all of which were poorly attended. Most of
the manufacturers were exhibiting only because they would be
conspicuous by their absence. I assure you, they ALL had shown their
new offerings to the big guys before the show. The only orders
written by anyone were from international customers.
"The dichotomy of the whole thing is the Big Guys Retailers
were there to see what's new' because they know small exhibitors
can't get in to see them; but what they don't seem to understand is
those same poor small guys can't afford to come to the show anymore.
"I'm afraid I've lost my enthusiasm for trade shows in general.
They become superfluous." -- Name Withheld
Sales Rep: "I attended Holiday Expo and HIA.
At Holiday Expo I thought the traffic was down. At HIA, I am
sure that the traffic was down, but I had numerous appointments and
was pleased as a sales rep.
"I felt sorry for the small manufacturer, particularly the new
vendors. Seems we had new rules this year which many people felt
affected the attendance. There was a $90 registration fee, or for
$100.00 they could join HIA if they were qualified. The $90 was
pretty stiff for the stores that could only attend on Sunday.
"I also heard many complaints from the designers. Seems there
were new rules there and many could not get in. The shrewd ones got
around it by getting a member store to sign them up. Wouldn't it be
better for everyone if the name badge really stated their position?
As an exhibitor, I would prefer to know the attendee was a designer
than to think she were a potential retail buyer.
"I feel it is a shame to charge such high prices to exhibit and
not do everything in our power to attract as many potential buyers
as possible." -- Name Withheld
Indudustry Consultant: "Holiday Expo: Saturday
busy, rest of show slow. I think if the June show [SILK] is not
better, many in the permanent floral section are in trouble keeping
the space. Several said that if they did not have a lease they would
"The Atlanta gift show was on at same time and I think a lot of
dealers were there. I did see a number of foreign distributors at
the Dallas show.
"HIA: Lots of work for a few chains and good
independents. Most people seemed to feel they had a good show. I
still think your comment is the best: HOW CAN ALL THESE HIA PRODUCTS
FIT INTO OUR STORES?
"Buyer mood seemed good, I think it will be an up year for a
few chains like Hobby Lobby, Michaels, etc.; a down
year for a few like Wal-Mart, Ames, Rag Shops;
and a question mark for a few like Hancock and Jo-Ann's.
The good independents and small chains will do great. They will see
a real upside potential the next year or two.
"Basic crafts will be strong; same for seasonal and art. Yarn,
florals, framing, and ribbon may be flat. Fabric and stitchery will
be a question mark. This is just a guess.
"I think the shows are getting better; the vendors are doing a
better job of showing products. But the buyers are constrained by
space, dollars, allowances, etc., so a lot of the [vendors'] work is
a waste. Also, why go to all the trouble if the major buyers have
already seen the product?
"All in all, the industry needs more customers. The campaigns
by the associations are great and a step in the right direction.
However, we need a bigger push to get more excitement into the
retail sector to capture the consumer interest. An example would be
crafts for stress reduction that might be newsworthy and get more
play." -- Name Withheld.
PEOPLE. Kids' craft buyer Steve Morowski has left Michaels.
For the time being vendors should contact Eric Dickenson.
GERMANY. This is the last year HIA will be involved
with the Handarbeit trade show (in Dusseldorf, March 30-April
1). For info, surf to web site at handarbeit-hobby.de;
call HIA at 201-794-1133; fax 201-797-0657; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
STOCK. AG Edwards upgraded Michaels to Accumulate
... According to a filing with the SEC, mutual-fund giant, Janus,
made a major acquisition of Ames' stock. Janus did not say
which of its funds made the purchase, reported CBS MarketWatch ...
Vulcan Ventures, the investment fund for Microsoft co-founder Paul
Allen, has liquidated its holdings (2.14 million shares) in Zany
Brainy, according to filings with SEC, reported Dow Jones News.
DISTRIBUTORS. VDI has closed the Mangelsen warehouse
in Omaha as part of its plan to consolidate its operations into
three distribution centers in Harlan, Iowa. VDI will continue the Mangelsen
brand name with its lines of birds, porcelain, wings, and
masks/feathers. VDI named Sherry Kaufman as National Key Account
Manager for the Mangelsen division.
CLOSEOUT. The Wolfe Pack is closing down, and offering its
remain stock of memory papers for less than 50% of wholesale. All
orders are COD or credit card. Contact The Wolfe Pack, 800-331-9941;
Comment: Many of the designs are very classy
STAMPING. Plaid is relocating All Night Media to its
Altantla-based facilities. The consolidation will be complete by
AWARDS. Husqvarna Viking named John Carr the company's top
Regional Sales Manager for the year. Other winners are Jay Danis and
COMMITTEES. Anyone wishing to serve on any HIA
committees this year should call or email Pat
Koziol or Susan Brandt.
INTERNET & E-COMMERCE NEWS
PEOPLE. Bill Winn has left Michaels.com.
SITE. There is a site to promote A Celebration of
Stitching, the new book including 70+ designs contributed by the
industry's top designers. Proceeds go to the Copyright Protection
Fund to combat illegal posting of copyrighted designs and
projects on the Internet. Surf to http://stitching.com/celebration.html.
The book is now available for sale in stores from Krause
Publishing. Call Brenda Mazemke at 714-445-4612, ext. 829, or
The wholesale price $10.17.
SOFTWARE. Crafters Community, the excellent portal site, has
the best message board system we've seen. Go to http://crafterscommunity.com/forum/UltraBoard.cgi.
PROMOTIONS. As part of National Craft Month, Plaid's
is offering consumers a special email each day in March with a
different craft tip, project, offer, etc. Consumers simply send an
email to email@example.com.
THE CREATIVE NETWORK: JOB OPENINGS
The Creative Network is the only personnel recruitment firm
specializing in our industry. Click on "Jobs" in the
lefthand column for the latest job openings and featured job of the
THE CLN RETAIL INDEX
A. C. Moore (ACMR). Last*: 8.69 ... Change**: -0.06
Ames (AMES). Last*: 4.0 ... Change**: -1.88
Hancock Fabrics (HKF). Last*: 5.1 ... Change**: +0.94
Jo-Ann Stores (JAS.A) [a]. Last*: 5.55 ... Change**: -0.2
Michaels (MIKE). Last*: 31.81 ... Change**: -7.17
Rag Shops (RAGS). Last*: 2.62 ... Change**: -0.35
Wal-Mart (WMT). Last*: 52.36 ... Change**: -2.39
CLN Retail Index. Last*: 110.13 ... Change**: -9.2%
Dow Jones Index. Last*: 10,799.82 ... Change**: -0.6%
*Feb. 15 ** from Feb. 1 [a] voting share Note: Prices are
exclusive of dividends
MORE INTERESTING OCCUPATIONS
Further additions to our growing list of interesting jobs industry
people had before crafts:
Linda Kessel Roover, the Editor of Krause Publications' Arts
& Crafts magazine, spent almost five years as a legislative
aide to the Speaker Pro Tem of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Linda
was responsible for constituent relations -- answering the mail and
phone calls about any legislation. "The really wacky
part," Linda said, "was troubleshooting for constituents
who felt they had been mistreated by government agencies -- we got
some real characters for those."
Gail Czech of The Creative Network reported (confessed?) that
she had worked as a car hop at a drive-in restaurant. Yes, she says,
she wore roller skates!
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Note: Creative Leisure News is published on the
first and third Mondays of each month. Your next issue will be
Monday, March 5th.
Have any rumors you need checked? Company news or comments on
industry issues? Call Mike Hartnett, in confidence, at 309-925-5593;
fax 309-925-9068; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.