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Date: January 19, 2004
Vol. VIII, No. 2

Printer Version

TABLE OF CONTENTS

bulletCommentary: Nothing Stays the Same
bulletNew Columns This Issue
bullet25 Years of HIA Shows
bulletChristmas: Better Than Expected
bulletA.C. Moore: A Record Year
bulletHIA New Exhibitor Preview
bulletScrapbooking & Decorative Painting
bulletShowcasing Your Products on TV
bulletHIA Miscellaneous
bulletHIA Exhibitor Miscellaneous
bulletRandom Notes, Random Thoughts
bulletMiscellaneous News
bulletProfile: Midwest Design Imports, Inc.
bulletThe Creative Network: Job Openings
bulletThe CLN Retail Index
bulletThings To Do at Wal-Mart ...
bulletReminders

COMMENTARY: NOTHING STAYS THE SAME

I hope the article "25 Years of HIA Shows" and its companion piece in the Business-Wise section aren't seen merely as the rambling memories of an industry old-timer. They were written to make this point: Things change. No matter how popular a category, no matter how large or small the exhibitor, things change. Don't count on tomorrow being like today.

But some principles stay the same. Read those in Business-Wise.

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NEW COLUMNS THIS ISSUE

Business-Wise. Mike Hartnett's thoughts on what has – and hasn't – changed over 25 years of HIA shows.

"Benny Da Buyer". The buyers from one of the industry's major chain stores tell stories of how trade show exhibitors have turned them off.

Legal Q & A. Our legal expert explains when you need a lawyer and how to pick one with the right specialization.

(Note: To read these columns, click on the title. If it appears to take you to an "old" column, click your "Refresh" or "Reload" button.)

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25 YEARS OF HIA SHOWS

I realized recently that next month's HIA show in Dallas will be my, gulp, 25th. At the time, I was assistant editor of Profitable Craft Merchandising (PCM), one of the industry's three trade magazines. I had been hired about three months prior to the HIA show, and went to Anaheim thinking chenille was a bedspread and pom-poms were used by cheerleaders. Here is what the industry looked like in 1980:

It was HIA's 43rd show and it broke all attendance records with 16,000 attendees from 62 countries and 500 exhibitors in 956 booths. (The 2004 version already has signed up 1,114 exhibitors in 2,993 booths.)

Categories. The scrapbooking of its day was macrame and accessories. The category had just peaked, but none of us knew it at the time.

Another huge seller was flower-making. The only artificial flowers available then were plastic junk, but Signaigo & Rossi had introduced Pretty Petals, which enabled consumers to make a beautiful silk flower. (For a realistic bouquet, consumers had to make the flowers first, and then arrange them.)

Miniatures and decorative painting (called "tole painting" then) were so strong that PCM published monthly features on each ... Basics – ribbon, pom-poms, chenille, plastic foam, glue, wiggle eyes, etc. – were also strong.

Probably no more than a fifth of a show was devoted to crafts. The rest was plastic model kits, model railroads, and radio controlled cars and planes. Today, you worry about tripping over retailers' pull-carts. Then, you tripped over toy cars zooming around the show floor.

Needlework, florals, and sewing/quilting were non-existent at HIA. They were separate industries with their own trade associations, shows, and retailers. Scrapbooking and stamping were unheard of. Fabric painting had enjoyed a brief flurry in the 1970's, but was almost a decade away from becoming the scrapbooking of its day.

I would guess 80-90% of the craft products were made in the U.S. and every one was on the show floor. Kits were much more prevalent then.

Vendors. My editor, Geoff Wheeler, introduced me to what seemed like 5,000 people during the show. The most prominent vendors were Plaid, Hazel Pearson Handicrafts, Aleene's, Walnut Hollow, Delta, Fibrecraft, Westrim, Arrow Handicraft, Deepflex, Grumbacher, Liquitex, Robert Simmons, Loew-Cornell, Stanislaus, Mangelsen's, and Zim's. (No doubt there were others, but this is my faulty, aging memory speaking here.) Grumbacher, then the biggest name in art materials, was forced to dismiss the scantily clad models in the booth; they were deemed too racy for crafts.

Aleene had built up her company, then sold it to a model company which ran it into the ground. Aleene bought it back and was starting to build it up again. Dave Cunningham, who'd gone broke with Cunningham Art Products, had founded Plaid. Patricia Nimmocks, the "mother" of decoupage and the future founder of the Society of Craft Designers, was very prominent.

Vendors weren't as paranoid about having products and designs ripped off, so they didn't show new products in private booth offices or in hotel suites.

Buyers. The chains (Leewards, American Handicrafts) were not the industry's controlling factor as they are now. The overwhelming majority of buyers were independent, mom-and-pop retailers. Those retailers bought from distributors such as Mangelsen's, Craft World, Westrim, Fibrecraft, Herr's, Sbar's, and many others, so the distributors were the major buyers at the time. Most distributors had started as retailers, had a terrible time finding product for their stores, and realized there was a need for a distributor in the marketplace.

Michaels was a single store run by Mike Dupey's father, Jim. Jo-Ann's was called Fabri-Centers of America and had no reason to attend a hobby/craft show. Wal-Mart was a regional discounter in small southern towns.

Far more business was conducted on the show floor in 1980. Large buyers now often need computers to generate purchase orders, and they have seen most new lines in their office before the show started – and will order the products back in the office after the show is over.

Believe it or not, there were macrame specialty shops.

Pricing. Everything was based on the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and percentage discounts off of the MSRP. Net pricing was unheard of. I'd hear things like, "I'll give you 50 and 10." Today, if it's not net pricing, the discounting gets so involved you need a math degree to figure out your cost.

Designs. Most of them were pretty tacky, a residual effect of the days when crafts were little more than what Boy Scouts did on a rainy day. Painters Priscilla Hauser and Sue Scheewe were the most well-known designers.

Complaints. Retailers complained that distributors were selling to home retailers, vendors moaned about the mom-and-pop's lack of professionalism, and everyone complained about the lack of craft people on the HIA board.

Media. The trade magazines were PCM, Craft Model & Hobby (later split into two, one becoming CNA), and Craft & Art Market. The consumer magazines were Crafts 'N Things and Crafts. The only tv series was the American Handicrafts' Crafts with Katy, starring Katy Dacus and carried by local channels around the country.

Atmosphere. The industry was much friendlier, in part because it was smaller. So small, in fact, that everyone would stay in the same hotel. It was not uncommon to see competitors having a drink together in the hotel bar after dinner.

(Note: For thoughts on how the industry hasn't changed, plus some random ramblings, click on Business-Wise.)

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CHRISTMAS: BETTER THAN EXPECTED

Most retailers released their December same-store sales figures and the results were better than most had anticipated. The National Retail Federation reported sales rose 5.2%.

The sales data was announced the day before a gloomy December jobless report. The economy added only 1,000 new jobs, far fewer than usual because retailers did not add seasonal employees as they have in the past. In fact, retail employment dropped by 38,000 jobs. The manufacturing sector lost another 26,000 jobs, the 41st month in a row manufacturing lost jobs, according to the Associated Press. The actual unemployment rate dropped because 300,000 Americans have given up looking for jobs.

Michaels reported a 5.0% rise in same-store sales at stores, and overall sales rose 10% to $470.2 million. Analysts had expected December same-store sales to rise 3%, Reuters reported. The company maintained its profit forecast of $1.28-$1.32 for the fourth quarter.

Jo-Ann's reported same-store sales rose 5.4%, and overall sales increased 6.5% to $246.3 million. A press release said, "The company was pleased that it was able to achieve strong same-store sales while also delivering on its earlier stated goal of improving its margin rates. The company's basic business segments significantly outperformed the company's expectations for the month and offset the negative impact in the seasonal category, which under-performed relative to the company's already reduced expectations."

Hancock's same-store sales rose 3.3%, and overall sales increased 3.9% to $50.7 million. Officials attributed approximately one-half of the increase to being open on Christmas Eve for the first time.

Wal-Mart's same-store sales rose 4.3% with overall sales up 11.2%. Target was up 4.1% and 9.9% respectively.

Some winners: Ann Taylor, +26.2% ... Chico's, +23.4% ... Sharper Image, +21.0% ... Neiman Marcus, +12.6% ... Best Buy, +9.3% ... Nordstrom, +9.1% ... J.C. Penney, +4.3%.

Some losers: Sears, -0.8% ... ShopKo, -2.1% ... Kohl's, -1.2% ... Toys R Us, -4.9%

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A.C. MOORE: A RECORD YEAR

The company does not issue monthly sales figures, but did report that sales for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 rose 10.9% to $149.7 million, and same-store sales grew 3%. Sales for the year rose 10.3% to a record $433.9 million, and same-store sales grew 2%.

CEO Jack Parker said, "We feel very positive about our sales results for the quarter as two major snow storms impacted sales during our two busiest weekends of the year. The storms negatively affected comp store sales by 4% for the quarter. We executed to our merchandise, marketing and operational plans and we were able to achieve good seasonal sell-through. Our inventories are slightly below our plan and in good shape for 2004. With continued strong expense control, we are pleased to be able to re-affirm our previous earnings guidance which was to be at the higher end of the $0.84 to $0.88 per share range."

For 2004 the company plans to open 16-18 stores, relocate two existing stores, and expand one. Officials expect sales to grow 18-20%, with same-store sales growth in the mid-single digits, and net income to rise 7-10%. That percentage is lower than might be expected, due to an accounting change. Without that change, net income is expected to rise 21-24%.

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HIA NEW EXHIBITOR PREVIEW

A complete listing of all new exhibitors with functioning websites is now available by clicking on "New Exhibitors Preview" in the left-hand column. This enables buyers to check out the new exhibitors' product lines in advance of the show.

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SHOWCASING YOUR PRODUCTS ON TV

Folks from The Carol Duvall show will be walking the HIA aisles again, looking for products to highlight on Carol's hour-long special (filmed on the show floor) and segments for the series.

"For the best chance to have product featured in the special, the vendors really need to send us detailed information on their products and not just invite us to their booth," says producer Lisa Sichi. "We'll most likely have two-three people check everything we're interested in on the first day; the rest of the days we are filming and have no time to scout anything else."

Lisa suggests sending an email with a description of the product, a little "sell" on why it's unique, and contact info. Digital images are very helpful, she says. "We are particularly interested in vendors who will be demonstrating the product in their booth." Demo schedules are always welcome, and a contact name/number are very important, she adds.

Email Lisa Sichi at lsichi@wellergrossman.com or call 818-755-4800 (emails are preferred). Ship samples to Lisa at Weller/Grossman Productions, 5200 Lankershim Blvd., 5th Floor, North Hollywood, CA 91601.

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HIA MISCELLANEOUS

Classes. If you haven't signed up for classes, do so ASAP when you arrive at the convention center; 28% of the classes have already sold out.

Vendors. The show will have exhibitors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Scotland, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela, and oh yes, the United States.

Yarn. Lion Brand's annual fashion show with Vanna White will be Fri., Feb. 6 at noon, 1 pm, and 2 pm in Lion's booth, #2021.

Familiar Faces. Pat Koziol, former Exec. Director of HIA, will represent the Radio Control Hobby Trade Assn. in the Information Park ... Sandra Joseph, the former Exec. Director of the Memories Expo shows and the Memories Community will exhibit her company, Reminders of Faith, in #1506, offering religious-themed scrapbook products, including papers, embellishments, and the book, Scrapbooking Your Spiritual Journey.

New Exhibitors. Two well-known companies in other parts of our industry will exhibit for the first time. Art Alternatives/MacPherson's (#324), a top art materials distributor, is exhibiting its Art Alternatives line – new plastic palettes and new sizes, styles, and shapes of the company's stretched canvas. Major sewing vendor Michael Miller Fabrics will also exhibit for the first time – in #1300.

Names. Some familiar names: eBay (#5209); the DIY Network (#4460); Dutch Boy Paint (#818); FedEx (#3425); Microsoft (#1323); Rust-Oleum (#3239); and Polaroid. (#500). And Rose Art (#5853) will introduce scrapbook products with the Kodak label. eBay is hosting a free (no ticket required) seminar (Wed., Feb. 4, 2 pm) on the benefits of selling on eBay and how to get started. All attendees also receive eBay for Dummies ... Rust-Oleum (#3239) will unveil American Accents, a line of craft/hobby enamel and a specialty paint for plastic.

Sponsors. For the first time, exhibitors are sponsoring various events/facilities. The Awards Banquet (FedEx and Polaroid); the show lanyards and bags (RoseArt); the Cyber Café (eBay); and the Press Room (Quikutz).

SCD. The Society of Craft Designers' meeting is Feb. 6 at 6:30 pm. Non-members wishing to learn more about this very worthwhile organization are invited to attend the first half hour. The remainder will be a business meeting. A highlight of the meeting will be giving the Designers with Heart award posthumously to Lisa Julson Cahoon. Her husband, Sheldon, will accept it. For more info, visit the SCD's booth (#237) or visit www.craftdesigners.org.

Confusion. CLN's rough count reveals there are 23 vendors with "Paper" in their name, 29 with "Stamp," and 50 with "Scrap" and/or "Memory" in their name. Just those companies alone comprise about the same number of all the craft exhibitors in 1980.

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HIA EXHIBITOR MISCELLANEOUS

Here is a random sampling of new products you'll find at the show. (Note: Exhibitors: our next/last pre-show issue will go online Feb. 2 and will be primarily devoted to items like those below. Email new product info to mike@clnonline.com.

Janlynn. Will unveil Moments ‘n Memories, a line of scrapbook kits, tools, and embellishments, plus Cre8 Computercrafts for scrapbooking, and open-stock papers, stickers, and diecuts. Officials say the "shining star" is the unique Practice Pages product, which allows croppers to try unlimited arrangements of papers, photos, diecuts, even stickers, exactly how they will appear on the finished page with no commitment until the page is perfect. The line is in two booths: Moments ‘n Memories (#6962) and Janlynn (#1830).

Milestone Products. (#1751). Amazing Mosaics is a comprehensive line of popular mosaic decorations and accessories, including Stained Glass, Vitreous Glass Tile, Word Mosaics, Glass Gems, Glass Squiggles, Sanded Tile Grout, Mosaic Glue, Mosaic Sponge, and Tile Nippers. Visit www.milestoneproducts.com.

JHB Int. (1821) Two new lines of buttons, Stitchin' Up The Pieces and E.S. Garcia, are unique collections of versatile buttons that can be used for sewing, scrap/paper crafts, mixed media, etc. Another new line, Tagit, is a collection of tags and flatback themes for embellishing cards, scrapbooks, gifts, etc.

Prym Dritz. (#2419) will introduce Bag Boutique, a line of purse-making products that includes handles, hardware and button-on bags; Elizabeth’s Vintage Notions – 16 heirloom-quality sewing tools; Snap-Charms – removable, interchangeable charms; Mary Engelbreit sewing notions; and SoGirly – a licensing program targeted to tweens/teens, including iron-on embroidery and transfers.

Blumenthal Lansing. (#6200) Also has the SoGirly licence, plus Sue Dreamer, and A Kid Like Me! with pand-painted buttons, flatbacks for scrapbooking, charms, and appliques ... New additions to the Favorite Findings line.

Publishers. They have great track records for being at the forefront of trends. For a pre-show look at their new books, visit Design Originals (#6037, where altered-book author Beth Cote will be a visitor) at www.d-originals.com; Hot Off The Press (#7330) at www.hotp.com; Grace Publications (#3916) at www.gracepublications.com; Martingale (#2537) at www.martingale-pub.com; C&T Publishing (#1735) at www.ctpub.com; Search Press (#1750) at www.searchpress.com ... For a preview of Jeanette Crews Designs' (#1701) Jan. releases, visit www.jeanettecrews.com/results.cfm?Subcategory=99.

Walnut Hollow. (#1331 & 6522). The centerpiece of the Memory Art Program is the tool, Creative Hot Marks. The program includes memory albums/journals, frames, organizing items, and embellishments. Known as a leader in wood, Walnut Hollow is offering wooden paper in a variety of items such as sheets, tags, and envelopes. Creative Hot Marks is a unique, heated pen specifically designed to help create a variety of interesting effects.

Delta. (#2231 & #6331) One of the strongest commitments to new products we've seen recently: FabriCraft Peel 'n' Stick Fabric offers adhesive-backed fabric for easily covering just about anything ... Texture Magic is a dimensional paint that allows the consumer to achieve dimensional and faux finish looks. ... 14 new PermEnamel colors ... Paint for Paper is specially formulated and acid free ... Paper Plus is a line of accents, effects and finishes developed for mixed media products ... Rubber Stampede offers a new collection of wood handled stamps.

Lion Brand Yarn. (#2021). The Simply Scarves line of scarf kits, complete with yarn, instructions, and needles or hook.

Westrim. (# 6527) New designs in the Paper Bliss line of textured, three-dimensional embellishments.

Crop in Style. (#6417) The P3 features nine separate, self-rising paper trays in a durable tote. The expandable trays can hold up to 60 12"x12" sheets.

Sakura of America. (# 6146) Glaze is the first pen to offer raised lines and glossy lettering for "writing you can feel" – three-dimensional embossing for a wide variety of craft and stamp projects without using a heat tool or powders ... Has added seven new metallic colors to its Permapaque line of fine-point, pigmented markers. The line now includes 20 colors. More info is available at www.sakuraofamerica.com.

Yaley. (#5524) Six new designs/additions to the Deep Flex Whimsical Garden Decor line of stepping-stone kits which include a mold; 8 color-paint pots; StoneCast; a smooth finishing concrete; and a mixing stick. Mosaic pieces and embed grout are added to the six embed kits ... Travel Candle Tins are ready to make, paint, and decorate; available in 6.5-oz. and 4.5 oz. Creme Wax, Soy Wax, or Glass Fill Wax are recommended in combination with any of the company's dyes and fragrances offered. Kits available soon.

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SCRAPBOOKING & DECORATIVE PAINTING

Scrapbook retailers: Need something new to challenge and excite your customers, particularly your most enthusiastic customers?

Scrapbooking Plus…the painted touch is a group of experienced publishers, distributors, painters, and teachers who have joined together to create a series of painting products – for scrapbook retailers. The GDP4 Group consists of very well known names in decorative painting: Jerry and Gerry Klein, Easl Publications; Gretchen Cagle, Gretchen Cagle Publications; Tim Mulvey, Houston Art and Frame; and Brenda Stewart, Brenda Stewart by Design. They will exhibit at HIA in #6312 with a program of decorative painting supplies for scrapbook stores, coordinated with painting teachers to enable retailers to offer in-store classes.

The program, which requires a minimum of space and retailer investment, offers stores an opportunity to provide their customers with a new challenge – a unique, profitable way to add originality and creativity to their scrapbooks.

(Comment: Pros in the decorative painting business are masters at teaching anyone – anyone – how to paint. And from years of watching decorative painters, I know once a consumer realizes she can paint, she'll become a real hard-core, money-spending enthusiast.)

The program includes a series of decorative painting books designed with projects exclusively for scrapbookers. Each includes patterns, easy-to-follow instructions, and eight pages of color projects. Between the books and the in-store classes, scrappers will have new challenges and opportunities to make their scrapbooks truly unique – and more products to buy.

Shipments begin in March. Call Jerry Klein at 314-221-3032 or email sbkplus@aol.com.

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RANDOM NOTES, RANDOM THOUGHTS

1. I mentioned above that many of the craft projects in 1980 were, uh, tacky. Here's a memory from Jim Bremer of The Tall Mouse: "beer can hats". Jim says they were "beer and coke can parts, cut into shapes, punched, and knit together with yarn or macrame cords into hats, purses, or wallhangings."

I think, Jim, those must have occurred before my first show in 1980. If I had seen them I might have run screaming from the convention center.

"So many of these early creations," Jim added, "gave crafts the junk-art image that still plagues us with some consumers."

Books with titles such as Trim Your Trash and Glue Your Garbage sound awful, and they do plague us as Jim says, but you know what? They helped create an industry.

3. I highly recommend subscribing to Scrapbook Industry News Platinum Edition, an online newsletter published by Fun Facts Publishing. The URL is www.funfactspublishing.com. Among the items in the new edition: Drug Store News is encouraging drug stores to put in a scrapbook program ... An up-to-date schedule of what has become an overabundance of scrapbook events ... Creative Crafter magazine is changing its name to PaperWorks ... Both ReCollections and Archiver's are looking to Atlanta to open new stores ... Archiver's also has plans for Omaha and Kansas City, while ReCollections announced plans for Dallas, the Washington, DC area and four in the Phoenix area.

Fun Facts will exhibit at HIA in #6673 and the company seminar sold out two months in advance. (A CLN interview with Fun Facts' Sue DiFranco is available in our Memory, Paper & Stamps section in the left-hand column.)

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MISCELLANEOUS NEWS

PEOPLE. BagWorks named industry veteran David Watson as National Sales Manager ... John Suarez, the Environmental Protection Agency's top enforcement official, will resign to become an attorney for Wal-Mart's Sam's Club, Reuters reported ... Robert Laubacher was promoted to Exec. VP/COO for Tombow ... Tim Hopper of HK Holbein was elected VP/Finance of NAMTA.

QUOTATION. "Only 10% of families are traditional. The new household formation is mixed, but companies still market to the soccer moms and white families. About 51% of households are married-couple households -- down dramatically from 80% in 1950. The fact is if you are in a new type of household -- your child is adopted, you used an egg bank [to become pregnant], or grandparents are raising the kids -- you are being ignored." – Trend analyst and former HIA show keynote speaker Faith Popcorn (Wall Street Journal)

2004. The National Retail Federation is predicting a 5% sales increase for retailers. Sales will be helped, in part, by higher tax refund checks caused by last year's tax cuts.

FRANK'S. Same-store dropped 10.4% in December. Hmmm, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to drop crafts.

WAL-MART, I. There are numerous lawsuits charging the discounter with violations of state and federal labor laws – and they may have just become stronger, reports the New York Times. The Times received a copy of a Wal-Mart internal audit that warned execs it may be violating child-labor laws and state regulations. The audit of time-clock records for about 25,000 employees at 128 stores showed 1,371 violations of child labor laws, 60,767 instances of workers not taking breaks, and 15,705 instances of employees working through lunch. A Wal-Mart spokesperson told the Times the apparent violations might simply be employees not punching in and out as they should.

WAL-MART, II. The discounter has already been found guilty in one of those lawsuits, and the penalty phase has begun in federal court in Portland. The jury found that the company forced 134 now former employees in 18 Oregon stores to work overtime without pay.

TOYS. KB Toys filed for Chap. 11 bankruptcy protection. KB is controlled by Bain Capital, the investment firm that once owned Tulip and after driving Tulip into the ground, sold the remaining assets to Duncan.

GIFTS. The Atlanta Gift Show in Atlanta was a huge success. "... we haven't seen the America's Mart complex this busy since the late 1990s. Buyers were just about everywhere, and in obviously greater numbers than they've been in a long time," reported Gifts & Decorative Accessories magazine ... "Best attendance in three seasons," a craft/gift importer told CLN. "Over half of orders are new customers." ... There was a scrapbook section, but one observer said, "If a manufacturer had paper or books, they could probably write a little gift shop business, but a full service scrapbook store would be disappointed because the selection was limited."

LOOKING TO HIRE. Scrapbook/paper manufacturer in the Northeast is looking for an experienced scrapbook pro for its marketing/product development department. Might need to relocate. Moderate travel; must feel comfortable selling concepts to retailers ... Midwest industry company is looking for a Key Account Sales Manager. Must relocate; frequent travel; minimum 5 years sales experience with a company selling to large retail chains. Salary commensurate with experience, plus significant bonus potential. For more info on either job, call Mike Hartnett in confidence at 309-925-5593 or email mike@clnonline.com.

NAMTA. Register for the May 12-15 Denver show at www.namta.org.

TNNA/INRG. Booth reservations are being accepted for the Columbus, OH show June 13-14. Call 800-889-8662; fax 740-452-2552; email tnna.info@offinger.com; or visit www.tnna.org.

ACCI. The deadline for technique class applications for the July 16-18 show is Jan. 31. Download an application at www.accicrafts.org/pdf/techniqueform.pdf. For booth reservations, visit www.accicrafts.org, call 888-360-2224 or 740-452-4541, or email accishow@offinger.com.

HIA. Will sponsor a free European Trends Symposium on Fri., June 25th in London. It will offer International HIA members a chance to network, brush up on industry trends, and hold discussion groups among their peers. Among the planned discussion topics are scrapbooking, soft crafts, kids' crafts, decorative painting, publishing, and fine arts. In addition, there will be a variety of classes offered to improve the business side of crafting. HIA members are encouraged to bring non-members. For info, email eurosymposium@hobby.org, or call 201-794-1133.

NEW COMPANY. Cold Porcelain Creations offers a variety of products/instructions for "cold porcelain" projects such as flowers, jewelry, etc. The results are quite lovely. The company won't be at HIA, but see projects/products at www.coldporcelaincreations.com. Call 941-727-7293 or email yvonne@coldporcelaincreations.com.

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BUSINESS PROFILE: MIDWEST DESIGN IMPORTS INC.

The Mangelsen name has been almost synonymous with the craft industry well, just about since the industry began. The President of Midwest Design Imports, Inc., Hal Mangelsen Jr., started in the craft industry at an early age, living and working in the family’s variety store which opened in 1961 in Omaha , NE. The store, now operated by brother David, is the largest independently-owned store of its kind in the Midwest.

The needs of the store grew into another family-owned company, Mangelsen’s Wholesale, which was sold in 1997 to Variety Distributors, Inc. After working with Variety for almost two years, Hal decided to start a new company with his partner, Frank Hilt. Together they have more than 70 years of retail, import, and wholesale sales and merchandising experience.

The majority of the business is wholesale sales. Opening order size is $125; reorders are $75. Available plan-o-grams range in size from 2.5’ to 8’ with more than 1,200 SKU’s, including 350 new items for 2004 – and many more additions slated for the first quarter of 2004. Orders are normally shipped within 24-48 hours. Among the major product lines:

Premier Porcelain is a collection of packaged doll heads with hands (instructions included), wings, accessories, and five complete doll kits.

The Touch of Nature is a collection of packaged birds and butterflies, nests, houses, insects, and fish including the realistic "State Birds" and "North American Butterflies."

The Mangelsen family was the first to introduce mushroom birds to the industry. More than 375 items have been added for 2003/2004 – and there is new packaging in the form of multiple pieces displayed in acetate boxes.

The Touch of Nature feather line includes the best basic program for your Craft Department. Retailers can achieve more sales/sq. ft. with MDI due to MDI's smaller packaging.

The Touch of Nature feather boa line has earned incredible growth in the last year. Feathers are hot, thanks to the use of them to enhance home decor and clothing. MDI can create a special combination for a local team or group.

New additions to the line of Mask-it Designer Masques include new instruction and paper mache masks.

A line of Mini Porcelain Dolls with more than 50 items in POP displays, which make great impulse buys for a store.

An important element (40%) is custom importing. MDI's reputation has been built on its outstanding relationships with our customers and suppliers. The company excels in sourcing, packaging, printing, and custom manufacturing of unusual and difficult to find items.

Customers' requests for sourcing are quite diversified, but their needs are met because of MDI's relationship with its factories. Examples of the varied requests include baskets, stones, decorative/floral accessories, pool supplies, and custom-colored boas, porcelain and vinyl dolls.

So as the industry enters the 21st century, so does the Mangelsen name.

PERSONNEL. Hal Mangelsen Jr., President; Frank Hilt, VP.

ROLODEX. Midwest Design Imports, Inc., 13303 F St., Omaha, NE 68137. Email mdimports@aol.com; call 402-691-8009; visit www.Midwestdesignimports.com (call for a password). Over the next 45 days look for the addition of our new items.

Business Profiles. CLN will profile one company per issue, which will remain online for at least a year. A Profile is a perfect way for a new company to let itself be known to the industry, or for an established company to enhance its reputation by showing the industry its history, diversity of products, personnel, etc.

For more information on how your company can be profiled, call Mike Hartnett at 309-925-5593 or email mike@clnonline.com.

THE CREATIVE NETWORK: JOB OPENINGS

The only personnel recruitment firm specializing in our industry has job openings which can be seen by clicking on Jobs in the left-hand column.

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THE CLN RETAIL INDEX

A. C. Moore (ACMR). Last*: 22.50 ... Change**: +3.58
Hancock Fabrics (HKF). Last*: 16.74 ... Change**: +2.19
Jo-Ann Stores (JAS). Last*: 23.16 ... Change**: +2.16
Michaels (MIK). Last*: 43.31 ... Change**: -0.16
Rag Shops (RAGS). Last*: 3.60 ... Change**: +0.44
Wal-Mart (WMT). Last*: 53.48 ... Change**: +1.18
CLN Retail Index. Last*: 162.79 ... Change**: +6.0%
Dow Jones Index. Last*: 10,600.51 ... Change**: +1.8%

*Jan. 16 ** from Jan. 2 Prices are exclusive of dividends

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THINGS TO DO AT WAL-MART...

... while your spouse is taking his/her sweet time (emailed from a subscriber):

1. Get boxes of condoms; randomly put them in people's carts when they aren't looking.

2. Set alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at five-minute intervals.

3. Go to the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of M&M's on layaway.

4. Move a "CAUTION - WET FLOOR" sign to a carpeted area.

5. When a clerk asks if she can help you, begin to cry and ask, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?"

6. While handling guns in the hunting department, ask the clerk if he knows where the anti-depressants are.

7. In the auto department, practice your "Madonna look" using different size funnels.

8. Hide in a clothing rack and whisper, "Pick me! Pick me!"

9. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume the fetal position and scream, "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!"

10. Go into a fitting room, shut the door, wait a while, and then yell, "There's no toilet paper in here!"

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REMINDERS

1. For more information on how your business can be the subject of a "Business

Profile" call Mike Hartnett at 309-925-5593 or email mike@clnonline.com.

2. Paid subscribers are invited to have their website evaluated by Lynn Carlisle of Carlisle Communications. She'll check the site and provide a confidential assessment and suggestions for improvement. Just email mike@clnonline.com or jljc@carlislecommunications.com.

3. If you want a hard-copy of this issue, click on "Printer Friendly version".

4. If your company is a paid subscriber, everyone in the main office is welcome to register, free. Just click on "Current Subscribers Click Here To Register."

5. To recommend CLN to a friend, use the "Tell Your Friends" box on the home page.

6. Creative Leisure News is published on the first and third Mondays of each month. Your next issue will be Monday, February 2.

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