Waikato scrapbook stores team up to tackle the competition

Paperzone, an independent arts and crafts store, has reopened after closing down to revitalise the store. From left, ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Paperzone, an independent arts and crafts store, has reopened after closing down to revitalise the store. From left, scrapbook teacher Tracey Reynolds, owner Patsy Clarkin, and Shirley McCarthy.

Waikato scrapbook stores are leading a nationwide cabal to take on operators big and small cutting them out.

Tired of hearing about "poor old retail", Paperzone owner Patsy Clarkin opened her remodelled Frankton store with renewed enthusiasm on Tuesday.

"We've decided we're going to fight back, and stick together."

Paperzone is one of four scrapbook stores from around the country that  have joined together to share ideas about ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Paperzone is one of four scrapbook stores from around the country that have joined together to share ideas about tackling an increasingly challenging market.

Retail is a "cold, hard" world and the paper craft stores are competing with operators on both ends of the market.

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The big chain stores have low prices, but it's the small online importers that "screw it up", Clarkin said.

Small retailers need a point of difference to survive, Paperzone owner Patsy Clarkin says. Her craft paper line, ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Small retailers need a point of difference to survive, Paperzone owner Patsy Clarkin says. Her craft paper line, Paper-Arts, is exclusive to her store.

"You've got the people who are running home-based businesses with absolutely no overheads, and they're not paying GST or the duty that we pay."

In response, Clarkin has joined forces with four other stores: Imagine If in Morrinsville, Scrapaholics and Create in Auckland, and Artfull Crafts in Timaru.

The stores are sharing ideas, wholesaling efforts and cross-promoting wares. 

Imagine If owner Jo Johnson knew of someone who bought $500 of products from an American company, and didn't have to pay import duty.

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"We pay wages, we play by the rules. Well, we don't have any choice, do we?"

These operators don't offer the same product knowledge hobbyists need, she said.

Clarkin has run Paperzone for 20 years and said the key for small retailers to survive is maintaining a point of difference.

She produces her own range of craft paper, called Paper-Arts, which is sold exclusively in the store.

More than just retail outlets, these stores are hubs for the scrapbooking community.

There was an encouraging buzz of customers filling the store on its opening day.

Linda Schwartfeger, 59, and June Bailey, 66, became friends attending the Tuesday morning scrapbooking sessions at Paperzone.

Bailey said the exclusive product range was a drawcard, and the pricing remained competitive.

Waikato was lucky to have a scrapbooking destination such as Paperzone, Schwartfeger said.

"If you come to a class each week it makes you do a page … whereas your self-motivation at home might not be as strong. We all motivate each other."

 - Stuff

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