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Memories help fuel profits

December 26, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

Like modern-day quilters, devoted scrapbookers travel to Hagerstown from across the Tri-State area to buy scrapbooking materials and participate in sorority-like gatherings called "crops."

"It's when scrapbookers bring supplies and work on their own pictures and albums in a group. It's more of a social thing, a time to let down your hair and relax," said Kelly Adams, who works at ScrapMania! on Crestwood Drive, where crops are held.

When making albums, scrapbookers crop most of their photographs as they design scrapbook pages, Adams said.

"Which is why such gatherings are called crops," she said.

ScrapMania! was opened two years ago by Adams' parents, Sherrie and Leland Zlomke.

There, scrapbookers attend all-day crops, weekend crops and 24-hour crops. Although crop schedules vary, Zlomke said crops attract up to 40 people and participation is growing.

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Scrapbook Garden in Martinsburg, W.Va., opened its doors June 12. Owner Jill Bishop said the store also holds crops and scrapbooking classes.

"We attract scrapbookers from Martinsburg, Charles Town, Winchester and Hagerstown," said Bishop, who said her customer base is growing steadily.

In the last 10 years, industry experts say the public's renewed interest in preserving memories through scrapbooking is fueling industry profits. According to a 2004 survey by Creating Keepsakes (the nation's leading scrapbook magazine), scrapbooking has become a $2.55 billion industry. The survey also said that 4.4 million households have made scrapbooks since 2001.

Zlomke wouldn't comment on profits at ScrapMania!, but she said her store has met its projected financial growth based on the store's business plan.

On average, Zlomke said, a beginning scrapbooker can expect to spend about $100 on supplies to make a scrapbook album.

"Prices vary, you can spend as little or as much as you like," Zlomke said. "It depends on your taste and how your album is decorated."

Tracy White, editor in chief of Creating Keepsakes, said the industry's growth has opened doors for more female entrepreneurs.

"Women were running companies from their kitchen tables and now they're heads of multimillion dollar companies," White said.

Meanwhile, enthusiasm for the hobby isn't about to die, said Hagerstown's Lynn Smith, who's been scrapbooking for 13 years. Six years ago, Smith moved to Hagerstown from California, where she said scrapbooking was very popular.

"I was thrilled when Sherrie opened her store," she said.

The fruits of Smith's scrapbooking talents are displayed in this month's edition of Lift and Twist, a publication featuring some of the nation's best scrapbook album pages.

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