LSS vs A's

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Posted 1/24/2013 by LovMelrose in General Scrappin'

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PeaNut 66,686
February 2003
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Posted: 1/24/2013 10:34:02 PM
I'm just curious.

I've worked in 2 LSS (both of which have closed) and A's.

Both LSS had a ton of product and always had at least some of the latest and greatest.

I've always wondered why it is that A's usually always had customers and I've seen people drop $50 - $150 at a time. Average sale was probably $25-$30.

LSS (completely different parts of town) average sale would be $10-$20 if that and some nights I worked not a sole came in.

Hmmmm....why is that do you suppose? Oh, and pricing was competitive - A's is not cheap!

Thanks for your input.



PeaNut 193,131
February 2005
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Posted: 1/24/2013 10:49:02 PM
Well...I haven't had a lss near me since 2006 (back in TX). But, A's sends out lots of emails with ideas, new products, coupons, sales, etc. So I'm often thinking "oh, I should drop in to use my 30% off coupon"...and when I do, I of course will pick up a few other things, too.

Also, A's has good store hours, and I hear often (on the boards here) about lss's that have weird hours. Plus pretty good-sized stores with large crop areas.

Msybe some of that?

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PeaNut 454,238
January 2010
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Posted: 1/24/2013 10:51:35 PM
I agree that advertising and events are a MUST and lots of LSS underplay that. I also find that LSS are sometimes in low visibility/density areas where a big box store is in a prime real estate area

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PeaNut 576,169
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Posted: 1/24/2013 10:52:20 PM
The two LSS near me are farther than A's, not open as many days/hours, and have less product. Plus, the customer service I get at A's is better. The time I usually have to shop is after work when the LSS isn't an option anyway

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PeaNut 553,849
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Posted: 1/25/2013 6:20:04 AM
I agree. Advertisement is a big key...the big box stores have websites, flyers, e-mail specials, ect....where the LSS I have dealt with (with maybe 1 exception) don't bother. They usually have 1-2 workers where big box stores have lots more...and they have departments where this is their only job. They are not ordering ,stocking shelves, answering the phone, waiting on get the idea.

Also, in my experience, unless you are a loyal customer, on the DT or something like that the customer service at some LSS can leave a lot to be desired. I have walked out without buying anything due to the terrible customer service at the one LSS I still have....and won't make it a point to go back. I'll shop online.

And...let's face it...LSS are run by people who love to craft. They are not generally business people, they are artists. Running a business and being creative don't always mesh.

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PeaNut 172,765
October 2004
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Posted: 1/25/2013 6:36:45 AM
Near me, at one point there were 3-4 LSS within close driving of each other. Each store had different products, so I spent a LOT of time driving between them all getting all that I wanted.

Then came Archivers. They carry lots of the latest, and I could usually pick up everything I wanted there, so my trips to the LSS' stopped. I wanna say within a year or so of Archivers opening, the LSS' started to close shop. There isn't one left.


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PeaNut 428,850
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Posted: 1/25/2013 7:03:42 AM
After reading this thread, I realize how fortunate I am! I much prefer my LSS, Scrappy Chic, over Archivers. They have great hours, a huge crop area, wonderful customer service, lots of classes. I feel connected with the scrapping community when I go there. In contrast, the Archiver's feels a bit cold and impersonal. Just thought I'd share a different point of view!


PeaNut 574,604
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Posted: 1/25/2013 7:14:32 AM
I think if all things being equal (size, inventory, employee behavior), one of the main reasons people go into Archiver's is the lure of the coupon, to be honest.

A few years ago, around here there were 3 LSS, plus a Hobby Lobby and an Archivers. All 3 of the LSS have closed.

1. Very small and the inventory barely changed from month to month. Or even year to year. They also did not carry staples such as packs of white or black cardstock (which the Walmart down the street did carry). No coupons, no promotions, no advertising. So there was no reason to check into the store frequently and no temptation to impulse buy. It all came down to inventory. I was surprised they lasted as long as they did.

2. Larger than #1 and full of product with lots of classes and promotions. Helpful employees. They were in business until the owner retired. I usually went to that store instead of Archiver's until they closed.

3. HUGE HUGE store with soooo much product, new lines, lots of room. I'd say they were Archiver's main competition in terms of size and inventory. They were close to my house and when they first opened, they got most of my business. Then...they fell down in two areas. First, the employee attitude. They never greeted you, never made eye contact, and never asked customers if they needed help. So many times there would be a brand new scrapbooker in there trying to figure out what to do, how to do it and wandering the aisles, who ended up asking a fellow customer for help or just leaving in frustration. Not only is employee interaction a good way to create a friendly atmosphere that encourages return visits, it's also a really basic way to up-sell products. Secondly, the environment of the store -- often too hot or too cold, loud country music blaring, and their smoke detector batteries were ALWAYS chirping. For months at a time. The environment made you want to leave asap. I actually wrote them a few times to complain about those issues and never once heard anything back. And the smoke detector batteries kept chirping. (I know that was the problem since I complained several times to the employees about it and they shrugged and told me it was "just" bad batteries and that they got used to the beeping after a while. Well, I don't have to get used to obnoxious beeping or music I can't stand. I can just leave. And so I did, forever.)

Now, there is just Archiver's and Hobby Lobby. I go into HL when I'm looking for Paper Studio products. I go into Archiver's for anything else I want to be in person. The staff is friendly and helpful, I'm always getting coupons, they have demonstrations of new products/tools. It's a good store.

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PeaNut 263,696
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Posted: 1/25/2013 8:35:28 AM
I would say location, hours and coupons. The few A's I've been to are in malls. So if I need to do shopping I can also shop for scrappy supplies. I like that A's is open on Sundays.

A's always looks fresh. They change their displays and have the new product at the fron of the store. I have been to LSS that do not change their product around.

I like to stamp and A's has a nice collection for the stamper. Many LSS do not.


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PeaNut 3,033
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Posted: 1/25/2013 8:55:06 AM
We haven't had a lss in years but when we did it seemed like there was never new merchandise -- or if there was, their "regulars" got first dibs on it. It seemed to me like the store stocked what they personally liked not what the general scrapping public liked. Needless to say, both are no longer in business and we now have HL, Mikes & J's. My closest A's is 45 minutes away but when I go I always see something new that I can't live without. I also enjoy their classes.


PeaNut 397,158
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Posted: 1/25/2013 9:03:22 AM
Not having a LSS near me, I'm one of those A's customers that when I go, I drop a bit of cash b/t $100-200 a trip. That said, I don't go that often. Maybe once every 3-4 months. And I don't do a lot of on-line shopping either. I tend to go before a weekend crop and make up for lost time by buying everything in sight. LOL.


michele st

PeaNut 371,154
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Posted: 1/25/2013 9:04:07 AM
I don't have an A's here but I have been to one once. I have 2 very small LSS within an hour. I feel bad when I go into the LSS store and don't buy anything. The person working there is friendly but it is so small that I feel like I have to buy at least a few sheets of paper.


PeaNut 553,849
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Posted: 1/25/2013 9:58:29 AM
I forgot to mention - the hours...

let's be honest, most people that drop $100-200 at a time on scrappy supplies work! Ergo...if you are open from 8-5 and I work 8-5, guess what!! I'm going to spend my hard earned dollars at Ms, Js, HL or such because they are still open when I get off work and I can "run by there" if I need/want to.

I know most LSS are open on Saturdays too but...after working all week, if I have spare time, I just want to shoot pics, scrapbook or sew - not shop!

Just my 2 cents - and FYI - I generally love the idea of a LSS because I love to see the new lines in person and love talking and spending time with others who enjoy the same things I do but unfortunately I have yet to find one that fills that niche.


PeaNut 370,270
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Posted: 1/25/2013 10:12:20 AM
I work at an LSS that is currently in the process of going out of business. We've been open since 1997 but the last few years have been financially devastating and the owners just can't put any more money in the store.

We have advertise constantly, we send out lots of emails, we have sales two to three times per year that are really good discounts for a mom & pop shop, we order what our customers ask for, we have classes all the time at differing hours. Basically, we do everything possible that we can think of to keep business coming in the door. And yet still, the average sale is quite low. Maybe in the $30-$50 range. And there are quite a few "regulars" that love to come in and use the crop room all day and spend 60 cents on a sheet of cardstock.

One thing that has not been mentioned that I think has a lot to do with the OP is that the average crafter (wants tons of roll stickers and themed items) does not think to shop beyond the big box stores. While the person that is so into this hobby that they're on Two Peas and reading blogs and what not (knows when and what CHA is, wants only the latest and greatest, really trendy) those are the people that realize the value of a LSS. Those are also the people that have HUGE stashes of product at home and therefor naturally spend much less per shopping trip.

Anyway, there's my musings as I head out the door to work. It's a sad time knowing that in two months I'll be on unemployment and living off my savings and the last LSS in a two hour drive will be gone.

So my PSA for today, even if it's not at an LSS... shop local!


PeaNut 193,131
February 2005
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Loc: Colorado, but a Texan at heart

Posted: 1/25/2013 10:13:33 AM
I will 2nd the lighting at A's. I'm not sure what the difference is, but it feels so welcoming, unlike the harsh lighting at Michael's (and some LSS's I've been to in the past).

And, like AJC'sMom said, A's is a business. So they're going to have people in corporate whose job it is to make sure all their stores are welcoming and that they're constantly doing things to attract customers.

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PeaNut 70,644
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Posted: 1/25/2013 10:46:47 AM
I don't have A's near me, but what I see when I'm in line at M's is the bigger sales are all those other craft projects than the scrapbook/card projects.

And I've only been to HL twice, but I think it must be the same way there, with two-thirds of those stores dedicated to interior decorating type stuff.

I think the biggest purchases I've made though are when I stock up at LSS. That's true for a lot of customers at my two LSS's especially the LSS that is closer. I only live about 10 miles from there, but I used to live more like 50 miles from there. An LSS closer to my old home has closed, so I often see residents of that area coming to our big LSS once a month or once a quarter or so and really stocking up.


PeaNut 52,226
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Posted: 1/25/2013 12:45:08 PM
I would love to have another LSS by me. At various times, I had 5 within a 1/2 drive and a couple more a little further out. They are all gone.

One I shopped at exactly once. The only time anyone spoke to me was to tell me my total. They were perfectly chatty with the "regulars" so it was weird. I don't need someone following me around, but I do tend to look for good customer service.

Most of the others I made frequent trips to, one simply closed because she opened right before they started a huge construction project right in front of her store, making it very hard to get to. It was a shame, because she carried a lot of unique things and was an overall great store.

My regular one closed after 10 years. It was a side job for the owners, but they had excellent customer service and great people working there. They accepted big box coupons at a value of 30% off and had a couple big sales a year. My biggest complaints were 1)they didn't really know new companies and didn't seem interested in them. 2)they catered to the new scrappers, relying on basics like ProvoCraft products, Mrs. Grossman's stickers, and heavily themed areas. When they closed, they still had product left from when they opened and placed a lot of blame on Hobby Lobby opening nearby. 3)they had a website but updated it infrequently, making it hard towards the end to judge if it was worth a trip, because 4)they were very sporadic about getting new stuff in. In the last year, I routinely ended up buying BoBunny double dot paper and magazines, just so I would spend something there.

The last one I went to was great. Had a lot of stuff, latest and greatest, great ideas, but the hours sucked. Closed at 6 on the weekdays, early on Saturday and closed on Sunday. My friend and I usually make an evening of it, going shopping and then to dinner, but it was impossible with that schedule.

I still try and make a trip to an LSS on vacation, and generally drop $50-$200 depending on what I find.


PeaNut 287,497
December 2006
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Posted: 1/25/2013 12:47:55 PM
I do not have an A's but when I did have a LSS I would try to spend money. If product was there I liked I would easily spend $100. When I store does not offer stuff that I will use or that I do not have ... I try hard to but stuff because I don't want them to disappear. It really depends on the store and what they have stocked.

Oddly enough ... when shopping at big box stores (which I would consider A's) I would be more selective and get more items on sale or just make smaller purchases.

Garden Girl

PeaNut 2,356
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Posted: 1/25/2013 12:50:15 PM
I obviously don't have either here where I live, but I run into both when I travel, and I shop at both A's and the LSS in my hometown when I visit.

From my personal experience, the Archivers stores have been in better locations for catching casual traffic and they have good signage. (In my hometown, the Archivers stores are all in strip malls that place them close to the road so you can see the sign as you drive, and they are all in strip malls with other successful businesses. One is basically across a big parking lot from Hobby Lobby and Michael's - it's like they require you to be crafty to live on that street or something. The LSS is somewhere you go because you know it or you've looked it up - it's pretty much alone in its strip mall and you wouldn't really notice it driving by necessarily. To be fair, this strip mall was once filled with businesses and the LSS is the only one that has survived, including a grocery store.)

A's marketing emails are pretty slick. I get a few different emails from small LSshops I have visited and they are not as slick. Fewer graphics, a lot more to read, really only 'come check out this sale' type things on the big sale days like Black Friday. Which I understand, because sales to a small store can completely eradicate the profit margin!!! But from a get-in-the-door perspective, I can see how this would work in the favour of Archivers.

One benefit chain stores get is that people look them up. Say you don't have either in your hometown and you go out of town to visit your sister. The type of people who post here might google 'scrapbook stores' for that town. The sort of person who doesn't know a lot about the LSS idea because they've never been to one might just go to the Archivers website and look at their store locations. I know when I need to get something non-scrappy when I'm travelling and I need to be quick, I will look up where is the nearest Target or Kohl's rather than taking the time to find out where a locally-owned boutique might be - even though I am far more likely to shop at the locally-owned place in my hometown. Out of town, the chain wins because I know what to expect there. (Case in point: while at CHA, I did so much of my shopping at Kohl's that when I needed to replace my suitcase on the way home, I bought it with Kohl's cash from the other purchases. Good grief.)

Now on the other hand... while the Archivers store might get that casual traffic from having a better location, the LSS customers might spend less because they go there more often. A customer who spends $50 once a month and a customer who spends $15 a week... actually that second customer's loyalty can end up being the better deal in the end. Which would be totally awesome, except the LSS isn't getting as many of those one-off customers who add up a nice little side total, so that makes it hard to compete with Archivers. (Beside the fact that being a big buyer like Archivers of course gives them an edge on their profit margin as the big players can negotiate deals with manufacturers because they are buying in huge bulk. The LSS who is buying just one pack of 25 of each patterned paper doesn't have that buying power so pays a higher price per item, but if they charge more, people won't shop with them.)

ETA: oops, I left this a while between writing and posting and some of this has already been said now. Sorry for the repetition.

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PeaNut 453,004
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Posted: 1/25/2013 4:06:47 PM
We used to have a lot of LSS's here in the Kansas City Metro area. Now I think there is one in Blue Springs or Lee's Summit and one across the stateline in Shawnee Mission. They are far from me and I find the ease of shopping close much nicer. Less money in the gas tank more money for scrappy goodness. I would like to check out the store south of me and have been to the one in Shawnee Mission a couple of times. They had so so inventory when I went a few years ago but offer amazing classes and have had events with Suze Weinberg (she is now retired) and other artists. I loved The Paperie Place in Liberty when it was in business. They did their best to get in the latest and greatest and kept up with trends and 2Peas and mega scrapping events held by Donna Downey and Heidi Swapp. I was on the design team for the store to make layouts featuring product to help move the product. I did that for a year and you couldn't ask for nicer owners and scrappers.

All that said I thank God for my Archivers. It is a bright and lively store with loads of product but its main downfall is that its staff has no clue about product and its place in the store. I went in looking for wood veneers and they had no clue, go back the next week come in contact with someone else and they walk me right to it. Go figure!

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PeaNut 433,880
August 2009
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Posted: 1/25/2013 4:41:05 PM
I my LSS. She is wonderful. Great service, always remembers her regulars, actually shares my love of Thickers, so will "oooh and aaaah" over the new ones with me. Even though she is an hour away, she is the first place I will buy from, and I easily spend $750-1000 a year there. She gets new products, but doesn't get the washi and veneers, and some of the more trendy supplies like that. I just don't see how a stand alone brick and mortar really could (in a small town like she is, anyway). So, as I travel for work and drive right past an A's, I will stop by there, use my coupon, get some of those extras, and then probably also impulse by "since I am there." I think they fill two different roles. But, from my experience, LSS's can vary widely, where you pretty much know what to expect from an A's.

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PeaNut 487,105
November 2010
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Posted: 1/25/2013 8:03:02 PM
I always go to my local scrap store first. The service is so much better.

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PeaNut 23,809
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Posted: 1/25/2013 10:44:00 PM
Unfortunately, I just don't think an LSS can compete with Archivers in terms of inventory choices. My Archivers pretty much has every line I ever want and then some with the exception of my favorite - October Afternoon, which is hit or miss. (Sometimes they have it and sometimes they don't.) But I can always find what I'm looking for. I have never been able to say that about any LSS. They just don't have the buying power of a chain but Archivers is more in tune with the industry and what's hot than somewhere like Michaels or Hobby Lobby which has a few trendy items but I usually go there for essentials only.

Archivers also has some of the best marketing of any business I've ever seen. Their mailers must cost them a fortune! I have a marketing background and I know the time and money that goes into those mailers but they pay off! Also, every time I go in there lately, there's some incredible sale and/or free make and take. LSS's don't usually go to the trouble of make and takes on a regular basis. It really makes you want to go there and spend your money. My LSS is going out of biz next week and I'm just sick about it because I taught there for two years but I knew when Archivers came to town that it was over. They just have it all figured out in my opinion. It's a shame for the little guy.

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PeaNut 131,952
February 2004
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Posted: 1/26/2013 4:03:02 PM
I've probably been in a total of 8 different LSSs both in the Austin area (back when
they had them) and one in Houston and two in San Antonio and a couple of out of
state ones and Archivers is so much better than all of them. I don't need 'customer
service'. In fact, I like to be left alone. The last thing i want is someone hovering over me. I just want a large variety and some of the new things to be available.

Hobby Lobby is not bad for tools and basic supplies. They may not have the latest and
greatest in paper but if you're desperate for paper, you'll find something there that works.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 66,686
February 2003
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Loc: Nebraska

Posted: 1/27/2013 9:01:30 AM
You've made some interesting points and I imagine it is a whole combination of what you've said.

Both LSS were in single strip malls with a grocery store anchoring whereas A's is in a large shopping plaza in an upscale part of town.

I would bet that there were A's customers that didn't even know about the other LSS. Advertising is key of course and the LSS didn't do much about that other than a monthly e-mail.

A's didn't offer coupons back when I worked there and LSS did only occasionaly. They both had frequent buyer punch cards instead.

While I am grateful to have A's, J's, M's and even another local crafty, home dec type store that has an awesome scrapbooking selection I do sometimes miss the LSS.

It's so hard for them to keep up unless they have a decent customer base. Even with 100% markup you have to sell a heck of a lot of paper to pay the rent!

Thanks everyone for your input!


design girl

PeaNut 451,040
January 2010
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Posted: 1/27/2013 11:22:09 PM
I just wanted to add my 2 cents because I worked at our LSS that has now closed, and we have an A's that I shop at regularly even though there is on LSS still open the next town over.

I agree with most everything that was mentioned except that in our situation we had MUCH better customer service and MUCH bigger store, and more selection than A's. (we took over an old JoAnn store - it was huge).

I left one year before the store closed and I have been told the reasons they closed was because of low sales. This store was a second location in a new town for the owners.

It is almost impossible to compete with a big box store, including A's they have dedicated people to do advertising and marketing, they have bulk buying power that allows them to get greater discounts and therefore larger profits.

They also have the advantage of being a chain - which means they can have one store in state X that may not even be profitable, or is just barely profitable. But because stores 2, & 3 are extremely successful they can "afford" to keep the not so profitable store open. We see less and less of this now, but it still happens.


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PeaNut 416,788
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Posted: 1/28/2013 1:37:51 AM
I've been in one Archiver's once, and it was one of the worst shopping experiences I've ever had anywhere!

I was traveling cross-country, and I got very excited when I checked the phone books and saw there was an Archiver's right off the highway in a big town I was driving through.

The salesperson glared at me and followed me throughout the entire store as if I was someone who came in every week and walked out with hundreds of dollars worth of inventory without ever paying for it. She was rude at the checkout when I made my purchase. I couldn't wait to get out of there!

I've been in fabric and scrapbooking specialty stores in many states, and I've NEVER come across any as rude anywhere.

My luck, eh?

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