NEW YORK For Lisa Tantillo, preserving memories of herself, friends and family meant throwing photos in a big box. But since her twins were born three years ago, the Westport, Conn., resident has become what the scrapbooking industry describes as a serious cropper.
Tantillo, 41, goes far beyond assembling attractive scrapbooks she's spent about $1,500 on such products as acid-free paper and glues, supplies once limited to just archivists. She also attends seminars where she and other croppers (the term refers to their cropping photos) meet to assemble their scrapbooks. Tantillo even has her own consultant through a national organization called Creative Memories, which has helped to further the trend.
''I want a real historical record,'' Tantillo said, who has created albums for her twins, Josh and Sarah, and now plans to assemble a book for her high school years.
Tantillo and a growing number of baby boomers are feeding a burgeoning business in scrapbooking, a market overlooked by national retailers until a few years ago but now being embraced by discount, hobby and craft stores across the country.
Supplies include decorative sheets, tape and ribbons, stickers, cutters and different types of scissors that meet the scrapbookers' needs for cropping and displaying photos. The trend has also spurred consumers to buy photo printers and scrapbooking software.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, has significantly expanded its scrapbooking merchandise over the past year, according to Danette Thompson, a company spokesperson. And rival discounter Target has almost doubled the size of the scrapbooking area in many stores, according to spokesperson Lena Kolfstad.
Meanwhile, arts and crafts chains including Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby and Michaels Stores Inc., based in Irving, Texas, have stepped up their offerings as well. Michaels is testing two stores called ReCollections that focus on the paper crafting business, including scrapbooking, in the Dallas area, with the potential for a national rollout.
Web sites including scrapbooking.com have also been launched to capitalize on scrapbooking's growing popularity.
Don Meyer, a spokesman for the Hobby Industry Association, a trade group based in Elmwood Park, N.J., said boomers are fueling the trend because ''they want to preserve the memories of their own lives, their children's and their grandchildren's.''
Meyer said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the downturn in the economy have made family get-togethers more of a priority, and ''scrapbooking fits perfectly.''
The Hobby Industry Association estimated that the scrapbooking business grew from $1 billion-$1.5 billion in 2001 to $2.5 billion in 2003.
According to Creating Keepsakes magazine, dedicated scrapbookers spend more than $50 a month in supplies, own $1,584 in supplies, and spend more than 10 hours a month in scrapbooking.
Industry observers say Creative Memories, a direct selling organization that has now has 60,000 consultants worldwide who advise their customers on how keep their photos safe, helped push the movement. The organization, started in 1987, sponsors events and seminars across the country, and sells its own exclusive line of products, such as bleed- and fade-resistent pens and heart-shaped cutters through its consultants.
''It's kind of like a Tupperware party,'' said Helen Bergner, 42, a Fairfield, Conn., resident and a consultant for Creative Memories. But she added,
''It's not about selling, it's more about teaching.''
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