Arts and crafts and catalogs, oh my

The Craft & Hobby Association estimated in 2003 that in 80% of U.S. households at least one member participated in arts and crafts activities. The majority of those crafters don’t seem to be buying from catalogs, however. According to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, during the second quarter of 2005 the 12-month active universe for the arts and crafts catalog market was just 1.77 million, or 1% of all consumer catalog buyers available for list rental or exchange.

The number of 12-month buyers on the market dipped 1.5% since the second quarter of 2004. Then again, it’s up nearly 10% from the second quarter of 2003. The increase is due primarily to the release of Crafts Americana’s files for its Artist’s Club, Connecting Threads, and Knit Picks properties last year.

Of course, more than a few crafts catalogers saw house file growth of their own. Paper Wishes, which sells scrapbooking supplies, nearly doubled its 12-month buyer file during the past year, to 40,000 names. The aforementioned Knit Picks grew its file 37%, to 27,000 12-month buyers, and D.J. Inkers, which sells clip art, stamps, stencils, and the like, increased its active buyer file 33%, to 44,000 names.

More arts and crafts catalogers are using promotions and incentives to gain sales. So far this year 18% offered free shipping and handling, up from 13% in 2004, making it the most commonly used incentive. Carol’s Etc., Enterprise Art, Knit Picks, and Paper Wishes are among those that regularly offer free S&H. And while none of the crafts books offered total-order discounts last year, so far this year 7% have touted them. Nancy’s Notions, which sells sewing and quilting supplies, regularly offers discounts, as well as free shipping and a “Needles and Know-How Pack” gift with purchase.

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