Monday, January 28, 2013

Archiver's Schmarchivers

Yesterday I crossed off another item on my Houston to-do list. I finally visited the Archiver's store in Katy.

I can sum up my experience in 6 words: What a colossal waste of time.

I'm not a scrapbooker but I do like their supplies. I've always thought that Archiver's was THE place to shop for scrapbooking supplies but after visiting I've somewhat changed my opinion.

Was the store huge? Yes it was, compared to your garden variety scrapbooking store. Did they have absolutely everything a scrapbooker could want? Well, I guess it depends on the scrapbooker. They had paper out the wazoo in every brand you could imagine. They had plenty of themed die cuts, stickers and accessories as well. They had lots of different types of albums, tools, rubberstamps and supplies but nothing really impressive. I think your average scrapbooker could be very happy there as long as she never tries to think outside the box (or scrapbook) and has access to unlimited amounts of disposable cash.

I arrived at the store about an hour before it closed, giving myself just enough time to do a thorough judging browsing. I was not greeted when I walked in the door but that was no big deal since there were a few other shoppers there as well and only 2 clerks. However, over the next half hour I made 2 thorough circuits of the entire store and no one ever said hello or asked if I needed any help.

I did intend to buy some colored binder rings if I could find them since that's not something I can usually find discounted. I stared at the Tim Holtz and 7Gypsies sections for a good long time, willing the binder rings to appear since that's logically where they should be. I was tempted by this 7Gypsies ticket holder but decided to pass on it because of the $20 price.

Finally, I gave up on my binder ring search and asked one of the sales clerks if they had any. She stared at me blankly as if I had just spoken in Japanese. Again I said, "binder rings", and made a little 'O' shape with my hands. Apparently this clerk shares a brain with the other one because it took both of them to decipher what I was saying then discuss where the rings might be. The clerk took me to the section where I thought they should be and we both stared at it for a while longer. Then the other clerk suggested another section of the store so we went over there and stared at that section for a few minutes. Then she picked up a package of decorative bottle caps, cooed over them, then took them to show the other clerk so they could gush about how cute the caps were. I took that as my signal that she was through helping me. Now I understood why neither clerk asked if I needed any help. They were both incapable of giving it.

Another thing I was specifically looking for was some Crafter's Workshop templates. They had 4 different templates, all of them the little 6" size. They're the hottest thing in mixed media right now and the Houston Archiver's store only had 4 little ones. They had just a few spritz paints and no regular paint at all. They also didn't carry Gelli Plates which I might have bought if they had them. Obviously Archiver's hasn't figured out that mixed media and scrapbooking go hand-in-hand and if they don't diversify and keep up with the trends it will be their downfall. Their marketing people need to call me. They totally need my help.

I will admit that I'm a bargain/junk shopper to the core and rarely pay full price for anything. For this reason I try not to judge retail stores too harshly for what I feel like are inflated prices. However, in the scrapbooking world Archiver's is the Goodyear blimp of inflated prices. Most of their good scrapbook paper was around $1 a sheet and just went up from there. The few Hambly overlays they had were $3.99 each which was surprising. Since Hambly is no more I thought those things should be put on clearance. Speaking of clearance...

I thought Archiver's saving grace might be the rather large clearance section at the back of the store but I was wrong. There was a lot of stuff on clearance...for 25% off. There were a few items for 50% off but I generally don't take an interest in anything until it hits at least 75%. THAT'S a clearance, in my book. 25% off is an insult.

I made one more quick circuit of the store and spotted the 7Gypsies binder rings not in the 7Gypsies section but in the section with the Cinch binder and other book kits. Which made no sense. They only had the big antique brass ones so I passed.

I managed to find a couple of items that I deemed worthy of the price and took them up to the counter. I told the Bottle Cap Sales Clerk that I found the binder rings over by the Cinch but they didn't have the color I wanted. Then she started babbling about how they never know where anything is because it changes all the time and she thinks it's a marketing ploy to get you to wander around the whole store looking for stuff. Bless her heart, she figured that out all by herself.

I made some offhand comment about how grocery stores put the milk at the back of the store so you have to wander through other aisles to get to it. Then she started telling me this long story about how the Kroger in Montrose remodeled and they put the milk on the beer aisle which she didn't understand but then again, it's Montrose and she never thought she'd get to an age (which appeared to be about 10 years older than me) where she didn't enjoy the Montrose lifestyle anymore but she's finally outgrown it. I wasn't really sure what she meant by that since Montrose is predominately gay so I just smiled and nodded.

The clerk offered, several times, to add me to their database so I could get coupons by email. I knew they would be 10-25% off which would just piss me off so I declined. Several times. I took my purchases and headed home, a little disappointed that my expectations were not met and a little relieved that I would never be tempted to visit again.

Did Archiver's have any redeeming qualities whatsoever? Yes it did. Even though I would never buy their overpriced scrapbook paper, I did enjoy seeing such a good variety of what's available. They had brands I'd never heard of before but will keep on my radar. One was called Little Yellow Bicycle which was more reasonably priced than some of the other brands and had some really cute patterns and color schemes.

And...well okay, that's about the only good thing I can say about it. 


Marco said...

Can we hire you to make scrapbooks for us?!

Anonymous said...

That Archivers in Katy is the only one I've been to, and only a couple oftimes. I stop in to see if they have any new things from CHA...they are overpriced and I, too, was VERY disappointed in their selection of sprays and stencils. Guess the only way to get them is on line.