Monday, January 10, 2011

Online Scrapbook Store Awards! Besties and Grossies

Hello there! I participated in a very lively conversation about online scrap shopping likes and dislikes recently and it got my noggin working. I shop a lot so I have some useful knowledge.. how about a review list formatted as "awards" to make it fun?
This is one person's opinion based on 1 year's experience shopping. Orders have been placed at least twice unless otherwise noted. Only 1 kit club is mentioned as I only have experience with that one club.


  • Best Customer Service
BlueMoonScrapboking. com
I actually got a call from the owner when I made an order here to discuss shipping options! Website is fairly easy to navigate with a side bar that organizes by new items and manufacturers. BONUS- shipping is free if your order total passes 50 dollars- no codes or jumping through hoops necessary! They seem to get interesting items before other sites- I found Tattered Angels chalk spritz here way before anyone else had it. They have a kit club I haven't used. I've only ordered once.
They use packing peanuts. You cannot save your shopping cart- actually don't dare pause for 15 minutes or you'll loose your cart- not cool for SAHMs with babies.

  • Best Website
This site has all the cool brands at competitive prices. There is frequent discounting on items and shipping is FREE (woo hoo!!!) if you subscribe to their very useful e-newsletter and use the codes found there. Online store has a fantastic member gallery- it seems like people only put up their most fabulous pages here- very inspiring.
Bonus- lots of original digi elements for those of us who swing that way. Shipping is fast (even when free) and you can go onto the site to track your package. Your shopping cart is saved by default forever and you can pay with paypal. They now have a customer loyalty program. HUGE bonus- insurance is offered is an option you can pay for even with free shipping. If an item is damaged or they make a mistake they issue a store credit for anything less than 5 dollars or try to replace it if value is higher.
Item photos are limited. SURPRISE- the item looks totally different in person or isn't the size you thought it was- oops!- but this seems to be a design hitch almost all scrap websites have. Member profile pages are hard to navigate and require lots of clicking through to new pages and I'm still trying to figure out how to upload art not associated with one of their many challenges. They also use the much hated packing peanut.

  • Best Browsing website
I decided to add this "award" after I started to write about this store and realized I only had positives to say about it. ACOT offers great customer service, a points program, very competitive shipping, wide selection with new material coming in regularly and most importantly super ka-duper FAST shipping. Shopping cart is saved automatically and they have a great selection. Paypal enabled. Returns policy is onerous but at least they have one- great all around website.
They don't carry some brands but their website is so easy to navigate and has so many ways to search I find myself browsing here a lot. Item photos limited to 1 per item. Merchandise isn't updating as quickly lately (probably due to overall economic conditions?) Too many weird items like ugly foil stickers junk up your specific search. More editing needs to happen with the merchandising. Even more RANDOM- beaded necklaces turn up everywhere! Their jewelry sister-site/ side-business needs it's own website.

  • Best Editing-Merchandising
Sometimes a webstore can have TOO MUCH STUFF- not here! They have all my top 10  fave brands plus fabulously hard to find things like Swell tape and Punky Sprouts items. You can save your cart which is great. They have a frequent shopper program where every 50 points gets you 1 dollar off your order. You can also participate in their blog to get 5 dollar store credit and your chances of winning are high as they have many contests. You can use paypal and they do not store your credit info (good for security). Email only customer service has been super friendly. BONUS- your pre order items ship free always. Shipping is fast and you get an email letting you know when it's on it's way.
Specific item info is very limited. Website is click heavy so it's sometimes hard to navigate. Blog has an project posting field that requires an IT college degree to figure out- hopefully it will be refined at some point. That being said- if you can shop by brand or item type you are good to go- this site requires patience but the customer service is first rate and their prices are fabulously competitive.

  • Best Packaging and Shipping
I found this website while furiously searching the net for Studio Calico "vintage" stamps. The website has an amazing amount of older items at prices that are competitive.  Communication and tracking for your order here is excellent. You get a personal email letting you know when the package is posted. When I opened that box I SQUEALED like the giddy school girl I really am. Scrumptious tissue paper and twine wrapping with a hand written note, gold medallion sticker on each packet AND a super CUTE RAK I stared at for hours (it was for Christmas cards- a project still in the intention stage) Paperie indeed! LOVE this place! I only ordered from here once. Wide selection of items in many different styles. Shipping is FAST. Not sure if you can save your cart. Discount codes are easy to find on the website.
More item photos but site does provide plenty of item specific info.

  • Best Business Practices- Marketing, Branding and Merchandising
These people know their shopper and "The Biz". Their kits are exquisitely edited for full OOO!!! factor and have exclusive items you can only find in that specific month's kit. The brand itself has coolness
My first SC kit

factor seen nowhere else- people do not sell their Studio Calico exclusives on ebay often.  Countdown clock on blog lets you know how long you have to snatch up that stamp before it's gone. Website is super easy to navigate and quick, your creations can be uploaded to their online gallery and their blog is updated frequently. Kits are very well packed in individual bags, a  card tells you who packaged your order and UPS sends you a delivery confirmation email when your package arrives. Not sure what happens for returns- RETURN a SC item??? NEVER!
Not an improvement per-se: this is not the site for the deliberate decision maker- items sell out FAST. Pricing is expensive but if you are a brand hound you know you LOVE that!

Now comes the fun part- hee hee hee hee heeeeee!

Special awards for terrible sites I still use but only if I HAVE TO.

  • GROSSIE Customer Service
  • GROSSIE Worst Shipping (tie)
  • GROSSIE website (tie)
Here's the thing with Joann's- they've been threatening to kick the bucket for YEARS. They recently changed owners- again. Their website is buggy as hell. It's slow, badly designed and FORGET paying if you own a MAC and use Safari. Call your order in but forget following up online- you gotta call for that too. And let's say you want to place an order on saturday but get bounced-you silly Mac user you! Call Monday and get a customer service rep who only repeats that they don't extend "old" sale prices over and over again no matter what your situation is.
Item selection here is mostly OLD- you can play yourself and call if "vintage" but let's be real- they are selling you the stuff that just sits there in the store. But I like that because I've already bought all the new crap I like. Their turn around time is S...L...O...W. They have free shipping if you have a code. They can also send you many MANY emails reminding you they exists with cheeseola offers like 40% off 1 item and Free Shipping on orders over 35 dollars. You know what? I'll pay for shipping just UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE, PLEASE! But you can find October Afternoon, Basic Grey, Jenni Bowlin, Smooch, Tattered Angels, Tim Holtz, Jillibean Soup here for less than other sites. They also have fun items they produce themselves- I'm not a brand hound (for realz!!)- I'll buy anything as long as it's cute and Joann's has lots of cute cheapo stuff. They do have a returns policy but I don't use it as what is the point if you have to pay return shipping charges- especially if they made the mistake? Positive- You know I still order from these guys right? It's like your "bad boy" high school boyfriend!!!! But maybe THIS TIME it will be different... and sometimes it is.

  • GROSSIE Shipping and Handling
  • GROSSIE website
I feel bad razzing this site because it's quite obviously a little SB store somewhere but they did the ONE THING I HATE MOST- sent felt ribbon unspooled where it got crushed to death by some ANCIENT, FUGLY, CHEAP punches they sent along "for free". Wow- THANKS!!!! Just what I wanted- a random oval punch from 1983 that weights 3 lbs! Positives? This store seems to have EVERYTHING. French stuff, Asian stuff, ATC stuff, old stuff, cutting edge stuff not available anywhere else and LOTS of stamping stuff. Just don't order the Queen and Co ribbon. Whenever I need to look up a specific product name I go to this site- it's like an encyclopedia. Exclusive punches are my fave thing to buy here- when I feel courageous. But get this-  their website has no shopping cart!!!! You have to send an EMAIL with item numbers, names, description and color!! Or a FAX! A FAX!!!! That should tell you everything right there. Positives- need that stamp from 1997 that you LOVED and lost? These guys probably have it.

  • GROSSIE- Price Point
TIE- and  has great shipping and fantastic customer service but their prices are sky high for items that are old and on sale everywhere else. is like the Macy's of the industry except items never go on sale for real. OOO I feel like scrap lightning is about to strike me down!!! Recent discounts- 10 cents off a 3.99 item that I saw on sale for 2.50 elsewhere and it was on "clearance"! Also, items are put in as "new" when they have been available in stores and other websites for months. Order turn around is s.l.o.w but the shipping is ok if you are willing to pay through the nose as free shipping days are very rare.
Positives: Overhead costs from their fantastic website with seemingly endless member gallery, active forums, item wish lists, social networking applications and super easy navigation must be expensive. If you value your time, want to save your cart forever and don't mind paying shipping fees then I highly recommend this site. I've ordered from here several times and have never had an order mishap. Items arrive well packed and you get several emails with item use suggestions and itemized orders with tracking information. This is a great place to market your blog or creations and make friends but free-flow chatters beware- the tone is hyper polite and forum chat can turn on a dime. EK Success punches sold out everywhere else? Here they are! Random stamps seen no where else- guess who's got 'em? Did I mention shipping is 2 bucks no matter WHAT you order?

  • GROSSIE- Selection/Merchandising
I went to this site in search for some very hard to find items and didn't find them there either but I ordered some other stuff. The website is boring, hard to search and has a really narrow selection. They also don't have great pricing. What's worse- the ton of emails for 40% off ONE ITEM you'll get once you sign up. I've only ordered from here once and won't order again. 'Nuff said.
Positives- They have a brick and mortar store with nice workers- shop there.

Not to end on a nasty note, here are some great websites that do their job- get you STUFF. Don't expect fireworks or fancy web shenanigans.  Sometimes your old buddy is your BEST FRIEND. I have used all of these at least twice:

  • kit club and online store- really great selection, fast shipping, paypal enabled. Most beautifully edited kits I have seen after Studio Calico but since I haven't bought any I have to be fair and not award something. Kits sell out fast but if you want to torment yourself they still have old kits posted for you to browse and wish you had ordered.  Improvements- Item photos need to be larger without clicking on them- especially for the kits.
  • The selection here is junked up by too many old items no one is buying but there are many exclusive brands and items found nowhere else. They have a wide array of shipping options and orders arrive quickly. I once ordered an acrylic paint that was dried out- they replaced it no questions asked. Website has been updated and is no longer "woefully uncool". Every item has several images that pop out when you scroll over them and let you know packaging size and actual item size. They don't use packing peanuts. They shrink wrap your paper to 1 board and all your embellies to another- fantastic! Improvements- These guys need to jettison the old merchandise. Focus on what makes you fab... and design a new website.
  • These guys have great stuff available before anyone else. Most fabulous- you can pre-order any brand the store stocks.  Customer service here was polite and responsive. Paypal enabled and they don't save your credit info. Improvements- Website looks like a scam- they desperately need a redesign. Pre order items make you wait and wait and WAIT for shipping. Their wait times are so long they have a page just for shipping caveats and make you check a box stating you read their policy!!! One positive to the wait time is that you can add to your order if you find something else you like as long as you include your previous order's ID number. It delays your order further but you can't say they didn't warn you! SandS is a NY state business so they offer super cheap shipping to east coast locations and orders with new in-stock items get shipped first.
  • Little Engine That Could AWARD! This website has great "vintage" stuff. Let's say you want to replace an item you used up but still love- try looking for it here. Shipping is FAST! Website is... not the most beautifully designed but it works. There is also new stuff but this being a smaller site it takes a little longer to get updated. If an item is sold out you get an email telling you so which is nice. Paypal enabled. Improvements- None. Some businesses should grow organically- this one is a fave.
  • Great kits I have yet to buy due to lack of funds (Really? yes really!). There is only 1 photo per item but DT projects are linked up to many products so you can see how they can be used. Website is basic but easily navigatable. My only problem is the shipping- it's EXPENSIVE but that's because I am as far away from Vancouver, WA as you can get. They have some really fun items- I recommend you stop by and check them out. Improvements- website needs to be fun-er.
  • I love their recipe marketing gimmick- it makes for cute emails. They have a kit club which has tempted me in the past and mini kits that provide specific items for you next card project. The website is easy to navigate and browse by brand, type or price- if a tad boring. Here's the thing- you can't save your cart that makes it hard for harried Moms to shop unless they do so late at night but isn't that scrap time anyway? Shipping is out in moderate speed but well packed with nary a peanut in sight. Price points are competitive and they have lots of current and older items on clearance which is why is getting a GROSSIE. Improvements- web graphics and design could be snazzier for such a great marketing idea. Shipping turn around could be faster but let's not get picky- it's ok. CORRECTION- You CAN use paypal! Thanks for the update Cassie!!! 
So there you have it. Did I annoy or help out? Lemme know! Feel free to get REAL and post away on this subject. I have zero affiliation with any of these sites. No DTs past or present and no financial ties other than ME sending THEM money for goods. In fact, maybe they'll stop taking my orders now I blabbed- but hey SOMEONE'S gotta do it right?
    MuChOs SmOoChEs!


    1. This is wonderful! Thanks for such a fabulous comprehensive list! PS I just heart that you had Glee going on your playlist!

    2. Okay, this post has been very informative but so funny all the same! I am still cracking up over the crushed ribbon due to the 1983 "free" punches. You are very witty! (and the fugly description, hilarious...gotta love it!)

    3. Even though I can't order through these sites (actually I can but shipping overseas is prohibitive) this was a HUGELY entertaining read!

    4. that was totally brilliant. Effort!

    5. loved all the information

    6. what a smart idea...what great information...thank you

    7. Awesome list & review... of the ones I know, you're spot on! if you ever give it a go again, check out Crop Chocolate... I love them

    8. I am pretty sure that Scrappy Gourmet takes Paypal now. She lives behind me. LOL!!!!
      The BESt kits in the whole world will come from Paper Issues...stand by!!!!!
      =) =) =)

    9. Yup I just fact checked that and you CAN use paypal with Scrappy Gourmet. Story has now been corrected. If anyone else one spots mistakes please let me now - corrections are getting made continuously.

    10. Wow, a lot of effort went into this!!! :) I do have to say, Stop and Scrap has excellent customer service. They were very generous, flexible, friendly, and prompt when I had to deal with them. Also, it does take awhile for your items to ship out, but once they have the items at the warehouse, they are quick about getting them out to you! Shipping through other popular sites is sometimes insanely through the roof, so I agree to exhibit patience with Stop and Scrap! (Not working for them either lol, just really like them!)


    Ok peeps lets CHAT! You tell me what you REALLY think and I PROMISE to keep it open minded here.