A debt of gratitude

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking65 Comments


The store that got me scrapbooking is closing.

Back in the days of teaching live classes on the Creating Keepsakes circuit, I would tell this story about how I, a graphic designer who loved writing and photography, became—to my complete surprise—a scrapbooker.

It started when I read an article in my local paper about a new "photo, memory, scrapbooking" store that was opening in Roseville, Minnesota. In the article, they mentioned a huge supply of photo albums and as a photo-taking mom of two young kids, I was always in the market for a new photo album. So I got in my car and made the three-mile trek to the what turned out to be the rest of my new, memory saving life.

I would always embellish my story when recounting it to my classes. I would tell them that I walked into the store and my jaw pretty much dropped. I was expecting Holly Hobbie-laden oversized books and cheesy stickers with sayings like, "Ears to you!" for Easter or goofy photo frames proclaiming, "No. 1 Family."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Instead I saw this:


I literally stood at the front of the store and thought I must be in the wrong place. This was a scrapbooking store? 

The warmth of the wood displays. The jeweled-toned wall colors. The lighting. The shelves of paper. The stuff so elegantly displayed. It seriously felt like a Pottery Barn for crafting. 

It was as if the Heavens opened up and a single beam of light shone directly upon me as I heard choirs of angels singing, "Ahhhhhhhhhh." 

The mother ship had called me home.

That day I picked up my very first scrapbooking supplies. Some cardstock, adhesive, patterned paper and a scrapbook magazine (Ivy Cottage, remember them?) 

I went home and I made this:


And honestly? My life has never been the same.

Every few days, I'd head back to the store for a few more supplies to pile onto my dining room table. I picked up a second magazine, the premiere issue of Simple Scrapbooks, the publication I would one day become art director for. On an internet search for "scrapbooking," I came across Two Peas, a site where I would make some of the truest friends I have ever known.

Hell, I wrote two books! What? Honestly. All of my life I'd wanted to write a book, I just never knew it would be about scrapbooking and that they'd turn out to be pretty damned good. And Archiver's carried those books!

I knew nothing of this hobby beyond the occasional Creative Memories party and because of Archivers, I fell madly in love and this love transformed my personal, professional and creative life.

There are times when I'm quite certain I would not be here and you would not be reading this were it not for me walking into that scrapbook store back in 2001.


I won't say that I was the ideal customer over the years. As I became clearer on how I wanted to save my memories, I realized it involved less and less products.

Further, when Archiver's rolled in, the other smaller stores had trouble keeping up and eventually went out of business.

It's bittersweet.

I went to the store last Friday and picked up a few things I didn't need just to remember that joy I would feel every time I walked in there. I felt like I was somewhere where people understood me. Where people didn't think I was wasting my time. Where people went to save their lives.

I started to relay my story to Carole at the register and she simply said, "Don't make me cry!"

I just wanted to share this story today and to say thank you to Archiver's. I wish you could have made it. I really do.

This scrapbooker will always be grateful.


Cathy ZielskeA debt of gratitude

65 Comments on “A debt of gratitude”

  1. #1

    I work at Archiver’s here in Michigan and it is the best job I ever had. I’ve worked here for 6 1/2 years, ever since they first opened their doors here in Michigan and everybody (the employees and the customers) are like family. There is nothing better than having a customer come into the store and you instantly click with them and share the love for this craft. Thank you for your beautiful blog post!

  2. #2

    I feel pretty close to the same way. Our store here was the end of two local stores, but I could not help but love it. The atmosphere spoke to me too and I loved the lines they carried, how it was displayed, the inspirational ideas through the store and the helpful staff. One of my greatest joys was to sneak away on a Saturday afternoon, shop and sneak my new supplies into my home. It will be greatly missed.

  3. #3

    They’re all disappearing, little by little. I have only one LSS in my area now. The rest have closed. Sad.

  4. #5
    Mary S

    I live close to the Apple Valley store and will miss it dearly. I’ve spent more money there than I’ll ever admit, took some great classes and received much inspiration. So sad!

  5. #7
    Sherry Eckblad

    You are right it is just so sad to think that the store I love and buy 90% of my scrapbooking supplies is closing its doors for the last time.
    I remember meeting you there Cathy when I worked part time to support my addiction. That little spot in Roseville will always make me think of Archivers and lots of fond memories.

  6. #8

    This is almost my story except substitute writer for art director, subtract one book, and take into account that I’ve only had Archiver’s access some of the time with all our moving….. But I’ve shopped my part when I was able to, and I’m just so sad. : (

  7. #9

    What a lovely post. This was my happy place for a quick hour by myself. I am so sad to see it go. I keep hoping they’ll say “just kidding!”

  8. #10
    Jennifer L

    The Maple Grove store is my Cheers. They know me there and sometimes put aside stuff I’d like. So, so sad that it’s closing. There is still a scrapbook store in Bloomington, MN called Scrapbooks Too. Have to mention for the locals who scrap and don’t know about it.

  9. #11

    I agree that this is a loss for our Scrapping Community. Our Coon Rapids store closed before Thanksgiving largely I’m sure because I went digital! It was a warm, friendly place to shop. The stores will be missed.

  10. #12

    I worked at that Archiver’s for many years. I had the joy of meeting you at that store! (And spying on what you were buying a few times!) It was a great place to work and always full of inspiration. I don’t live near an Archiver’s anymore and miss being able to collect more scrap paper than I could ever use!

  11. #13

    Archiver’s parent company not struggling. CEO, COO, CFO, et salaries: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/908315/000110465913020461/a13-1540_1def14a.htm (hint, $400,000 to $700,000 per year) .

    Apparently, Winmark took over Tomsten (the official name of the Archiver’s company) in 2009: http://www.streetinsider.com/Corporate+News/Winmark+%28WINA%29+To+Take+Over+Tomsten,+Inc.+dba+Archivers/5152835.html

    The company made net profits of over $4MM in the QUARTER ending June ’13. Extrapolating to a year, that’s profits of about $16MM/year.

  12. #14

    I don’t live anywhere near an Archivers (nearest one is 6 hours away), but every time I travel near one I always stop. Or stopped I guess. 🙁 I am so sad to hear they are closing their doors. You are so right that it’s the Pottery Barn of scrapping. The photo albums alone were enough to draw me in. So many options!

    Looking on the other side of the fence, perhaps it’s an opportunity for the return of a few of the smaller family run stores. And the new pocket scrapping movement has more and more people jumping on the wagon. (I refuse to call it a bandwagon. It’s a movement.) It’s so simple and easy that those of us who don’t have the time (or creative juices) for traditional layout scrapping can totally get with it.

  13. #15

    i never, ever made it to an archiver’s but because of your stories i always thought i would love to go to one!

  14. #16

    I could not have said it better! I remember the feeling of awe and amazement that first time my SIL and I ventured into Archivers – it happened to be a big make and take weekend. We came back out 6 hrs later. My favorite store – certainly packed with a lot of memories and my studio is packed with a lot of product. So sad to see them go!

  15. #17
    debbie McIntyre

    I remember the first time I walked into an Archivers while visiting my son in Roseville. I looked online hoping for a scrapbooking store, and had no idea what I was walking into. I told my son I’d just need a few minutes. Big mistake. I needed the entire afternoon. The book section alone made me squeal with delight. It was the most organized and beautifully laid out store I’d ever seen. It’s Toys R Us for scrapbookers. After that everyone understood that any time I went to MN I needed a full hour alone to enjoy Archivers. I started bringing my granddaughters with me once they got older and am saddened they’ll be closing their doors.

  16. #20

    No clue anymore…..that was a good 7 years ago! But, I may have purchased it too after you left….lol.

  17. #22

    That was a beautiful post Cathy! I couldn’t agree more. I just started working at my local Archiver’s store here in Michigan a couple months ago. These last few weeks have just been so emotional for all of us -employees and customers alike. No one knows where they are going to shop locally for all the supplies that are sold at Archiver’s. It’s the end of an era – not one that I am too happy about…not at all. Thanks for your kind words about at one of a kind store.

  18. #23
    Andrea Kuenzel

    I missed the MOA one when it closed and now I will definitely miss the EP one. Eden Prairie mall just won’t be the same!

  19. #24
    Cynthia H

    Oh, Cathy. I couldn’t have said it better. I went yesterday to just feel the joy of wandering the aisles one more time. And as we walked out, I said to my little girl (she’s 2), say goodbye to Mommy’s favorite store! “bye bye”

    So sad to see this place go.

  20. #25

    Awwww, thanks for the lovely tribute to Archiver’s! Your post is a welcome sight for me, since I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of cynicism and negativity about their role in the industry lately. I worked there for years as well, and the place saved me by infusing my life with the best creative outlet and community at a time when I was transitioning careers. I saw firsthand how many customers learned about scrapbooking for the first time, and even though there are lots of places online for those of us who already know about the industry to go and shop, I worry a bit about how newcomers will continue to find scrapbooking.

  21. #26

    I have been to the Archivers stores in Minneapolis, Madison and Austin. They just opened a new store in Cedar Park (Austin) and now it is closing. It makes my heart sad.

  22. #27

    When I found out a couple weeks ago, a little bit of my heart broke. I remember going to Archivers and thinking this is truly my bit of heaven. My whole life I have loved paper and for there to be finally be a store that focused on all things paper and creativity was a little hard to believe at first.

    I too, am heartbroken that this wonderful mecca for so many of us has to close its doors. Last spring, I visited the one closest to me in Illinois slated for closing before the big demise and thought, “this is it”, but I hoped somehow they would rebound and the store would magically reopen. Truly a sad day. . .

    Thanks to Archivers for bringing out the best in all of us!

    And thank you Cathy for sharing your world with us. . .

  23. #31
    Christine K

    I am saddened by the closure of the stores. Living in Washington State, I never had a chance to visit what looks to be a beautiful store. I had always hoped that my travels would give me an opportunity to visit one of these stores. My heart goes out to all those faithful and hardworking employees.

  24. #33
    Sally Kemp

    I have a similar story, except it involves “Clean and Simple” volume 1…When I first became interested in scrapbooking, I was completely overwhelmed by all of the supplies, and it would take me days (weeks even) to complete any layouts, and they all looked tacky. Then I found myself wandering around in my local scrapbook store, overwhelmed by all of the doodads, and I saw your book. As I was paying for it, the clerk looked at it and said, “Oh, you’re gonna love this one.” And she was right. The whole clean and simple approach, combined with computer journaling, just opened up a whole new world for me. And the rest is history 🙂 I’ve been annoying my family with photos, and Project Life, and scrapbook pages for years now…Thanks Cathy, for all of the continued inspiration for this great hobby.

  25. #34

    Those salaries are for Winmark executives, not Archiver’s executives. Winmark dies not own Archiver’s.

  26. #35
    Beth R

    I am so sad to hear this news, your tribute was beautiful. I know exactly what you mean, I have never been ( I have one about 4 hrs away and its been on my wish list for 3 yrs) but I vividly remember that sweet falling in love stage. I was very lucky to have 4 fantastic local stores within a 5-20min drive. I took every class, cropped every Friday night and in the process made lifelong friends. You are so correct, this hobby has changed my life. For the better and saved my sanity more than once over the past 13 yrs.
    I am fearful that if Archivers can’t make it, our 1 lonely store wll soon follow. Where will we end up then? Thank you for “gettin it” I refuse to make excuses or explantions anymore.

  27. #36


    The first time I went to Achivers was during a family visit in 2001. In fact it is your Archivers in Roseville. I was in heaven when I went in and thought how am I going to pack this in my suitcase as I had two small children with me too. Less diapers I thought and totally justified my purchase. Over the years we would travel from Savannah to MN twice a year. Each time I made a trip to Achivers in Roseville. Everyone was so kind. I bought things that went along with what ever I thought we were doing at the time. sports, graduation, lots of memories. Now that my mother has passed I have not been up to Minnesota since the spring of 2012. When ever I do get back up that way it will be very sad as it was a “routine” part of my visit. I love your picture with the blue sky in the background. Thank you for sharing your visit to the store and experience with Archivers.

  28. #38
    sandi s

    Thank you for the comments. As an employee for nine years at Archivers, I can tell you it has been a great place to work. I am lucky enough to enjoy selling the product I do because I enjoy buying the same products. I had hoped that someone would come in and purchase the company and keep it open, but that is not the case. For those of us that work there it is not only the end of one of our favorite places to shop but also our loss of such a great place to work. I will keep scrapbooking, card making, paper crafting, etc. The best supplies will not be at my fingertips as they have been for the last 14 years…but I still want to document my life for my children and their children. I have made a lot of friends from meeting customers at the store and will miss seeing them often. I feel lucky to have been a part of the Archivers “history”!

  29. #39

    My first view of Achivers was a postcard that appeared in my mailbox. The picture of the store beckoned to me, saying “this is where you belong”. Alas, the closest to me was 2 hours away so not really very many trips were made. But every single time I walked through those doors I felt at home. I’m so sad they are closing and would dearly love to make one final trip before its too late.

  30. #40
    Karen Walker

    The closest Archivers to me is four hours away, but whenever we traveled anywhere near one, I was right there. Their Archiver albums are still my favorites though they discontinued those a few years ago. I got to one in Chicago in December when I visiting my daughter, and one in Raleigh, NC the first day of the close-out sale. Archivers was the best!

  31. #41

    What good memories this story brings back. I distinctly remember the first time I visited an Archivers, I can even remember the way it smelled. It was pure nirvana in every sense of the word! I live 5 hours from the nearest store so it was always a treat to get to visit, and although it’s been many years since I’ve been to one, I am very sad to hear about it’s demise.

    I can also distinctly remember the excitement I felt over both of your books. They completely captured my style, both in scrapbooking and in general! Thanks for sharing your stories and style with us.

  32. #42

    I never had an Archiver’s near me but I remember going on trips and scouting for scrapbook stores. Sadly, there aren’t any small stores around here anymore. Just the big box craft stores. I agree with all of the commentors – this was a great tribute not just for Archiver’s but for a great experience that we all have shared.

  33. #43
    Renee Hoffer

    Just got back from running to Archiver’s (Fairlawn). I have met many wonderful people, learned new techniques, and finished some awesome projects there. I can’t imagine what it will be like when it’s gone. It is (was) our only local scrap book store.

  34. #44
    Carol D.

    Is it weird that when I read your post, I could hear the music playing from the movie “You’ve Got Mail” when Meg Ryan has to close her bookstore and she’s locking it up one last time remembering all of her memories growing up there?? It just made me think of that.

  35. #45
    Barb in AK

    Thanks for the post, Cathy. During the years I lived in AK, all I could do was dream about getting to go to an Archivers. I’d seen the ads in CK and SS and was only able to imagine what it would be like to actually shop in such a place. Then, I moved 75 minutes from MOA!!! I actually got to walk into the pictures I had always seen in the magazines–for real!!! It’s true, I didn’t visit often enough to keep them in business, but when I was there, the store was never empty of customers, and I thought my wallet had a endless limit! 😉 So sad…. end of an era. :'(

  36. #47
    Pam P

    Oh, I feel your pain. I started paper scrapping almost 33 years ago now and purchased my first supplies from the founder of Creating Keepsakes when she lived in Billings, MT. I scrapped with CM products for many years, until I ran out of time and energy. When my Dad was suffering from cancer in 2000, my sister and I would drive from Billings to the family ranch in central Colorado. I found out about an Archivers store in Denver. I arranged our trip so I could stay in a hotel close to the store and would shop in the evening after driving all day. I would just look and touch and drool over what to buy. I collected many supplies and even though I have transitioned to digital have not been able to get rid of my Archivers supplies.

    I too heard those angels….and they may have been singing Halleujah!!!

  37. #48
    Carol T

    I loved your post. The feeling when you walk in the door…I run in for a quick grab of something i meed and come out three hours later with my head bursting with ideas! I will miss them…

  38. #49

    I still have some cardstock that I bought there in 2005 when we visited the MInneapolis store! On a week long holiday I had 2 hours one afternoon to shop and it was there. Loved reading your thoughts today!

  39. #51

    I began scrapping in 1999. Over the years, I would see the Archiver’s ads in magazines and wonder about this magical store that I would never be able to visit. I live in Rural Appalachia. And I mean RURAL.
    Earlier this month, I traveled to Cincinnati for a wedding & by pure accident (or blessing) saw a store. I begged my husband to stop so that I could go in & was oh, so very much in love with the splendid way things were displayed, and the variety. No other Crafting store that I had ever entered over my 15 years of scrapbooking had the splendor of Archiver’s. After an hour of browsing (poor hubby), I went to the check out & spilled my story to the clerk. She smiled at me & then gently told me that the store would be closing in Feb.
    I simply thought maybe she had only meant THAT store. I would pull out my smartphone & Read the heartbreaking news that I would probably never get to shop there again.
    Thank You to the Archiver’s employees for my experience.

  40. #55
    Marilyn Bronson

    I have been going to the Raleigh NC store since I moved here every other Monday for 3 years now and can’t begin to tell you how much I will miss that “Pottery Barn” crafting experience. The girls who work in the store are wonderful and I will have a hard time buying supplies that I can’t see or touch. So sad!!!!!

  41. #56
    Kathy Travis

    Some of my favorite memories are the hours spent at the Archivers store, creating so many pages of with my friends. I loved the store and always bought way more than I could ever use, although there were many times i just wandered the aisles, loving the atmosphere. Too sad that it’s closing.

  42. #57

    I used to shop at the Coon Rapids store too until we moved away in 2007! I am sad to hear it closed.

  43. #58

    Loved your post I have been at archiver’s for the past two weekends will miss the store in my area greatly….it’s so sad that they are closing.

  44. #59

    Amen. I’ve been back there twice snce I heard they were closing, the first to sgn up myself and two out of state friends for a final mania/crop weekend in two weeks, and the second to shop. We ARE lucky to have a wonderful, thriving local store that we love to support, but the loss of A’s. well now, it’s sad.

  45. #60
    Stacie D

    Loved the post, Cathy. Reminded me to get my car heading down the road to Roseville to get my guilty shopping pleasure in one last time. There’s just something about being able to see actual products in person … sad they are closing, too.

  46. #61
    Ruby C

    Thanks for sharing your memories of Archiver’s. It is a beautiful tribute. I’ve been working there since 2005 and I so enjoy helping customers discover the joy of scrapbooking or showing someone how to heat emboss for the first time, demonstrating a new product, helping customers create cards at the Make N Takes and even seeing all the wonderful pages our customers create in the workroom or at scrap mania. When my customers, many who are now friends, ask me what I’m going to do I simply say I don’t know. There is nowhere I can think of that would be like working or shopping at Archiver’s. Like Carole, I would love to say “Don’t make me cry!”, but you already have.

  47. #62
    Kathy Passmore

    I landed in Minneapolis on January 16 (by choice) for a weekend of shopping at Mall of America, and snowmobiling, not necessarily in that order, and was SO disappointed to find Archivers closed 🙁 even though some of the “maps” at the MOA say that Archivers is in location 334 (or whatever location it was). I live on the east coast, and Archiver’s never caught on here, but I loved visiting the stores in Chicago and Minneapolis. No more brick and mortar scrapbook specialty stores or delivered in the mail scrapbook magazines… what is this world coming to?

  48. #63

    Great post, Cathy. I stopped by one of the two stores near me two weeks ago, knowing it would most likely be my last visit. While pulling out of the parking lot, I stopped and took a photo of the building w/all it’s final sale signs. It was bitter sweet.

  49. #65

    I kNow!!! 🙁 I’ve bee an archivers fan since they opened, and since I’m from Mexico, I really know most scrapbooking stores of all the states I’ve been to, since i have to stash my supplies. No store was heaven to me like Archivers, and always when I was in the Chicago area I would drive over two hours just to see my favorite scrapbooking store. Felt horribly when last October I organized my trip to visit archivers just to find out they had their clearance sale! I knew the industry was suffering since I rarely find good supplies and publications, but this was a hit to reality!!! Can’t believe so many awesome brands, products and stores are disappearing! I still love scrapbooking more than digital design, and will wish all those in the scrapbooking business to have a “reinvention” like you have been able to do cathy…that way we can still benefit and be delighted by all of their creativity!

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