Scrapbook Store Cropping on a Budget
by Mimi Russell

If you have never been to a crop at a scrapbook store, let me just warn you, they can be addictive. If you have been to a scrapbook store to crop, then you probably laughed out loud when you read the title of this article. I'm here to set the record straight. It IS possible to crop at a scrapbook store without spending a fortune.

Deciding Where or When to Crop

Sometimes, deciding where or when to crop isn't an issue because you only have one local store, but if you are lucky enough to have a choice, shop around. Check the stores' schedules and get on their mailing lists so you know when their crops are offered. Some stores may offer free crops, knowing that you are likely to spend money while there. Others may charge something to reserve your spot or for the use of their workshop tools. At some stores, a portion of your crop fee is returned to you in free merchandise the night of the crop.

If you are available at times other than the Friday or Saturday evening when most stores hold their crops, ask about using their workspace at other times, like during the day for example. Many stores will allow you to use their workspace for free as long as they don't have a class or workshop scheduled.

Bring Your Stash

If your husband is like mine, he might give you a hard time for going to a scrapbook store to crop. My husband thinks that I have enough stuff in my own scrap room to open a store out of our house. Put your stuff to good use and bring it with you when you go to crop at the scrapbook store. There's nothing worse than buying something you already have just because you didn't want to wait until you got home to finish your scrapbook page. When inspiration hits, you want to take full advantage of that. If you have brought your supplies, you won't have to buy anything if you don't want to.

Pre-Plan Your Layouts

Since most of us have far too many supplies to bring them all to a crop, preplanning your layouts is by far the best way to ensure that you don't lose a mint whenever you enter a scrapbook store. For me, it's one of the hardest things to stick to. I'm not just talking about bringing your pictures with you to match colors. I'm talking about actually sketching things out, deciding on colors and design features, choosing embellishments, and maybe even picking out a title and preparing your journaling. This takes time, but will make your crop time at the scrapbook store much more efficient and much less expensive. If you go in with a plan, and know exactly what you need, whether you bring it from home or buy just what you need, you will come out ahead of the game financially. You will be less likely to impulse-buy, which I think we all will agree is a common trend among scrapbookers.

Make a Sketch: One step to preplanning is to make a sketch, and my first suggestion would be to start simple. If you like to sketch layouts yourself, you are ahead of the game. If you need a little help, there are many resources out there from Becky Higgins's books, to scrapbooking websites (like Scrapjazz), or even blogs where you can find sketches you can use. Pick out some pictures, pick out a sketch, and sit down with some paper and a pencil and dream it out.

Choose Colors and Papers: If you have a swatch book of paper colors, that can help you decide what colors you want to choose. This is also a great time to pull out a color wheel. If you own the right cardstock colors and/or patterned paper, pull it out and keep it with your pictures. You can keep them all together in a page protector or even just one of those extra large zipper-lock plastic bags you can get at most grocery stores.

Pick Embellishments: Once you have the basics selected, think about what embellishments you might want to use. If you have them on hand, throw them in the bag. If you think you would like a certain charm or maybe a pre-made tag that you don't already own, write it down, or sketch it so you can take your notes from aisle to aisle when you're at the scrapbook store.

Decide on a Title Design: To make your title, are you going to use the die-cut machine at the scrapbook store, or would you prefer to use sticker letters, or maybe cut the title on your Wishblade at home before the crop? Whatever you decide, write it down, or cut out your title now and stick it in the bag.

Write Out Journaling: We all know that it's very difficult to journal when you're cropping at the scrapbook store giggling with your girlfriends. Save yourself some trouble and write it all out before you go. If you prefer to journal on the computer, do that and print it out and throw it in the bag.

There you have it, your page kit is all ready to bring to the crop to be put together. This pre-planning method will take a little time, but your pocketbook will thank you for all your efforts when you calculate your total at the end of the crop. Remember, every penny saved on scrapbook supplies today means you have that much more to spend the next time!