Arnie’s Arts ‘n’ Crafts
Interview with Robin Mester
1) How many years have you been in business? How did your business get started?
Arnie’s has been open since 1975. We will celebrate our 40th anniversary in April of 2015. The store originally started as a small art supply section in a hardware store in order to support the owner’s painting classes. Shortly thereafter, crafts and yarn were added, and the store moved to a larger building. In 1980, we moved to our current location at 3741 West Houghton Lake Drive. What was originally a grocery store and strip mall has transformed into 40,000+ square feet of retail space with 3,500 square feet dedicated exclusively to scrapbooking and card making.
In 2008, we added a beautiful “up north themed” full-service coffee shop that features hot and cold drinks, baked goods, and soup in the winter months. Because this is centrally located within the store, our guests can use this as a mid-way point to stop for a drink, relax, and use our free wi-fi or watch television.
Since our move to this location in 1980 we have added many specialty departments, products, and services, and today we are one of Michigan’s largest locally-owned craft stores.
2) What makes your store unique?
What makes Arnie’s Arts ‘n’ Crafts unique is our diversity of product and our wealth of customer service. We are proud that many of our associates have worked here for 10 or more years. They truly know their products and are willing to share that knowledge with our customers. What also makes us unique is the fact that we are centrally located in Michigan and have become a destination location with tour busses stopping regularly. People drive from all over Michigan and beyond to visit and once you are here, you quickly realize that we are a craft store and so much more!
We offer products and services such as custom framing, custom graphics, custom embroidery, engraving, and direct-to-garment printing. Products include specialty yarns, beading and jewelry making, crafts, basket weaving, art supplies for the amateur to professional artist, clothing, and a large gift shop. With regard to scrapbooking, we carry over 6,000 styles of scrapbook paper and a large selection of stamps, embellishments, adhesives, 3D die cuts, tools, totes, and much more.
3) Do you offer classes, crops, weekend retreats & other events?
Arnie’s offers classes in scrapbooking, card making, knitting, paper crafting, watercolors, basket weaving, oil painting, and twig chair making. We often conduct demonstrations for new products, tips and techniques. We host scrapbooking / crafting retreats – typically in the fall – not only here in Houghton Lake, but also at Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman, and as far away as Mackinac Island. This fall, we are proud to participate with Boyne Highlands as a vendor, and also teaching classes, for two weekends in October.
We have a large classroom that we rent for mini retreats. Arnie’s has partnered with the Beachfront Hotel for discounted rates when booking our classroom. This makes for a very inexpensive trip for a group looking for a get-away. Being located on the largest inland lake in Michigan is a bonus!
4) How do you promote your store?
The number one way we promote our business is through satisfied customers telling other people about their positive shopping experience with us. Word-of-mouth advertising is paramount, but we also reach out through different media. We have over 11,000 people on our mailing list who regularly receive email newsletters with store updates. We have two websites: arnies.com and basketpatterns.com. Recently, we entered the world of social media with our Facebook page, where you can find information on new products, crafting tips and techniques, classes, events, sales, and even a recipe or two! If you go to our website, www.arnies.com, we have an on-line Calendar of Events. We also promote our store with TV commercials created in-house, newspaper ads, and flyers. You can also find our ad in Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine.
5) What is the biggest challenge that you face as an independent business owner?
The biggest obstacle we face is being located in a seasonal “tourist town.” We are very busy in the summer months; however, when the kids go back to school and the fall leaves have fallen, we have to creatively find ways to draw people to us. For example, we have a Holiday Sale in November that features 30% off storewide (with very few exclusions). This sale is a great opportunity for people to do their holiday shopping locally without fighting the crowds in the malls. For many years, we were closed on Wednesdays. In 2007, we began staying open seven days a week and we needed to find ways to get that message out so we started our “Wacky Wednesday Tote Bag Sale.” Each Wednesday in February, customers are given a tote bag (which they get to keep with any purchase) and items that fit within that bag are discounted by 25%. Our largest promotion of the year is our Anniversary Sale, where everything in the store is 30% off (again, with very few exclusions). Customers also enjoy our Tent Sales, which take place for five days over Memorial Day weekend, the majority of the month of July, and again for five days at Labor Day. Our large tent is filled with a diversity of product ranging from scrapbooking supplies and paper to clothing, giftware, garden items, crafting items, kids crafts, art supplies, yarn, and frames. New items are added daily and the savings are tremendous.
6) Contact information:
Arnie’s Arts ‘n’ Crafts
3741 West Houghton Lake Drive
Houghton Lake, MI 48629
Like us on Facebook at Arnies Arts ‘n’ Crafts
Gina Karas is a traditional scrapbooker with a passion for photography. She work full-time as a Sales Assistant in the construction industry, but spends her spare time crafting with her mom and crazy friends! “Scrapbooking keeps me sane!” she says. See her projects and posts about scrapping & crafting on her blog, California Scrappin’.
NOW FOR THE PRIZE GIVEAWAY!
Arnie’s has generously donated a $100 gift certificate for one lucky winner!! To be eligible for the random drawing you must COMMENT below about which picture in this post makes you want to visit Arnie’s. DEADLINE to enter: Monday, September 29th, at midnight!
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