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March 16, 2004 > Scrapbook U

Scrapbook U

The word "scrapbooking" has a familiar ring to it, yet for the unintiated, the meaning is a bit vague. It is almost like a significant memory that persistently knocks at the door of your consciousness, yet remains muffled and a bit out of focus. Monica Martinek at Scrapbook U can appreciate this since things suddenly came into focus for her about seven years ago at a "Creative Memories" party. Creative Memories sells scrapbook supplies through home-based gatherings and after her first experience with scrapbooking, she was immediately "addicted" to the idea of preserving memories in creative ways. Classes provided new scrapbooking ideas and Monica found the possibilities were endless. She soon discovered that additional supplies were available at scrapbooking stores so she made frequent trips for supplies even though they required a journey of many miles.

Two years ago, Monica went to a weekend "Scrapbooking Getaway," sponsored by Gotta Crop, a scrapbook company that specializes in creating venues for dedicated scrapbookers. Monica says she showed up and "there were 90 women just like me, toting in their huge bags with all their stuff. I was just floored!" After a wonderful time mingling with others who enjoyed preserving their memories in unique and interesting ways too, Monica thought about opening her own store. She had been spending 35 minutes driving to her favorite scrapbook store and knew Fremont needed its own scrapbooking destination. Within three months, Monica was in business and opened her store in 2003 at the Ohlone Village Shopping Center on Washington Boulevard near Hwy 680. She recently moved to a larger location also at the Ohlone Village.

According to Monica, scrapbooking is preserving memories but there is no boundary to what can be done. She says, "You can scrapbook anything; photos, a playbill, postcards, anything!" Pages are composed with anything that helps to retell a moment - Scrapbook U has plenty of ideas and the materials to help. Most supplies are acid free to avoid deterioration of memorabilia. Many old photographs in albums have faded and yellowed due to the acid of papers and materials. Modern scrapbook materials are created to avoid this problem.

Besides a store full of just about everything one could imagine for a scrapbook, Scrapbook U holds classes almost every day ranging from working with ink stamps, weaving, card making, garden themed materials and journaling that helps visual memories come alive with words (sounds familiar!). Monica adds, "In our store, classes are not just scrapbooking. There are a lot of other things we teach too." For those new to scrapbooking, classes are a great way to learn about different techniques and receive help with projects.

The classroom for "cropping" (trimming and shaping photos and mementos for display) and formal classes is almost constantly in use. Some nights, scrapbooking aficionados spend hours happily working with their supplies and chatting with others. Some sessions last 10 hours and more! People enjoy working with scrapbooks because they are telling their story visually in an interesting way. Monica says that if you look back at her older "sticky" albums, "I had three pictures on each page and a written date somewhere on the side and you just flipped through them thinking that those are nice pictures. With the new albums, you can look at something for five minutes read every little bit; you can have hidden journaling with little openings. It is really telling a story."

Scrapbooking supplies lend themselves to other things as well. Monica is full of ideas and looks around, picking out an object or supply here or there and has a myriad of uses for them. "We have tapes for glitter or beading. You can wrap this around a pen and dip it in beads and suddenly, you have a jeweled pen that is something special!" Scrapbook U has an inventory of cards and envelopes that can be custom designed with materials found at the store.

"We are a good store for innovative school projects. We also carry eyelets and brads since hardware is becoming a big deal now." Monica adds that there are many specialty supplies that she stocks that are very hard to find elsewhere. For instance, holding a paper-thin sheet of metal she says that they come in a variety of colors and can be inscribed or punched into different shapes. Specialty papers are also found here and can be used to highlight and add different textures to a page or card or invitations.

Ideas abound at Scrapbook U. There are so many different materials to work with and stickers and cutouts of just about anything imaginable. Monica points to a set of colored laser cutouts on the wall saying that they represent the school colors and names of every school in Fremont and Newark Memorial and Logan High as well. Looking at all the supplies, it is easy to see that almost anything is possible. Monica says, "Depending on what you want to do, you can spend as little or as much as you want."

"I have put supplies in sections so it is easy for someone to find material for a particular theme. Some people only want to make a scrapbook of their vacation travels, so they will look in the travel section for ideas." Monica takes pride in customer service offered by Scrapbook U. "I take time to learn everyone's name. I try hard to make sure everyone who comes to Scrapbook U is treated right!"

Monica stays current with new items available to scrapbooking. She says that her customers are "very savvy" and want to shop from the latest ideas and supplies. There is a constant influx of new items since Monica has her eyes open for unusual and "hot" items. Besides the accessories for scrapbooks, Scrapbook U has a large selection of albums. Monica says, "I have a great album selection. I probably have 70 scrapbooks here which is very unusual for a scrapbook store. Most do not carry this many."

Store inventory is always changing. Monica says, "I always have something new." Some customers come by every few days to see what has arrived since they know that Monica orders small quantities and rarely reorders. "I want new stuff all the time and so do my customers. I will search for the unusual items that other places don't carry and try to give my customers a fun and unique store to visit frequently."

The door is constantly in motion as scrapbookers and craft enthusiasts come by to browse and find treasures that are just right for their next project. Scrapbook U is one of those unusual stores that may hold just the right item for your next project as well. Come by and visit with Monica or her staff. The odds are something at Scrapbook U will be right for you!

Scrapbook U
1610 Washington Blvd., Fremont
(510) 490-5065

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