Charlene Mann is a friend, confidant, counselor, motivator, teacher and sounding board for the clientele who visit her Scrapbook Workshoppe.
In these weak economic times, when a superstore like Archivers is closing its doors in Overland Park, Kan., and North Kansas City, Mann has moved from her longtime home on U.S. 40 to 623 Mock Ave. (behind the McDonald's at Missouri 7 and Interstate-70 in Blue Springs).
The new location will celebrate its grand opening from 1-3 p.m., Jan. 25. Along with showcasing the top scrapbooking and stamping lines in the Midwest, refreshments and a Fabulous Box Contest will highlight the day.
“We had some of our most creative friends make (decorative) boxes, and people who come into the store can vote on their favorite,” Mann said. “It's going to cost $1 to vote and all the money we raise will go to Project Warmth.”
That's what sets the Scrapbook Workshoppe apart from so many of the big chain stores. When you walk into Mann's home away from home, you can slip off your shoes and get comfortable - and creative.
“You can go and purchase stamping and scrapbook products anywhere,” the personable Mann said as she put the finishing touches on a new display. “You can come in here to learn how to use them. You can come here with your friends and have a great time.”
On any given day, the tables that line the Scrapbook Workshoppe work area are filled with patrons who are creating those prized works of art that not only tell a story, but leave a legacy.
“You hear all the commercials about ancestry.com,” Mann said, “where you can find out about your ancestors' legacy. We offer something today for our future generations. Don't let the friends and family members in life go to ancestry.com years from now - you can tell your story now, and you have so many wonderful ways to do it.”
She has had countless moms give their graduating teens scrapbooks that chronicled their prep careers in sports, music and other activities.
One favorite customer refuses to let a stroke, that affected her left arm, keep her from scrapbooking and another did an epic and heartfelt book on her husband's miraculous survival story following a 52-car crash in which his vehicle was pinned between two semi trucks.
“Everyone has a story,” Mann said, “and we will provide them with everything they need to tell it.”
The Scrapbook Workshoppe offers a wide variety of classes and all the top line of products from hot commodities like Prima Marketing, Authentique, Bo-Bunny, Echo Park, American Crafts, Teresa Collins and Tim Holtz.
Because of the popularity of the Missouri Mavericks, Mann met with team officials and received permission to produce a spot-on die-cut image of the team's mascot, Mac. She also promises to have orange and blue team-color-themed paper in her shop in time for workshop where all the fans who are making scrapbooks for the players can come and work on their books and share ideas.
“Charlene is so talented and offers our friends who come in so many wonderful ideas,” said Terry Smith, a longtime friend and co-worker of Mann's. “We don't really think of this as a store. It's more of a social club. “We want to create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable - and creative. If they have a question, we'll do our best to answer it. If we can't, we'll find the answer.”
The one question everyone asks of their first visit is simple: “How do I get over the intimidation part of opening up a blank scrapbook or working with a blank page.”
That brings a smile to Mann's face.
“Don't be intimidated,” she said. “We want to provide a creative environment for everyone. We have the classes, we have examples to follow and we all started somewhere. I started with a shoebox of stamps.”
And now, she's helping moms, the occasional dad, grandmas, cousins, teens, baby boomers and best friends create a colorful legacy that will enhance any coffee table in Eastern Jackson County.
Call 816-228-4944 or go to www.scrapbookworkshoppe.com for more information on the Scrapbook Workshoppe. Follow it on Facebook at facebook.com/scrapbookworkshoppe.