Memories Immortalized with Paper, Scissors

By Beacon Staff

When Kathy Price started scrapbooking in earnest about 15 years ago, there weren’t any crafting or scrapbooking supply stores in Montana. About twice a year, she would take to the road, making the eight-hour drive to Utah to shop and stock up on supplies.

“I’d get whatever I could,” she said. “Then, I’d come back and all my girlfriends would want to buy them off me.”

Picture frames decorated with paper and ribbon is one of the classes taught at All About Memories.

Price would convert tables in her office Beacon Leasing, an equipment financing company that was located then in downtown Columbia Falls, into scrapbooking space. Friends came and worked together on their projects, sometimes staying as late as 2 a.m.

Soon the makeshift scrapbooking area became permanent, splitting off from the leasing company into its own store, All About Memories. “It went from a hobby to becoming something bigger than myself,” Price said.

By 2005, the scrapbooking store had outgrown its space and Price moved both her businesses to their current location on Montana Highway 40 between Columbia Falls and Whitefish. With about 6,000 square feet, All About Memories is the largest scrapbooking store in the western United States, Price said.

The store’s inventory is immense.

Classes at All About Memories include bookmaking for scrapbookers, such as the paper bag book, created by folding and decorating paper bags, above, and the pirate book.

There are hundreds of options for paper stock, most of them with complementary patterns on either side further adding to the choices. There are glues and scissors, sequins, ribbons and stamps. Other adornments range from Sesame Street characters to outdoor designs for people chronicling hunting, camping or fishing trips.

“It’s not just scrapbooking,” Price said. “There’s cardmaking, crafting supplies – really, it’s arts. We try to be a one-stop place for everything.”

Throughout the store, Price keeps examples of different projects. An album holds homemade invitations for everything from weddings to baby showers made by the store’s staff and customers. Large letters are decorated with paper and embellishments to make wall hangings. Even the scrapbooks are made in unusual and creative ways, including paper bags, clothespins or old CD cases.

Anybody, Price maintains, can learn to make these crafts: “It’s cutting and gluing – who can’t do that? Especially with the right supplies and a little help.”

Excuses of being too busy to archive photos fall on deaf ears here. Price runs Beacon Leasing and the scrapbooking business and has four children of her own. She also volunteers at area schools, coaches several children’s sports teams and organizes the Columbia Falls girls softball league. She’s planning a 1,200 square-foot addition to the store and working on creating her own paper line.

“Lots of women are very busy with kids and work,” she said. “It’s a matter of saying you’re going to take one night a month for yourself and come down here where you can’t be distracted by crying babies and work on something you enjoy for a few hours.”

Besides paper products, All About Memories offers classes on glass etching like the kind seen here on this “Season’s Greetings” glass.

To help people get started or set aside the time to complete their ongoing projects, Price offers a litany of free night classes, including instruction on family heritage albums, “mommy and me” dates and paper piecing. With the exception of cardmaking class where students pay $5 to use Price’s materials to make three cards, students are asked to bring their own supplies. Price also suggests calling ahead to make sure there’s enough space. Customers can stay current with calendars and newsletters on All My Memories’ Web site, www.scrapbookstoremt.com.

The store also hosts weekend-long scrapbooking retreats at resorts around the valley several times a year, and every Saturday night there’s a “frenzy” – scrapbooking sessions from noon to midnight. The atmosphere, with customers hauling their projects and supplies in crates and staying up late enjoying food and camaraderie together, is similar to Price’s earliest scrapbooking gatherings.

“There’s a lot of friendship,” she said. “Because you have this common interest, you’re able to form relationships with people on a different level.”

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