'Soul sisters' turn the page with scrapbook shop - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

'Soul sisters' turn the page with scrapbook shop

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Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:31 pm | Updated: 12:17 am, Fri Jul 1, 2011.

A turn of the wheel created a turn of events that recently landed one customer and one store manager in the hot seats as co-owners of Gilbert’s Scrapbook Barn.

A few months ago, longtime customer Melody Stuart, 41, was driving down Val Vista Drive on her way to her full-time gig as a trainer for a cosmetic company when she approached the store just north of Guadalupe Road. She glanced in the parking lot and saw the vehicle belonging to the store manager, Melissa Waterbury.

Melody knew the store was up for sale. During her 12 years as a customer, she’d come to know the owners fairly well.

And while the idea of buying the place herself had snuck into her mind several times since hearing the news, she’d never verbalized it outside her home.

But now, she was ready to.

She drove her car into the parking lot, marched from her vehicle, opened the door of the store, walked to where Melissa was working and asked, “How come we’re not buying this place?”

After responding, “I don’t know? Why don’t we?” Melissa, 40, said: “That would be great.”

“One day she may ask, ‘Why didn’t you just keep driving?’ ” Melody laughs as the two share their story with a reporter.

On June 1, Melody and Melissa officially became owners. Though neither had owned a store before, Scrapbook Barn was a natural fit. Melissa had been working there for 6 1/2 years, the last year as the manager. Melody became a customer of Scrapbook Barn when it originally opened more than 12 years ago at its prior location on Val Vista Drive and Warner Road.

The customer base is consistent, “a community,” the women say, because so many different groups have created friendships within the store’s walls.

Melissa, like Melody, came to the store first as a shopper before becoming a cashier. Owning a business was part of her thinking back then, Melissa says.

“Part of why I came to work here, I was interested in that thought. I would learn the business and how the industry worked and yes, I would do it on my own,” she says. “I did go into this with the mind-set that I would do something with it someway.”

When asked, “why scrapbooking,” the women answer the same way: “I’ve always loved paper.”

The change of hands was quick. The pair approached the previous owners in May. Once the paperwork was complete, they made plans to shut down the place for three days, conduct inventory and redesign the layout of the store.

The pair recalls getting “maybe” eight hours of sleep — total — during that 72-hour period.

“We redid the entire store” with help from their children, spouses, parents and siblings, Melody says.

“It’s a family affair. Melody and I are soul sisters, so it’s a family affair,” Melissa says.

Their first big event will put on as a team will be held July 30 when they host a 12-hour “crop,” an event where participants scrapbook together. They’re hoping to also create 500 homemade cards to send to troops overseas.

They admit they’re a little nervous about it; not because they’ve not participated in one — or, in Melissa’s case, organized one — but because they want it to be perfect for their customers.

“We want to make sure people are happy and having a good time,” Melissa says.

“I want to make sure it’s money well spent so they’ll be back,” Melody adds.

For now, Melissa is still operating as store manager. Melody hopes to transition from her full-time job into more hours at the Scrapbook Barn within the next year.

Each trusts the other to do what’s necessary for the store to be a success.

“We’re both very honest people and we appreciate that,” Melissa says.

“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we talk about it,” Melody continues. “We’re both able to cry in front of each other, or scream.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or mreese@evtrib.com

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