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Stampin Up! or Close to My Heart - A Review

I thought I'd make a compare and contrast blog for a couple of direct sales stamping companies. Stampin Up! (SU!) and Close to My Heart (CTMH) are the two companies I will address today.

Stampin Up!

SU! sells a variety of wood-mountable rubber stamps, sold in clear boxes for easy accessibility and storage. I wood mount my stamps, but you can opt not to as they come separate for you to make the final decision. If you choose not to wood mount rubber stamps, you can apply them to acrylic blocks by purchasing "Tack 'n Peel" by Tsukineko. his allows you to cut a reusable cling sheet to an acrylic block by applying the unmounted rubber stamp to the block for use similar to acrylic stamps. SU! also sells other paper craft supplies, such as paper, embellishments, rub-ons, tools for storage needs, or any other paper craft necessity you may need. If you can name it, SU! pretty much carries it, from ribbon to ink. The great concept that SU! has created is that their products are grouped and can follow a color scheme. So, you can get patterned paper to match solid cardstock and ink.

SU! products are not sold in stores; you can only purchase their products through a demonstrator. You can locate a demonstrator in your area by going to their web site. I located my demonstrator via this method and she communicated with me by e-mail. I was able to place my orders and have even attended a workshop. She is a highly qualified demonstrator and is featured in many paper craft publications including Paper Crafts and Card Creations. She is also on numerous design teams.

The main issue I have with SU! is their method of ordering: limited direct sale by a demonstrator. I think they could reach a larger audience if they opened their products to everyone by web sales. SU! also offers catalogs to preview their products and ideas; however, there is a charge for them - even if you order. Although you can view the catalogs online, I prefer browsing the old-fashioned way!

I received my SU! order in about two weeks, which is a bit longer than I'd like to wait for processing/shipping.

SU! promotions are limited. Currently, they are running a "Sale-A-Bration" campaign that includes free stamp sets from a special catalog. This offers a little something special to your purchase, but is not an on-going campaign.

Close to My Heart
CTMH is another leading company in the stamp industry. They offer a wide array of paper art supplies, such as acrylic stamps, paper, embellishments, and tools. CTMH uses consultants to market their products; however, you can also order their products directly from their web site. This is a clear advantage over SU! I used this method recently to order my new stamp sets and tools! Upon locating a consultant in my area, she gladly communicated with me via e-mail and was very appreciative of my recent orders. I received two complementary stamp sets in addition to two idea books! You can also view the idea books online, but they are much more enjoyable in person. I thought CTMH offered much more appreciation for my orders.

My orders were shipped to the address of my choice within one week, which I thought was great! When I received my orders, the acrylic stamps were packaged in compact, yet effective clear plastic envelopes. I love their packaging because they do not take up too much space, yet you can see the stamps you need. I'll have to be a bit more creative in how to store them once my collection builds because you would not want to sort through dozens of envelops to find one. CTMH sells a case to store the plastic envelopes. Their ink is amazing! Their innovative designs allow the ink to be stored upside down, but when it is time for use, it swivels right side up. Getting use to this packaging can be a little tricky or messy if you're not careful! The inks are stackable and colors are clearly marked...LOVE IT!

As for promotions, CTMH offers a Stamp of the Month set that you can purchase for a discount or free, based on your total purchased. I received February's Stamp of the Month set free of charge! This is a great marketing campaign that keeps customers returning to the site to buy more!

I really enjoy shopping with both companies and a few other designer stamp companies online. This is merely my own personal opinion and not intended to strike one company over another. But, between SU! and CTMH, I'd have to select CTMH for their acrylic stamps because you can see where you are stamping. I also think CTMH is more diverse by offering the convenience to shop online. Sometimes, it's the small things that count. Regardless of my opinion, I'll continue to order from every store, as each has their own unique products and...I am a certified "shopper!"

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