SPRING HILL — Crafters will be on a mission when they descend on Creative Hands beginning this month.
For the third year, the Spring Hill business is joining with seven other craft supply and hobby shops in the Tampa Bay area, from Spring Hill to St. Petersburg, to foster business at each.
Creative Hands owner Kathie Watson said the Shop Hop, as it's dubbed, "is the biggest event of the year" for the businesses.
About 800 shoppers a year enroll and commit to spending at least $5 at each of the shops within the designated time period — between Feb. 28 and March 9 this year.
"Can you imagine 800 shoppers coming in?" Watson said. "And many of them spend more than $5."
Many also have become repeat buyers, she noted.
With a $10 signup fee, each participant receives a tote bag, a passport book containing a checkoff page for each of the stores visited, a party favor from the store at which they register, a mini album to fill with remembrances of their outings, a bead necklace for attaching gift tags from each shop, a 10 percent discount on purchases, and a chance to win up to $800 worth of products from the stores.
"They get more than their $10 worth," Watson declared.
During the event, stores and shoppers alike are focused on scrapbooking and cardmaking — paper crafting.
"Very popular," Watson said. "It's so large there's a national craft and hobby convention each year; 90 percent of it's scrapbooking."
Watson herself teaches an average of a dozen classes on scrapbooking a month, sometimes adding more if there's an overflow.
For the Shop Hop, each store is adopting a theme to encourage paper craft projects on the subject. For Watson's theme — quilting — she has furnished a remake of a grandmother's parlor with antique quilting necessities. And she created a display of needs and accessories to create a paper craft, such as a scrapbook or greeting card, with a quilt motif. Included are old-time patterned papers, embroidery floss, buttons, ribbons and implements for working with the embellishments.
Shop Hop participants visit the stores at times of their own choosing primarily. Some of the stores extend hours, and some sponsor buses to visit their destinations.
Watson is considering the rental of a minibus to accommodate those who prefer not to drive themselves. Her son, Tim Watson, took a van full of passport holders on a daylong tour of six shops last year.
"It's an awesome way to get the ladies out shopping," Tim Watson said.
Passports can be purchased at Creative Hands through early March.
Stores taking part, in addition to Creative Hands, are Sparkle N Sprinkle in Ruskin, Whim So Doodle in St. Petersburg, Scraporium in Lutz, the Stamper Cove in Sarasota, Scraps of Art in Seminole, and Violet's and Scrap 'n Shack, both in Lakeland.
Beth Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.