Sticker Planet, one of the Farmers Market’s most popular stores, first opened in what was the Dell annex of the Market in 1991. The Dell was eventually razed in 2000 when The North Market and The Grove were built. That was when brother and sister, Richard and Hilary Kraft, moved their store into the Original Market structure, closer to Third Street.
Originally founded by Richard and Hilary’s parents, Selma and Bernie, Sticker Planet is a favorite not only for children, but adults too. In fact, the Krafts say that more than 50% of their clientele are serious crafters and scrapbookers as well as adults searching for inventive ways to create cards and invitations for parties, weddings, holidays and other life-events. Either way, from locals to tourists, Sticker Planet is one of the happiest, most enjoyable stores in the Market.
Recently, we chatted with Hilary and Richard Kraft about their store.
Richard: I think we’re the only store in LA quite like ours. We have the largest selection of stickers; we carry at least 5,000 different stickers at any one time. It can be traditional stickers, it can be band-aids, it can be window clings. Many are on rolls so people can mix and match. The overall theme of our store is - if it sticks, we carry it.
Hilary: We also carry temporary tattoos (because they stick) and educational sticker books on a variety of different topics. Children can read about something, then find the sticker that fits the description in the book. We have items to keep kids busy on long trips and vinyl-cling stickers that work by static electricity so they can be used repeatedly.
Richard: We sell wall-decorating stickers, so that you can decorate a room by putting up stickers that don’t damage the walls. Wall stickers go all the way from wonderful themes for young children – dinosaurs, cartoon characters etc. – up to more sophisticated designs for creating a beautiful theme in an adult’s room.
How It All Started
Hilary: Our father was the one who had the original insight to create a sticker store. In 1990, our parents were planning to open a rubber stamp store in Santa Monica, because rubber stamps were a popular hobby back then. While they were doing their research at a retailers’ trade show, they happened by a booth where Andrea Grossman was selling her stickers. Mrs. Grossman’s Paper Company was one of the founders of the sticker craze back in the 1980s … maybe even earlier.
Our father was an amazing marketer; he sold everything from office systems to ice cream to women’s clothing. So when he saw Andrea Grossman’s trade show booth, with her stickers displayed on rolls, he went up to her and said “Y’know, I love the look of what you have here, this is fascinating. My wife and I are planning to open a rubber stamp store and I would like to put in a whole section of stickers in our store and display them on rolls just like you’ve done here.” She politely discouraged him, telling him to sell individual packages like everyone else, and thought that would be the end of it.
But our father had his vision. So when it was time to stock up the new store, he sent Andrea an order for whole rolls of stickers. And that’s how it got started. Andrea became a good family friend and if it hadn’t been for her, we probably never would have been in the sticker business.
Richard: So the original store sold half rubber stamps and half stickers and it was very successful. About a year after they opened in Santa Monica, they decided to open a second, sticker-only, store here at the Farmers Market in 1991 and our family has been here ever since. Our father has since passed away, but our mother still works in the store.
Hilary: Our mom is so creative. The fact that we ended up in a creative business is a direct connection to her. Our dad could market anything. The fact that he ended up marketing something so creative is a function of her influence. Sticker Planet is our only store now, the original location closed after 10 years.
Richard and I didn’t plan on being store owners. We each started in other careers, but by 1990, I was getting burned out in my work as a human resources consultant. I wanted to do something more creative.
Richard: I was doing motion picture and TV production work. I worked on a lot of movies and reality TV shows. In fact, I worked on one of the first popular reality shows, “Rescue 911” with William Shatner. I worked in development creating show pilots, but I also was getting burned out. So at about the same time in our lives, Hilary and I were ready for a change. We were excited to work with our parents and each other. We’ve been close since we were children. We’re only two years apart so it was very comfortable going into the family business with her.
All You’ll Ever Need to Know About Stickers
Richard: A lot goes into the production of them. There’s a big, big difference between the kinds of stickers we sell and the kind you might find at a supermarket or drugstore. The paper, the printing are very high quality. The die-cutting around the edge of the stickers is much more precise. For example, if you have a sticker of a flower -- on a low quality sticker, there might be a big white margin where you peel off the sticker. On high-quality stickers, used for crafting or scrapbooking, the die-cut is much closer to the edge so that when you put that sticker down on a piece of paper all you see is the flower on the paper. Our stickers are much more sought-after and desirable for people doing high-end arts and crafts.
Hilary: The biggest misconception about our store is that people think it’s just for kids, but I cannot tell you how many adults come in. Today, two people were in the store getting stickers to make name cards at a dinner party. Another person was making her own holiday greeting cards.
Richard: We also have business clients who make gift baskets to give away at big promotional events …they’re looking for a way to tie it to their particular theme.
Hilary: I’m incredibly grateful that so many people enjoy our store. When people walk in and have a joyful 10 or 15 minutes, or half an hour visit, I’m thrilled we can contribute that happiness to their lives.
And I love being part of the Farmers Market community and that we are merchants in companionship with the other store owners. The Market is such an eclectic mix of people, not only from LA, but from all over the world. The combination of tourists and locals we get always reinforces a tremendous sense of community here.
Richard: We’ve been here over 20 years and we’re still the newbies. There are those who’ve been here much longer and it’s nice to be part of something that is so historic in Los Angeles.