Joann Fabrics files for bankruptcy 

After 81 years of business, Joann Fabrics announced that they were filing for bankruptcy. 

Could this be the beginning of the end for big box crafting stores?

It may be hard to believe, but this announcement may indicate a rise in crafting instead of a decline.

“I never like to see any business have to file for bankruptcy, especially a craft and fabric store. It’s hard because in some communities a store like JoAnn Fabrics is their “local quilt store”. The purchasing of supplies by quilters, and many individuals, has shifted to online because of the nearly unlimited options available,” shares Corey Pearson, Master Quilter and VP of Customer Success at Linda’s Electric Quilters.

With people opting to shop at mom and pops and looking online, they are becoming more resourceful, resulting in more crafts of passion & appreciation for local businesses.

“Online shopping has made it very simple to acquire crafting tools and expanded variety in fabric choices. However, while big box chains may be phasing out in general, I believe it’s a sign that more people will value and patronize the local mom and pop stores out there,” states Pearson.

For local stores, tapping into the digital market is crucial.

“Local and boutique stores need to tap into the market and branch into the realm of online shopping to reach a greater audience and have more success.”

This shift towards digital and local shopping reflects a broader trend in consumer behavior, emphasizing personalized experiences and unique finds that big box retailers often can’t match. Crafting enthusiasts are increasingly seeking materials that not only serve their creative needs but also reflect their personal values, such as sustainability and support for small businesses. This trend has led to a surge in the popularity of artisan and locally sourced materials, which are often marketed through social media and online marketplaces. The convenience of online shopping, combined with the desire for unique and ethically sourced materials, has provided a boost to smaller retailers and individual sellers, who can offer these niche products.

Moreover, the community aspect of crafting has been a significant factor in this shift. Local quilt stores and small craft shops frequently serve as community hubs, offering classes, workshops, and meet-ups that foster a sense of community and connection among crafters. This community aspect is something that big box stores often struggle to replicate. As consumers increasingly value experiences over mere transactions, the communal experiences offered by local stores become even more appealing.

The rise of social media and online tutorials has also played a role in democratizing the world of crafting. Beginners and seasoned crafters alike have access to an endless array of resources and inspiration online, which has helped to sustain and grow interest in crafting. This online presence not only supports the crafting community but also drives interest back to the stores—both online and physical—that supply the necessary materials for these projects.

In light of these trends, the future of crafting retail may not lie in the traditional big box model but rather in a hybrid approach that blends the personal touch and community engagement of local stores with the convenience and breadth of online shopping. This model could provide the best of both worlds, ensuring that crafters have access to a wide range of materials and inspiration while still benefiting from the expertise and community spirit that local stores offer. As the crafting community continues to evolve, retailers that can adapt to these changing consumer preferences will likely find new avenues for growth and success.